The Gambia gained its independence from the UK in 1965. Geographically surrounded by Senegal, it formed a short-lived Confederation 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 JAMMEH led a military coup in 1994 that overthrew the president and banned political activity. A new constitution and presidential election in 1996, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, completed a nominal return to civilian rule. JAMMEH was elected president in all subsequent elections including most recently in late 2011. A presidential election is scheduled for December 2016.



Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and Senegal

Geographic coordinates

13 28 N, 16 34 W

Map references



total: 11,300 sq km
land: 10,120 sq km
water: 1,180 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly less than twice the size of Delaware

Land boundaries

total: 749 km
border countries (1): Senegal 749 km


80 km

Maritime claims

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


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


flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by some low hills


mean elevation: 34 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed elevation 53 m

Natural resources

fish, clay, silica sand, titanium (rutile and ilmenite), tin, zircon

Land use

agricultural land: 56.1%
arable land 41%; permanent crops 0.5%; permanent pasture 14.6%
forest: 43.9%
other: 0% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

50 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

drought (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, 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

Geography - note

almost an enclave of Senegal; smallest country in Africa

People and Society


noun: Gambian(s)
adjective: Gambian


2,009,648 (July 2016 est.)

Ethnic groups

Mandinka/Jahanka 33.8%, Fulani/Tukulur/Lorobo 22.1%, Wollof 12.2%, Jola/Karoninka 10.9%, Serahuleh 7%, Serere 3.2%, Manjago 2.1%, Bambara 1%, Creole/Aku Marabout 0.8%, other 0.9%, non-Gambian 5.2%, no answer 0.7% (2013 est.)


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


Muslim 95.7%, Christian 4.2%, none 0.1%, no answer 0.1% (2013 est.)

Demographic profile

The Gambia’s youthful age structure – almost 60% of the population is under the age of 25 – is likely to persist because the country’s total fertility rate remains strong at nearly 4 children per woman. The overall literacy rate is around 55%, and is significantly lower for women than for men. At least 70% of the populace are farmers who are reliant on rain-fed agriculture and cannot afford improved seeds and fertilizers. Crop failures caused by droughts between 2011 and 2013 have increased poverty, food shortages, and malnutrition.
The Gambia is a source country for migrants and a transit and destination country for migrants and refugees. Since the 1980s, economic deterioration, drought, and high unemployment, especially among youths, have driven both domestic migration (largely urban) and migration abroad (legal and illegal). Emigrants are largely skilled workers, including doctors and nurses, and provide a significant amount of remittances. The top receiving countries for Gambian emigrants are Spain, the US, Nigeria, Senegal, and the UK. While the Gambia and Spain do not share historic, cultural, or trade ties, rural Gambians have migrated to Spain in large numbers because of its proximity and the availability of jobs in its underground economy (this flow slowed following the onset of Spain’s late 2007 economic crisis).
The Gambia’s role as a host country to refugees is a result of wars in several of its neighboring West African countries. Since 2006, refugees from the Casamance conflict in Senegal have replaced their pattern of flight and return with permanent settlement in The Gambia, often moving in with relatives along the Senegal-Gambia border. The strain of providing for about 7,400 Casamance refugees has increased poverty among Gambian villagers.

Age structure

0-14 years: 37.88% (male 382,215/female 379,029)
15-24 years: 20.64% (male 204,979/female 209,866)
25-54 years: 33.92% (male 333,875/female 347,779)
55-64 years: 4.14% (male 39,978/female 43,177)
65 years and over: 3.42% (male 32,011/female 36,739) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 94.2%
youth dependency ratio: 89.7%
elderly dependency ratio: 4.5%
potential support ratio: 22.3% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 20.7 years
male: 20.4 years
female: 21 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

2.11% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

30.1 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

7.1 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 59.6% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 4.33% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

BANJUL (capital) 504,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14

total number: 103,389
percentage: 25% (2006 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

706 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 62 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 67.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 56.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 64.9 years
male: 62.5 years
female: 67.3 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

3.63 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

9% (2013)

Health expenditures

7.3% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.11 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density

1.1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

urban: 94.2% of population
rural: 84.4% of population
total: 90.2% of population
urban: 5.8% of population
rural: 15.6% of population
total: 9.8% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 61.5% of population
rural: 55% of population
total: 58.9% of population
urban: 38.5% of population
rural: 45% of population
total: 41.1% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

1.82% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

20,500 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

1,000 (2015 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

9.1% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

16.4% (2013)

Education expenditures

2.8% of GDP (2013)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 55.5%
male: 63.9%
female: 47.6% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 9 years
male: 9 years
female: 9 years (2010)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2013 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of The Gambia
conventional short form: The Gambia
etymology: named for the Gambia River that flows through the heart of the country

Government type

presidential republic


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

Administrative divisions

5 regions, 1 city*, and 1 municipality**; Banjul*, Central River, Kanifing**, Lower River, North Bank, Upper River, West Coast


18 February 1965 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 18 February (1965)


previous 1970; latest adopted 8 April 1996, approved by referendum 8 August 1996, effective 16 January 1997; amended several times, last in 2010 (2016)

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law, Islamic law, and customary law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: yes
citizenship by descent: yes
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Elect Adama BARROW (since 1 December 2016); Vice President Isatou NJIE-SAIDY (since 20 March 1997); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Elect Adama BARROW (since 1 December 2016); Vice President Isatou NJIE-SAIDY (since 20 March 1997)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 24 November 2011 (next to be held on 1 December 2016)
election results: Adama BARROW elected president; percent of vote - Adama BARROW (opposition coalition) 45.5%, Yahya JAMMEH (APRC)36.7%, Mamma KANDEH (G

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly (53 seats; 48 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 5 appointed by the president; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 29 March 2012 (next to be held in 2017)
election results: percent of vote by party - APRC 51.8%, NRP 9.4%, independent 38.8%; seats by party - APRC 42, NRP 2, independent 4

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of The Gambia (consists of the chief justice and 6 other justices; court sessions held with 5 justices)
judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the president after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission, a 6-member independent body of high-level judicial officials, a presidential appointee, and a National Assembly appointee; justices appointed for life or until mandatory retirement age
subordinate courts: Court of Appeal; High Court; Special Criminal Court; Khadis or Muslim courts; district tribunals; magistrates courts

Political parties and leaders

Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction or APRC [Yahya JAMMEH]
Gambia Democratic Congress or GDC [Mamma KANDEH]
Gambia Moral Congress or GMC [Mai FATTY]
Gambia Party for Democracy and Progress or GPDP [Henry GOMEZ]
National Reconciliation Party or NRP [Hamat BAH]
National Convention Party or NCP [Ebrima Janko SANYANG]
People's Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism or PDOIS [Halifa SALLAH]
People's Progressive Party or PPP [Omar JALLOW]
United Democratic Party or UDP [Ousainou DARBOE]

Political pressure groups and leaders

The Association of Non-Governmental Organizations or TANGO
Female Lawyers Association of Gambia or FLAG
Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices or GAMCOTRAP
Gambia Press Union or GPU
West African Peace Building Network-Gambian Chapter or WANEB-GAMBIA
Youth Employment Network Gambia or YENGambia
other: special needs group advocates; teachers and principals

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Omar FAYE (since 3 August 2015)
chancery: 2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Georgetown Plaza, Suite 240, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 785-1379, 1399, 1425 [1] (202) 785-1379, 1399, 1425
FAX: [1] (202) 342-0240

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador C. Patricia ALSUP (since 11 January 2016)
embassy: Kairaba Avenue, Fajara, Banjul
mailing address: P.M.B. 19, Banjul
telephone: [220] 439-2856
FAX: [220] 439-2475

Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue with white edges, and green; red stands for the sun and the savannah, blue represents the Gambia River, and green symbolizes forests and agriculture; the white stripes denote unity and peace

National symbol(s)

lion; national colors: red, blue, green, white

National anthem

name: "For The Gambia, Our Homeland"
lyrics/music: Virginia Julie HOWE/adapted by Jeremy Frederick HOWE
note: adopted 1965; the music is an adaptation of the traditional Mandinka song "Foday Kaba Dumbuya"


Economy - overview

The government has invested strongly in the agriculture sector because three-quarters of the population depends on the sector for its livelihood and agriculture provides for another one-fifth of GDP. The agricultural sector has untapped potential - less t

The Gambia has sparse natural resource deposits and a limited agricultural base. It relies heavily on remittances from workers overseas and tourist receipts. Remittance inflows to The Gambia amount to about one-fifth of the country’s GDP. The Gambia's nat

Economic progress depends on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible government economic management, and on continued technical assistance from multilateral and bilateral donors. International donors and lenders continue to be concerned a

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$3.387 billion (2016 est.)
$3.31 billion (2015 est.)
$3.172 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$886 million (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

2.3% (2016 est.)
4.4% (2015 est.)
-0.2% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$1,700 (2016 est.)
$1,700 (2015 est.)
$1,600 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

11.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
4.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
14.2% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 80.7%
government consumption: 9.7%
investment in fixed capital: 19.1%
investment in inventories: -1.5%
exports of goods and services: 24.8%
imports of goods and services: -32.8% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 21.4%
industry: 15.6%
services: 63% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

rice, millet, sorghum, peanuts, corn, sesame, cassava (manioc, tapioca), palm kernels; cattle, sheep, goats


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

Industrial production growth rate

1.2% (2016 est.)

Labor force

777,100 (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 75%
industry: 19%
services: 6% (1996)

Unemployment rate


Population below poverty line

48.4% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 36.9% (2003)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

50.2 (1998)


revenues: $231.5 million
expenditures: $323.6 million (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

26.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-10.4% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

7.4% (2016 est.)
6.9% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

9% (31 December 2009)
11% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

30.6% (31 December 2016 est.)
30.8% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$236.9 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$275.4 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$534.7 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$511.5 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$420.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$466.7 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Current account balance

-$112 million (2016 est.)
-$136 million (2015 est.)


$120 million (2016 est.)
$113.2 million (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

peanut products, fish, cotton lint, palm kernels

Exports - partners

China 47.6%, India 27.2%, France 5.9%, UK 4.9% (2015)


$363.9 million (2016 est.)
$365.1 million (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

foodstuffs, manufactures, fuel, machinery and transport equipment

Imports - partners

China 34.2%, Brazil 8.1%, Senegal 6.9%, India 5.7%, Netherlands 4.8% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$91.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$83.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

g: $541.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$502.5 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

dalasis (GMD) per US dollar -
44.5 (2016 est.)
41.89 (2015 est.)
41.89 (2014 est.)
41.733 (2013 est.)
32.08 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 1,200,000
electrification - total population: 36%
electrification - urban areas: 60%
electrification - rural areas: 2% (2013)

Electricity - production

300 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

300 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

91,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

3,500 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

41.62 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

3,552 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

500,000 Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 45,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 2 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 2.586 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 131 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: adequate microwave radio relay and open-wire network; state-owned Gambia Telecommunications partially privatized in 2007
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity, aided by multiple mobile-cellular providers, is roughly 130 per 100 persons
international: country code - 220; microwave radio relay links to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau; a landing station for the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) undersea fiber-optic cable completed in 2011 and launched in 2012; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2015)

Broadcast media

state-owned, single-channel TV service; state-owned radio station and 15 privately owned radio stations; 6 community radio stations; transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are available, some via shortwave radio; cable and satellite TV subsc (2015)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 337,000
percent of population: 17.1% (July 2015 est.)


Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

C5 (2016)


1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)


total: 3,740 km
paved: 711 km
unpaved: 3,029 km (2011)


390 km (on River Gambia; small oceangoing vessels can reach 190 km) (2010)

Merchant marine

total: 4
by type: passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 1 (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Banjul


Military branches

Office of the Chief of Defense Staff: Gambian National Army (GNA), Gambian Navy (GN), Republican National Guard (RNG) (2010)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for male and female voluntary military service; no conscription; service obligation 6 months (2012)

Transnational Issues

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): 7,392 (Senegal) (2015)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: The Gambia is a source and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Gambian women, girls, and, to a lesser extent, boys are exploited for prostitution and domestic servitude; women, girls, and boys from West African countries are trafficked to The Gambia for commercial sexual exploitation, particularly by European sex tourists; boys in some Koranic schools are forced into street vending or begging; some Gambian children have been identified as victims of forced labor in neighboring West African countries
tier rating: Tier 3 – The Gambia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government demonstrated minimal anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, investigating one trafficking case but not prosecuting or convicting any offenders in 2014; authorities did not investigate, prosecute, or convict any government employees complicit in trafficking, although corruption was a serious problem; the government identified and repatriated 19 Gambian girls subjected to domestic servitude in Lebanon but did not identify or provide protective services to any trafficking victims in The Gambia; a government program continued to provide resources and financial support to 12 Koranic schools on the condition that their students were not forced to beg (2015)