The Gambia lies in West Africa bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and basically surrounded by Senegal
The Gambia is a small country covering just 11,300 sq km, slightly less than twice the size of Delaware (in the US). The Gambia's terrain consists of a flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by some low hills. The Gambian climate is tropical and hot most of the year, interspersed with rainy seasons (June to November) and a cooler, dry season (November to May) due to the southeast trade winds. The lowest point of the Gambia lies at the Atlantic Ocean (sea level); its highest point is a hill which is unnamed and stands at 53m. The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa. The capital of The Gambia is Banjul.
Just over 1.6 million people live in The Gambia. Life expectancy is around 54 years. Birth rate is on average 5.2 children per woman. Literacy rate is just over 40%.
English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, and other indigenous vernaculars.
Mandinka 42%, Fula 18%, Wolof 16%, Jola 10%, Serahuli 9%, other 4%, and non-African 1%.
Muslim 90%, Christian 9%, and indigenous beliefs 1%.
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.
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.
Source: CIA World Factbook