Gambia

The foundation has realized one or more projects at the red coloured locations.

The Gambia is one of the smallest and also poorest countries of the black continent. From the African west coast it drills itself as it were like a long, crooked finger further-inland. At the coast, the dwarf like country is 48 km broad, and it gradually narrows down to 24 km; its total length is 320 km. Moreover, the Gambia is separated radically throughout its whole length by the river of the same name. Not one bridge can be found which connects the two shores with each other. Ferry-services are available at only a few places.

The Gambia is a former English colony. It is completely surrounded by the former French colony Senegal, except for the short coast line.

In 1664 the English colonized James Island, nearby the mouth of the river Gambia and they also claimed the small strip of land on both sides of the river further inland. At that time, not only goods like ebony lured the European merchants, but above all the slaves. In the 18th century, Ford James became the central meeting point where the English shipped their slaves to America. This went on, until in 1807 slavery was abolished by the British Government.

In 1888 The Gambia became a colony. The English left the native population intact, as opposed to the French in Senegal. In 1963, the Gambia got their self-government and two years later became completely independent.

In the capital Banjul and the nearby situated (largest) town Serekunda, lives the biggest part of the population crowded in barracks of corrugated iron, with a complete neediness of hygiene. Often, a public tap on the street is the only source of water. The suburbs Cape Saint Mary en Fajara are in utter contradiction with these circumstances. It is obvious that the English statesmen once lived there. We see broad avenues with a number of government buildings, embassies and diplomat houses.

Tourism has been increasing. Unfortunately, only the population of the coastal area can benefit from this. The inhabitants of the inland have to dedicate their lives mostly to survival. In recent years, the number of hotels on the coast has increased considerably and more and more Europeans visit the white sandy beach, surrounded by palm trees. Climate on the coast is fine (an average of 23º in January and 27º in July), inland the temperatures can climb up to over a 50º Celsius as the Harmattan, a notorious desert wind, blows from the Sahara.

When we look at the average income, it is obvious that the Gambia is one of the poorest countries of the black continent. A Gambian earns – if he has a job at all – about € 27,00 a month, at the same time a sack of rice costs about € 10,00.

Facts and Figures

Population: 1.455.842  (estimate July 2002)

Age structure:

0   - 14 year

15 - 64 year

65 year and older

45,1 %

52,3 %

2,6%

Population growth: 3,09 %
Birth rate: 41.25 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 12.63 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:

Female

Male

53,01 year

52,02 year

   
Ethnic divisions: Mandinka 42 %, Fula 18 %, Wolof 16 %, Jola 10 %, Serahuli 9 %, other 5 %
   
Religions: Muslim 90%, Christian 9%, indigenous beliefs 1%
   

Official language:

English
   

Currency:

Dalasi
   
National Anthem: Anthem of the Gambia
   
More information about the Gambia is to be found at: www.africanculture.dk