Gambia, The

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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 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.


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


80 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 18 nm
continental shelf: not specified
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


tropical; hot, rainy season (June to November); cooler, dry season (November to May)


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, titanium (rutile and ilmenite), tin, zircon, silica sand, clay, petroleum

Land use:

arable land: 27.88%
permanent crops: 0.44%
other: 71.68% (2005)

Irrigated land:

20 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

drought (rainfall has dropped by 30% in the last 30 years)

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; desertification; water-borne diseases prevalent

Geography - note:

almost an enclave of Senegal; smallest country on the continent of Africa


1,641,564 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 44.3% (male 365,157/female 361,821)
15-64 years: 53% (male 431,627/female 438,159)
65 years and over: 2.7% (male 22,889/female 21,911) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 17.7 years
male: 17.6 years
female: 17.8 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.84% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

39.37 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

12.25 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

1.29 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.05 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 71.58 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 78.06 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 64.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 54.14 years
male: 52.3 years
female: 56.03 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

5.3 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

1.2% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

6,800 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

600 (2003 est.)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, yellow fever are high risks in some locations
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis (2005)


noun: Gambian(s)
adjective: Gambian

Ethnic groups:

African 99% (Mandinka 42%, Fula 18%, Wolof 16%, Jola 10%, Serahuli 9%, other 4%), non-African 1%


Muslim 90%, Christian 9%, indigenous beliefs 1%


English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, other indigenous vernaculars


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 40.1%
male: 47.8%
female: 32.8% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of The Gambia
conventional short form: The Gambia

Government type:




Administrative divisions:

5 divisions and 1 city*; Banjul*, Central River, Lower River, North Bank, Upper River, Western


18 February 1965 (from UK)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 18 February (1965)


24 April 1970; suspended July 1994; rewritten and approved by national referendum 8 August 1996; reestablished January 1997

Legal system:

based on a composite of English common law, Koranic law, and customary law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly (53 seats; 48 elected by popular vote, 5 appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 17 January 2002 (next to be held February 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - APRC 45, PDOIS 2, NRP 1,

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court

Economy - overview:

The Gambia has no significant mineral or natural resource deposits and has a limited agricultural base. About 75% of the population depends on crops and livestock for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. Reexport trade normally constitutes a major segment of economic activity, but a 1999 government-imposed preshipment inspection plan, and instability of the Gambian dalasi (currency) have drawn some of the reexport trade away from The Gambia. The government's 1998 seizure of the private peanut firm Alimenta eliminated the largest purchaser of Gambian groundnuts. Despite an announced program to begin privatizing key parastatals, no plans have been made public that would indicate that the government intends to follow through on its promises. Unemployment and underemployment rates remain extremely high; short-run economic progress depends on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible government economic management, on continued technical assistance from the IMF and bilateral donors, and on expected growth in the construction sector.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$2.946 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$426.6 million (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

5.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$1,800 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 35.5%
industry: 12.2%
services: 52.3% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

400,000 (1996)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 75%
industry: 19%
services: 6%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

8.8% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

25.8% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $46.63 million
expenditures: $62.66 million; including capital expenditures of $4.1 million (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

rice, millet, sorghum, peanuts, corn, sesame, cassava (tapioca), palm kernels; cattle, sheep, goats


processing peanuts, fish, and hides; tourism, beverages, agricultural machinery assembly, woodworking, metalworking, clothing

Electricity - production:

140 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

130.2 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

2,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Current account balance:

-$20.54 million (2005 est.)


$140.3 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

peanut products, fish, cotton lint, palm kernels, re-exports

Exports - partners:

India 23.7%, UK 15.2%, France 14.3%, Germany 9.6%, Italy 8.3%, Thailand 5.9%, Malaysia 4.1% (2004)


$197 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

foodstuffs, manufactures, fuel, machinery and transport equipment

Imports - partners:

China 23.9%, Senegal 11.6%, Brazil 5.9%, UK 5.5%, Netherlands 4.6%, US 4.4% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$81.55 million (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$628.8 million (2003 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$59.8 million (2003)

Currency (code):

dalasi (GMD)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

38,400 (2002)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

175,000 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: adequate; a packet switched data network is available
domestic: adequate network of microwave radio relay and open-wire
international: country code - 220; microwave radio relay links to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 3, FM 2, shortwave 0 (2001)

Television broadcast stations:

1 (government-owned) (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

13 (2005)

Internet users:

49,000 (2005)


1 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2005)


total: 3,742 km
paved: 723 km
unpaved: 3,019 km (2003)


390 km (on River Gambia; small ocean-going vessels can reach 190 km) (2004)

Merchant marine:

total: 4 ships (1000 GRT or over) 30,976 GRT/10,978 DWT
by type: passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 1 (2005)

Ports and terminals:


Military branches:

Gambian National Army (GNA), Gambian Navy (GN), Presidential Guard, National Guard

Disputes - international:

attempts to stem refugees, cross-border raids, arms smuggling, and other illegal activities by separatists from southern Senegal's Casamance region, as well as from conflicts in other west African states