TheGambia 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 new 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.
Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and Senegal
: 13 28 N, 16 34 W
: Total: 11,300 sq km ;land: 10,000 sq km;water: 1,300 sq km
Climate: Tropical; hot, rainy season (June to November); cooler, dry season (November to May)
: 80 km
: 1,455,842 (July 2002 est.)
0-14 years: 45.1% (male 329,530; female 326,627)
15-64 years: 52.3% (male 377,357; female 383,548)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 20,237; female 18,543) (2002 est.)
: African 99% (Mandinka 42%, Fula 18%, Wolof 16%, Jola 10%, Serahuli 9%, other 4%), non-African 1%Languages
: English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, other indigenous vernaculars
The Gambia has no important mineral or other natural resources 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. Re export 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 re-export trade away from Banjul. The government's 1998 seizure of the private peanut firm Alimenta eliminated the largest purchaser of Gambian groundnuts; the following two marketing seasons have seen substantially lower prices and sales. A decline in tourism in 2000 has also held back growth. Unemployment and underemployment rates are extremely high. Short run economic progress remains highly dependent on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible government economic management as forwarded by IMF technical help and advice, and on expected growth in the construction sector. Record crops under girded sturdy growth in 2001.
Industries: Processing peanuts, fish, and hides; tourism; beverages; agricultural machinery assembly, woodworking, metalworking; clothing
: Conventional long form: Republic of The Gambia ;Conventional short form: The Gambia
: Republic under multiparty democratic rule
5 divisions and 1 city*; Banjul*, Central River, Lower River, North Bank, Upper River, Western
Independence:18 February 1965 (from UK)
Legal system: Based on a composite of English common law, Koranic law, and customary law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
chief of state: President Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH (since 18 October 1996; note - from 1994 to 1996 was Chairman of the Junta); Vice President Isatou Njie SAIDY (since 20 March 1997); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH (since 18 October 1996; note - from 1994 to 1996 was Chairman of the Junta); Vice President Isatou Njie SAIDY (since 20 March 1997); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; the number of terms is not restricted; election last held 18 October 2001 (next to be held NA October 2006)
election results: Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH reelected president; percent of vote - Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH 52.9%, Ousainou DARBOE 32.7%
Telephones - main lines in use:
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 3, FM 2, shortwave 0 (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (government-owned) (1997)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Internet users :
Total: 2,700 km ;paved: 956 km ;unpaved: 1,744 km (1996)
slam is the religion for the majority of Gambians. In the past few years, the creed that was started by Muhammad, son of Abdullah, in theArabian Desert a little over 1,400 years ago, has gone on the lane of activism in The Gambia.
The first European settlement in Gambia was made by Baltic Germans, who built a fort on James Island in 1651. Ten years later, they were displaced by the British, who were themselves ever under threat from French ships, pirates and the mainland African kings. Britain declared the Gambia River a British Protectorate in 1820 and for many years ruled it from Sierra Leone. In 1886, Gambia became a crown colony, and the following year France and Britain drew the boundaries between Senegal (by then a French colony) and Gambia.
In 1965, Gambia became independent (although Britain's Queen Elizabeth II remained as titular head of state), and without any official explanation the word "The" was added to its name. Economic growth translated into political confidence, and in 1970 Gambia became a fully independent republic. Troubles in the 1980s began with falling groundnut prices, while the government of President Dawda Jawara did little to diversify the economy.
A protest by soldiers over late salaries in July 1994 turned into a coup d'etat, led by a young lieutenant, Yahya Jammeh, who appeared in public wearing combat fatigues and dark sunglasses - a look that did little to endear him to the international community. A new military government was formed, and Jammeh announced that he would remain in power at least until 1998. After suffering the fiscal repercussions of the British Foreign Office's advice to British tourists to avoid the country, Jammeh pragmatically switched tack and announced that elections would be held in 1996. A new constitution was introduced, ushering in the Second Republic, and Jammeh was the clear winner of the election.
Despite periodic allegations of corruption among his party's officials, Jammeh remains in power and has brought some degree of stability to the country. Tourism is back in a big way, and the Gambian infrastructure is improving, as evidenced by the modernBanjul International Airport. Expectations among Gambians are high, though it may prove difficult for the government to implement all of its promises.
There was civil unrest in Banjul and Brikama in early 2000 as Gambian security forces were put on the alert following violence in the streets of the capital, Banjul. Six people were killed as a student demonstration called to protest against police brutality degenerated into a pitched battle between demonstrators and police forces. Schools and colleges were temporarily closed and riot police patrolled the streets. More recently things have calmed down, although tension still simmers among the local populace.