Gambia

Gambia


The Gambia officially the Republic of The Gambia is a country in Western Africa. It is the smallest country on the African continental mainland and is bordered to the north, east, and south by Senegal, and has a small coast on the Atlantic Ocean in the west.


Background History

The Gambia gained its independence from the UK in 1965. Geographically surrounded by Senegal, it formed a short-lived federation of Senegambia between 1982 and 1989. In 1991 the two nations signed a friendship and cooperation treaty, but tensions have flared up intermittently since then. Yahya Jammeh led a military coup in 1994 that overthrew the president and banned political activity. A new constitution and presidential elections in 1996, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, completed a nominal return to civilian rule. Jammeh has been elected president in all subsequent elections including most recently in late 2011.

Government

Country Name:

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

Capital:

  • name: Banjul
  • population: 436,000
  • geographic coordinates: 13 27 N, 16 34 W
  • time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Independence:

  • 18 February 1965 (from the UK)

Government Type:

  • Republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Yahya Jammeh (since 18 October 1996)
  • head of government: President Yahya Jammeh (since 18 October 1996)
  • cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held on 24 November 2011 (next to be held in 2016)

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court

People & Society

Population:

  • 1,840,454 (global rank: 149)
  • growth rate: 2.344% (global rank: 34)

Nationality:

  • noun: Gambian(s)
  • adjective: Gambian

Major Cities:

  • Banjul (capital): 436,000

Ethnic Groups:

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

Religions:

  • Muslim 90%, Christian 8%, indigenous beliefs 2%

Languages:

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

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 63.82 years (global rank: 173)
  • male: 61.52 years
  • female: 66.18 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 69.58 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 20)
  • male: 75.15 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 63.84 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS:

  • adult prevalence rate: 2% (2009 est.) (global rank: 29)
  • people living with AIDS: 18,000 (2009 est.) (global rank: 79)

Literacy:

  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 40.1%
  • male: 47.8%
  • female: 32.8%

Economy

Overview: The Gambia has sparse natural resource deposits and a limited agricultural base, and relies in part on remittances from workers overseas and tourist receipts. About three-quarters of the population depends on the agricultural sector for its livelihood and the sector provides for about one-third of GDP. The agricultural sector has untapped potential - less than half of arable land is cultivated. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. The Gambia's natural beauty and proximity to Europe has made it one of the larger markets for tourism in West Africa, boosted by government and private sector investments in eco-tourism and upscale facilities. In 2011 tourism contributed about one-fifth of GDP, but suffered from the European economic downturn. The Gambia's re-export trade accounted for almost 80% of goods exports. Unemployment and underemployment rates remain high; economic progress depends on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible government economic management, and on continued technical assistance from multilateral and bilateral donors. International donors and lenders continue to be concerned about the quality of fiscal management and The Gambia's debt burden.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $3.774 billion (global rank: 170)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $2,100 (global rank: 186)
  • real growth rate: 5.5% (global rank: 57)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 29.5%, industry: 15.1%, services: 55.4%

Currency:

  • currency: Dalasis (GMD)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 30.29

Poverty:

  • population below poverty line: NA
  • unemployment rate: NA

Agricultural Products:

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

Industries:

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

Exports Commodities:

  • peanut products, fish, cotton lint, palm kernels

Imports Commodities:

  • foodstuffs, manufactures, fuel, machinery and transport equipment

Geography

Location:

  • Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania

Area:

  • total: 196,722 sq km (global rank: 88)
  • land: 192,530 sq km
  • water: 4,192 sq km
  • comparative: slightly smaller than South Dakota

Climate:

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

Land Use:

  • arable land: 27.88%
  • permanent crops: 0.44%
  • other: 71.68%

Natural Resources:

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

Current Environmental Issues:

  • deforestation; desertification; water-borne diseases prevalent

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: 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
  • refugees (country of origin): 5,955 (Sierra Leone)
  • human traficking: The Gambia is a source, transit, and destination country for children and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; within The Gambia, women and girls and, to a lesser extent, boys are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude; women, girls, and boys from West African countries - mainly Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and Benin - are recruited for exploitation in the sex trade


Published: Thursday, September 04, 2008