What You Need To Know

Thiès, city, west-central Senegal. Situated 35 miles (56 km) east of Dakar, it is an important transportation centre, serving as the junction of the eastern Dakar-Niger River railway and the northern rail and road systems. This central location has spawned light industries and processing plants, making Thiès one of the largest cities in Senegal. Reserves of aluminum phosphate found near Thiès are being exploited. Thiès is also home to the Manufactures Sénégalaises des Arts Décoratifs, a tapestry factory.

It is divided into three main regions, namely Mbour, Thies and Tivaouane and is deemed to be a railway junction between Dakar, Saint-Louis, Kaolack, Tambacounda and Mali. Hence, Thies is a very active city, offering many career opportunities to foreigners wishing to settle there. But before moving, make sure to have inquired on its economic situation and on its labor market’s requirements.

Population: 618,436 (2011)

Currency

  • The West African colonies of France used the French West African franc as their currency. The currency was introduced in the colonies in 1903 and used until 1945 when CFA franc was introduced. The Bank of West Africa distributed the coins and notes of the currency in various denominations. Coins were made from aluminum and bronze and came in denominations of 50 centimes and 1 franc. Notes came in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, and 1000 francs.

    The CFA franc is the currency used by a group of 14 countries within Central and West Africa. Those in central Africa use the Central African CFA franc while those in West Africa use the West African CFA franc. In theory, the two currencies are the same and have an equal value with the difference being in their geographical regions of use. Senegal uses the West African CFA franc as its official legal tender since its introduction in 1945. The currency is shared between eight West African states that form the African Financial Community. The currency is abbreviated as XOF with the symbol CFA. Each franc has 100 divisions called centimes (c). The central bank in the regional States issues the West African CFA franc in various forms and values.

    Credit cards are accepted in all major hotels, as well as in establishments that cater to tourists. Upon leaving your hotel and other tourist-friendly zones, be sure to carry cash. The most recognized credit card is American Express – Visa and Mastercard are also widely accepted. As a precaution against credit card fraud, ensure that you can see your credit card as it is processed, and monitor your bank statements.

Weather

This climate type is characterized by extremely variable temperature conditions, with annual means decreasing and annual ranges increasing poleward, and relatively little precipitation. This climate is typically located deep within the interiors of continents and is contiguous with the tropical desert climates of North and South America and of central Asia. This region type owes its origins to locations deep within continental interiors, far from the windward coasts and sources of moist, maritime air. Remoteness from sources of water vapor is enhanced in some regions by mountain barriers upwind.
The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is “Bsh”. (Mid-Latitude Steppe and Desert Climate).

Language

Some 39 languages are spoken in Senegal, including French (the official language) and Arabic. Linguists divide the African languages spoken there into two families: Atlantic and Mande. The Atlantic family, generally found in the western half of the country, contains the languages most widely spoken in Senegal—Wolof, Serer, Fula, and Diola. Mande languages are found in the eastern half and include Bambara, Malinke, and Soninke.

Health and security

  • Health care will be one of your major concerns during your stay in Senegal. Rest assured that the country has nothing to envy to most African or even European countries. In fact, you are likely to find many local and community clinics, general and specialized health centers, hospitals, national health institutes and services. The health care system is very efficient and provides quality health care for locals as well as for foreigners, including necessary vaccination. You can also rely on the Social Security and on the Disease Welfare Institute.
  • Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Senegal. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
    Pickpocketing and street crime are common, most visits to Senegal are trouble-free.

DON’T

  • Senegal is a majority-Muslim country, but you don’t need to worry about covering your knees, head or shoulders in most areas. In larger villages and cities, most local women don’t wear a hijab, and you won’t be showing disrespect by not covering up like you might in parts of India, Malaysia or the Middle East. In fact, many local women prefer traditional Senegalese dresses — exposing their neck and arms — or modern clothing like shorts and skirts. When ladies do cover their heads, it’s typically not for religious purposes, but to shield them from the intense African sun. Bottom line: dressing as you normally would in a hot, humid climate, like wearing shorts and a tank top, won’t elicit stares or make you feel uncomfortable here.
  • Though a yellow fever vaccine isn’t required to enter Senegal, it’s recommended, as are malaria pills and a typhoid vaccine. Using a good mosquito repellent, carrying tissues (as toilet paper can be scarce in public spots) and wearing sunblock are all essential. It can also be extremely dusty during the dry season, so having allergy pills on hand can also be helpful. Don’t be alarmed to see horse carts, roaming goats and cows as well as buses packed with locals all sharing the same dirt roads with cars and pedestrians — this is normal.

DO

  • Being Senegal’s second largest city, it is known to be the country’s craft and cultural center.
  • Thies comprises a crafts village specializing in various fields, namely wood, animal skin, leather, weaving, etc. As regards agriculture, it mainly focuses on the growth of vegetables and fruits in Niayes, peanuts and cassava, etc., in the city center and in the South. In Mbour, cattle breeding is the most active business.
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