THE GAMBIA (/ˈɡæmbi.ə/ ( listen )), officially the REPUBLIC OF
THE GAMBIA, is a country in
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 1,882,450 at the April 2013 census
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
Adama Barrow became The Gambia's third president in January 2017, after defeating Jammeh in December 2016 elections . Jammeh initially refused to accept the results, 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.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 2.1 Gambia Colony and Protectorate (1821–1965) * 2.2 Post-Independence (1965–present)
* 3 Geography
* 3.1 Climate
* 4 Politics
* 4.1 Foreign relations * 4.2 Military * 4.3 Administrative divisions
* 5 Economy
* 6 Society
* 7 Culture
* 7.1 Music * 7.2 Cuisine * 7.3 Media * 7.4 Sports
* 8 See also * 9 Notes * 10 References * 11 External links
The name "Gambia" is derived from the Mandinka term Kambra/Kambaa,
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 Use
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
Main article: History of the Gambia
By the 11th or 12th century, the rulers of kingdoms such as
a monarchy centred on the
In 1588, the claimant to the Portuguese throne , António, Prior of
Crato , sold exclusive trade rights on the
Gambia River to English
During the late 17th century and throughout the 18th century, the
As many as three million slaves may have been taken from this general region during the three centuries that the transatlantic slave trade operated. It is not known how many slaves were taken 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 kidnapping. A map of James Island and Fort Gambia
Traders initially sent slaves to Europe to work as servants until the
market for labour expanded in the
GAMBIA COLONY AND PROTECTORATE (1821–1965)
An agreement with the French
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 cemetery is in
Fajara (close to Banjul).
After World War II, the pace of constitutional reform increased.
Following general elections in 1962, the
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 liberties.
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 .
President Sir 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
In 1994, the 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 deemed free, fair, and transparent, albeit with some 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
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 elections. The Gambia sentenced main opposition leader and human rights advocate 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 declared 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 country.
On 14 February 2017,
The Gambia began the process of returning to its
membership of the Commonwealth.
Map of the Gambia Main article: Geography of the Gambia
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 is
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
The present boundaries were defined in 1889 after an agreement
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
Dawda Jawara , Prime Minister of the Gambia, 1965–1970 and
President of the Gambia, 1970–1994
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 regime were held in April 1992.
In 1994, following corruption allegations against the Jawara regime
and widespread discontent in the army, a largely bloodless and
successful coup d'état installed army lieutenant
In July 2001, the ban on Jawara-era political parties and politicians was lifted. 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 , splintered earlier in the year. The voting was generally regarded 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. Jammeh immediately returned from a trip to
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) through 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 were held under conditions that the 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 to 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 past 30 years. Nine were executed in August 2012.
In December 2014, a failed coup attempt by American-Gambian dual citizens, including US military veterans, was reported in the Gambia.
On 11 December 2015, Jammeh declared
The Gambia to be an Islamic
republic , in what he said was designed to distance the country
further from its colonial past. The move was criticised by the
opposition leader, who described it as unconstitutional.
Nevertheless, media outlets in the state began referring to the
country as the Islamic
On 25 October, Jammeh signed a decree to initiate the process of withdrawal from the Rome Statute (which laid foundation to the International Criminal Court).
On 1 December 2016, after 22 years of presidency, Jammeh was defeated by 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 of emergency.
In response to that, ECOWAS launched an intervention in the Gambia , with the objective of restoring democracy in the country.
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.
The Gambia followed a formal policy of nonalignment 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 . Since 1995, President Jammeh has established
diplomatic relations with several additional countries, including
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
The Gambia has also sought to mediate disputes in nearby
The Gambia withdrew from the
Commonwealth of Nations
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
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
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 peacekeeping.
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 .
NAME AREA (KM2) Population Census 2003 Population Census 2013 (provisional) CAPITAL Number of Districts
Mansa Konko (formerly Lower River) 1,628.0 72,167 82,381 Mansakonko 6
Kuntaur (formerly the western half of Central River Division ) 1,466.5 78,491 99,108 Kuntaur 5
Janjanbureh (formerly the eastern half of Central River Division ) 1,427.8 107,212 126,910 Janjanbureh 5
Basse (formerly Upper River) 2,069.5 182,586 239,916 Basse Santa Su 7
TOTAL GAMBIA 10,689 1,360,681 1,882,450 Banjul 43
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 Complexity 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 tourism industry.
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.
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
In May 2009, the Lebanese Canadian Bank opened a subsidiary called Prime Bank .
Serekunda market *
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 other factors.
The total fertility rate (TFR) was estimated at 3.98 children/woman in 2013.
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 , Serahule , Serers , Karoninka ,
Manjago and the Bianunkas . The Krio people, locally known as Akus ,
constitute one of the smallest ethnic minorities in the Gambia. They
are descendants of the
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 independence.
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 relatively widespread.
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 mutilation .
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 vaccine.
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 eradication initiative."
According to Vaccine News Daily:
The Gambia is tied for third place in
A group called Power Up Gambia operates in the Gambia to provide solar power technology to health care facilities, ensuring greater access to electricity.
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.
Virtually all commercial life in the Gambia comes to a standstill
during major Muslim holidays, including
The Christian community represents about 8% of the population.
Residing in the western and the southern parts of the Gambia, most of
the Christian community identifies themselves as
The remaining 2% 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,
Serer religion make the annual pilgrimage to Sine in
Due to immigration from South Asia, Buddhists , Hindus and followers of the Bahá\'í Faith are present.
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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 series
Further information: Music of the Gambia
The music of the Gambia is closely linked musically with that of its
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.
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 editor 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
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
* Geography portal
* ^ 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