Senegal is a former French colony on the coast of West Africa. Independent since 1960, it has maintained a safe and orderly political and social environment since that time. Every change of government has been through peaceful transfer of power following a free and fair democratic election. Primarily Muslim, other faiths co-exist with Islam, including a significant Catholic presence resulting from the era of French colonial rule.
Goree island lies a quick twenty-minute ferry ride from Dakar, the capital. Free of motorized vehicles, the small island offers a culturally and historically interesting destination for a day-trip from Dakar. Some residents offer accommodation in their homes, and there are several small hotels. A French fort dating from 1850, now a museum, guards the channel separating the island from the mainland. A house purporting to have been a holding place for captives destined for the slave trade to the Western Hemisphere welcomes tourists and holds a small museum. On the higher part of the island, gun emplacements, now derelict, remain from World War II. Every second year on Pentecost weekend the island hosts artists from Senegal and nearby countries for a three-day “Open Courtyards”, when residents invite artists from the mainland to display their creations for inspection by tourists and art buyers who come for the day or a weekend. This is an event not to be missed if your travel calendar allows it in 2023—now scheduled for April 29-May 1. But artists and craftsmen resident on the island and the calm atmosphere created by the pedestrian-only policy make a visit to Goree enjoyable at any time.