The population of Gambia was estimated
at 1.038 million and 1.361 million at the 1993 and 2003 population
censuses with population densities of 97 and 127 persons per square
kilometre respectively. As at January 2016 the total population
was 2,000,000 million (source: census of the Gambia
Bureau of Statistics) people while the annual population growth
rate is estimated at 3.2%. The population of the capital Banjul
is around 31,000.
The population of the Gambia is mainly young with more than half
(about 63.55%) is below 25 years. Elderly persons of 65 years
and above account for 2.8% of the population. The age structure:
The 0-14 age bracket makes up 43.9% of the population (males 382,385
/ females 378,853) and the 15-64 age bracket makes up 53.4% (males
459,315 / females 466,689). Finally, the 65 years and over group
represents 2.8% (males 24,303 / females 23,919) - July 2008 est.
The urbanisation rate increased from 30.8 % in 1983 to 37.1% in
1993. In 2003, this rate is estimated at 50.3%; which means that
presently, more than half the population live in urban areas.
The population is unequally distributed in the eight Local Government
Areas (LGA) of the country. With a land area of 11,000 square
kilometers, the Gambia is one of the most densely populated countries
in Africa with a population density of 134 persons per square
kilometer. Increased population density coupled with the Sudano-Sahelian
deforestation has increased pressure on agricultural land and
contributed to declining agricultural
output, which has led to an out-flow of persons from rural to
This is more evident in the northern part of the Gambia. A population
movement from rural to urban areas has resulted in about 55 per
cent of the population currently living in Banjul, Kanifing and
the Brikama Local Government Areas.
In total about 50 per cent of the population now lives in urban
areas compared to 37 percent a decade ago. Immigration from neighbouring
countries also contributed in the high urbanization rate. According
to results of the 2003 Population
and Housing Census, the population
growth rate in Gambia is at an annual
rate of 2.74 per cent at the national level and at a much
faster rate in the Kanifing and Brikama
Local Government Areas. The population drift to the western part
of the country is attributable to the over concentration of economic
activities in the Greater Banjul
the inter-census period, 1993-2003, a rapid decline was observed
in the population growth rate. This may be explained by a combination
of factors related to declining fertility levels, the return of
large numbers of refugees to their countries in the recent past
and the migration of youth out of the country over the years.
With peace attained in conflict areas like Sierra Leone, Liberia,
Guinea Bissau and Southern Senegal (Casamance), many refugees
from these countries have either returned home or have been resettled
in Europe and the Americas.
Although fertility levels in The Gambia remain amongst the highest
in the world, recent estimates from the 2003 census indicate declining
fertility. The total fertility rate estimated at 6.4 in 1983 declined
to 6.04 in 1993 and further declined to 5.13 in 2003. The decline
in fertility can be explained, mainly, by a delay in marriage
and therefore childbearing and to an extent increased contraceptive
use. Increased girls education, which has immensely contributed
to the delay in marriage amongst girls, is another explanatory
factor to declining fertility levels in The Gambia. Regional variations
have been observed in fertility levels ranging from 3.93 in Banjul
to 6.19 in the Kuntaur Local Government Area.
Current high fertility levels coupled with the decline in mortality
(IMR and under-five) rates in the country have resulted in a very
youthful population structure. About 42 per cent of the population
is aged less than 15 years, 22 per cent aged 15-24 years, 52 per
cent aged 15-59 years and only 5 per cent aged 60 years and above.
Mortality levels have been
falling rapidly over the past three decades. Infant mortality
rate (IMR) estimated at 167 deaths per 1000 live births in 1983
declined to 84 deaths per 1000 live births in 1993 and 75
deaths per 1000 live births in 2003.
Improvements in child survival can be attributed to gains made
in terms of increased access to health services and immunization
coverage in the country over the years.
For more information see the:
Bureau of Statistics