OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of The Gambia
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 11,295 Sq Km (4,361 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 1,278,700
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Gambia is located on the west coast
of Africa. It is completely surrounded by Senegal to the
north, east, and south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
It is a narrow strip of low lying land that is covered in
thick mangrove swamps below the lower half of the Gambia
River. The country can be divided into three topographical
regions. (1.) The valley floor with built up alluvial areas
known as Bango Faros. (2.) A dissected plateau with sandy
hills alternating with broad valleys and (3.) a sandstone
plateau which in parts extends into Senegal. The principal
river is the Gambia. Major Cities (pop. est.); Greater Banjul
270,500, Serekunda 102,600, Brikama 24,300 (1986). Land
Use; forested 28%, pastures 9%, agricultural-cultivated
18%, other 45% (1993).
CLIMATE: Gambia has a tropical climate with a hot wet season
between June to October alternating with a cool dry season from November
to April. During the dry season the Harmattan, a dry and dust laden wind
blows from the Sahara Desert in the northeast. Average annual precipitation
in Banjul is 1,295 mm (51 inches) and average temperature ranges are from
15 to 31 degrees Celsius (59 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 23
to 32 degrees Celsius (73 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit) in June.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Mandinka who account
for 40% of the population while the Fulani account for 19%, the Wolof for
15%, the Pyola for 10%, the Soninke for 8% and others including non-Gambians
account for around 8%. The non-Gambians include British, Syrians, Lebanese
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 103 persons per sq km
(266 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 21.5% urban, 78.5% rural (1988).
Sex Distribution; 49.4% male, 50.6% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
41.4 years male, 44.6 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 44% under 15,
25% 15 to 29, 16% 30 to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 5% 60 and over (1990). Birth
Rate; 47.4 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 21.4 per 1,000 (1990). Increase
Rate; 26.0 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 143.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Around 85% of the population are Sunni Muslims while
Christians are estimated to account for less than 4% of the population
with the remainder following local native tribal beliefs.
LANGUAGES: The official language is English, although less than
2% of the population can speak it while the national languages are Wolof,
Fula and Madinka.
EDUCATION: Aged 20 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
90.8%, primary 6.2%, secondary 2.6%, higher 0.4% (1973). Literacy; literate
population aged 15 or over 27.2% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Gambia gained internal self government
from Britain in 1963 and gained complete independence on Feb. 18, 1965.
On Apr. 24, 1970 Gambia became a republic. Since 1970 tourism has grown
rapidly, however, many droughts have reduced agricultural production and
seriously damaged Gambia's economy. In 1972 a constitutional amendment
provided for the election of the President by the people which resulted
in the election of Sir Dawda Jawara. In July 1981 troops from Senegal put
down a coup attempt against the Gambian government. In Feb. 1982 Gambia
and Senegal, who have always had close relations, formed a confederation
which, like the earlier British colony, was called Senegambia. The confederation
reaffirmed the close economic ties between the two countries and united
their armed forces. However, the confederation collapsed in Sept. 1989
when Gambia sought greater powers. On Jan. 8, 1991 Gambia and Senegal signed
a Treaty of Friendship and Co-operation which replaced the former confederation
agreement. On Feb. 18, 1991 Pres. Dawda Jawara pardoned all the prisoners
implicated in the coup attempt of 1981. In Dec. 1991 Pres. Jawara announced
his intention to resign, although later reversed his decision at the request
of his People's Progressive Party (PPP). On Feb. 14, 1992 Pres. Jawara
announced presidential and legislative elections for April 29, 1992. The
elections resulted in Pres. Jawara being re-elected for his 5th term as
president while the PPP won the majority of seats in legislative elections.
On May 11, 1992 Pres. Jawara announced a new government and appointed the
former economic affairs minister, Saihou S. Sabally, vice president. In
July 192 some 1,300 Senegalese refugees sought refuge in Gambia as a result
of fighting in the Casamance region in Senegal. In Mar. 1993 there were
further influxes of Senegalese refugees from the Casamance province. On
April 7, 1993 Gambia officially abolished the death penalty, although since
its introduction upon independence only one had been carried out. In April
1993 the leader's of the banned Movement for Justice Party in Africa party
from the abortive 1981 coup attempt returned to reactivate the legalized
party. In June 1993 the government announced a new weekly service for Gambia
Airways to London and in Aug. 1993 an agreement was reached with the British
Overseas Development Administration for 1 million pounds for English language
and mathematics teacher training.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Dalasi (D) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $372,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $348,800,000 (1993). Imports; D 2,363,486,000 (1993). Exports;
D 543,751,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $26,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; D -1,675,900,000 (1992). Economically Active Population; 412,000
or 47.2% of total population (1992). Unemployed; N/A.
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the UK,
the Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal and Senegal.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Cassava, Cattle, Fish, Ground Nuts, Millet,
Palm Kernels, Rice, Timber.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Fishing, Food Processing, Forestry.
MAIN EXPORTS: Fish, Ground Nuts and Processed Products, Hides and
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 2,388 km (1,484 mi)
(1986). Vehicles; cars 5,500 (1989), trucks and buses 1,000 (1989). Merchant
Marine; vessels 8 (1990), deadweight tonnage 1,651 (1990). Air Transport;
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 2 with a circulation
of 2,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 140,000 (1994). Television; nil. Telephones;
units 16,300 (1993).
MILITARY: 800 (1994) total active duty personnel while military
expenditure accounts for 0.8% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).