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 December 2015
the total population was 1,980,000
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 urban areas.
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 Area.
Over 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
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
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.