The rich mosaic of cultural heritage derives from the ethnic diversity that is portrayed by the Mandinka, Fulani, Serer, Tukulor, Wolof and Jola people.The ancestors of some of these tribes migrated from as far as the Niger River Valley. The ancestors of the Tukulorís, who founded the Tekrur Kingdom, had extensive contact with the Berbers from North Africa due to the Trans-Saharan trade. This commercial interaction played a central role in the advent of the Islamic religion in West Africa. Today, the Senegalese religious landscape is comprised mainly of Sunni Muslims. The Great Mosque at Touba is a destination point for religious pilgrimages.
The Senegambian region was an important source of Slaves during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. During that era, the Portuguese, Dutch and French, all had an active involvement in the region. The presence of European influence is very evident in the architectural design of the coastal forts utilized in the Slave Trade and other commercial activities. The infamous Goree Island,ìMaison Des Esclavesî which lies less than 2 miles from Dakar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dedicated as a memorial to the abomination,which was Slavery. The view from the ìDoor of No Return.î was the last one of Africa etched into the memory of slaves shipped to the Americas.The Forts on the island serve as Historic Museums.
French influence can be seen beyond the architectural design of the carved wooden balconies and verandas of French colonial homes, the French flavor in Senegalese cuisine and French music in popular culture. Senegalese musicians Baba Maal and Yossou Nour serve as international ambassadors to the region through performances at various international venues. The country also has a noticeable amount of Arab influences.
Senegal has a penchant for retention and preservation of its tradition. This is evident in the everyday life of its people. The Casamance region is inhabited by the Diolas, Mandjakes and Balantes who perform their Initiation ceremonies in the Sacred Woods Some of these ceremonies take place annually whilst others take place once every 30-40 years.Senegalís Integrated Regional Tourism concept affords tourist with an opportunity to live in village huts exactly design like those inhabited by the indigenous people. Visitors enjoy the local cuisine prepared by village women, view the vitality of traditional dances and ceremonies and enjoy the serenity of village life. Eastern Senegal is also a traditional haven.The Bedik, Bassari and Tenda people of the Kedougou region have retained their customs. This is evident through their renowned initiation ceremonies complete with magnificent mask