Gambia is the smallest country on the African continent, approximately twice the size of Delaware. This is the westernmost African state along the Atlantic coast measuring only 20 miles across. Other than the Atlantic, Gambia is surrounded by neighbouring Senegal. Gambia’s capital is Banjul and the country’s population is estimated to be 1.8 million.
Gambia: Climate and Landscape
Gambia is a long and narrow country with an outlet into the Atlantic. The capital Banjul is situated along the coast. The River Gambia runs right across the country and the terrain consists of the river’s flood plain flanked by some low hills. Climate in Gambia is hot and tropical all through the year with a long rainy season from June to November. The hot season, the best time to visit Gambia, is relatively cool and runs from November to May.
Sights and Sounds of Gambia
Gambia has beautiful wetlands on the Gambia delta (Tanbi and Bao Bolon) that are perfect for bird watching. Tourists can hire a boats and creep through the mangrove forest taking in the sights. Further up the river visitors can visit historic slave trade villages made famous by Alex Haley’s Roots or cross visit James Island and walk through a ruined slave fort. In the Easter part of Gambia, visitors can explore the mysterious stone circles believed to have been a prehistoric mark for burial grounds. Other interesting activities include eco-tours at Makasutu culture forest, relaxing on Janjanbureh Island or meeting a friendly crocodile at Katchkali a sacred site for the Mandinka.
Gambia: People and Languages
The official language of Gambia is English. In addition to this Mandinka, Wolof, Fula and other indigenous languages are also widely spoken. The population is 99% African with 1% comprising a combination of other nationalities. The Mandinka is the largest ethnic group in Gambia comprising 42% of the population; other ethnicities include Fula, Wolof, Jola and Serahuli.
Other Facts from Gambia
The country is Islamic with just about 10% of the population being Christian. Though Gambia is reasonably fertile (27% arable) the agricultural sector has yet to be fully exploited. Much of the population are subsistence farmers. Unemployment rates are quite high Gambian and the government has maintained control over key parastatals in the country, slowing down development in the country.