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  Introduction Back To Top

The Gambia gained its independence from the UK in 1965. Geographically surrounded by Senegal, it formed a short-lived federation of Senegambia between 1982 and 1989. In 1991 the two nations signed a friendship and cooperation treaty, but tensions have flared up intermittently since then. Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH led a military coup in 1994 that overthrew the president and banned political activity. A new constitution and presidential elections in 1996, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, completed a nominal return to civilian rule. JAMMEH has been elected president in all subsequent elections, including most recently in late 2006.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.03 cu km/yr (23%/12%/65%)
per capita: 20 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
8 cu km (1982)

Land boundaries:
total: 740 km
border countries: Senegal 740 km

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

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

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
13 28 N, 16 34 W

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 53 m

flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by some low hills

Geography - note:
almost an enclave of Senegal; smallest country on the continent of Africa

total: 11,300 sq km
land: 10,000 sq km
water: 1,300 sq km

Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and Senegal

80 km

Area - comparative:
slightly less than twice the size of Delaware

Irrigated land:
20 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:
deforestation; desertification; water-borne diseases prevalent

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

Natural hazards:
drought (rainfall has dropped by 30% in the last 30 years)

Land use:
arable land: 27.88%
permanent crops: 0.44%
other: 71.68% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
5.13 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.02 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

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

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

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 54.95 years
male: 53.06 years
female: 56.9 years (2008 est.)

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever, malaria, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis (2008)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 40.1%
male: 47.8%
female: 32.8% (2003 est.)

Net migration rate:
0.61 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

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

Median age:
total: 17.9 years
male: 17.7 years
female: 18 years (2008 est.)

1,735,464 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
2% of GDP (2004)

Population growth rate:
2.724% (2008 est.)

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

Death rate:
11.74 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 68.72 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 75.07 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 62.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
600 (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 7 years
male: 7 years
female: 7 years (2004)

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 24,303/female 23,919) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
38.36 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Muslim 90%, Christian 8%, indigenous beliefs 2%

noun: Gambian(s)
adjective: Gambian

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Barry L. WELLS
embassy: Kairaba Avenue, Fajara, Banjul
mailing address: P. M. B. No. 19, Banjul
telephone: [220] 439-2856, 437-6169, 437-6170
FAX: [220] 439-2475

National holiday:
Independence Day, 18 February (1965)

18 years of age; universal

Government type:

Political pressure groups and leaders:
National Environment Agency or NEA; West African Peace Building Network-Gambian Chapter or WANEB-GAMBIA; Youth Employment Network Gambia or YENGambia
other: special needs group advocates; teachers and principals

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Abdul Rahman COLE
chancery: Suite 600, 1424 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 785-1379, 1399, 1425
FAX: [1] (202) 785-1430

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly (53 seats; 48 members elected by popular vote, 5 appointed by the president; to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 25 January 2007 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - APRC 47, UDP 4, NADD 1, independent 1

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

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

18 February 1965 (from UK)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Republic of The Gambia
conventional short form: The Gambia

Political parties and leaders:
Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction or APRC (the ruling party) [Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH]; Gambia People's Democratic Party or GPDP [Henry GOMEZ]; National Alliance for Democracy and Development or NADD [Halifa SALLAH]; National Convention Party or NCP [Sheriff DIBBA]; National Reconciliation Party or NRP [Hamat N. K. BAH]; People's Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism or PDOIS [Sidia JATTA]; United Democratic Party or UDP [Ousainou DARBOE]

name: Banjul
geographic coordinates: 13 27 N, 16 34 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

approved by national referendum 8 August 1996; effective 16 January 1997

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH (since 18 October 1996); note - from 1994 to 1996 he was chairman of the Junta; Vice President Isatou NJIE-SAIDY (since 20 March 1997); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH (since 18 October 1996); Vice President Isatou NJIE-SAIDY (since 20 March 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held 22 September 2006 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH reelected president; percent of vote - Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH 67.3%, Ousainou DARBOE 26.6%, Halifa SALLAH 6.0%

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

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court

  Economy Back To Top

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

Electricity - consumption:
143.6 million kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
10% (31 December 2007)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$116 million (2008 est.)

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

Unemployment rate:

Oil - exports:
41.62 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,200 (2008 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):
24.7% of GDP (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$169.9 million (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$2.044 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$779 million (2008 est.)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
50.2 (1998)

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

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

Stock of money:
$186.7 million (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
400,000 (1996)

Imports - partners:
China 23.7%, Senegal 11.5%, Cote d'Ivoire 8.3%, Brazil 8%, Netherlands 5.2% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6% (2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 33%
industry: 8.7%
services: 58.3% (2008 est.)

Oil - imports:
2,123 bbl/day (2005)

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

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
dalasi (GMD)

Economy - overview:
The Gambia has no confirmed mineral or natural resource deposits and has a limited agricultural base. About 75% of the population depends on crops and livestock for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. Reexport trade normally constitutes a major segment of economic activity, but a 1999 government-imposed preshipment inspection plan, and instability of the Gambian dalasi (currency) have drawn some of the reexport trade away from The Gambia. The Gambia's natural beauty and proximity to Europe has made it one of the larger markets for tourism in West Africa. The government's 1998 seizure of the private peanut firm Alimenta eliminated the largest purchaser of Gambian groundnuts. Despite an announced program to begin privatizing key parastatals, no plans have been made public that would indicate that the government intends to follow through on its promises. Unemployment and underemployment rates remain extremely high; short-run economic progress depends on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible government economic management, on continued technical assistance from the IMF and bilateral donors, and on expected growth in the construction sector.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

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

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

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
27.92% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$180.4 million (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
200.2 million kWh (2007 est.)

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

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 75%
industry: 19%
services: 6% (1996)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$144 million (31 December 2008 est.)

Oil - consumption:
2,082 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.8%
highest 10%: 37% (1998)

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

Economic aid - recipient:
$58.15 million (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $194.3 million
expenditures: $228.8 million (2008 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
100,200 (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
76,400 (2007)

5,000 (2000)

Internet country code:

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

196,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
795,900 (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
1 (government-owned) (1997)

Telephone system:
general assessment: adequate; a packet switched data network is available; two mobile-cellular service providers
domestic: adequate network of microwave radio relay and open-wire; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity reached 50 telephones per 100 persons in 2007
international: country code - 220; microwave radio relay links to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2007)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2001)

Internet hosts:
320 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

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

Ports and terminals:

Merchant marine:
total: 5
by type: passenger/cargo 4, petroleum tanker 1 (2008)

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

total: 3,742 km
paved: 723 km
unpaved: 3,019 km (2004)

1 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 379,668
females age 16-49: 384,438 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 230,202
females age 16-49: 244,480 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Office of the Chief of Defense: Gambian National Army (National Guard, GNA), Gambian Navy (GN) (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 19,650
female: 19,582 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
0.5% of GDP (2006)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
attempts to stem refugees, cross-border raids, arms smuggling, and other illegal activities by separatists from southern Senegal's Casamance region, as well as from conflicts in other west African states

Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 5,955 (Sierra Leone) (2007)

Trafficking in persons:
current situation: The Gambia is a source, transit, and destination country for children and women trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation; women and girls, and to a lesser extent boys, are trafficked for sexual exploitation - in particular to meet the demand for European sex tourism - and for domestic servitude; boys are trafficked within the country for forced begging and street vending; Gambian women and children may be trafficked to Europe through trafficking schemes disguised as migrant smuggling
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - for a second consecutive year, The Gambia is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to eliminate trafficking; The Gambia failed to report any trafficking arrests, prosecutions, or convictions in 2007, and the government demonstrated weak victim protection efforts during the reporting period (2008)

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