The Gambia, in the Western most tip
of Africa, is encircled by its neighbouring country
Senegal on all sides (map) apart
from the Atlantic side, and for this reason the two countries
have a lot of cultural &
ethnic ties. In contrast to Senegal, a former French colony,
The Gambia was colonised
by Britain and gained its independence
on 18 February, 1965, when it then adopted the
National Anthem. The Gambia, in contrast to many of its
West African neighbours, it has enjoyed lengthy spells of
stability since independence.
the small country is situated on the Atlantic coast at the bulge of Africa.
It is a thin strip of mainly low plateau, which decreases in height as
it nears the Atlantic coast. The plain is broken in a few places by
the river and its tributaries. Mangrove swamps, park-like savannah and
unspoiled beaches all feature in The Gambia’s landscape.
In contrast to its all-enveloping neighbour, Senegal, and
the massive nations surrounding them, Gambia looks like a
sliver in the side of Africa. True, it ranks among the continent's
tiniest countries, but its attractions
are just as bright and bold-faced as any in the region. Its
capital city, Banjul, is
a uniquely African experience, with a bustling marketplace
and enough street side culture to chase away the holiday daze
of glitzier cities. And for an even more 'traditional' outlook,
a quick trip upriver brings
you into the Gambian heartland, where the colourful buzz of
weekly markets vies with
boat trips through mangrove creeks and bike jaunts to mud-hut
villages for your time and appreciation.
Although the country is largely defined by its natural features - from
the Gambia River, which runs the length of the country, to the golden
beaches of its Atlantic coast resorts - the country's greatest draw
lies in its people, their culture and the amiable atmosphere of daily
life. Whether you're making conversation at a kerbside coffee stall or
shouting yourself hoarse at a weekend wrestling match, you're sure to
come away with as warm a feeling for Gambians as they tend to show to
This stability, however, has not translated into prosperity.
Despite the predominance of the Gambia river, which runs through
the middle of the country, only one-sixth of the land is arable
and the poor nature of the soil makes it suitable mostly for
one crop - peanuts. The
major domestic export products of The Gambia consists of groundnut
products, cotton, fish and fish
products, fruits and vegetables.
Over the past couple of years the country has experienced
significant economic growth primarily driven by the construction
sector of the economy.
country is heavily dependent on peanut exports and as a result
is a hostage to fluctuations in the production and world prices
of the crop.
Consequently, it suffers from poor
health conditions and relies on foreign aid to fill gaps in
its balance of payments.
economy has a narrow
industrial base and is also a low food-producing nation. Thus it
has little option but to resort to importing most products for
consumption. The Gambia is a net food importing country
particularly, rice, sugar, flour, milk,
tomato paste and it gets all fuel
supplies from abroad. The re-export trade continues to play an
important role in The Gambian economy, particularly in trading
with countries in the ECOWAS region of West Africa.
1994, the elected
government was toppled in a
military coup. The country returned
to constitutional rule two years later when its military leader
ran as a civilian and won presidential elections (disputed).
In 2000, the country saw a foiled coup, the killing of student
demonstrators, and charges of murder being brought against
opposition leaders - all this against the background of the
collapse of the peanut-marketing system.
The current president is Yahya
in 1965, Yahya Jammeh joined the army in 1984 upon leaving
school. After serving with Gambian peacekeepers in Liberia, he
returned and, together with a group of veterans who had not been
paid, ousted the elected president, Dawda Jawara, who had led
the country since independence.
At age 36 he won a second term in the October 2001 presidential
elections, which earned the approval of foreign observers.
He gained 53% of votes cast against less than 33% for his main
rival Ouassainou Darboe, a prominent human rights lawyer.
The only national television station is run by the government.
Between 2005 to 2007 the country experienced accelerated
growth rates in the economy
largely driven by the building construction sector of the
economy. Many new roads and hotel
accommodation establishments have been built and street
lights have been installed on many junctions.