Republic of The Gambia
short form: The Gambia
former: Senegambia; federation with Senegal (1982-1989)
ISO Country Code: gm
Local Time = UTC
Country Calling Code: +220
Capital City: Banjul (pop. 35 000, with suburbs 500 000)
Other Cities: Serrekunda (pop. 200 000),
Basse Santa Su, Georgetown (Jangjang-bureh), Juffureh.
Independence: 18 February 1965 (from the UK).
Constitution:16 January 1997.
Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean surrounded by Senegal.
Area: 11 300 sq. km. (4 360 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by low hills.
Climate: Tropical; hot rainy season (June to Nov.); cooler, dry season (Nov. to May).
Population: 1.7 million (2010 UN estimate)
Ethnic groups: Mandinka 40%, Fula 18%, Wolof 14%, Jola 10%, Serahule 9%, Serere 8%, Krio/Aku Marabout, Manjago, Bambara.
Non-Gambians 13% of the population.
Religions: Muslim 85%, Christian 4%, animists.
Languages: English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula (Pulaar), Jola, other indigenous languages.
Natural resources: Fish, titanium, tin, zircon, silica sand.
Agriculture products: Peanuts, rice, millet, sorghum, fish, palm kernels, vegetables, livestock, forestry.
Industries: Peanut products, construction, telecommunications, brewing; tourism.
Exports partners: India 23.7%, UK 15.2%,France 14.2%, Germany 9.6%, Italy 8.3%,Thailand 5.9%, Malaysia 4.1% (2004)
Imports partners: China 23.7%, Senegal 11.6%,Brazil 5.9%, UK 5.5%, Netherlands 4.5%, USA4.4% (2004)
Currency: Dalasi (GMD)
The Gambia is a strip of land 15 to 30 miles (25 to 50 kilometres) wide and 295 miles long on either bank of the Gambia River; except for a short coastline, it is surrounded by Senegal. Its unusual shape and size are attributable to territorial compromises arising from 19th-century Anglo-French rivalry in western Africa.
(from “Gambia, The.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2006)
After 200 years of British colonial rule The Gambia gained its independence 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 1996 constitution and presidential elections, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, completed a nominal return to civilian rule. The country undertook another round of presidential and legislative elections in late 2001 and early 2002.
Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH, the leader of the coup, has been elected president in all subsequent elections.
(from CIA – The World Factbook — Gambia, The)