| The Gambia, in the Western most tip of
Africa, is encircled by its neighbouring country Senegal
on all sides (map) apart from the
Atlantic side, and for this reason the two countries have a lot
of cultural & ethnic
ties. In contrast to Senegal, a former French colony, The Gambia
was colonised by Britain and
gained its independence on
18 February, 1965, when it then adopted the
National Anthem. The Gambia, in contrast to many of its West
African neighbours, it has enjoyed lengthy spells of stability
the small country is situated on the Atlantic coast at the bulge
of Africa. It is a thin strip of mainly low plateau, which decreases
in height as it nears the Atlantic coast. The plain is broken
in a few places by the river
and its tributaries. Mangrove swamps, park-like savannah and unspoiled
beaches all feature in The Gambia抯
In contrast to its all-enveloping neighbour, Senegal, and the
massive nations surrounding them, Gambia looks like a sliver in
the side of Africa. True, it ranks among the continent's tiniest
countries, but its attractions are
just as bright and bold-faced as any in the region. Its capital
city, Banjul, is
a uniquely African experience, with a bustling marketplace and
enough street side culture to chase away the holiday daze of glitzier
cities. And for an even more 'traditional' outlook, a quick trip
upriver brings you into the Gambian
heartland, where the colourful buzz of weekly markets
vies with boat trips through mangrove creeks and bike jaunts to
mud-hut villages for your time and appreciation.
Although the country is largely defined by its natural features
- from the Gambia River, which runs the length of the country,
to the golden beaches of its Atlantic coast resorts
- the country's greatest draw lies in its people, their culture
and the amiable atmosphere of daily life. Whether you're making
conversation at a kerbside coffee stall or shouting yourself hoarse
at a weekend wrestling match, you're sure to come away with as
warm a feeling for Gambians as they tend to show to travellers.
This stability, however, has not translated into prosperity. Despite
the predominance of the Gambia river, which runs through the middle
of the country, only one-sixth of the land is arable and the poor
nature of the soil makes it suitable mostly for one crop
- peanuts. The major domestic export products of The Gambia consists
of groundnut products, cotton, fish
and fish products, fruits and vegetables.
Over the past couple of years the country has experienced significant
economic growth primarily driven by the construction
sector of the economy.
country is heavily dependent on peanut exports and as a result
is a hostage to fluctuations in the production and world prices
of the crop.
Consequently, it suffers from poor health
conditions and relies on foreign aid to fill gaps in its balance
economy has a narrow industrial
base and is also a low food-producing nation. Thus it has little
option but to resort to importing most products for consumption.
The Gambia is a net food importing country particularly, rice,
sugar, flour, milk, tomato paste and it gets all fuel
supplies from abroad. The re-export trade continues to play an
important role in The Gambian economy, particularly in trading
with countries in the ECOWAS region of West Africa.
1994, the elected government was
toppled in a military coup. The country
returned to constitutional rule two years later when its military
leader ran as a civilian and won presidential elections (disputed).
In 2000, the country saw a foiled coup, the killing of student
demonstrators, and charges of murder being brought against opposition
leaders - all this against the background of the collapse of the
The current president is here.
in 1965, the former president, Yahya Jammeh, joined the army in
1984 upon leaving school. After serving with Gambian peacekeepers
in Liberia, he returned and, together with a group of veterans
who had not been paid, ousted the elected president, Dawda Jawara,
who had led the country since independence.
At age 36 he won a second term in the October 2001 presidential
elections, which earned the approval of foreign observers.
He gained 53% of votes cast against less than 33% for his main
rival Ouassainou Darboe, a prominent human rights lawyer.
The only national television station is run by the government.
Between 2005 to 2007 the country experienced accelerated growth
rates in the economy largely
driven by the building construction sector of the economy. Many
new roads and hotel accommodation
establishments have been built and street lights have been installed
on many junctions.