Are you planning on a trip to The Gambia? If you are, then you will need some basic information about the country which this article will provide.

Facts About Gambia

The Gambia is a country located in western Africa and is officially known as ‘Republic of The Gambia’. The Gambia was a part of the British Empire and gained its independence only in 1965. The country is surrounded by Senegal on three sides and on the fourth side it has the Atlantic Ocean. It is considered as one of Africa’s smallest countries and since its independence it has seen long spells of stability. It has also suffered from one military coup led by Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh, in 1994, when he overthrew the existing government and took control. Unfortunately, even though The Gambia has been stable, it has not seen much prosperity since only one sixth of the country has soil fit for cultivation. The main crop that is cultivated in this country is peanuts. Even though the country exports peanuts, it still has to depend on foreign aid to help sustain itself. President Yahya Jammeh has declared that he would like to make The Gambia rich by exporting oil. However, they are still to locate any oil in the country.

Image: Udo Schmidt@flickr

Interesting And Fun Facts About Gambia

  • The earliest known settlers in Gambia are believed to the people of the Jola or Diola tribe. Today they form only about 10% of the population of Gambia.
  • The earliest written mention of Gambia is believed to be in the written works of Hanno, a well know Carthaginian explorer, dating back to 470 BC.
  • Between the 5th and 8th Centuries, the area of Senegambia played host to the people of the Serahule tribe.
  • In the 14th Century the region of Gambia became a part of the Mali Empire under the leadership of Sundiata Keita.
  • In the 15th Century people from the Mandinka tribe came and settled in the basin of River Gambia. They are the ones who brought Islam to Gambia and form nearly 40% of the population of Gambia today.
  • The Portuguese captains Luiz de Cadamosto and Antoniotti Usodimare were the first Europeans to reach Gambia in 1455.
  • The British started trading in Gambia in 1587.
  • The city of Banjul was taken over by Captain Alexander Grant who built and planned out the city under the name Bathurst.
  • Gambia became a British colony in 1765 and remained one for the next 200 years till 1965.
  • The Gambia celebrates its independence day on February 18.
  • The Gambia faced its first military coup in 1994 when Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh took control of the nation in a bloodless coup and suspended all political activities.
  • The Gambia follows a republican form of government and has a constitution that was approved by national referendum on August 8, 1996 and became effective on January 16, 1997.
  • The legal system of Gambia is a mixture of English common law, customary law and Islamic law.
  • The country has a population of 1,824,158 people and a population growth rate of 2.52% (as of July 2010).
  • Most of the population of Gambia is a mix of people belonging to the people from various tribes like Mandinka, Fula, Wolof, Wolof, and Serahuli.
  • The predominant religion followed in The Gambia is Islam (followed by 90% of the population). The remaining population is a mixture of people believing in Christianity and in indigenous beliefs.
  • Though English is the official language of the country, people also speak Mandinka, Wolof and Fula.
  • No area of Gambia is populated by people belonging to just one ethnic group.
  • The culture of Gambia is a mixture of all the ethnic groups that live there. An example of this is the Gambia National Troupe whose music is influenced heavily by all the ethnic groups present in Gambia.
  • The Gambia is spread over a total landmass of 11,295 sq km and has a coastline that is only 80 km long.
  • The highest point in The Gambia is 53 meters (174 feet) tall and the lowest point is at a height of 0 meters.
  • The main water body in Gambia is the River Gambia which runs along the entire length of the country.
  • The weather in Gambia is mostly tropical weather with well defined dry and rainy seasons. In spite of this, the rainfall in Gambia has fallen by 30% in the last 30 years, leaving it prone to droughts.

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