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The Gambia: a guide to the jewel of West Africa

The Gambia is a small, beautiful, and welcoming country on the coastline of West Africa. It’s also one of the most exciting in terms of economic growth and business opportunities.

Surrounded to the north, east and south by Senegal, this long, slender tropical paradise faces the Atlantic Ocean to the west, on what is known as ‘the sunshine coast’. Its main river, also named The Gambia, is approximately 700 miles long, and travels from the sea at Banjul across nearly the entire length of the country. The current population is estimated at 1.7 million.

As well as “The River’, the country’s most notable features include several stunning beaches, a number of protected nature reserves, and popular shopping markets.

The gateway to West Africa

The Gambia is often called ‘the gateway to West Africa’, as it’s easy to reach from America, Canada, and just six hours flight from the UK. Most recently, a new national carrier for the country, Gambia Bird Airlines Ltd, began flying into London Gatwick for the first time, forging a dynamic link between the two countries as well as the rest of the continent.

A thriving tourist industry

The Gambia enjoys almost uninterrupted sunshine, which has contributed to its successful tourist industry. Visitors are attracted by its rich culture, diverse scenery, and its welcoming people. There is a high standard of hotels and holiday apartments in The Gambia. Visitors can choose from a range of memorable excursions, including village and coastline tours, river cruising, bird watching, fishing and horse riding. You can search for holiday lettings at or places to stay here

Growth and prosperity

Over the past few decades, The Gambia and its capital Banjul in particular has become a dynamic business hub, attracting investment from both within the country and all over the world. This has been made possible due to its steady growth and stability since President Jammeh became President in 1994. The government invested heavily in the country’s infrastructure, including its electricity, water and roads. It has also encouraged investment in manufacturing, property and the financial services industry, and has made improvements to education and health.

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The Republic of The Gambia, commonly known as The Gambia, or Gambia is a country in West Africa. The Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, bordered to the north, east, and south by Senegal, with a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean in the west.

The country is situated around the Gambia River, the nations namesake, which flows through the countrys centre and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Its area is almost 10,500 km² with an estimated population of 1,700,000.

On 18 February 1965, The Gambia was granted independence from the United Kingdom and joined The Commonwealth. Banjul is The Gambias capital, but the largest conurbation is Serekunda. The Gambia shares historical roots with many other West African nations in the slave trade, which was the key factor in the placing and keeping of a colony on the Gambia River, first by the Portuguese and later by the British. Since gaining independence in 1965, Gambia has enjoyed political stability.

Some Facts & Figures


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

Geography coordinates: 13 28 N, 1634 W

Map references: Africa

Total: 11,300 sq km
Land: 10,000 sq km
Water: 1,300 sq km

Land boundaries: total: 740 km

Maritime claims:
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguqus zone: 18 nm
Exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: extend not specified

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

Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic ocean 0 m

Highest point: unnamed location 53 m

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

Land use: Arable land: 27.88%

Permanent crops:


Irrigated Land:
20 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:
8 cu km (1982)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/ agricultural):

0.03 cu m/yr (23%/12%/65%)

Per Capita:
20 cu m/yr (2000)


GDP (Purchasing Power Parity ): $2.044 billion (2008 est.)

GDP – real growth rate: 4.5%(2008 est.)

GDP – per capita(ppp): $1,200(2008 est.)

GDP – Composition by sector:
Agricalture: 33%
Industry: 8.7%
Services: 58.3%(2008 est.)

Exports: $111 million f.o.b (2008 est.)

Exports – commodities: peanut products, fish, cotton, lint, palm kernels, re-exports

Exports – partners: India 37.7%, China 17.5%, Uk 8.7%, France 5.1%, Belgium 4.2%(2007)

Imports: $301 million f.o.b (2008 est.)

Imports – commodities: foodstuffs, manufactures, fuel, machinery and transport equipment

Imports – Partners: China 23.7%, Senegal 11.5%

Reserves of foregin Exchange and gold: $144 million (31 December 2008 est.)

Debt – external: $ 628.8 million (2003 est.)

Exchange rates: Dalasis (GMD) per US dollar 22.75 (2008 est.), 27.79 (2007), 28.066 (2006), 28.575 (2005), 30.03 (2004)


Population: 1,735,464 (July 2008 estimate)

Age Structure:
0-14 years:43.9% (Male 382, 385/female 378, 853)
15-64 years: 53.4%( male 459, 315/female 466, 689) 65 years and over: 2.8%( male 24,300/ female 23,919)
(2008 est.)

Total: 17.9 years

Male: 17.7 Years

Female: 18 years ( 2008 est.)

Population Growth Rate: 2.724%(2008 est.)

Birth rate: 38.36 birth/1000 Population (2008 est.)

Death rate: 1.74 birth/1000 Population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups: African 99% ( mandinika 42%, Fula 18%, Wolof 16%, Jola 10%, Serahuli 9%, Other 4%), non-African 1% (2003 census)

Religions: Muslim 90%, Christian 8%, Indigenous beliefs 2%

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


Airports: 1 (2007)

Airports – with paved runways: total: 1 over 3,047m: 1 (2007)

Airports – with paved runways: total: 1 over 3,047m: 1 (2007)

Waterways: 390 km (on river Gambia; small ocean-going vessels can reach 190 km) (2008)

Ports and terminals: Banjul

Agricultural Products:

rice, millet, sorghum, peanuts, corn, sesame, cassava (tapioca),palm kernels, cattle, sheep, goats Industries: Processing peanut, fish, and hides, tourism, beverages, agricultural machinery assembly, woodworking, metalworking, clothing

Telephones – main lines in use: 76,400 (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 795,900 (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: adequate; a packed switched data network is available; four mobile-cellular service providers
Telephone system: general assessment: adequate; a packed switched data network is available; four mobile-cellular service providers
International: country code – 220; microwave radio relay links to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau; satellite earth station – 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2007)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 3, FM 7, shortwave 0 (2001)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (government-owned) (1997)
Internet country code: .gm

For more information on The Gambia we recommend

Information taken from GCCI Directory 2009-2010.For more information visit


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