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.


Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and Senegal
Geographic coordinates: 13 28 N, 16 34 W
Population: 1,840,454 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 40% (male 360,732/female 358,440)

15-64 years: 56.9% (male 501,946/female 520,826)

65 years and over: 3.1% (male 26,645/female 29,271) (2011 est.)

Median age: Total: 19.7 years

male: 19.4 years

female: 19.9 years (2012 est.)

Country name: conventional long form: Republic of The Gambia

conventional short form: The Gambia

Government type: republic
Capital: name: Banjul

geographic coordinates: 13 27 N, 16 34 W

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Telephones – main lines in use: 48,800 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 1.478 million (2009)
Airports: 1 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 1

over 3,047 m: 1 (2012)

Roadways: total: 3,742 km

paved: 723 km

unpaved: 3,019 km (2004)

Military branches: Office of the Chief of Defence: Gambian National Army (National Guard, GNA), Gambian Navy (GN), Republican National Guard (RNG) (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2010)


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.

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):  7,359 (Senegal) (2010)