The Gambia, is officially known as the 'Republic of The Gambia' but is more commonly known as Gambia; it is one of Africa's smallest countries, has a wet dry tropical climate and is generally hilly, with some uplands savannah and low-lying area swamps; it was the first and last British colony in West Africa.

It is a narrow country, less than 48 km wide at its greatest width and 475 km long, which is approximately half the distance from John o'Groats to Land's End; Gambia consists of little more than half the Gambia river and its two banks, the borders of Gambia are based on the Gambia River

The Gambia River is one of the smallest major rivers in Africa, running just 1,130 km from the Fouta Djallon plateau in N. Guinea to the Atlantic Ocean at the capital city, Banjul and the river is navigable for about half that length.

The boundaries of Gambia largely follow the course of the Gambia River, so that from about 50km upstream, every meander of the river is echoed by a precise twist or turn in the Gambian borders that run parallel for less than 20km to the north and south of the river.

Local legends tell that the borders were established by a British gunship that sailed up the river and fired cannon balls as far as possible onto each bank; the points at which the balls fell were then joined up to become the borders of Gambia; this would make sense when you consider the shape of Gambia and that it was initially established as a protectorate in 1894: in the 19th century protection could be most easily administered by the presence of a gunship.

Gambia is almost an enclave of Senegal and is bordered to the north, east, and south by Senegal; it is split in half by the Gambia River which flows through the centre of the country and empties into the Atlantic Ocean on the western coast.

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Gambia unlike many of its West African neighbours has enjoyed long spells of stability since it gained independence in 1965; it then became a republic within the Commonwealth in 1970; in 1994, president Yahya Jammeh became head of state, by seizing power in a bloodless coup; he has ruled with an iron fist ever since.

However stability has not translated into prosperity, despite the presence of the Gambia river, which runs through the middle of the country, only around one fifth of the land is arable and poor soil quality has led to the predominance of one crop, peanuts; ergo, the developing market economy is based largely on the production and export of peanuts; tourism is now a significant and important source of revenue; the river Gambia serves as a major transportation artery.

The time zone is GMT, the currency is the Dalasi and the official language is English, but other ethnic languages are spoken; Muslims make up approximately 100% of the population, which was more than 1 700 00 in 2007; the main religions are Islam and Christianity and Gambians officially observe the holidays of both religions.

About 2/5 of the population are Mandinka, 1/5 Fulani, 1/8 Wolof; the remainder of the population is made up of a mix of Europeans, Lebanese and other ethnic minority groups such as the Jola and Serahuli.


Other Details:
Full name: Republic of The Gambia.
Population: 1.7 million (UN, 2007).
Capital: Banjul.
Area: 11,295 sq km (4,361 sq miles).
Major languages: English, indigenous languages.
Major religions: Islam, Christianity.
Life expectancy: 59 years (men), 60 years (women) (UN).
Monetary unit: 1 dalasi = 100 butut.
Main exports: Peanuts and peanut products, fish, cotton lint, palm kernels.
Internet domain: .gm.
International dialling code: +220.
The national motto of Gambia is: Progress, Peace and Prosperity.


Malaria: Myth1: Myth2: Myth3:

Whatever the myth, one thing is certain: malaria is the leading killer of children in Gambia.

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