H.E. Mr. Adama BARROW President of the Republic of The Gambia
In the 13th Century, the territory of the actual Gambia was populated by the Wolof, Malinke and Fulani tribes.
The Portuguese were the first explorers, discovering the Gambia River in 1455 and in 1681 the French established the Albredabut enclave. In the 17th Century many merchants established in Gambia.
The main source of income until 1807 was represented by slavery, the year when it got abolished. In 1843 Gambia become a British colony. It has been recognized as an independent nation in the Commonwealth of Nations in 1965, and full independence was approved through the Referendum from 1970 and on the 24th of April of the same year Gambia was proclaimed Republic.
Gambia has had two leaders – Sir Dawda Jawara, who ruled from 1970 until 1994, when the current leader Yahya Jammeh seized power in a coup as a young army officer.
Jammeh promised new elections, which were held in September 1996, and he won with 55% of the votes. In 1997 he orientated to a civil government and removed the interdiction for opposite political parties.
In 2004 Jammeh won the tird mandate and he won also the election from 2011, obtaining 72% of the votes.
The state’s territory is going along the Gambia River, approximately on 300 km. The Islamic Republic of The Gambia is less than 48.2 km wide at its widest point, with a total area of 11,295 km2. Approximately 1,300 km2 (11.5%) of the country’s area is covered by water. It is the smallest country on the African mainland. The most important is the Gambia River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean trough an estuary. Its main tributaries are Nianija Galon, Sandougou, Bao.
In the rural zones are growing a lot of flower species, including the yellow cassia and combretum stacojiu.
The Gambia has a tropical climate. There is a hot and rainy season, normally from June until November, but from then until May there are cooler temperatures with less precipitation. The following bushes can be found: bougainvillea, oleander and many species of hibiscus.
The fauna is formed by numerous species of monkeys.
The landscape of Islamic Republic of The Gambia is varied: it has beaches with sand, tropical forests, swamps and large wooded savanna regions. It is a paradise for bird lovers, owning over 540 species. The parks, the reservations and the villages represent an opportunity for ecotourism, and Gambia also attracts people passionate about African culture, and the top attractions are the tropical clime and the relaxing beaches.
The capital city, Banjul is on the edge of the south estuary of the river and it is an attractive commercial center and a way to the hotels located all long of the 40 km long coast. These aligned beaches of palm trees were named the “Smiling coast”, for their beauty and also for the hospitality of the locals.
Islamic Republic of The Gambia has a liberal, market-based economy characterized by traditional subsistence agriculture, a historic reliance on groundnuts (peanuts) for export earnings, a re-export trade built up around its ocean port, low import duties, minimal administrative procedures, a fluctuating exchange rate with no exchange controls, and a significant tourism industry.
The World Bank pegs Gambian GDP for 2011 at US$898M; the International Monetary Fund puts it at US$977M for 2011.
From 2006 to 2012, the Gambian economy grew annually at a pace of 5–6% of GDP.
Agriculture accounts for roughly 30% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 70% of the labor force. Within agriculture, peanut production accounts for 6.9% of GDP, other crops 8.3%, livestock 5.3%, fishing 1.8%, and forestry 0.5%. Industry accounts for approximately 8% of GDP and services approximately 58%. The limited amount of manufacturing is primarily agricultural-based (e.g., peanut processing, bakeries, a brewery, and a tannery). Other manufacturing activities include soap, soft, and clothing.
Previously, the United Kingdom and other EU countries constituted the major Gambian major domestic export markets. However, in recent years Senegal, the United States, and Japan have become significant trade partners of The Gambia. In Africa, Senegal represented the biggest trade partner of The Gambia in 2007, which is a defining contrast to previous years that saw Guinea-Bissau and Ghana as equally important trade partners. Globally, Denmark, the United States, and China have become important source countries for Gambian imports. The UK, Germany, Ivory Coast, and the Netherlands also provide a fair share of Gambian imports. The Gambian trade deficit for 2007 was $331 million.
As of May 2009, there were twelve commercial banks in The Gambia, including one Islamic bank. The oldest of these, Standard Chartered Bank dates its presence back to the entry in 1894 of what shortly thereafter became Bank of British West Africa. In 2005, the Swiss-based banking group, International Commercial Bank established a subsidiary and has now four branches in the country. In 2007, Nigeria’s Access Bank established a subsidiary that now has four branches in the country, in addition to its head office; the bank has pledged to open four more. In May 2009, the Lebanese Canadian Bank opened a subsidiary called Prime Bank.
The urbanization rate as of 2011 was 57.3%. Provisional figures from the 2003 census show that the gap between the urban and rural populations is narrowing as more areas are declared urban. While urban migration, development projects, and modernization are bringing more Gambians into contact with Western habits and values, indigenous forms of dress and celebration and the traditional emphasis on the extended family remain integral parts of everyday life.
The UNDP’s Human Development Report for 2010 ranks the Gambia 151st out of 169 countries on its Human Development Index, putting it in the ‘Low Human Development’ category. This index compares life expectancy, years of schooling, gross national income (GNI) per capita and some other factors.
The total fertility rate (TFR) was estimated at 3.98 children/woman in 2013.
A variety of ethnic groups live in The Gambia, each preserving its own language and traditions. The Mandinka ethnicity is the largest, followed by the Fula, Wolof, Jola, Serahule, Serers, Manjago and the Bianunkas. The Krio people, locally known as Akus, constitute one of the smallest ethnic minorities in The Gambia. They are descendants of the Sierra Leone Creole people and have been traditionally concentrated in the capital city.
English is the official language of the Gambia. Other languages are Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, Serer, Krio and other indigenous vernaculars. Due to the country’s geographical setting, knowledge of French (an official language in much of West Africa) is relatively widespread.
Article 25 of the Constitution protects the rights of citizens to practice any religion that they choose. The government also did not establish a state religion. Islam is the predominant religion, practiced by approximately ninety percent of the country’s population. The majority of the Muslims in the Gambia adhere to Sunni laws and traditions, while large concentrations follow the Ahmadiyya tradition.
The Christian community represents about eight percent of the population. Residing in the western and the southern parts of the Gambia, most of the Christian community identify themselves as Roman Catholic. However, there are smaller Christian groups present, such as Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and small evangelical denominations.
Although Republic of the Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, its culture is the product of very diverse influences. The national borders outline a narrow strip on either side of the River Gambia, a body of water that has played a vital part in the nation’s destiny and is known locally simply as “the River.” Without natural barriers, Republic of the Gambia has become home to most of the ethnic groups that are present throughout western Africa, especially those in Senegal.
Europeans also figure prominently in Gambian history because the River Gambia is navigable deep into the continent, a geographic feature that made this area one of the most profitable sites for the slave trade from the 15th through the 17th centuries. (It also made it strategic to the halt of this trade once it was outlawed in the 19th century.)