The Gambia

Republic of The Gambia
Reference work entry


  • Capital: Banjul

  • Population estimate, 2015: 1.99 m.

  • GNI per capita, 2014: (PPP$) 1,507

  • HDI/world rank, 2014: 0.441/175

  • Internet domain extension: .gm

Civil Aviation

There is an international airport at Banjul (Yundum), which handled 313,173 passengers and 1,247 tonnes of freight in 2009. The then national carrier, Gambia International Airlines, ceased operations in 2007. A new national carrier, Gambia Bird, began scheduled services in Oct. 2012 but then suspended operations in Dec. 2014.


The climate is characterized by two very different seasons. The dry season lasts from Nov. to May, when precipitation is very light and humidity moderate. Days are warm but nights quite cool. The SW monsoon is likely to set in with spectacular storms and produces considerable rainfall from July to Oct., with increased humidity. Banjul, Jan. 73 °F (22.8 °C), July 80 °F (26.7 °C). Annual rainfall 52″ (1,295 mm).

Constitution and Government

The 1970 constitution provided for an executive President elected directly for renewable 5-year terms. The President appoints a Vice-President who is the government’s chief minister. The single-chamber National Assembly has 53 members (48 elected by universal adult suffrage for a 5-year term and five appointed by the President). A referendum of 8 Aug. 1996 approved a new constitution by 70.4% of votes cast. It took effect in Jan. 1997 and thereby created the Second Republic. Under this, the ban on political parties imposed in July 1994 was lifted. Members of the ruling Military Council resigned from their military positions before joining the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC).


The unit of currency is the dalasi (GMD), of 100 butut.


The Gambian National Army, 800 strong, has two infantry battalions, one engineer squadron and one company of presidential guards. The marine unit of the Army consisted in 2011 of approximately 70 personnel operating seven patrol boats. Defence expenditure totalled an estimated US$6 m. in 2011 (approximately US$4 per capita), representing around 0.5% of GDP.


Agriculture contributed 29.5% of GDP in 2010; followed by trade and hotels, 25.6%; finance and real estate, 12.7%; transport and communications, 10.7%; and public administration, defence and services, 6.1%.


The labour force in 2010 totalled 751,000 (52.1% males). Around 70% of the economically active population are engaged in agriculture. The Gambia had 14,000 people living in slavery according to the Walk Free Foundation’s 2013 Global Slavery Index.


In 2008 there were three daily newspapers—the Daily Observer, The Point and the government-owned Gambia Daily.


In 2010 an estimated 95.1% of the population was Muslim (mainly Sunnis) and 4.5% Christian according to the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.


There were some 3,742 km of roads in 2004, of which 19.3% were paved. Number of vehicles (2007): 8,800 passenger cars; 2,600 lorries and vans.


The chief port is Banjul. Ocean-going vessels can travel up the Gambia River as far as Kuntaur. In Jan. 2009 there were five ships of 300 GT or over registered, totalling 32,000 GT.

Social Statistics

2008 estimates: births, 61,000; deaths, 19,000. Estimated birth rate in 2008 was 36.8 per 1,000 population; estimated death rate, 11.3. Annual population growth rate, 2000–08, 3.0%. Expectation of life, 2013, was 57.5 years for males and 60.2 for females. Fertility rate, 2008, 5.1 births per woman; infant mortality, 2010, 57 per 1,000 live births. The Gambia has made some of the best progress in recent years in reducing child mortality. The number of deaths per 1,000 live births among children under five was reduced from around 153 in 1990 to approximately 106 in 2008.


In 2010 there were 48,800 landline telephone subscriptions (equivalent to 28.2 per 1,000 inhabitants) and 1,478,300 mobile phone subscriptions (or 855.3 per 1,000 inhabitants). There were 92.0 internet users per 1,000 inhabitants in 2010.

Territory and Population

The Gambia takes its name from the River Gambia, and consists of a strip of territory never wider than 10 km on both banks. It is bounded in the west by the Atlantic Ocean and on all other sides by Senegal. The area is 10,690 km2, including 2,077 km2 of inland water. Census population, 2013 (provisional): 1,882,450, giving a density of 219 per km2. In 2011, 58.9% of the population were urban. The largest ethnic group is the Mandingo, followed by the Wolofs, Fulas, Jolas and Sarahuley. The country is administratively divided into eight local government areas (LGAs). The official language is English.


Tourism is The Gambia’s biggest foreign exchange earner. In 2009 there were 142,000 non-resident charter tourists (excluding same-day visitors).

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

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