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Info Africa - THE GAMBIA
Gambia

The Gambia, which is in western Africa, borders the North Atlantic Ocean and Senegal. The smallest country on the African mainland, the Gambia has enjoyed many years of stability since gaining independence from the British in 1965. As this country lies within Senegal, it formed a short-lived federation of Senegambia with Senegal between 1982 and 1989. The Gambia is known for its Gambia River, which runs through the middle of the country. Only one-sixth of the country’s land is arable and this poor soil quality has led to the dominance of merely one crop, namely peanuts. The Gambia offers broad and sandy beaches on the Atlantic, as well as tropical forests in the inland. The River Gambia, which dominates most of this

country, provides fishing, boating and sailing opportunities. The Abuko Nature Reserve and the Makasutu Culture Forest are of particularly interesting as they have astounding wildlife. The Gambia is very much a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society. All the ethnic groups are closely knit together and as a result, there is a cultural symbiosis between these ethnic groups. One cannot talk about the Gambia without mentioning the griots; highly respected members of the society who are in charge of passing on the country's traditions as well as reciting family and village histories. This ensures that generations are aware of their past. The griots are very common in many parts of Africa.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Demographics
Country Flag: Gambia's Flag

Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue with white edges, and green

Nationality: Gambian

Capital: Banjul

Population: 1,641,564 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 44.3%
  • 15-64 years: 53%
  • 65 years and over: 2.7% (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: 2.84% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 40.1% of the population is literate (male: 47.8%, female: 32.8%) (2003 est.)

Major religions: Muslim 90%, Christian 9%, indigenous beliefs 1%

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

Quick Facts
Area:
  • total: 11,300 sq km
  • land: 10,000 sq km
  • water: 1,300 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: double the size of Prince Edward Island

Natural resources: fish, titanium (rutile and ilmenite), tin, zircon, silica sand, clay, petroleum

Environmental Issues: deforestation; desertification; water-borne diseases prevalent

Economy


Roughly 75% of the Gambian population depends on crops and livestock for its livelihood. The Gambia has a limited agricultural base and no significant mineral or natural resource. Small-scale manufacturing activity (peanuts, fish and hides) is present. Reexport trade is a major part of economy activity, however, the instability of the Gambian currency (dalasi) and the government-imposed preshipment inspection plan caused some of the reexport trade away from this country. The Gambia faces high unemployment rates. Short-run economic growth depends on a few issues; continued technical assistance from the IMF and bilateral donors and responsible government economic management.


Major industries:

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

Agricultural products:

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

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003)

Railways: N/A

Road map: 3,742 km (paved: 723 km, unpaved: 3,019 km)

Currency: Dalasi

Communications

Telephone lines in use: 38,400 (2002)

Cellular lines in use: 175,000 (2004)

Television Stations: 1(government-owned) (1997)

Radio Stations: AM 3, FM 2, shortwave 0 (2001)

Internet users: 49,000 (2005)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 1.2% (2003 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 6, 800 (2003 est.)

More Information

For more informaiton, please visit:
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ga.html