Many expatriates to Gambia live between
Brufut Heights and Taf Construction's Brufut Gardens
Residence where there are houses for sale and
One thing to consider is opening an
offshore banking account which may give your money tax haven
status while working overseas. Offshore banking could have tax
benefits for individuals, as interest on your offshore account
could be paid without tax being deducted.
The Gambia is a small West African sub-Saharan country, some 13į
north of the equator. It consists of a narrow strip of land
either side of the
bordered on 3 sides by Senegal and facing the Atlantic Ocean
The Capital is Banjul which is on the coast at the
mouth of the
River Gambia. The
airport is Banjul
International Airport (Yundum), and is about 30 minutes car
journey from Kololi which is approximately
16 kilometres from
Who are the People?
50% of the population of 1.5 million live in villages, the rest in the
expanding urban areas which are mainly on the coast.
Islam is the predominant religion (90%),but
Christianity and other
denominations are represented.
Many local languages are spoken (the main
ethnic groups are
Jola and Sarahule) and a number of people speak
French. English is the official language. The Mandinkas are the
largest ethnic group in The Gambia. The Wollofs are fewer than
the Mandinkas as a whole, however they form the largest group in
Banjul. The second largest group are the Fulas who live
mainly in the eastern part of the country, particularly in Upper River
Division. The Akus, who are mainly Christians, live in
Banjul and The Kombos. The Jolas live in a large area to the south of
the River Gambia, the majority living in Western Division
in the Fonis, The Kombos and Banjul. The Sarahules, who are
predominantly traders, live mainly in the eastern part of the
country, i.e. Upper River Division. The different ethnic groups live
harmoniously together as a community and in many cases
inter-marry. Read more about the
The Gambia is relatively cosmopolitan with several
non-governmental organisations and international companies
recruiting from within The Gambia and abroad.
100 Bututs = 1 Dalasis, 44.50 Dalasis = £1 Sterling as at January 2011 (variable). It can be useful to have a few Dalasis with you on
arrival. Your bank may require sufficient time to obtain Dalasis.
You can always exchange your pounds at the airport. You will
obtain a much better rate of exchange in The Gambia, so
donít buy too much in advance. Travellerís cheques and sterling can be
changed at the airport, at any
of the local
banks, from foreign
exchange bureau and at most
hotels in The Gambia.
Good post for families/singles/couples?
This is a hard question
to answer, because everyone is different. Most people will base
their answers to this question on ability to create an
interesting life from scratch. As a single, you may find there is
plenty to do here, and if you're a couple, you could
be very happy. As for families with kids, there is no reason why they
couldn't do well here as there are a number of international
schools. Again, it depends on how much
Western-style, external stimulation you need to stay happy and
There are two separate seasons. The dry season begins in November and
normally lasts until the first rain in early June. The
country becomes dry and dusty as the season progresses. It rarely
rains during this period although it can be overcast for
several days on end. Pre-Christmas the skies are usually clear, but
thereafter there are dusty days. At the coast it is coolest
from December to February, especially in the early morning. The
Christmas period is occasionally overcast.
During the wet season from June to October vegetation becomes lush and
it feels hot and humid. The rainstorms last from one
to a few hours, with August being the wettest month, and the
temperature can drop dramatically while it is raining. The humidity
during the wet season makes the climate rather tiring, therefore you
would be wise not to be too ambitious about what you hope
to achieve during your first few days in The Gambia until you have
started to acclimatize. Temperatures on the coast fluctuate
between 20oC and 30oC in the dry season with low humidity giving a
Mediterranean-like climate. It is 5 - 9 C hotter inland.
In the wet season temperatures usually remain in the low 30s but
with high humidity.
What's The Length of the Day?
Length of day the average length of day is 12 hours, with dusk being a
brief half hour. As The Gambia is within the tropics
day length varies by only an hour during the year. Sunrise/sunset is
between 7.00 - 7.30 am/pm
What Time Zone is it in?
Greenwich Mean Time.
What is the crime rate like?
Not too high. Crime rate is very low, and
violent crime virtually non-existent. You may be mugged if you
stagger drunk down a dark dirt road at 3:00 in the morning, but other than
that you're pretty safe, and even then, it won't be more than
stealing your wallet. As for terrorist threat, although Gambia
is 95% Muslim, it's very laid-back and generally are supportive
of the Western lifestyle. Generally speaking,
Gambia is a very safe place.
What is there to do after-hours?
If you're a bar-hopping party animal, there are several good
dance, karaoke, and jazz bars. The country
has a plethora of restaurants and cafes, as well, and night life
revolves around these. We also rely heavily on entertaining at
home. Banjul has several, relatively large casinos that seem to
consist mostly of slots. There are virtually no movie theatres
however, satellite systems and DVD players are available.
Consider getting them from LG Electronics as they offer a 1 year
guarantee with an extended warranty.
Fast food available and price of a Big Mac Meal (or similar)? There is
very little in the way of fast food in Gambia. Again, a blessing
to some, a curse to others.
What language do I need to learn?
In Gambia English is the official language, and
almost everyone speaks it with varying degrees of fluency and
understand-ability. However, all Gambians speak to each other
exclusively in a local language, generally Mandinka or Wolof.
You should make an effort to learn one or both languages, as you
will win lots of friends, get good prices in the market, and the
touts (known locally as "bumsters") won't harass you.
Also, at your next cocktail party at home, you can impress your
What is the social life like?
Entertaining/social life? Pretty good. Gambians are extremely
warm and generous people, and delight in having foreign guests come to
their homes. Sometimes you might be invited to spend pleasant
evenings in the yard of a Gambian colleague's home, sipping tea
after a good Gambian meal, talking, and watching the stars.
What is the morale among expats like?
Generally very high.
What are the medical facilities like?
Medical care is good for minor accidents and illnesses, but
truly catastrophic events would be better handled by a medevac
The best place in town for medical care is the British Medical
Research Council; there are a few other
clinics in town with doctors
trained in the UK. Local dentists here tend to like yanking
teeth out rather than actually fixing them; you are best advised
to seek a
US or European trained dentist. They can be found at the
Dental Oral Surgery or the
Swedent Clinic where they also perform root canal
What Can I leave Behind?
All your winter clothes except a couple of jumpers (you might
need them around the end of the year) as the climate is tropical. Anything you don't want to
get damaged, such as glass, antique furniture and delicate
etc., because the climate is humid, and domestic workers are
unaware of special treatment that some textiles require.
(Always consult your doctor first.)
Yellow Fever: Vaccination, which is valid for 10 years, is
strongly advised. If you are planning to travel to neighbouring
Senegal a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is essential.
Hepatitis B: This is a major health risk, particularly to those
working with medical patients, survey subjects or laboratory specimens
in The Gambia (over 10% of the population carry the virus).
Hepatitis A :
Three doses of vaccine are strongly recommended before arrival in The
A single booster dose is strongly recommended every 5-10 years.
Human Diploid Cell Rabies vaccine:
Rabies is endemic in The Gambia. Two intra-dermal doses one month
apart are strongly recommended before arrival in The Gambia. A booster
dose is required every three years.
Diphtheria & Whooping Cough:
commonly occur so it is therefore it is recommended that babies
receive the normal course of 3 doses of triple vaccine (diphtheria,
tetanus and whooping cough) before departure to The Gambia.
This gives some protection against Tuberculosis, which is common in
The Gambia. It is, therefore, advisable for children and adults to
have BCG vaccination before departure for The Gambia.
Cholera vaccine: This is of limited value.
Typhoid: A single dose provides protection for three years when a
booster is recommended.
Meningococcal meningitis: Single dose
It is advisable that you have the vaccination status of yourself and
your family reviewed every 3 years
You and your family should take malaria prophylaxis routinely,
particularly from July to December (the rainy season).
There are several options - Mefloquine (Lariam) 2 tablets weekly; OR
Chloroquine,2 tablets (300 mg) weekly AND Proguanil
(Paludrine),2 tablets (200 mg) daily; OR Pyrimethamine (Daraprim) 25
mg weekly OR doxycycline 100 mg daily. These are adult
doses and should be reduced appropriately for children. Anti-malarials
should be started 3 days before departing for The
Gambia and should be continued for 4 weeks after your departure. No
prophylaxis provides complete protection against malaria. Your
accommodation must have mosquito screens on all the windows; further
protection is obtained by sleeping under an
insecticide-soaked bed net and using DEET repellants.
General advice It is recommended that you boil and filter all drinking
water, particularly outside the Greater Banjul
area. Avoid ice in drinks and take care when eating food in local
restaurants & beach bars (especially salads). Do not swim in
natural fresh-water pools or streams to avoid bilharzia. Beware of
sunburn, particularly on
beaches, even on hazy days. Have your
eyes and teeth examined before you leave.
FACILITIES IN THE GAMBIA:
The banks at Fajara open from 8.30 - 11.30 am and 4.00 - 6.30 pm
Monday - Friday and from 4.00 - 6.30 pm on Saturdays. If you
have a Gambian bank account there are automatic cash machines outside
most of the banks and petrol stations. Credit cards are
becoming more widely accepted in The Gambia and can now be used in
some supermarkets and
restaurants. However the exchange
rate is generally not very good.
are the housing conditions like?
Is housing predominantly
apartments or houses with a garden area? Housing is
predominantly houses with
a garden area of varying sizes generally containing at one fruit tree:
orange, mango, banana, papaya, grapefruit, avocado, or a coconut tree. Some
houses have a swimming pool. Apartment-style living is not common for
expats; apartments are plentiful, but are generally for
holiday makers and short-term visitors. Houses for rent are fairly
cheap here. It is possible to get a decent 4 bedroom bungalow with a
garden and for about £260 per month.
Availability and cost of domestic help? Readily available, and costing
around £33 per month for a maid and the same amount for a gardener.
Local taxis (which are usually shared) are painted yellow with a green
stripe and tourist taxis, which are more expensive, are
green with a white diamond. It is advisable to negotiate the price
before you enter the vehicle
Are there Any Good Restaurants?
The simple answer is yes. The largest surprise you'll find over the
west coast region of The Gambia
is the variety and number of fine quality restaurants. Mostly
Lebanese or Continental (UK) cuisine, but you can easily buy pasta, a
burger or pizza, and there are over 10 superb Indian and Chinese restaurants.
For children of school age there are the following schools:
Marina International School,
based in Bakau, which follows the British National Curriculum for
children from the ages between 3 and 16 years.
Then there is the Banjul American Embassy School
where tuition follows the American curriculum. For children who do
not speak English well they provide a special English as a foreign
language class or EFL.
Then there's the
Ecole Francaise de Banjul where tuition is in French, follows the
French national curriculum. Ages 2Ĺ to 15.
449 54 87
Zenith Preparatory School conducts its tuition in English, follows the
English system. The prep school is comprised of three-class Pre-School
from Receptions 1 through 3, for children aged 3 - 5 rising 6 years
old; and a Primary School starting from 1st Year (grade 1) to 6th Year
Tel: 449 4233
There are many supermarkets in the Fajara area which are well-stocked
with imported food. They normally open at 9.00 am and
close at 7.30 pm Monday - Saturday although some open later. Some of
the supermarkets also open from 10.00 am - 2.00 pm on
Sundays and Public Holidays. Availability varies so be prepared to go
to several when looking for items.
What Can I Buy For Groceries?
There are several well-stocked grocery store
chains in Gambia carrying a variety of European and Middle Eastern
products, with a small selection of well known American food brands.
You can purchase meat and vegetables
at markets throughout the Greater Banjul Area though, for the sake of
hygiene you are best advised to buy your meats from a company called
Kombo Meats or at your local supermarket. For freshness you
can buy fish directly off the fishing boats at
Bakau. There are many types of
fish and shellfish available e.g., Red Snapper, Sole Fish, Ladyfish,
Crayfish, Grouper, Barracuda, Prawns and other types.
have a strong urging for
some American products like Pop Tarts, you can always get them from a number of well
stocked supermarkets along the Kairaba
Avenue or at Maroun's
Supermarket in Kololi. Products are on the whole quite good, organic and therefore often much
tastier than what you can buy in Europe or the US. The only issue is
the lack of options. You can obtain your standard fruit and
vegetables but things like celery and
fresh mushrooms are hard to find and can be quite
expensive as many are imported. The same issue affects fruits like
grapes, apples and
There are a number of local markets which sell locally produced food which are
often seasonal in nature. The markets
usually open at 8.00 am and close just before sunset. A company called GAMVEG, on Kairaba Avenue, sells
imported and local fresh eggs, vegetables and the like.
There is a recreational club at Fajara
which has a bar, restaurant for poolside food, swimming pool, golf
course, a squash court,2 tennis courts, a badminton court and
facilities for table tennis. There are also a number of gyms for a
good work out.
Moving to Gambia
A-Z of Gambia