The Gambia

For the river, see Gambia River.
Republic of The Gambia
Flag of Gambia Coat of arms of Gambia
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Progress, Peace, Prosperity"
Anthem: For The Gambia Our Homeland
Location of Gambia
Capital Banjul
Largest city Serrekunda
Official language English
Government Republic
 - President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh[1]
Independence  
 - from the UK February 18 1965 
 - Republic declared April 24 1970 
Area
 - Total 10,380 km² (164th)
4,007 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 11.5
Population
 - July 2005 estimate 1,517,000 (149th)
 - Density 153.5/km² (74th)
397.6/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $3.094 billion (171st)
 - Per capita $2002 (144th)
HDI  (2004) 0.479 (low) (155th)
Currency Dalasi (GMD)
Time zone GMT (UTC)
Internet TLD .gm
Calling code +220

The Gambia, officially the Republic of The Gambia, commonly known as Gambia, is a country in Western Africa. It is the smallest country on the African continental mainland and is bordered to the north, east, and south by Senegal, and has a small coast on the Atlantic Ocean in the west. The River Gambia flows through the centre of the country and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. On 18 February 1965, The Gambia became independent from the British Empire. Banjul is its capital.

Contents

[edit]

History

The first written accounts of the region come from records of Arab traders in the ninth and tenth centuries AD. In 1066, the inhabitants of Tekrur, a kingdom centered on the Sénégal River just to the north, became the first people in the region to convert to Islam. Muslim traders established the trans-Saharan trade route for slaves, gold, and ivory. At the beginning of the fourteenth century, most of what is today called The Gambia was a tributary to the Mali Empire. The Portuguese reached the area by sea in the mid-fifteenth century and began to dominate the lucrative trade.

In 1588, the claimant to the Portuguese throne, António, Prior of Crato, sold exclusive trade rights on the Gambia River to English merchants; this grant was confirmed by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I. In 1618, James I granted a charter to a British company for trade with Gambia and the Gold Coast (now Ghana). Between 1651 and 1661, part of Gambia was (indirectly) a colony of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth; it was purchased by the Courlandish prince Jakub Kettler. At that time Courland, in present-day Latvia, was a fiefdom of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Courlanders settled on James Island, which they called St. Andrews Island, and used it as a trade base from 1651 until it was captured by the English in 1661.

A map of James Island and Fort Gambia.
A map of James Island and Fort Gambia.

During the late seventeenth century and throughout the eighteenth, Britain and France struggled continually for political and commercial supremacy in the regions of the Senegal and Gambia rivers. The 1783 Treaty of Versailles gave Great Britain possession of the Gambia river, but the French retained a tiny enclave at Albreda on its north bank, which was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1857.

As many as 3 million slaves may have been taken from the region during the three centuries that the transatlantic slave trade operated. It is not known how many slaves were taken by Arab traders prior to and simultaneous with the transatlantic slave trade. Most of those taken were sold to Europeans by other Africans; some were prisoners of intertribal wars; some were sold because of unpaid debts, while others were kidnapped. Slaves were initially sent to Europe to work as servants until the market for labor expanded in the West Indies and North America in the 18th century. In 1807, slave trading was abolished throughout the British Empire, and the British tried unsuccessfully to end the slave trade in The Gambia. They established the military post of Bathurst (now Banjul) in 1816. In the ensuing years, Banjul was at times under the jurisdiction of the British Governor General in Sierra Leone. In 1888, The Gambia became a separate colonial entity.

An 1889 agreement with France established the present boundaries, and The Gambia became a British Crown Colony, divided for administrative purposes into the colony (city of Banjul and the surrounding area) and the protectorate (remainder of the territory). The Gambia received its own executive and legislative councils in 1901 and gradually progressed toward self-government. A 1906 ordinance abolished slavery.

During World War II, Gambian troops fought with the Allies in Burma. Banjul served as an air stop for the U.S. Army Air Corps and a port of call for Allied naval convoys. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt stopped overnight in Banjul en route to and from the Casablanca Conference in 1943, marking the first visit to the African Continent by an American president while in office.

After WWII, the pace of constitutional reform increased. Following general elections in 1962, full internal self-governance was granted in the following year. The Gambia achieved independence on February 18, 1965 as a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth of Nations. Shortly thereafter, the government held a referendum proposing that an elected president replace the British monarch as head of state. The referendum failed to receive the two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution, but the results won widespread attention abroad as testimony to The Gambia's observance of secret balloting, honest elections, and civil rights and liberties. On April 24, 1970, The Gambia became a republic within the Commonwealth, following a second referendum, with Prime Minister Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, as head of state.

Until a military coup in July 1994, The Gambia was led by President Jawara, who was re-elected five times. The relative stability of the Jawara era was shattered first by a coup attempt in 1981. The coup was led by Kukoi Samba Sanyang, who, on two occasions, had unsuccessfully sought election to Parliament. After a week of violence which left several hundred people dead, Jawara, in London when the attack began, appealed to Senegal for help. Senegalese troops defeated the rebel force.

In the aftermath of the attempted coup, Senegal and The Gambia signed the 1982 Treaty of Confederation. The Senegambia Confederation came into existence; it aimed eventually to combine the armed forces of the two states and to unify their economies and currencies. The Gambia withdrew from the confederation in 1989.

In July 1994, the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) seized power in a military coup d'état. The AFPRC deposed the Sir Jawara government and banned opposition political activity. Lieutenant Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, chairman of the AFPRC, became head of state. The AFPRC announced a transition plan for return to democratic civilian government. The Provisional Independent Electoral Commission (PIEC) was established in 1996 to conduct national elections. The PIEC was transformed to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in 1997 and became responsible for registration of voters and conduct of elections and referenda. In late 2001 and early 2002, The Gambia completed a full cycle of presidential, legislative, and local elections, which foreign observers deemed free, fair, and transparent, albeit with some shortcomings. President Yahya Jammeh, who was re-elected, took the oath of office again on December 21, 2001. The APRC maintained its strong majority in the National Assembly, particularly after the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) boycotted the legislative elections.[1]

[edit]

Politics

Marina Parade street.
Marina Parade street.

Before the 1994 coup d'état, The Gambia was one of the oldest existing multi-party democracies in Africa. It had conducted freely contested elections every five years since independence. After the coup, politicians from deposed President Jawara's People's Progressive Party (PPP) and other senior government officials were banned from participating in politics until July 2001.

A presidential election took place in September 1996, in which retired Col. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh won 56% of the vote. Four registered opposition parties participated in the October 18, 2001, presidential election, which the incumbent, President Jammeh, won with almost 53% of the votes. The APRC maintained its strong majority in the National Assembly in legislative elections held in January 2002, particularly after the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) boycotted the legislative elections.

Jammeh won the 2006 election handily after the opposition coalition, the National Alliance for Development and Democracy, splintered earlier in the year. The voting was generally regarded as free and fair, though events from the run-up raised criticism from some. A journalist from the state television station assigned to the chief opposition candidate, Ousainou Darboe, was arrested. Additionally, Jammeh made several apparent threats to voters: I will develop the areas that vote for me," he said on one occasion, "but if you don't vote for me, don't expect anything [1].

On the 21st and 22nd of March 2006, amid tensions preceding the 2006 presidential elections, an alleged planned military coup was uncovered. President Yahya Jammeh was forced to return from a trip to Mauritania, many suspected army officials were arrested, and prominent army officials, including the army chief of staff, fled the country.

There are claims circulating that this whole event was fabricated by the President incumbent for his own purposes; however, the veracity of these claims is not known, as no corroborating evidence has yet been brought forward.

The 1970 constitution, which divided the government into independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches, was suspended after the 1994 military coup. As part of the transition process, the AFPRC established the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) through decree in March 1995. In accordance with the timetable for the transition to a democratically elected government, the commission drafted a new constitution for The Gambia, which was approved by referendum in August 1996. The constitution provides for a strong presidential government, a unicameral legislature, an independent judiciary, and the protection of human rights.

[edit]

Media

Critics have accused the government of restricting free speech. A law passed in 2002 created a commission with the power to issue licenses and imprison journalists; in 2004, additional legislation allowed prison sentences for libel and slander and cancelled all print and broadcasting licenses, forcing media groups to re-register at five times the original cost [2][3].

Three Gambian journalists have been arrested since the coup attempt. It has been suggested that they were imprisoned for criticizing the government's economic policy, or for stating that a former interior minister and security chief was among the plotters. [4] [5]. Newspaper editor Deyda Hydera was shot to death under unexplained circumstances, days after the 2004 legislation took effect.

Licensing fees are high for newspapers and radio stations, and the only nationwide stations are tightly controlled by the government [6].

Reporters Without Borders has accused "President Yahya Jammeh’s police state" of using murder, arson, unlawful arrest and death threats against journalists, but it is simply speculation. [7], [8].

[edit]

Administrative divisions

Map of The Gambia.
Map of The Gambia.

The Gambia is divided into five divisions and one city. These are:[2]

The divisions are further subdivided into 37 districts. Of these, Kombo Saint Mary (which shares Brikama as a capital with the Western division) may have been administratively merged with the greater Banjul area.[3]

[edit]

Geography

Satellite image of The Gambia, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Satellite image of The Gambia, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library

The Gambia is a very small and narrow country whose borders mirror the meandering Gambia River. The country is less than 48 km wide, with a total area of 11,300 km². Its present boundaries were defined in 1889 after an agreement between the United Kingdom and France. It is almost an enclave of Senegal and the smallest country on the continent of Africa.

[edit]

Economy

The Gambia has a liberal, market-based economy characterized by traditional subsistence agriculture, a historic reliance on groundnuts (peanuts) for export earnings, a re-export trade built up around its ocean port, low import duties, minimal administrative procedures, a fluctuating exchange rate with no exchange controls, and a significant tourism industry.

Agriculture accounts for 29% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 75% of the labour force. Within agriculture, peanut production accounts for 6.9% of GDP, other crops 8.3%, livestock 5.3%, fishing 1.8%, and forestry 0.5%. Industry accounts for 12% of GDP. Manufacturing, which accounts for 5.5% of GDP, is primarily agriculturally based (e.g., peanut processing, bakeries, a brewery, and a tannery). Other manufacturing activities include soap, soft drinks, and clothing. Services account for 19% of GDP.

The UK and other EU countries constitute The Gambia's major domestic export markets, accounting for 86% in total; followed by Asia at 14%; and the African subregion, including Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, and Ghana at 8%. The UK and the other EU countries (Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium) were the major source of imports, at 60% of the total share of imports, followed by Asia at 23%, and Cote d'Ivoire and other African countries at 17%. The Gambia reports 11% of its exports going to and 14.6% of its imports coming from the United States.

[edit]

Demographics

A wide variety of ethnic groups live in The Gambia with a minimum of intertribal friction, each preserving its own language and traditions. The Mandinka tribe is the largest, followed by the Fula, Wolof, Jola, and Serahule. The approximately 3,500 non-African residents include Europeans and families of Lebanese origin (roughly 0.23% of the total population).

Muslims constitute more than 90% of the population. Christians of different denominations account for most of the remainder. Gambians officially observe the holidays of both religions and practice religious tolerance.

More than 63% of Gambians live in rural villages (1993 census), although more and more young people come to the capital in search of work and education. Provisional figures from the 2003 census show that the gap between the urban and rural populations is narrowing as more areas are declared urban. While urban migration, development projects, and modernization are bringing more Gambians into contact with Western habits and values, the traditional emphasis on the extended family, as well as indigenous forms of dress and celebration, remain integral parts of everyday life.

[edit]

Tourism

The tourism industry today in The Gambia started when a party of 300 Swedish tourists arrived in 1965.[1] That pioneering trip was organised by a Swede named Bertil Harding together with the tour operators Vingresor. It was seen as an ideal place to escape the harsh winter months of Scandinavia where Europeans would enjoy not only sun, sand and beaches but also experience the excitement of a real African holiday. Moreover due to its proximity to Europe, it also offered new opening for an affordable holiday to increasing numbers of traveling Europeans.

The number of visitors increased from 300 tourists in 1965 to 2600 visitors in 1970. The number of tourists has continued to rise sharply throughout the years, and as the government is eager to diversify the economy, it recognised tourism as a potential major foreign exchange source of revenue. However, despite increasing popularity as a tourist destination, infrastructure development has been slow.

[edit]

Native stance

Several small hotels and lodges are spread over the whole west coast of The Gambia. However the two main hotel areas are located next to each other only a few miles out of Serrekunda. Due to this concentration of tourists in a relatively small area, the attitude of the locals towards Westerners is quite different as it is with natives living more inland.

[edit]

Popular Attractions

[edit]

Other facts

[edit]

Culture

See also: Tourism in The Gambia
See also: Music of The Gambia
[edit]

Miscellaneous topics

[edit]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Background Note: The Gambia: Political Conditions, United States Department of State/Bureau of African Affairs, 2006-03.
    Beginning with "After World War II", the History section of The Gambia article as of this edit is a virtual copy, but as a work of the United States Department of State, is in the public domain.
  2. The Gambia - Government. The World Factbook (2006-09-19). Retrieved on 2006-09-29.
  3. Gwillim Law (2006-04-19). Divisions of Gambia. Administrative Divisions of Countries ("Statoids"). Retrieved on 2006-09-29.
[edit]

External links

Government
News
Photos
Overviews
Directories
Tourism
Music
Other
Retrieved from "http://localhost../../art/c/1.html"



This text comes from Wikipedia the free encyclopedia. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for a given article, visit the corresponding entry on the English Wikipedia and click on "History" . For more details about the license of an image, visit the corresponding entry on the English Wikipedia and click on the picture.