Gambia Basic Information

By | July 21, 2022
Basic data
Capital Banjul
Population 2.35 million
Language English
Religion Islam (90%), Christianity (8%), Traditional Religion (2%)
State system Democratic Republic
Head of State Adam Barrow
Head of government The role of Prime Minister does not exist
Currency name Gambian Dalasi (GMD)

Gambia Basic Information

Travel
Time shift -1 hour (in summer -2 hours)
Economy 2021
Nominal GDP (billion USD) 5.9
Economic growth (%) 3.2
Inflation (%) 7.4
Unemployment (%) ON

The Gambia is a small country stretching 400 km along the river of the same name, which is surrounded on all sides by Senegal. The Gambia was a British colony for over two hundred years and gained independence in 1965. In 1994, the country experienced a military coup, followed by 22 years of the dictatorship of President Yahya Jammeh/o. In the presidential elections in October 2016, the candidate of the opposition coalition, Adama Barrow, won, who is preparing the country for important reforms and constitutional change. The political and economic aspirations of the new leadership were expressed in a strategic document for the development of The Gambia entitled “Vision 2020”. The primary objective of the strategy is the dynamic development of tourism, fishing, processing industry and agriculture – specifically the cultivation of rice and millet. There are also ambitious plans to create a free economic zone around the port of Banjul to attract foreign capital to The Gambia.

In 2020, Gambia’s economic growth was marked as in many other parts of the world by the spread of the disease COVID 19 and strict epidemiological measures. In the previous year, growth reached 6% mainly thanks to foreign exchange earnings from tourism and agricultural exports (mainly peanuts). Even before the outbreak of the pandemic and the declaration of the state of emergency, the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook (end of 2019) and irregular rainfall, which reduced agricultural production, affected the economy. Real GDP growth for 2022 was revised to 3.2%.

This Summary Territorial Information is processed for a country that is so-called accredited. The information is provided in an abbreviated form.

Basic information about the territory

Subchapters:

  • System of governance and political tendencies in the country
  • Foreign policy of the country
  • Population

The system of governance and political tendencies in the country

Official name of the country : Republic of The Gambia (Republic of The Gambia)

System of government : The Gambia is a republic with a presidential system, where the president, as head of state, also serves as prime minister. Executive power is vested in the government, legislative power is shared between the government and the National Assembly (53 deputies). The Gambian legal system is a combination of British law, Islamic Sharia law and common law. Sharia law is used, for example, in matrimonial matters. Check cancermatters to learn more about Gambia political system.

The Gambia has only experienced three presidents since independence in 1965 (Dawda Jawara 1965-1994, Yahya Jammeh/o 1994-2016 dictatorship, Adama Barrow 2016-present). In September 2020, The Gambia held a much-anticipated vote on a draft constitutional law to replace the existing 1997 constitution (the so-called “Jammeh Constitution”). The National Assembly narrowly rejected the proposal, opposed, for example, by members of the expelled opposition party and members of former President Yahya Jammeh’s party. The process of drafting a new constitutional law, supported by the EU, lasted two years and civil society representatives were also involved.

The results of the vote caused a wave of negative comments. Adama Barrow was only supposed to lead the country for one term on an interim basis, critics say the rejection of the new constitution was a strategic move towards his re-election in the December 2021 presidential election, where Barrow was re-elected with 53% of the vote. The delayed draft of the constitution, together with the difficult economic context due to the corona crisis, is causing anti-Barrow sentiment across the population. There are fears that the current president’s divisive leadership style could weaken the nascent democracy and spark widespread protests.

The current composition of the government HERE

Foreign policy of the country

Due to its geographical location, The Gambia is highly dependent on Senegal for both security and economy. A provisional federation between the two countries lasted from 1982 to 1989. Bilateral relations have long been marked by mutual mistrust, and several issues have caused tension: ferry prices to cross the Gambia River, the security situation in southern Senegal’s Casamance region, and Senegal’s alleged support for the Gambian opposition.┬áCheck prozipcodes for Gambia defense and foreign policy.

The end of the dictatorship in The Gambia in 2017 enabled the gradual rapprochement of the neighboring states. As a symbol of this breaking of the ice, a bridge near the town of Farafenni was inaugurated in 2019, connecting the two sides of The Gambia and allowing direct access to Casamance. This bridge has been planned since the 1970s, but precisely because of the cold relations under the dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh, its implementation was delayed. The project, financed by the African Development Bank, is a significant step towards the commercial development of the West African coast.

The Gambia, like many other African countries, is increasingly oriented towards China or Turkey.

As of 2017, 500 soldiers of the Mission ECOWAS (MICEGA) are present in The Gambia at the request of the government.

The Gambia is a member of the United Nations, ECOWAS, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the African Union and the Commonwealth (it withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2013, but returned again in 2018).

Population

Population: 2.42 million (WB, 2020)

Population under 15: 44%

Population growth (2020): 2.9%

Average age: 21 years

Life expectancy: 62 years

Fertility: 5.3

Illiteracy: 50%

Population density: 232 inhabitants/km2
More than half of the total population lives in the agglomeration of the capital Banjul.

Ethnic composition: Mandinka (42%), Fula/Peul (18%), Wolof (16%), Jola (10%), Serahuli (9%), Other (4%), Non-African (1%)

Religion: Islam (90%) Christian (8%), traditional religion (2%)