Gambia, The

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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.

Geography

Location

Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and Senegal

Geographic coordinates

13.28° N, 16.34° W

Area 167/257

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

Coastline

80 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 18 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: extent not specified

Climate

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

Terrain

flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by some low hills

Elevation

mean elevation:

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)

Total renewable water resources

8 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 0.09 cu km/yr (41%/21%/39%)

per capita: 65.77 cu m/yr (2005)

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

Nationality

noun: Gambian(s)

adjective: Gambian

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.)

Languages

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

Religions

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

Population 149/238

1,967,709 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 38.31% (male 378,449/female 375,417)

15-24 years: 20.81% (male 202,218/female 207,194)

25-54 years: 33.45% (male 322,250/female 335,860)

55-64 years: 4.08% (male 38,717/female 41,532)

65 years and over: 3.36% (male 30,886/female 35,186) (2015 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: 20.5 years

male: 20.2 years

female: 20.8 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 43/233

2.16% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 39/224

30.86 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 125/225

7.15 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 170/222

-2.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

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 (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

20.9

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

Maternal mortality rate 29/184

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

Infant mortality rate 18/224

total: 63.9 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 69.33 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 58.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 177/224

total population: 64.6 years

male: 62.27 years

female: 67 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 42/224

3.73 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

9% (2013)

Health expenditures 144/191

6% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

0.11 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density

1.1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 94.2% of population

rural: 84.4% of population

total: 90.2% of population

unimproved:

urban: 5.8% of population

rural: 15.6% of population

total: 9.8% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 61.5% of population

rural: 55% of population

total: 58.9% of population

unimproved:

urban: 38.5% of population

rural: 45% of population

total: 41.1% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

1.82% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

20,300 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

900 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 138/191

9.1% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 38/138

17.4% (2010)

Education expenditures 109/173

4.1% of GDP (2012)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 9 years

male: 9 years

female: 9 years (2010)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of The Gambia

conventional short form: The Gambia

etymology: named after the Gambia River that flows through the heart of the country

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)

Administrative divisions

5 divisions and 1 city*; Banjul*, Central River, Lower River, North Bank, Upper River, Western

Independence

18 February 1965 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 18 February (1965)

Constitution

previous 1970; latest adopted 8 April 1996, approved by referendum 8 August 1996, effective 16 January 1997; amended several times, last in 2004 (2015)

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

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent: yes

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Yahya JAMMEH (since 18 October 1996); 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 Yahya JAMMEH (since 18 October 1996); 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 in 2016)

election results: Yahya JAMMEH reelected president; percent of vote - Yahya JAMMEH (APRC) 71.5%, Ousainou DARBOE (UDP) 17.4%, Hamat BAH (NRP) 11.1%

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 43, NRP 1, 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]

National Reconciliation Party or NRP [Hamat BAH]

United Democratic Party or UDP [Ousainou DARBOE]

Political pressure groups and leaders

National Environment Agency or NEA

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

ACP, AfDB, AU, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, MINUSMA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIL, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

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

Economy - overview

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 natural beauty and proximity to Europe has made it one of the larger tourist destinations in West Africa, boosted by government and private sector investments in eco-tourism and upscale facilities. Tourism normally brings in about 20% of GDP, but suffered in 2014 from tourists’ fears of Ebolavirus in neighboring West African countries. Unemployment and underemployment remain high.

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 than half of arable land is cultivated. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. The Gambia's re-export trade accounts for almost 80% of goods exports and China has been its largest trade partner for both exports and imports for several years.

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 about the quality of fiscal management. The IMF provided $10.8 million in emergency financial assistance to The Gambia in April 2015 to shore up the country’s finances. Relations with international donors have been tarnished by the country’s human rights record on homosexuality and human trafficking, perceptions of graft, and a declaration by the president in 2014 that the country would stop using English as the national language.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 182/230

$3.269 billion (2015 est.)

$3.123 billion (2014 est.)

$3.13 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$761 million (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 49/225

4.7% (2015 est.)

-0.2% (2014 est.)

4.8% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 211/230

$1,700 (2015 est.)

$1,600 (2014 est.)

$1,600 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 165/179

4.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

11.4% of GDP (2014 est.)

9.8% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 81.7%

government consumption: 9.6%

investment in fixed capital: 19.8%

investment in inventories: 0%

exports of goods and services: 34.7%

imports of goods and services: -45.8%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 19.9%

industry: 13.2%

services: 66.9% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

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

Industries

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

Industrial production growth rate 43/202

4.4% (2015 est.)

Labor force 150/233

777,100 (2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 75%

industry: 19%

services: 6% (1996)

Unemployment rate

NA%

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 21/144

50.2 (1998)

Budget

revenues: $226.8 million

expenditures: $324.4 million (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 85/219

29.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 210/220

-12.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 189/226

6.9% (2015 est.)

5.9% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 32/156

9% (31 December 2009)

11% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 4/184

30.8% (31 December 2015 est.)

28.5% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 179/192

$243.5 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$186.2 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 181/193

$534.7 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$511.5 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 170/191

$482.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$357.8 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$NA

Current account balance 67/197

-$103 million (2015 est.)

-$108 million (2014 est.)

Exports 194/224

$102.5 million (2015 est.)

$123.5 million (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

peanut products, fish, cotton lint, palm kernels

Exports - partners

China 34.4%, India 32.9%, UK 8.2%, France 4.4% (2014)

Imports 199/223

$310 million (2015 est.)

$335 million (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

foodstuffs, manufactures, fuel, machinery and transport equipment

Imports - partners

China 31.3%, Brazil 8.6%, India 7.9%, Senegal 7.2% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 166/170

$82.5 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$159.3 million (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 177/206

g: $546.6 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$522.7 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Exchange rates

dalasis (GMD) per US dollar -

41 (2015 est.)

41.73 (2014 est.)

41.73 (2013 est.)

32.08 (2012 est.)

29.46 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 183/220

235 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 187/219

218.6 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 141/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 152/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 182/214

62,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 10/214

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 95/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 173/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 174/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 139/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 128/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 193/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 137/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 185/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 181/212

3,100 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 122/214

41.62 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 174/213

3,159 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 190/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 146/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 102/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 199/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 142/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 182/212

472,200 Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 158/219

total subscriptions: 55,800

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 3 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 146/217

total: 2.3 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 119 (2014 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 80 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 is scheduled for completion in 2011; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2011)

Broadcast media

state-owned, single-channel TV service; state-owned radio station and 4 privately owned radio stations; transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are available, some via shortwave radio; cable and satellite TV subscription services are obtainable in some parts of the country (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 3, FM 2, shortwave 0 (2001)

Television broadcast stations

1 (government-owned) (1997)

Internet country code

.gm

Internet hosts 179/232

656 (2012)

Internet users 147/217

total: 274,000

percent of population: 14.2% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 218/236

1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

Roadways 160/223

total: 3,740 km

paved: 711 km

unpaved: 3,029 km (2011)

Waterways 88/107

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

Merchant marine 130/156

total: 4

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

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Banjul

Military and Security

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): 11,036 (Senegal) (2014)