The Gambia (/ˈɡæmbiə/ ( listen)), officially the
Republic of The Gambia, is a country in
West Africa that is
entirely surrounded by
Senegal except for its coastline on the
Atlantic Ocean at its western end. It is the smallest country on
The Gambia is situated on either side of the Gambia River, the
nation's namesake, which flows through the centre of
The Gambia and
empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Its area is 10,689 square kilometres
(4,127 sq mi) with a population of 1,857,181 as of the April
Banjul is the Gambian capital and the largest cities are
Serekunda and Brikama.
The Gambia shares historical roots with many other West African
nations in the slave trade, which was the key factor in the placing
and keeping of a colony on the Gambia River, first by the Portuguese,
during which era it was known as A Gâmbia. Later, on 25 May 1765,
The Gambia was made a part of the
British Empire when the government
formally assumed control, establishing the Province of Senegambia. In
The Gambia gained independence under the leadership of Dawda
Jawara, who ruled until
Yahya Jammeh seized power in a bloodless 1994
Adama Barrow became The Gambia's third president in January 2017,
after defeating Jammeh in December 2016 elections. Jammeh initially
accepted the results, then refused to accept them, which triggered a
constitutional crisis and military intervention by the Economic
Community of West African States, resulting in his exile.
The Gambia's economy is dominated by farming, fishing and, especially,
tourism. In 2008, about a third of the population lived below the
international poverty line of US$1.25 per day.
Gambia Colony and Protectorate
Gambia Colony and Protectorate (1821–1965)
2.2 Post-Independence (1965–present)
4.1 Foreign relations
4.1.1 List of International Organization Memberships
4.3 Administrative divisions
6.1 Ethnic groups
8 See also
11 External links
The name "Gambia" is derived from the Mandinka term Kambra/Kambaa,
meaning Gambia river. According to the CIA World Factbook, the US
Department of State, the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World and
the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names for British Official
The Gambia is one of only two countries whose self-standing short
name for official use should begin with the word "The" (the other one
being The Bahamas). Upon independence in 1965, the country used
the name The Gambia. Following the proclamation of a republic in 1970,
the long-form name of the country became
Republic of The Gambia.
The administration of
Yahya Jammeh changed the long-form name to
The Gambia in December 2015. On 29 January
2017 the new President
Adama Barrow said the country's name
will[when?] go back to
Republic of The Gambia.
Main article: History of the Gambia
Arab traders provided the first written accounts of the Gambia area in
the ninth and tenth centuries. During the tenth century, Muslim
merchants and scholars established communities in several West African
commercial centres. Both groups established trans-Saharan trade
routes, leading to a large export trade of local people as slaves,
also gold and ivory, as well as imports of manufactured goods.
Senegambian stone circles
Senegambian stone circles (megaliths) which run from
the Gambia and which are described by
UNESCO as "the largest
concentration of stone circles seen anywhere in the world".
By the 11th or 12th century, the rulers of kingdoms such as Takrur, a
monarchy centred on the
Senegal River just to the north, ancient Ghana
Gao had converted to
Islam and had appointed to their courts
Muslims who were literate in the Arabic language. At the beginning
of the 14th century, most of what is today called Gambia was part of
Mali Empire. The Portuguese reached this area by sea in the
mid-15th century, and began to dominate overseas trade.
In 1588, the claimant to the Portuguese throne, António, Prior of
Crato, sold exclusive trade rights on the
Gambia River to English
Letters patent from
Queen Elizabeth I
Queen Elizabeth I confirmed the grant.
In 1618, King
James I of England
James I of England granted a charter to an English
company for trade with the Gambia and the Gold Coast (now Ghana).
Between 1651 and 1661, some parts of the Gambia were under the rule of
the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia, and were bought by Prince Jacob
During the late 17th century and throughout the 18th century, the
British Empire and the French Empire struggled continually for
political and commercial supremacy in the regions of the
and the Gambia River. The
British Empire occupied the Gambia when an
expedition led by Augustus Keppel landed there following the Capture
Senegal in 1758. The 1783 First Treaty of Versailles gave Great
Britain possession of the Gambia River, but the French retained a tiny
Albreda on the river's north bank. This was finally ceded
United Kingdom in 1856.
As many as three million people may have been taken as slaves from
this general region during the three centuries that the transatlantic
slave trade operated. It is not known how many people were taken as
slaves by intertribal wars or Muslim traders before the transatlantic
slave trade began. Most of those taken were sold by other Africans to
Europeans: some were prisoners of intertribal wars; some were victims
sold because of unpaid debts; and many others were simply victims of
A map of James Island and Fort Gambia
Traders initially sent people to Europe to work as servants until the
market for labour expanded in the
West Indies and North America in the
18th century. In 1807, the
United Kingdom abolished the slave trade
throughout its empire. It also tried, unsuccessfully, to end the slave
trade in the Gambia. Slave ships intercepted by the Royal Navy's West
Africa Squadron in the Atlantic were also returned to the Gambia, with
people who had been slaves released on MacCarthy Island far up the
Gambia River where they were expected to establish new lives. The
British established the military post of Bathurst (now Banjul) in
Gambia Colony and Protectorate
Gambia Colony and Protectorate (1821–1965)
The British Governor,
George Chardin Denton
George Chardin Denton (1901–1911), and his
Further information: Gambia Colony and Protectorate
In the ensuing years,
Banjul was at times under the jurisdiction of
the British Governor-General in Sierra Leone. In 1888, The Gambia
became a separate colony.
An agreement with the French
Republic in 1889 established the present
The Gambia became a
British Crown colony called British
Gambia, divided for administrative purposes into the colony (city of
Banjul and the surrounding area) and the protectorate (remainder of
The Gambia received its own executive and legislative
councils in 1901, and it gradually progressed toward self-government.
Slavery was abolished in 1906 and following a brief
conflict between the British colonial forces and indigenous Gambians,
British colonial authority was firmly established.
During World War II, some soldiers fought with the Allies of World War
II. Though these soldiers fought mostly in Burma, some died closer to
home and a
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery is in Fajara
(close to Banjul).
Banjul contained an airstrip for the US Army Air
Forces and a port of call for Allied naval convoys.
After World War II, the pace of constitutional reform increased.
Following general elections in 1962, the
United Kingdom granted full
internal self-governance in the following year.
The Gambia achieved independence on 18 February 1965, as a
constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, with Elizabeth II as
Queen of the Gambia, represented by the Governor-General. Shortly
thereafter, the national government held a referendum proposing that
the country become a republic. This referendum failed to receive the
two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution, but the
results won widespread attention abroad as testimony to The Gambia's
observance of secret balloting, honest elections, civil rights, and
On 24 April 1970,
The Gambia became a republic within the
Commonwealth, following a second referendum. Prime Minister Sir Dawda
Kairaba Jawara assumed the office of President, an executive post,
combining the offices of head of state and head of government.
Dawda Jawara was re-elected five times. An attempted
coup on 29 July 1981 followed a weakening of the economy and
allegations of corruption against leading politicians. The coup
attempt occurred while President Jawara was visiting London and was
carried out by the leftist National Revolutionary Council, composed of
Kukoi Samba Sanyang's Socialist and Revolutionary Labour Party (SRLP)
and elements of the Field Force, a paramilitary force which
constituted the bulk of the country's armed forces.
President Jawara requested military aid from Senegal, which deployed
400 troops to
The Gambia on 31 July. By 6 August, some 2,700
Senegalese troops had been deployed, defeating the rebel force.
Between 500 and 800 people were killed during the coup and the ensuing
violence. In 1982, in the aftermath of the 1981 attempted coup,
The Gambia signed a treaty of confederation. The
Senegambia Confederation aimed to combine the armed forces of the two
states and to unify their economies and currencies. After just seven
The Gambia permanently withdrew from the confederation in 1989.
In 1994, the
Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council
Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) deposed
the Jawara government and banned opposition political activity.
Lieutenant Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, chairman of the AFPRC, became head of
state. Jammeh was just 29 years old at the time of the coup. The AFPRC
announced a transition plan for return to democratic civilian
government. The Provisional Independent Electoral Commission (PIEC)
was established in 1996 to conduct national elections and transformed
into the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in 1997 and became
responsible for registration of voters and for the conduct of
elections and referendums.
In late 2001 and early 2002,
The Gambia completed a full cycle of
presidential, legislative, and local elections, which foreign
observers[who?] deemed free, fair, and transparent, albeit with
some[which?] shortcomings. President Yahya Jammeh, who was elected to
continue in the position he had assumed during the coup, took the oath
of office again on 21 December 2001. Jammeh's Alliance for Patriotic
Reorientation and Construction (APRC) maintained its strong majority
in the National Assembly, particularly after the main opposition
United Democratic Party (UDP) boycotted the legislative elections.
(It has participated in elections since, however).
On 2 October 2013, The Gambian interior minister announced that The
Gambia would leave the
Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations with immediate effect,
ending 48 years of membership of the organisation. The Gambian
Government said it had "decided that
The Gambia will never be a member
of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any
institution that represents an extension of colonialism".
Incumbent President Jammeh faced opposition leaders
Adama Barrow from
the Independent Coalition of parties and Mamma Kandeh from the
Gambia Democratic Congress party in the December 2016 presidential
The Gambia sentenced main opposition leader and human
Ousainou Darboe to 3 years in prison in July 2016,
disqualifying him from running in the presidential election.
Following the 1 December 2016 elections, the elections commission
Adama Barrow the winner of the presidential election.
Jammeh, who had ruled for 22 years, first announced he would step down
after losing the 2016 election before declaring the results void and
calling for a new vote, sparking a constitutional crisis and leading
to an invasion by an ECOWAS coalition. On 20 January 2017, Jammeh
announced that he had agreed to step down and would leave the
On 14 February 2017,
The Gambia began the process of returning to its
membership of the Commonwealth and formally presented its application
to re-join to Secretary-General
Patricia Scotland on 22 January
2018. Boris Johnson, who became the first British Foreign
Secretary to visit
The Gambia since the country gained independence in
1965, announced that the British government welcomed The Gambia's
return to the Commonwealth.
Map of The Gambia
Main article: Geography of The Gambia
The Gambia is a very small and narrow country whose borders mirror the
meandering Gambia River. It lies between latitudes 13 and 14°N, and
longitudes 13 and 17°W.
The Gambia is less than 50 kilometres (31 miles) wide at its widest
point, with a total area of 11,295 km2 (4,361 sq mi).
About 1,300 square kilometres (500 square miles) (11.5%) of The
Gambia's area are covered by water. It is the smallest country on the
African mainland. In comparative terms,
The Gambia has a total area
slightly less than that of the island of Jamaica.
The Gambia on three sides, with 80 km
(50 mi) of coastline on the
Atlantic Ocean marking its western
The present boundaries were defined in 1889 after an agreement between
United Kingdom and France. During the negotiations between the
French and the British in Paris, the French initially gave the British
around 200 miles (320 km) of the
Gambia River to control.
Starting with the placement of boundary markers in 1891, it took
nearly 15 years after the Paris meetings to determine the final
borders of The Gambia. The resulting series of straight lines and arcs
gave the British control of areas about 10 miles (16 km) north
and south of the Gambia River.
Gambia has a tropical climate. A hot and rainy season normally lasts
from June until November, but from then until May, cooler temperatures
predominate, with less precipitation. The climate in The Gambia
closely resembles that of neighbouring Senegal, of southern Mali, and
of the northern part of Benin.
Dawda Jawara, Prime Minister of the Gambia, 1965–1970 and President
of the Gambia, 1970–1994
Yahya Jammeh, President of the Gambia, 1994–2017
Arch 22 monument commemorating the 1994 coup which saw the then
Yahya Jammeh seize power in a bloodless coup, ousting
Dawda Jawara, who had been
President of the Gambia
President of the Gambia since 1970
Main article: Politics of the Gambia
Following independence in 1965, the Gambia conducted freely-contested
elections every five years. Each election was won by The People's
Progressive Party (PPP), headed by Dawda Jawara. The PPP dominated
Gambian politics for nearly 30 years. After spearheading the movement
toward complete independence from Britain, the PPP was voted into
power and was never seriously challenged by any opposition party. The
last elections under the PPP régime took place in April 1992.
In 1994, following allegations of corruption within the Jawara régime
and widespread discontent in the army, a largely bloodless and
successful coup d'état installed army lieutenant
Yahya Jammeh in
power. Politicians from deposed President Jawara's PPP and other
senior government officials were banned[by whom?] from participating
in politics until July 2001. A presidential election took place in
September 1996, in which
Yahya Jammeh won 56% of the vote. The
legislative elections held in January 1997 were dominated by the APRC,
which captured 33 out of 45 seats.
In July 2001 the ban on Jawara-era political parties and politicians
was lifted[by whom?]. Four registered opposition parties participated
in 18 October 2001 presidential election, which the incumbent,
President Yahya Jammeh, won with almost 53% of the votes. The APRC
maintained its strong majority in the National Assembly in legislative
elections held in January 2002, particularly after the main opposition
United Democratic Party (UDP) boycotted the legislative elections.
Jammeh won the 2006 election handily after the opposition coalition,
the National Alliance for Democracy and Development, had splintered
earlier in the year. The voting was generally regarded[by whom?] as
free and fair, though events from the run-up raised criticism from
some. A journalist from the state television station assigned to the
chief opposition candidate, Ousainou Darboe, was arrested.
Additionally, Jammeh said, "I will develop the areas that vote for me,
but if you don't vote for me, don't expect anything".
On 21 and 22 March 2006, amid tensions preceding the 2006 presidential
elections, an alleged planned military coup was uncovered[by whom?].
Jammeh immediately returned from a trip to Mauritania, many army
officials were arrested, and prominent army officials fled the
country. Some[quantify] believe that the President fabricated the
planned coup for his own purposes, but no proof has been found.
For their roles in an alleged 2009 coup plot, eight Gambians
(including the former Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambian Armed
Forces, a former head and deputy head of the National Intelligence
Agency, and others) were tried for treason, found guilty, and
sentenced to death in July 2010. One of the convicted, a businessman,
disappeared while in custody awaiting his appeal. Before that trial
concluded, the former Chief of Defence Staff and the former Chief of
the Gambia Naval Staff were charged with treason for their complicity
in the failed 2006 coup. A key prosecution witness, serving a lengthy
prison sentence for his role in the 2006 coup plot, received a
presidential pardon, apparently in return for his testimony.
The 1970 constitution, which divided the government into independent
executive, legislative, and judicial branches, was suspended after the
1994 military coup. As part of the transition process, the AFPRC
established the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) by decree in
March 1995. In accordance with the timetable for the transition to a
democratically elected government, the CRC drafted a new constitution
for the Gambia, which was approved by referendum in August 1996. The
constitution provides for a strong presidential government, a
unicameral legislature, an independent judiciary, and the protection
of human rights.
In November 2011, elections took place under conditions that the
Economic Community of West African States
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) characterised as
"not to be conducive for the conduct of free, fair and transparent
polls". These elections, which were not monitored by ECOWAS,
returned Jammeh for another five-year term.
On 22 August 2012 the Gambia announced it would execute all death-row
convicts, 42 men and two women, by September 2012. The country had not
executed anyone in the previous 30 years. Nine were executed in
In December 2014 a failed coup attempt by American-Gambian
dual-citizens, including US military veterans, was reported in the
On 11 December 2015 Jammeh declared the Gambia an Islamic republic, in
a move he said was designed[by whom?] to distance the country further
from its colonial past. The opposition leader
criticised the declaration, describing it as
unconstitutional. Nevertheless, media outlets in the state
began referring to the country as the Islamic
Republic of the
On 25 October 2016 Jammeh signed a decree to initiate the process of
withdrawal from the Rome Statute - which established the International
Criminal Court (ICC).
On 1 December 2016, after 22 years of presidency, Jammeh was defeated
Adama Barrow in the presidential election. After first
conceding defeat and announcing he would step down, on 10 December
Jammeh declared that he would not accept the results and called for a
new election. On 17 January 2017, Jammeh declared a 90-day state
In response to that, ECOWAS launched an intervention in the Gambia
with the objective of restoring democracy in the country.
Barrow took his oath of office in exile in neighbouring Senegal.
On 20 January 2017 Barrow announced that Jammeh had agreed to step
down and would leave the country. On the same day the chief of the
Gambian Military, Ousman Badjie, pledged his allegiance to Barrow.
On 13 February 2017 Barrow revoked Jammeh's plan to withdraw from the
ICC. Barrow promised to return the Gambia to its membership of the
Commonwealth as a
Commonwealth republic and on 14 February 2017, The
Gambia began the process of returning to its membership of the
Commonwealth, formally presenting its application to re-join to
Patricia Scotland on 22 January 2018.
Main article: Foreign relations of the Gambia
Yahya Jammeh and Mrs. Zeineb Jammeh with Barack and
Michelle Obama in
the White House, August 2014
The Gambia followed a formal policy of non-alignment throughout most
of former President Jawara's tenure. It maintained close relations
with the United Kingdom, Senegal, and other African countries. The
July 1994 coup strained the Gambia's relationship with Western powers,
particularly the United States, which until 2002 suspended most
nonhumanitarian assistance in accordance with Section 508 of the
Foreign Assistance Act. After 1995 President Jammeh established
diplomatic relations with several additional countries, including
Libya (suspended in 2010), and Cuba. The People's
China cut ties with the Gambia in 1995 - after the latter established
diplomatic links with
Taiwan - and re-established them in 2016.
The Gambia plays an active role in international affairs, especially
West African and Islamic affairs, although its representation abroad
is limited. As a member of the Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS), the Gambia has played an active role in that
organisation's efforts to resolve the civil wars in
Liberia and Sierra
Leone and contributed troops to the community's ceasefire monitoring
group (ECOMOG) in 1990 and (ECOMIL) in 2003.
The Gambia has also sought to mediate disputes in nearby Guinea-Bissau
and the neighbouring
Casamance region of Senegal. The government of
the Gambia believes
Senegal was complicit in the March 2006 failed
coup attempt. This has put increasing strains on relations between the
Gambia and its neighbour. The subsequent worsening of the human rights
situation has placed increasing strains on US–Gambian relations.
The Gambia withdrew from the
Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations on 3 October
2013, with the government stating it had "decided that the Gambia will
never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a
party to any institution that represents an extension of
colonialism". Under the new President,
The Gambia has begun the
process of returning to its status as a
Commonwealth republic with the
support of the British Government, formally presenting its application
to re-join the
Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations to Secretary-General Patricia
Scotland on 22 January 2018.
List of International Organization Memberships
Commonwealth of Nations
Organization of Islamic Cooperation
Further information: Military of the Gambia
The Gambian Armed Forces consist of the Gambian National Army,
Republican Guards comprising a well-trained and equipped Presidential
Guards and the
Special Forces, and the Navy, all under the authority
of the Ministry of Defence (a ministerial portfolio held by Jammeh).
Prior to the 1994 coup, the Gambian Armed Forces received technical
assistance and training from the United States, United Kingdom,
Republic of China, Nigeria, and Turkey. With the withdrawal
of most of this aid, the Army has received renewed assistance from
Pakistan and others. A number of junior Gambian Army officers
are regularly trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and
sergeants from the
Royal Gibraltar Regiment
Royal Gibraltar Regiment were observed training
Gambian troops in
Bakau in November 2010.
The Gambia allowed its military training arrangement with
expire in 2002.
Members of the Gambian military participated in ECOMOG, the West
African force deployed during the Liberian Civil War beginning in
1990. Gambian forces have subsequently participated in several other
peacekeeping operations, including Bosnia, Kosovo, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, and East Timor.
The Gambia contributed
150 troops to
Liberia in 2003 as part of the
ECOMIL contingent. In
2004, the Gambia contributed a 196-man contingent to the African Union
United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur.
Responsibilities for internal security and law enforcement rest with
the Gambian police under the Inspector General of Police and the
Secretary of State for the Interior.
Alex Bellamy and Paul Williams classify the Gambia as a Tier 2
peacekeeping contributor, and the NYU Center on International
Cooperation describes the Gambia as a regional leader in
Main article: Districts of the Gambia
The Gambia is divided into eight local government areas, including the
national capital, Banjul, which is classified as a city. The Divisions
of the Gambia were created by the Independent Electoral Commission in
accordance to Article 192 of the National Constitution.
Population Census 2003
Population Census 2013
(formerly Lower River)
(formerly North Bank)
(formerly the western half
of Central River Division)
(formerly the eastern half
of Central River Division)
(formerly Upper River)
Basse Santa Su
The local government areas are further subdivided (2013) into 43
districts. Of these,
Kanifing and Kombo Saint Mary (which shares
Brikama as a capital with the
Brikama Local Government Area) are
effectively part of the Greater
Gambia Exports by Product (2014) from Harvard Atlas of Economic
Main article: Economy of the Gambia
The Gambia has a liberal, market-based economy characterised by
traditional subsistence agriculture, a historic reliance on groundnuts
(peanuts) for export earnings, a re-export trade built up around its
ocean port, low import duties, minimal administrative procedures, a
fluctuating exchange rate with no exchange controls, and a significant
The World Bank pegged Gambian GDP for 2011 at US$898M; the
International Monetary Fund put it at US$977M for 2011.
From 2006 to 2012, the Gambian economy grew annually at a pace of
5–6% of GDP.
Agriculture accounts for roughly 30% of gross domestic product (GDP)
and employs about 70% of the labour force. Within agriculture, peanut
production accounts for 6.9% of GDP, other crops 8.3%, livestock 5.3%,
fishing 1.8%, and forestry 0.5%. Industry accounts for about 8% of GDP
and services around 58%. The limited amount of manufacturing is
primarily agricultural-based (e.g., peanut processing, bakeries, a
brewery, and a tannery). Other manufacturing activities include soap,
soft drinks, and clothing.
United Kingdom and other EU countries constituted the
major Gambian domestic export markets. However, in recent years
Senegal, the United States, and Japan have become significant trade
partners of the Gambia. In Africa,
Senegal represented the biggest
trade partner of the Gambia in 2007, which is a defining contrast to
previous years that had
Ghana as equally important
trade partners. Globally, Denmark, the United States, and
become important source countries for Gambian imports. The UK,
Ivory Coast, and the
Netherlands also provide a fair share of
Gambian imports. The Gambian trade deficit for 2007 was $331
In May 2009, 12 commercial banks existed in the Gambia, including one
Islamic bank. The oldest of these, Standard Chartered Bank, dates its
presence back to the entry in 1894 of what shortly thereafter became
Bank of British West Africa. In 2005, the Swiss-based banking group
International Commercial Bank established a subsidiary and now has
four branches in the country. In 2007, Nigeria's Access Bank
established a subsidiary that now has four branches in the country, in
addition to its head office; the bank has pledged to open four more.
In May 2009, the Lebanese Canadian Bank opened a subsidiary called
Brightly-painted fishing boats are common in Bakau
Gambia's wildlife, like this green monkey, attracts tourists
Main article: Demographics of the Gambia
The urbanisation rate in 2011 was 57.3%. Provisional figures from
the 2003 census show that the gap between the urban and rural
populations is narrowing as more areas are declared urban. While urban
migration, development projects, and modernisation are bringing more
Gambians into contact with Western habits and values, indigenous forms
of dress and celebration and the traditional emphasis on the extended
family remain integral parts of everyday life.
The UNDP's Human Development Report for 2010 ranks the Gambia 151st
out of 169 countries on its Human Development Index, putting it in the
'Low Human Development' category. This index compares life expectancy,
years of schooling, gross national income (GNI) per capita and some
The total fertility rate (TFR) was estimated at 3.98 children/woman in
A variety of ethnic groups live in the Gambia, each preserving its own
language and traditions. The Mandinka ethnicity is the largest,
followed by the Fula, Wolof, Jola/Karoninka, Serahule, Serers,
Manjago, Bambara, Aku Marabou and others. The Krio people, locally
known as Akus, constitute one of the smallest ethnic minorities in the
Gambia. They are descendants of the
Sierra Leone Creole people and
have been traditionally concentrated in the capital.
The roughly 3,500 non-African residents include Europeans and families
of Lebanese origin (0.23% of the total population). Most of the
European minority is British, although many of the British left after
Main article: Languages of the Gambia
English is the official language of the Gambia. Other languages are
Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, Serer, Krio, Jola and other indigenous
vernaculars. Owing to the country's geographical setting,
knowledge of French (an official language in much of West Africa) is
Classroom at Armitage High School
Main article: Education in the Gambia
The constitution mandates free and compulsory primary education in the
Gambia. Lack of resources and educational infrastructure has made
implementation of this difficult. In 1995, the gross primary
enrolment rate was 77.1% and the net primary enrolment rate was
64.7% School fees long prevented many children from attending
school, but in February 1998, President Jammeh ordered the termination
of fees for the first six years of schooling. Girls make up about
52% of primary school students. The figure may be lower for girls in
rural areas, where cultural factors and poverty prevent parents from
sending girls to school. Approximately 20% of school-age children
attend Quranic schools.
Public expenditure was at 1.8% of the GDP in 2004, whereas private
expenditure was at 5.0%. There were 11 physicians per 100,000 persons
in the early 2000s. Life expectancy at birth was at 59.9 for females
in 2005 and for males at 57.7.
According to the World Health Organization in 2005, an estimated 78.3%
of Gambian girls and women have suffered female genital
The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Gambia is 400.
This is compared with 281.3 in 2008 and 628.5 in 1990. The under-5
mortality rate, per 1,000 births, is 106 and the neonatal mortality,
as a percentage of under-5 mortality, is 31. In Gambia, the number of
midwives per 1,000 live births is five and the lifetime risk of death
for pregnant women is one in 49. 
In October 2012, it was reported that the Gambia had made significant
improvements in polio, measles immunisation, and the PCV-7
The Gambia was certified as polio-free in 2004. "
The Gambia EPI
program is one of the best in the World Health Organization African
Region," Thomas Sukwa, a representative of the WHO, said, according to
the Foroyaa newspaper. "It is indeed gratifying to note that the
government of the Gambia remains committed to the global polio
According to Vaccine News Daily:
The Gambia is tied for third place in
Africa for measles immunisation
among one-year-old children.
The Gambia is tied for fourth place in the world for the DTP3
immunisation for one-year-old children.
The Gambia is ranked second in
Africa for "feverish children under the
age of five who received antimalarial treatment, according to Trading
A group called
Power Up Gambia operates in the Gambia to provide solar
power technology to health care facilities, ensuring greater access to
Recently, Riders for Health, an international aid group focused on
sub-Saharan countries in Africa, was noted for providing enough
health-care vehicles for the entire country. Riders for Health manage
and maintain vehicles for the government. The initiative addresses a
major barrier to universal health care—transport—and allows health
workers to visit three times as many villages every week.
Main article: Religion in the Gambia
Religions in the Gambia
Bundung mosque is one of the largest mosques in Serekunda.
Article 25 of the constitution protects the rights of citizens to
practice any religion that they choose. In December 2015, Reuters
reported that the Gambia was declared to be an Islamic state by the
country's president, Yahya Jammeh.
Islam is practised by 90% of the
country's population. The majority of the Muslims in the Gambia adhere
Sunni laws and traditions, while large concentrations follow
Virtually all commercial life in the Gambia comes to a standstill
during major Muslim holidays, including
Eid al-Adha and Eid
ul-Fitr. Most Muslims in the Gambia follow the
Maliki school of
jurisprudence. Also, a Shiite Muslim community exists in the
Gambia, mainly from Lebanese and other
Arab immigrants to the
The Christian community represents about 9% of the population.
Residing in the western and the southern parts of the Gambia, most of
the Christian community identifies themselves as Roman Catholic.
However, smaller Christian groups are present, such as Anglicans,
Methodists, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and
small evangelical denominations.
The remaining 1% of the population adheres to indigenous beliefs, such
as the Serer religion.
Serer religion encompasses cosmology and a
belief in a supreme deity called Roog. Some of its religious festivals
include the Xoy, Mbosseh, and Randou Rande. Each year, adherents to
Serer religion make the annual pilgrimage to Sine in
Senegal for the
Xoy divination ceremony.
Serer religion also has a rather
significant imprint on
Senegambian Muslim society in that all
Senegambian Muslim festivals such as "Tobaski", "Gamo", "Koriteh" and
"Weri Kor" are loanwords from the
Serer religion as they were ancient
Like the Serers, the
Jola people also have their own religious
customs. One of the major religious ceremonies of the Jolas is the
Due to immigration from South Asia, Buddhists,
Hindus and followers of
Bahá'í Faith are present.
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help
improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (April 2017) (Learn
how and when to remove this template message)
Drummers at a wrestling match
Although the Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, its
culture is the product of very diverse influences. The national
borders outline a narrow strip on either side of the River Gambia, a
body of water that has played a vital part in the nation's destiny and
is known locally simply as "the River". Without natural barriers, the
Gambia has become home to most of the ethnic groups that are present
throughout western Africa, especially those in Senegal.
Europeans also figure prominently in Gambian history because the River
Gambia is navigable deep into the continent, a geographic feature that
made this area one of the most profitable sites for the slave trade
from the 15th through the 17th centuries. (It also made it strategic
to the halt of this trade once it was outlawed in the 19th century.)
Some of this history was popularised in the
Alex Haley book and TV
Roots which was set in the Gambia.
Further information: Music of the Gambia
The music of the Gambia is closely linked musically with that of its
neighbour, Senegal, which surrounds its inland frontiers completely.
It fuses popular Western music and dance, with sabar, the traditional
drumming and dance music of the Wolof and Serer people.
Main article: Gambian cuisine
The cuisine of the Gambia includes peanuts, rice, fish, meat, onions,
tomatoes, cassava, chili peppers and oysters from the River Gambia
that are harvested by women. In particular, yassa and domoda
curries are popular with locals and tourists.
Critics have accused the government of restricting free speech. A law
passed in 2002 created a commission with the power to issue licenses
and imprison journalists; in 2004, additional legislation allowed
prison sentences for libel and slander and cancelled all print and
broadcasting licenses, forcing media groups to re-register at five
times the original cost.
Three Gambian journalists have been arrested since the coup attempt.
It has been suggested that they were imprisoned for criticising the
government's economic policy, or for stating that a former interior
minister and security chief was among the plotters. Newspaper
Deyda Hydara was shot to death under unexplained circumstances,
days after the 2004 legislation took effect.
Licensing fees are high for newspapers and radio stations, and the
only nationwide stations are tightly controlled by the government.
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders has accused "President Yahya Jammeh's police
state" of using murder, arson, unlawful arrest and death threats
In December 2010 Musa Saidykhan, former editor of The Independent
newspaper, was awarded US$200,000 by the ECOWAS Court in Abuja,
Nigeria. The court found the Government of the Gambia guilty of
torture while he was detained without trial at the National
Intelligence Agency. Apparently he was suspected of knowing about the
2006 failed coup.
As in neighbouring Senegal, the national and most popular sport in
Gambia is wrestling. Association football and basketball are also
Football in the Gambia is administered by the Gambia Football
Association, who are affiliated to both
FIFA and CAF. The GFA runs
league football in the Gambia, including top division GFA League First
Division, as well as the Gambia national football team. Nicknamed "The
Scorpions", the national side have never qualified for either the FIFA
World Cup or the
Africa Cup of Nations finals at senior levels. They
play at Independence Stadium.
The Gambia won two CAF U-17
championships one in 2005 when the country hosted, and 2009 in Algeria
automatically qualifying for
FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru (2005) and
Nigeria (2009) respectively. The U-20 also qualified for
2007 in Canada. The female U-17 also competed in
FIFA U-17 World Cup
2012 in Azerbaijan.
Commonwealth realms portal
Outline of the Gambia
Index of Gambia-related articles
Communications in the Gambia
Transport in the Gambia
List of birds of the Gambia
Public holidays in the Gambia
^ a b c National Population Commission Secretariat (April 30, 2005).
"2013 Population and Housing Census: Spatial Distribution" (PDF).
Gambia Bureau of Statistics. The
Republic of The Gambia. Retrieved
December 29, 2017.
^ "The World Factbook: Gambia, The". CIA. Retrieved 2018-01-02.
^ a b c d "The Gambia". International Monetary Fund.
^ "2016 Human Development Report Summary" (PDF). United Nations
Development Programme. 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
^ "Constitution of the
Republic of The Gambia". Independent Electoral
Commission. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
^ "National Assembly The
Republic of The Gambia". The Gambian
government. p. 12. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
^ Hoare, Ben. (2002) The Kingfisher A-Z Encyclopedia, Kingfisher
Publications. p. 11. ISBN 0-7534-5569-2.
^ Hughes, Arnold (2008) Historical Dictionary of the Gambia. Scarecrow
Press. p. xx. ISBN 0810862603.
^ Wiseman, John A. (2004)
Africa South of the Sahara 2004 (33rd
edition): The Gambia: Recent History, Europa Publications Ltd. p. 456.
^ Maclean, Ruth (21 January 2017). "
Yahya Jammeh leaves the Gambia
after 22 years of rule". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved
17 May 2017.
^ a b "Gambia's Yayah Jammeh confirms he will step down". Al Jazeera.
20 January 2017. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
^ Ramsay, Stuart (22 January 2017). "Former Gambia leader Yahya Jammeh
flies into political exile". Sky News. Retrieved 23 January
^ Human Development Indices Archived 12 January 2012 at the Wayback
Machine., Table 3: Human and income poverty, p. 35. undp.org
^ Geoghegan, Tom (7 June 2012). "
Ukraine or the Ukraine: Why do some
country names have 'the'?". BBC News. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
Habitually, the definite article is sometimes still used when
addressing many other countries, including Ukraine, Netherlands,
Philippines, Congo, Sudan, Yemen, Comoros, Central African Republic,
Seychelles, Maldives, Solomon Islands, Dominican Republic, Czech
Republic, Marshall Islands,
United States of America, and Lebanon,
with varying degrees of accuracy.
^ a b "Constitution of the
Republic of the Gambia" (PDF). 1996.
Retrieved 29 January 2016.
^ a b c "La Gambie s'autoproclame "État islamique"" (in French).
Europe 1. 13 December 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
^ Adegun, Aanu (29 January 2017). "
Adama Barrow removes 'Islamic'
title from Gambia's name". Naij. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
^ "The Gambia: President
Adama Barrow pledges reforms". Al Jazeera. 28
January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
^ Easton P (1999) "Education and Koranic Literacy in West Africa". IK
Notes on Indigenous Knowledge and Practices, n° 11, World Bank Group.
^ Park, Mungo Travels in the Interior of
Africa v. II, Chapter XXII
– War and Slavery.
^ Webb, Patrick (1994). "Guests of the Crown: Convicts and Liberated
Slaves on Mc Carthy Island, the Gambia". The Geographical Journal. 160
(2): 136. doi:10.2307/3060072. JSTOR 3060072.
^ Archer, Frances Bisset (1967)
The Gambia Colony and Protectorate: An
Official Handbook (Library of African Study). pp. 90–94.
^ a b c d
Uppsala Conflict Data Program
Uppsala Conflict Data Program Gambia. In depth: Economic
crisis and a leftist coup attempt in 1981.
^ This article incorporates public domain material from the
United States Department of State document "Background Note: The
^ "UK regrets The Gambia's withdrawal from Commonwealth". BBC News. 3
October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
^ Gambie : l'opposition désigne
Adama Barrow comme candidat
unique pour affronter
Yahya Jammeh en décembre. Senenews.com (31
October 2016). Retrieved on 18 December 2016.
^ Gambia: Will Mama Kandeh's Nomination Papers Be Accepted? –
Freedom Newspaper. Freedomnewspaper.com (6 November 2016). Retrieved
on 18 December 2016.
^ "Gambia: Prison sentences for opposition leaders continues downward
spiral for human rights". Amnesty International. 20 July 2016.
^ Gambia's Jammeh loses to
Adama Barrow in shock election result. BBC
News (2 December 2016). Retrieved on 18 December 2016.
^ a b Gambia leader
Yahya Jammeh rejects election result.
BBC News (10
December 2016). Retrieved on 18 December 2016.
^ a b c "The Gambia: UK 'very pleased' about Commonwealth return".
^ a b c "
The Gambia presents formal application to re-join the
Commonwealth" (Media Release). The Commonwealth. 23 January 2018.
Retrieved 24 January 2018.
^ a b
Boris Johnson is only delighted the Gambia wants back into the
British Commonwealth. thejournal.ie (15 February 2017)
^ a b c d e f "The Gambia". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence
^ Wright, Donald (2004). The World and a Very Small Place in Africa: A
History of Globalization in Niumi, The Gambia. Armonk, New York: M.E.
Sharpe. pp. 149–150. ISBN 978-0-7656-1007-2.
^ Hayward, Derek; J. S. Oguntoyinbo (1987). Climatology of West
Africa. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 189.
^ "In Gambia, New Coup Follows Old Pattern". The New York Times. 28
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Background note: The Gambia". U.S.
Department of State (October 2008). This article incorporates text
from this source, which is in the public domain.
^ "Leader Vows To Rule For Next 40 Years". The New York Times. 22
September 2006. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
^ "BREAKING NEWS: RELEASE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS NOW-PA SAMBA JOW GPU
USA PRESIDENT". Freedom Newspaper Online. March 2006. Archived from
the original on 8 September 2008. Retrieved 7 November 2012. CS1
maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
^ "ECOWAS Statement on the 24 November 2011 Presidential Election in
the Gambia". ECOWAS. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
^ Karimi, Faith (23 August 2012). "Gambia vows to execute all death
row inmates by September, sparking outcry". CNN. Retrieved 23 August
^ "The reckless plot to overthrow Africa's most absurd dictator". The
Guardian. 21 July 2015.
^ "Gambia declared
Islamic republic by President Yahya Jammeh". BBC.
12 December 2015.
The Gambia now an Islamic republic, says President Yahya Jammeh".
The Guardian (12 December 2015). Retrieved 13 December 2015.
^ "Gambian president declares country Islamic republic".
December 2015). Retrieved 13 December 2015.
^ a b Rifai, Ryan (12 December 2015) "Gambia's president declares
Islamic statehood". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
^ Farge, Emma (12 December 2015). "Gambia president declares country
an Islamic republic". Yahoo news (via Reuters). pp. no
pagination. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
^ Ceesay, Alieu; Faal, Momodou (5 February 2016). "Thousands join
First Lady in fight against cancer". Daily Observer (Gambia). Archived
from the original on 17 August 2016. Retrieved 12 February
2016. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
^ Gambia withdraws from International Criminal Court. aljazeera.com
(26 October 2016)
^ "Gambia's Jammeh loses to
Adama Barrow in shock election result".
BBC News. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
^ The Gambia's president declares state of emergency, bbc.co.uk, 17
Adama Barrow to take oath in Senegal". www.aljazeera.com.
Yahya Jammeh 'agrees to step down'". Al Jazeera. 20
January 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
^ "Gambia's president
Adama Barrow revokes plan to withdraw from ICC".
Standard Media. 13 February 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
^ Wong, Chun Han. "Beijing Resumes Formal Ties With Gambia, in Signal
to Taipei". wsj.com. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 March
^ "UK regrets The Gambia's withdrawal from Commonwealth". BBC
^ "Member States". OIC.
^ "Member States". African Union.
^ a b Bellamy, Alex J. and Williams, Paul D. (2013) Providing
Peacekeepers: The Politics, Challenges, and Future of United Nations
Peacekeeping Contributions. Oxford University Press, p. 30.
^ "The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute".
Conflict.sipri.org. Archived from the original on 19 January 2016.
Retrieved 7 October 2013. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status
Center on International Cooperation (28 February 2012) "Annual
Review of Global Peace Operations 2012"
^ Law, Gwillim (19 April 2006). "Divisions of Gambia". Administrative
Divisions of Countries ("Statoids"). Retrieved 29 September
^ Fadera, Hatab (23 April 2012) "Gambia to commence rail system in
2013:- Discloses President Jammeh, as he opens parliament", The Daily
Observer (23 April 2012).
Prime Bank (Gambia) is the 12th commercial bank in the Gambia".
Observer.gm. 27 May 2009. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014.
Retrieved 26 June 2010. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status
^ "TOTAL FERTILITY RATE". CIA World Factbook.
^ a b c d e "The Gambia". 2001 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child
Labor. Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor
(2002). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in
the public domain.
^ "Human Development Report 2009 – Gambia". Hdrstats.undp.org.
Archived from the original on 5 November 2009. Retrieved 26 June
2010. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
Female genital mutilation
Female genital mutilation and other harmful practices".
Who.int. 6 May 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
^ The State of the World's Midwifery 2014.
United Nations Population
Fund. 2014. ISBN 978-0-89714-026-3.
^ a b c Tinder, Paul (11 October 2012). "University of The Gambia
launches public health masters programs", Vaccine News Daily,
^ "June 1–7, 2013, Motorcycle health care". The Lancet. 381 (9881):
i. 2013. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61141-1.
^ "Religions in the Gambia". CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 28 July
^ "CHAPTER IV – PROTECTION OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS".
Constitution of the
Republic of The Gambia. 1997. Retrieved 14 January
^ a b c "Gambia, The". International Religious Freedom Report 2007.
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 14 September 2007.
Retrieved 14 January 2009.
^ Breach of Faith. Human Rights Watch. June 2005. p. 8.
^ Burke, Andrew and Else, David (2002)
The Gambia & Senegal.
Lonely Planet. p. 35. ISBN 1740591372.
^ Sait, Siraj and Lim, Hilary (2011) Land, Law and Islam. Zed Books.
p. 42. ISBN 1842778137.
^ "Shia Presence in Gambia:". Wow.gm. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
^ Kalis, Simone (1997). Medecine Traditionnele Religion et Divination
Chez Les Seereer Siin Du Senegal. L'Harmattan. ISBN 2-7384-5196-9
^ Diouf, Niokhobaye (1972). "Chronique du royaume du Sine, suivie de
Notes sur les traditions orales et les sources écrites concernant le
royaume du Sine par Charles Becker et Victor Martin (1972)". Bulletin
de l'IFAN. 34B (4): 706–7, 713–14.
^ "Traditional food and drink in The Gambia". www.gambia.co.uk.
^ a b "Country profile: The Gambia".
BBC News website. Retrieved 16
^ "President tightens media laws in The Gambia". Mail & Guardian.
11 May 2005. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
Banjul newspaper reporter freed on bail pending trial". Reporters
without borders. 13 June 2006. Archived from the original on 13 May
2006. Retrieved 16 October 2008. CS1 maint: BOT: original-url
status unknown (link)
^ "Gambia – Annual report 2005". Reporters Without Borders. December
2004. Retrieved 16 October 2008.
^ Sport – Gambia!, weebly.com, accessed 3 April 2016.
Find more aboutThe Gambiaat's sister projects
Definitions from Wiktionary
Media from Wikimedia Commons
News from Wikinews
Quotations from Wikiquote
Texts from Wikisource
Textbooks from Wikibooks
Travel guide from Wikivoyage
Learning resources from Wikiversity
State House and Office of the President
Gambia Guide – Comprehensive information
Gambia Daily news – Daily news from the Gambia through various media
The Gambia – A comprehensive website about the Gambia
"The Gambia". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
The Gambia from UCB Libraries GovPubs
The Gambia at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
The Gambia from the BBC News
Wikimedia Atlas of The Gambia
Key Development Forecasts for the Gambia from International Futures
Visit the Gambia – The official website of the Gambia Tourism Board.
Birdwatching in the Gambia – Website about Birdwatching in the
Gambia including photo galleries of Gambian birds
Gambia 2011 Trade Summary Statistics
The Gambia articles
British West Africa
1994 coup d'état
Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council
2016–17 constitutional crisis
ECOWAS military intervention
Cities and towns
World Heritage Sites
Coat of arms
Countries and territories of Africa
Central African Republic
Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire)
São Tomé and Príncipe
Plazas de soberanía
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Southern Provinces (Western Sahara)1
States with limited
Arab Democratic Republic
1 Unclear sovereignty.
Members of the Commonwealth of Nations
Antigua and Barbuda
Papua New Guinea
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
Ashmore and Cartier Islands
Australian Antarctic Territory
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Coral Sea Islands
Heard Island and McDonald Islands
Akrotiri and Dhekelia
British Antarctic Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
British Virgin Islands
Isle of Man
St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands
Source: Commonwealth Secretariat - Member States
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Central African Republic
Moro National Liberation Front
Economic Cooperation Organization
1 As the "Turkish Cypriot State".
African Union (AU)
Organisation of African Unity
Permanent Representatives' Committee
Specialized Technical Committees
African Court of Justice
African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights
Peace and Security
Infrastructure and Energy
Social Affairs and Health
HR, Sciences and Technology
Trade and Industry
Rural Economy and Agriculture
Women and Gender
African Central Bank
African Monetary Fund
African Investment Bank
Peace and Security Council
African Standby Force
Panel of the Wise
African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights
African Economic Community
African Free Trade Zone
Tripartite Free Trade Area
United States of Africa
United States of Latin Africa
ISNI: 0000 0001 2165 9101
BNF: cb119959968 (data)