[Country map of The Gambia]

The Gambia


Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and Senegal

Map references: Africa

total area: 11,300 sq km
land area: 10,000 sq km
comparative area: slightly more than twice the size of Delaware

Land boundaries: total 740 km, Senegal 740 km

Coastline: 80 km

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

International disputes: short section of boundary with Senegal is indefinite

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

Terrain: flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by some low hills

Natural resources: fish

Land use:
arable land: 16%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 9%
forest and woodland: 20%
other: 55%

Irrigated land: 120 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: deforestation; desertification; water-borne diseases prevalent
natural hazards: rainfall has dropped by 30% in the last thirty years
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution; signed, but not ratified - Desertification

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


Population: 989,273 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 47% (female 231,636; male 231,053)
15-64 years: 51% (female 257,329; male 244,947)
65 years and over: 2% (female 11,850; male 12,458) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.08% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 45.97 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 15.19 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 120.8 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 50.55 years
male: 48.25 years
female: 52.92 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.23 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Gambian(s)
adjective: Gambian

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

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

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

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 27%
male: 39%
female: 16%

Labor force: 400,000 (1986 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 75.0%, industry, commerce, and services 18.9%, government 6.1%


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

Digraph: GA

Type: republic under multiparty democratic rule

Capital: Banjul

Administrative divisions: 5 divisions and 1 city*; Banjul*, Lower River, MacCarthy Island, North Bank, Upper River, Western

Independence: 18 February 1965 (from UK; The Gambia and Senegal signed an agreement on 12 December 1981 that called for the creation of a loose confederation to be known as Senegambia, but the agreement was dissolved on 30 September 1989)

National holiday: Independence Day, 18 February (1965)

Constitution: 24 April 1970

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

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state and head of government: Chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council Capt. Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH (since the military coup of 22 July 1994); Vice Chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council Capt. Edward SINGHATEH (since March 1995); election last held on 29 April 1992; results - Sir Dawda JAWARA (PPP) 58.5%, Sherif Mustapha DIBBA (NCP) 22.2%, Assan Musa CAMARA (GPP) 8.0% (prior to the 22 July 1994 coup, next election was scheduled for April 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet; appointed by the president from members of the House of Representatives (present cabinet appointed by Chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council)

Legislative branch: unicameral
House of Representatives: elections last held on 29 April 1992 (next to be held April 1997); results - PPP 58.1%; seats - (43 total, 36 elected) PPP 30, NCP 6

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: People's Progressive Party (PPP), Dawda K. JAWARA (in exile), secretary general; National Convention Party (NCP), Sheriff DIBBA (in exile); Gambian People's Party (GPP), Hassan Musa CAMARA; United Party (UP), leader NA; People's Democratic Organization of Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), leader NA; People's Democratic Party (PDP), Jabel SALLAH


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Aminatta DIBBA
chancery: Suite 1000, 1155 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 785-1399, 1379, 1425
FAX: [1] (202) 785-1430

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Andrew J. WINTER
embassy: Fajara, Kairaba Avenue, Banjul
mailing address: P. M. B. No. 19, Banjul
telephone: [220] 392856, 392858, 391970, 391971
FAX: [220] 392475

Flag: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue with white edges, and green


Overview: The Gambia has no important mineral or other natural resources and has a limited agricultural base. About 75% of the population is engaged in crop production and livestock raising, which contribute 30% to GDP. Small-scale manufacturing activity - processing peanuts, fish, and hides - accounts for less than 10% of GDP. A sustained structural adjustment program, including a liberalized trade policy, had fostered a respectable 4% rate of growth in recent years. Reexport trade constitutes one-third of economic activity; however, border closures associated with Senegal's monetary crisis in late 1993 led to a halving of reexport trade, reducing government revenues in turn. The 50% devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994 has made Senegalese goods more competitive and apparently prompted a relaxation of Senegalese controls, paving the way for a comeback in reexports. But overwhelming these developments were the devastating effects of the military's takeover in July 1994. By October, traffic at the Port of Banjul had fallen precipitously as importers nervously scaled back their activities with the commencement of the anticorruption drive by the new regime. Concerned with the growing potential for serious unrest after a countercoup attempt was bloodily put down by the regime, the United Kingdom and the EU in November issued a travelers advisory for The Gambia, which brought a halt to tourism almost immediately. The Gambia faces additional problems in 1995 if, as is likely, economic sanctions by Western governments remain in effect in response to indications that the military regime intends to stay in power far longer than expected by the donors.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $1 billion (1993 est.)

National product real growth rate: NA%

National product per capita: $1,050 (1993 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6.5% (1993)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $94 million
expenditures: $89 million, including capital expenditures of $24 million (FY92/93 est.)

Exports: $81 million (f.o.b., FY92/93 est.)
commodities: peanuts and peanut products, fish, cotton lint, palm kernels
partners: Japan 60%, Europe 29%, Africa 5%, US 1%, other 5% (1989)

Imports: $154 million (f.o.b., FY92/93 est.)
commodities: foodstuffs, manufactures, raw materials, fuel, machinery and transport equipment
partners: Europe 57%, Asia 25%, USSR and Eastern Europe 9%, US 6%, other 3% (1989)

External debt: $286 million (FY92/93 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 6.7%

capacity: 30,000 kW
production: 70 million kWh
consumption per capita: 64 kWh (1993)

Industries: peanut processing, tourism, beverages, agricultural machinery assembly, woodworking, metalworking, clothing

Agriculture: accounts for 30% of GDP; one-third of food requirements is imported; major export crop is peanuts; other principal crops - millet, sorghum, rice, corn, cassava, palm kernels; livestock - cattle, sheep, goats; forestry and fishing resources not fully exploited

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $93 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $535 million; Communist countries (1970-89), $39 million

Currency: 1 dalasi (D) = 100 butut

Exchange rates: dalasi (D) per US$1 - 9.565 (January 1995), 9.576 (1994), 9.129 (1993), 8.888 (1992), 8.803 (1991), 7.883 (1990)

Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June


Railroads: 0 km

total: 3,083 km
paved: 431 km
unpaved: gravel, crushed stone 501 km; unimproved earth 2,151 km

Inland waterways: 400 km

Ports: Banjul

Merchant marine:
total: 1 bulk ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 11,194 GRT/19,394 DWT

total: 1
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1


Telephone system: 3,500 telephones; telephone density - 4 telephones/1,000 persons
local: NA
intercity: adequate network of radio relay and wire
international: 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth station

broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 2, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: NA
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, National Police

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 214,680; males fit for military service 108,659 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $14 million, 3.8% of GDP (FY93/94)