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Gambia Facts

General Facts:

Population: 1.849 million (2013)

Official Languages : English remains the main language used for official purposes and in education, but several other languages are also spoken. Mandingo is spoken as a first language by 38% of the population, Fula is spoken by 21.2%, Wolof / Serer by 18%, Jola by 4.5%.

Capital: Banjul

Cities : Banjul, Bakau, Janjanbureh, Kololi, Serekunda,

Area: 4,127 mi

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Beaches

The coastline of The Gambia consists mainly of a long sandy beach, only interrupted in a few places by small cliffs and rock formations. The beaches in The Gambia are everything that you would expect of a tropical paradise, warm sea water, miles and miles of un-crowded sandy beaches and swaying palm trees.
Many of the beach resorts where most of the visitors to The Gambia will stay are located on the northern coastline in an area known as Kombo district which is west of Banjul and covers just over ten kilometers of the Atlantic coastline. It is easy to see why it is so popular as this is a great place to unwind with a very laid back atmosphere.

Currency:Gambian dalasi

 

Crime &Security:
As tourism is the Gambia’s major industry, the government puts great effort in providing for the safety/security of visitors. This effort is mainly visible in the heavily trafficked tourist areas. However, crimes against visitors still occur. Gambian police attribute much of the criminal activity to third-country nationals. The poor economy and food insecurity has also attributed to the crime rates. The full spectrum of criminal activity can be found in Banjul, especially during hours of darkness.

 

As a result of a failed coup attempt in December 2014, there are increased military and police checkpoints in Banjul and around the country. Police roadblocks, particularly in Banjul and surrounding cities, are frequent, with police officials checking primarily for identification, vehicle registration, and insurance. The military also has several roadblocks near the borders and sometimes search vehicles looking for contraband or weapons. Travelers may be required to exit the vehicle and permit a search of the vehicle and its contents. Travelers may also be required to produce identification. Travelers should always stop at these roadblocks, present the requested documents and submit to the vehicle search.

Economy
The Gambian economy is a highly open type as measured by export and import ratios to GDP, however, as much as 80 percent of exports consist of re-exports. The main domestically-originating exports are groundnuts and tourism. The Gambia has no important mineral or other natural resources, 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 animal hides.
Short-run economic progress remains highly dependent on foreign aid, and on responsible government economic management as forwarded by International Monetary Fund technical help and advice.
Agriculture accounts for 23% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 75% of the labor force. Within agriculture, peanut production accounts for 5.3% of GDP, other crops 8.3%, livestock 4.4%, fishing 1.8%, and forestry 0.5%.
Tourism in Gambia has three major strands. There is the traditional sun seeking holiday making use of the hot climate and wonderful beaches. The Gambia is also usually the first African destination for many European birders, in view of its easily accessed and spectacular avian fauna. There are also a significant number of African Americans tracing their roots in this country, from which so many Africans were taken during the slave trade.

Education in Gambia

Education in The Gambia is costly experience for most citizens. Girls are assisted by the government in paying their school fees. In the past, boys were far more likely to be sent to school if their parents had a bit of money, while girls had very little chance to succeed unless they came from a rich family. Before the 1988 – 2003 Education Policy was formulated, less than 50% of Gambian children went to school. The Gambia College, a two- to three-year institution in Brikama, is mostly skill-based, training students to be teachers, nurses, public health officers and agricultural extension workers. Almost all teachers in The Gambia earn their qualifications at Gambia College, either the Primary Teacher Certificate (PTC) or the Higher Teacher Certificate (HTC).
University can be entered straight from Senior Secondary School, or after completing one or more years at Gambia College. The University of The Gambia (UTG) is the nation’s only university. Unfortunately, few students have the monetary or educational opportunity to attend this institution, let alone the resources to study abroad.

Food:

Local Gambian food has quite a bit of variety and rice is a major staple, complimenting various stews. Some of the more popular Gambian foods include Benachin rice, Domoda Afra, Yassa, Plasas and Superkanja.
Even if you’ve heard these names before, you most likely are not aware of their recipes. Most tourists actually miss out on the local Gambian flavors due to a couple of reasons, the biggest being the unwillingness to risk eating unhygienic food and the lack of information about local dishes and recipes. If you are on the fence about trying Gambian food, you can start with Chicken Afra or Chicken Yassa, with the former being a form of grilled meat served with onions and the latter including marinated chicken fried and served with boiled rice.
Other really good Gambian dishes include Domoda, which is basically boiled rice served with a peanut butter sauce and meat, Superkanja, which is a stew made using lady fingers or Okra and Benachin rice, which is a local favorite among many, including spicey rice instead of plain boiled rice along with fish or chicken.
These are not all though, and there are several other dishes too.

HIV/Aids

Statistics fortunately show that HIV/AIDS has not hit as hard in The Gambia as in other parts of Africa after the first case was diagnosed in the country in 1986.
Statistics from the UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) country officer in The Gambia has revealed that between 18,000 to 24,000 people are living with HIV and the AIDS disease in the country, and for more than two decades now about 500 people died annually of HIV and AIDS and related diseases.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence among adults aged (15 to 49) in The Gambia is 1.8% [1.4% – 2.3%] (2014 est. unaids.org). Results from the sentinel studies have firmly established that HIV1 is now the main virus driving the epidemic in The Gambia; whilst HIV2 seems to be on the decline. Like in most of sub-Saharan Africa heterosexual intercourse is the main mode of HIV transmission.

Malaria Prevention

Before visiting The Gambia you are strongly recommended to take anti-malaria medications as a preventative step against the mosquito transmitted disease, Plasmodium Falciparum parasite, which is normally passed to humans by the female Anopheles mosquito.

Political System
Government of The Republic of The Gambia.
MinistriesThe Gambia is a multi-party democratic republic within the Commonwealth; independent since 1965; and an Executive Presidency established in 1970. The 1970 constitution was revoked following the July 1994 military coup.After 200 years of British Colonial rule, The Gambia became independent on 18th February 1965 and 5 years later in April 1970-adopted a republican constitution. The Gambia, a multi-party republic within the Commonwealth, is administered by an Executive President. Under the current constitution general elections through secret ballots are held every five years to elect candidates who constitute the country’s House of Parliament.

Transport


The system of transportation in the Gambia mixes both public and private operations and consists of a system of roads (both paved and unpaved), water and air transportation. There are no railways in the country.
The Gambia River not only provides important internal transport but is also an international commercial link. Oceangoing vessels can travel 240 km upstream. In 2004 there were 390 km of total waterways. Banjul, the principal port, receives about 300 ships annually. Ferries operate across the river and between Banjul and Barra.
With the construction of major all-weather roads on both sides of the Gambia River, the waterway has become less significant for passenger traffic.
The country’s only international airport is at Yundum, 26 km from Banjul. Air Gambia, 60% state owned, acts as an agent only. Foreign air carriers provide international service.



 

 

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