Gambia, or Republic of the Gambia, a country of western Africa. Gambia occupies a narrow strip on both sides of the Gambia River and is bounded by Senegal and the Atlantic Ocean. The total area is 4,361 square miles (11,295 km2).
Gambia consists mainly of savannas and marshes. The Gambia River is the chief waterway and is widely used for transport. The country has a tropical climate. Gambia's economy is based almost entirely on agriculture, which employs about 80 per cent of the workforce. Peanuts are the chief cash crop. Also important to the economy are fishing and tourism. Roads are poorly developed. There is an international airport near Banjul, at Yundum. Banjul is the principal seaport. The basic currency unit is the dalasi.
Gambia's population in 1993 was 1,025,867. Banjul, the capital, had a population of 42,326 in 1993. Most Gambians are Negroid; the major groups are the Malinké (Mandingo), Wolof, and Fulani. Islam is the predominant religion; less than 10 per cent of the population is Christian. The literacy rate is about 25 per cent, and about half of the children of primary school age attend school.
Under the constitution of 1996 Gambia is a republic with an elected president. The country is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Gambia was discovered by Portuguese navigators in the 15th century and came under British control in the 1600's. It was a part of Sierra Leone, 1807–43; a crown colony, 1843–66; and a part of the West African Settlements, 1866–88. Gambia became a separate crown colony again in 1888. In 1902 most of the area was formed into a protectorate; a small region centered on Banjul (then called Bathurst) remained a colony. Gambia was granted independence in 1965, and became a constitutional monarchy. Dawda Jawara was the first prime minister. In 1970 Gambia became a republic with Jawara as president. During 1981–89, Gambia was joined with Senegal in a loose confederation called Senegambia. In 1994 Jawara was overthrown in a military coup. In 1996 a democratic constitution was established and civilian rule was restored.
|Facts in brief about Gambia|
|Official language: English.|
|Area: 4,361 mi2 (11,295 km2).|
|Population: Current estimate—1,582,000; density, 363 per mi2 (140 per km2); distribution, 50 percent urban, 50 percent rural. 2003 census—1,364,507.|
|Chief products: Agriculture—bananas, cassava, corn, hides and skins, limes, livestock (cattle, goats, sheep), mangoes, millet, oranges, palm kernels, papayas, peanuts, rice, vegetables.|
|National anthem: "Na Gambia Banko Kamma" ("For Gambia Our Homeland").|
|Flag: The flag of Gambia has three horizontal stripes of red, blue, and green (top to bottom). The stripes divided by two narrow white bands.|
|Money: Basic unit—dalasi. One hundred bututs equal one dalasi.|