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The Gambia (West Africa) is a small country with an area of 4,000 square miles or 10,000 sq. km and has its capital at Banjul. It is surrounded on all its borders by Senegal except on the Atlantic Ocean coast. The nation is located at the most western edge of the continent. It is the continent's smallest country and has a total area of 11,300 square km. At one time or another in history it was a part of the great Empires of West Africa.

Ancient pottery artifacts have been found which have been dated to around 5,500. Agricultural villages & towns with a knowledge of iron have been unearthed & dated to around AD 500.

Farming is still the most important export accounting for 32% of the gross domestic product, providing employment & income for 80% of the population, and accounting for 70% of foreign exchange earnings.

The coastal dry season runs from around the middle of October to the middle of June each year. This time of the year is characterised by a relatively cool, dry wind called the Harmattan.

The Gambia is a multi-party democratic republic which gained its independence in 1965. An Executive Presidency was established on the 24 April, 1970 which was later overturned following the July 22nd coup of 1994.

With regards to defence the army is made up of infantry battalions in the GNG, GNA & the navy which are under the DOD. Defence expenditure was 0.5%  of GDP in 2006.

The republic is a multi-ethnic society with people from the sub-region with different cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds living side by side. People's lives are marked by a series of rites of passage or traditional rituals. There are at least 8 ethnic groups living and each has its own and sometimes overlapping customs, traditions and language. There are over 10 languages spoken by local people, the majority of which belong to the Niger-Congo linguistic family of the Atlantic or Congo branches.

As a guide, it takes just a 6 hour flight to reach The Gambia from most European airports and it offers a less expensive alternative holiday destination than the Caribbean. There is 48 km of beach reaching south from Banjul to Kartong in the south.


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