The Gambia [Country Flag of The Gambia]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of The Gambia]

The Gambia


[Top of Page]

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

Geographic coordinates: 13 28 N, 16 34 W

Map references: Africa

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

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

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

Coastline: 80 km

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

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

Land use:
arable land: 18%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 9%
forests and woodland: 28%
other: 45% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 150 sq km (1993 est.)

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

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

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

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


[Top of Page]

Population: 1,291,858 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 46% (male 296,108; female 295,136)
15-64 years: 52% (male 330,215; female 336,056)
65 years and over: 2% (male 18,194; female 16,149) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.42% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 43.3 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 12.93 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 3.77 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.12 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 77.07 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 53.91 years
male: 51.59 years
female: 56.29 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.91 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Gambian(s)
adjective: Gambian

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

Religions: Muslim 90%, Christian 9%, indigenous beliefs 1%

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

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 38.6%
male: 52.8%
female: 24.9% (1995 est.)


[Top of Page]

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of The Gambia
conventional short form: The Gambia

Data code: GA

Government type: republic under multiparty democratic rule

National capital: Banjul

Administrative divisions: 5 divisions and 1 city*; Banjul*, Lower River, MacCarthy Island, North Bank, Upper River, Western
note: it has been reported but not verified that the name of the MacCarthy Island division has been changed to Central River

Independence: 18 February 1965 (from UK); note—The Gambia and Senegal signed an agreement on 12 December 1981 that called for the creation of a loose confederation to be known as Senegambia, but the agreement was dissolved on 30 September 1989

National holiday: Independence Day, 18 February (1965)

Constitution: 24 April 1970; suspended July 1994; rewritten and approved by national referendum 8 August 1996; reestablished in January 1997

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

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH (since 12 October 1996); Vice President Isaton 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 Isaton Njie SAIDY (since 20 March 1997); note—the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet is appointed by the president
elections: the president is elected by popular vote to a five-year term; the number of terms is not restricted; election last held 26 September 1996 (next to be held NA 2001)
election results: percent of vote—President Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH 55.5%, Ousinou DARBOE 35.8%

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly; 49 seats (45 elected, 4 appointed by the president)
elections: last popular election held 2 January 1997 (next to be held NA)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—APRC 33, UDP 7, NRP 2, PDOIS 1, independents 2

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction or APRC [Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH]; 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]; note—in August 1996 the government banned the following from participation in the elections of 1996: People's Progressive Party or PPP [former President Dawda K. JAWARA (in exile)], and two opposition parties—the National Convention Party or NCP [former vice president Sheriff DIBBA] and the Gambian People's Party or GPP [Hassan Musa CAMARA]

International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, C, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Crispin GREY-JOHNSON
chancery: Suite 1000, 1155 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 785-1399, 1379, 1425
FAX: [1] (202) 785-1430

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Gerald Wesley SCOTT
embassy: Fajara, Kairaba Avenue, Banjul
mailing address: P. M. B. No. 19, Banjul
telephone: [220] 392856, 392858, 391970, 391971
FAX: [220] 392475

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


[Top of Page]

Economy—overview: The Gambia has no important mineral or other natural resources 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 the 50% devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994 made Senegalese goods more competitive and hurt the reexport trade. The Gambia has benefited from a rebound in tourism after its decline in response to the military's takeover in July 1994. Short-run economic progress remains highly dependent on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid and on responsible government economic management.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$1.23 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 2.1% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1,000 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 27%
industry: 15%
services: 58% (1993 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 2.2% (1997)

Labor force:
total: NA
by occupation: agriculture 75.0%, industry, commerce, and services 18.9%, government 6.1%

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $88.6 million
expenditures: $98.2 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY96/97 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 29,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 73 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 74 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: peanuts, millet, sorghum, rice, corn, cassava (tapioca), palm kernels; cattle, sheep, goats; forest and fishing resources not fully exploited

total value: $160 million (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities: peanuts and peanut products 70%, fish, cotton lint, palm kernels
partners: Japan, Senegal, Hong Kong, France, Switzerland, UK, Indonesia

total value: $140 million (c.i.f., 1995)
commodities: foodstuffs, manufactures, raw materials, fuel, machinery and transport equipment
partners: China, Cote d'Ivoire, Hong Kong, UK, Germany

Debt—external: $426 million (1995 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: bilateral $36.1 million; multilateral $34.7 million (1994)

Currency: 1 dalasi (D) = 100 butut

Exchange rates: dalasi (D) per US$1—10.513 (December 1997), 10.200 (1997), 9.789 (1996), 9.546 (1995), 9.576 (1994), 9.129 (1993)

Fiscal year: 1 July—30 June


[Top of Page]

Telephones: 11,000 (1991 est.)

Telephone system:
domestic: adequate network of microwave radio relay and open wire
international: microwave radio relay links to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau; satellite earth station—1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 5, shortwave 0

Radios: 180,000 (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 1 (government owned)

Televisions: NA


[Top of Page]

Railways: 0 km

total: 2,700 km
paved: 956 km
unpaved: 1,744 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: 400 km

Ports and harbors: Banjul

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (1997 est.)


[Top of Page]

Military branches: Army, Navy, National Police, National Guard

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 286,847 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 144,547 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $1.2 million (FY96/97)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 3.8% (FY93/94)

Transnational Issues

[Top of Page]

Disputes—international: short section of boundary with Senegal is indefinite