Information about the Gambia

The following information gives an introduction to Gambia, including a location map in Africa, a map and statistics on the population and geography of the country. There are also links to information about the culture and history of the Gambia.

Location of The Gambia within West Africa

location map

An outline map of The Gambia

gambia map

Information from External Websites

Further Information on the Gambia can be obtained from the following websites:

Country Profile: The Gambia (source BBC)

Timeline: The Gambia (source BBC)

A statistical overview of The Gambia

Introduction

 
Background:
The Gambia gained its independence from the UK in 1965. Geographically surrounded by Senegal, it formed a short-lived federation of Senegambia between 1982 and 1989. In 1991 the two nations signed a friendship and cooperation treaty, but tensions have flared up intermittently since then. Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH led a military coup in 1994 that overthrew the president and banned political activity. A new constitution and presidential elections in 1996, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, completed a nominal return to civilian rule. JAMMEH has been elected president in all subsequent elections, including most recently in late 2006.

Geography

 
Location:
Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and Senegal
Geographic coordinates:
13 28 N, 16 34 W
Area:
total: 11,300 sq km
land: 10,000 sq km
water: 1,300 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 740 km
border countries: Senegal 740 km
Coastline:
80 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 18 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: extent not specified
Climate:
tropical; hot, rainy season (June to November); cooler, dry season (November to May)
Terrain:
flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by some low hills
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 53 m
Natural resources:
fish, titanium (rutile and ilmenite), tin, zircon, silica sand, clay, petroleum
Land use:
arable land: 27.88%
permanent crops: 0.44%
other: 71.68% (2005)
Irrigated land:
20 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
8 cu km (1982)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.03 cu km/yr (23%/12%/65%)
per capita: 20 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
drought (rainfall has dropped by 30% in the last 30 years)
Environment - current issues:
deforestation; desertification; water-borne diseases prevalent
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
Geography - note:
almost an enclave of Senegal; smallest country on the continent of Africa

People

 
Population:
1,735,464 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 43.9% (male 382,385/female 378,853)
15-64 years: 53.4% (male 459,315/female 466,689)
65 years and over: 2.8% (male 24,303/female 23,919) (2008 est.)
Median age:
total: 17.9 years
male: 17.7 years
female: 18 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.724% (2008 est.)
Birth rate:
38.36 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate:
11.74 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
0.61 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 68.72 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 75.07 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 62.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 54.95 years
male: 53.06 years
female: 56.9 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate:
5.13 children born/woman (2008 est.)
Nationality:
noun: Gambian(s)
adjective: Gambian
Ethnic groups:
African 99% (Mandinka 42%, Fula 18%, Wolof 16%, Jola 10%, Serahuli 9%, other 4%), non-African 1%
Religions:
Muslim 90%, Christian 9%, indigenous beliefs 1%
Languages:
English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, other indigenous vernaculars
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 40.1%
male: 47.8%
female: 32.8% (2003 est.)

Government

 
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of The Gambia
conventional short form: The Gambia
Government type:
republic
Capital:
name: Banjul
Administrative divisions:
5 divisions and 1 city*; Banjul*, Central River, Lower River, North Bank, Upper River, Western
Independence:
18 February 1965 (from UK)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 18 February (1965)
Constitution:
approved by national referendum 8 August 1996; effective 16 January 1997
Legal system:
based on a composite of English common law, Islamic law, and customary law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH (since 18 October 1996); note - from 1994 to 1996 he was chairman of the Junta; Vice President Isatou NJIE-SAIDY (since 20 March 1997); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH (since 18 October 1996); Vice President Isatou NJIE-SAIDY (since 20 March 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held 22 September 2006 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH reelected president; percent of vote - Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH 67.3%, Ousainou DARBOE 26.6%, Halifa SALLAH 6.0%
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly (53 seats; 48 members elected by popular vote, 5 appointed by the president; to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 25 January 2007 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - APRC 47, UDP 4, NADD 1, independent 1
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders:
Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction or APRC (the ruling party) [Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH]; Gambia People's Democratic Party or GPDP [Henry GOMEZ]; National Alliance for Democracy and Development or NADD [Halifa SALLAH]; National Convention Party or NCP [Sheriff DIBBA]; National Reconciliation Party or NRP [Hamat N. K. BAH]; People's Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism or PDOIS [Sidia JATTA]; United Democratic Party or UDP [Ousainou DARBOE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
NA
International organization participation:
ACP, AfDB, AU, C, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMEE, UNMIL, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue with white edges, and green

Economy

 
Economy - overview:
The Gambia has no confirmed mineral or natural resource deposits and has a limited agricultural base. About 75% of the population depends on crops and livestock for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. Reexport trade normally constitutes a major segment of economic activity, but a 1999 government-imposed preshipment inspection plan, and instability of the Gambian dalasi (currency) have drawn some of the reexport trade away from The Gambia. The Gambia's natural beauty and proximity to Europe has made it one of the larger markets for tourism in West Africa. The government's 1998 seizure of the private peanut firm Alimenta eliminated the largest purchaser of Gambian groundnuts. Despite an announced program to begin privatizing key parastatals, no plans have been made public that would indicate that the government intends to follow through on its promises. Unemployment and underemployment rates remain extremely high; short-run economic progress depends on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible government economic management, on continued technical assistance from the IMF and bilateral donors, and on expected growth in the construction sector.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.106 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$653 million (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
7% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,300 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 32.8%
industry: 8.7%
services: 58.5% (2007 est.)
Labor force:
400,000 (1996)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 75%
industry: 19%
services: 6% (1996)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.8%
highest 10%: 37% (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5% (2007 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $181.1 million
expenditures: $163.4 million (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rice, millet, sorghum, peanuts, corn, sesame, cassava (tapioca), palm kernels; cattle, sheep, goats
Industries:
processing peanuts, fish, and hides; tourism, beverages, agricultural machinery assembly, woodworking, metalworking, clothing
Industrial production growth rate:
-2.3% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production:
145 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
Electricity - consumption:
134.9 million kWh (2005)
Oil - consumption:
2,030 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Current account balance:
-$70 million (2007 est.)
Exports:
$93 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities:
peanut products, fish, cotton lint, palm kernels, re-exports
Exports - partners:
India 38.6%, UK 15.9%, Indonesia 7.9%, France 7%, Italy 4.6% (2006)
Imports:
$271 million f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, manufactures, fuel, machinery and transport equipment
Imports - partners:
China 25.2%, Senegal 11.3%, Cote d'Ivoire 8.1%, Brazil 6.6%, Netherlands 4.5%, UK 4% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient:
$58.15 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$142.8 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external:
$628.8 million (2003 est.)
Currency (code):
dalasi (GMD)
Currency code:
GMD

Communications

 
Telephones - main lines in use:
52,900 (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
404,300 (2006)
Telephone system:
general assessment: adequate; a packet switched data network is available; two mobile-cellular service providers
domestic: adequate network of microwave radio relay and open-wire; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity approaching 30 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code - 220; microwave radio relay links to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (1997)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 3, FM 2, shortwave 0 (2001)
Radios:
196,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (government-owned) (1997)
Televisions:
5,000 (2000)
Internet country code:
.gm
Internet hosts:
6 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2001)
Internet users:
58,000 (2005)

Transportation

 
Airports:
1 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2007)
Roadways:
total: 3,742 km
paved: 723 km
unpaved: 3,019 km (2004)
Waterways:
390 km (on River Gambia; small ocean-going vessels can reach 190 km) (2006)
Merchant marine:
total: 5 ships (1000 GRT or over) 32,064 GRT/9,751 DWT
by type: passenger/cargo 4, petroleum tanker 1
foreign-owned: 1 (Australia 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals:
Banjul

Military

 
Military branches:
Office of the Chief of Defense: Gambian National Army (National Guard, GNA), Gambian Navy (GN) (2008)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.5% (2006)

Transnational Issues

 
Disputes - international:
attempts to stem refugees, cross-border raids, arms smuggling, and other illegal activities by separatists from southern Senegal's Casamance region, as well as from conflicts in other west African states
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 5,955 (Sierra Leone) (2007)

 

 


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