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The Gambia

The Republic of The Gambia is a nation in West Africa. It is entirely surrounded by Senegal, except for where the Gambia River empties into the Atlantic Ocean. In 1965, The Gambia became independent from the British Empire. Banjul is its capital.

Republic of The Gambia
Gambia_flag_large.png Image:gambiaarms21.PNG
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: Progress, Peace, Prosperity
Official language English, Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, others
Capital Banjul
Largest City Kanifing
President Dr. Alhajie Yahya AJJ Jammeh
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 158th
10,380 km²

 - Total
 - Density

Ranked 145th

1,367,124 (July 2000 est.)


 - Date

From the United Kingdom

February 18, 1965

Currency Dalasi (D)
Time zone UTC
National anthem For The Gambia Our Homeland
Internet TLD .gm
Calling Code 220


Main article: History of The Gambia

The Gambia was once part of the Ghana and Songhai Empires. In 1588, the claimant to the Portuguese throne, Antonio, Prior of Crato , sold exclusive trade rights on The Gambia River to English merchants; this grant was confirmed by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I. In 1618, King James I granted a charter to a British company for trade with The Gambia and the Gold Coast (now Ghana).

During the late 17th century and throughout the 18th, England and France struggled continuously for political and commercial supremacy in the regions of the Senegal and Gambia Rivers. The 1783 Treaty of Versailles gave Great Britain possession of The Gambia, but the French retained a tiny enclave at Albreda on the north bank of the river which was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1857.

During World War II, Gambian troops fought with the Allies in Burma. After World War II, the pace of constitutional reform quickened. Following general elections in 1962, full internal self-government was granted in 1963. The Gambia achieved independence on February 18, 1965, as a constitutional monarchy within the British Commonwealth. It formed a short-lived federation of Senegambia with Senegal between 1982 and 1989. In 1991 the two nations signed a friendship and cooperation treaty. A military coup in 1994 overthrew the president and banned political activity, but a 1996 constitution and presidential elections, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, completed a nominal return to civilian rule. The country undertook another round of presidential and legislative elections in late 2001 and early 2002.


Main article: Politics of The Gambia


Main article: Subdivisions of The Gambia

The Gambia is divided into eight subdivisions:

  • Banjul
  • Basse
  • Brikama
  • Janjangbure
  • Kanifeng
  • Kerewan
  • Kuntaur
  • Mansakonko


Main article: Geography of The Gambia

The Gambia is a very small and narrow country with the border based on the Gambia River. The border is less than 48km wide. The countries present boundaries were defined in 1889 after an agreement between the United Kingdom and France. It is almost an enclave of Senegal and smallest country on the continent of Africa.


Main article: Economy of The Gambia

The Gambia has no important mineral or other natural resources and has a limited agricultural base. About 75% of the population depends on crops and livestock for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. Re-export trade normally constitutes a major segment of economic activity, but the 50% devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994 made Senegalese goods more competitive and hurt the re-export trade. The Gambia has benefited from a rebound in tourism after its decline in response to the military's takeover in July 1994.


Main article: Demographics of The Gambia

A wide variety of ethnic groups live in The Gambia with a minimum of intertribal friction, each preserving its own language and traditions. The Mandinka tribe is the largest, followed by the Fula, Wolof, Jola, and Serahuli. Approximately 2,500 non-Africans live in The Gambia, including Europeans and families of Lebanese origin.

Muslims constitute more than 92% of the population. Christians of different denominations account for most of the remainder. Gambians officially observe the holidays of both religions and practice religious tolerance.

More than 80% of Gambians live in rural villages, although more and more young people come to the capital in search of work and education. While urban migration, development projects, and modernization are bringing more Gambians into contact with Western habits and values, the traditional emphasis on the extended family, as well as indigenous forms of dress and celebration, remain integral parts of everyday life.


Main article: Culture of The Gambia

Miscellaneous topics

External links and references

  • Republic of The Gambia Official Website
  • Much of the information presented here comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2002 U.S. Department of State website.

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Last updated: 02-07-2005 09:54:49
Last updated: 02-27-2005 12:19:38