Gambia Travel Information

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Protected Areas in The Gambia

Facts About The Gambia

Background: The Gambia gained its independence from the UK in 1965; it formed a short-lived federation of Senegambia with Senegal between 1982 and 1989. In 1991 the two nations signed a friendship and cooperation treaty. A military coup in 1994 overthrew the president and banned political activity, but a new 1996 constitution and presidential elections, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, have completed a nominal return to civilian rule.
Government type: republic under multiparty democratic rule
Capital: Banjul
Currency: 1 dalasi (D) = 100 butut

Geography of The Gambia

Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and Senegal
Geographic coordinates: 13 28 N, 16 34 W
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:
contiguous zone: 18 nm
continental shelf: not specified
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
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
Land use:
arable land: 18%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 9%
forests and woodland: 28%
other: 45% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 150 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: 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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: almost an enclave of Senegal; smallest country on the continent of Africa

People of The Gambia

A wide variety of ethnic groups live in The Gambia with a minimum of intertribal friction, each preserving its own language and traditions. The Mandinka tribe is the largest, followed by the Fula, Wolof, Jola, and Serahuli. Approximately 2,500 non-Africans live in The Gambia, including Europeans and families of Lebanese origin.

Muslims constitute more than 92% of the population. Christians of different denominations account for most of the remainder. Gambians officially observe the holidays of both religions and practice religious tolerance.

More than 80% of Gambians live in rural villages, although more and more young people come to the capital in search of work and education. While urban migration, development projects, and modernization are bringing more Gambians into contact with Western habits and values, the traditional emphasis on the extended family, as well as indigenous forms of dress and celebration, remain integral parts of everyday life.

Population: 1,593,256 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  45.22%
15-64 years:  52.13%
65 years and over:  2.65% 
Population growth rate: 3.14% 
Birth rate: 41.76 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 12.92 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 2.59 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 77.84 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  53.59 years
male:  51.65 years
female:  55.58 years 
Total fertility rate: 5.76 children born/woman 
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
definition:  age 15 and over can read and write
total population:  47.5%
male:  58.4%
female:  37.1% (2001 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Gambia > Map Economy History