The population of Gambia was estimated
at 1.038 million and 1.361 million at the 1993 and 2003 population
censuses with population densities of 97 and 127 persons per
square kilometre respectively. As at December 2015
the total population was 1,980,000
million (source: census of the
Gambia Bureau of Statistics) people while the annual population
growth rate is estimated at 3.2%. The population of the capital
Banjul is around 31,000.
The population of the Gambia is mainly young with more than half
(about 63.55%) is below 25 years. Elderly persons of 65 years and
above account for 2.8% of the population. The age structure: The
0-14 age bracket makes up 43.9% of the population (males 382,385 /
females 378,853) and the 15-64 age bracket makes up 53.4% (males
459,315 / females 466,689). Finally, the 65 years and over group
represents 2.8% (males 24,303 / females 23,919) - July 2008 est.
The urbanisation rate increased from 30.8 % in 1983 to
37.1% in 1993. In 2003, this rate is estimated at 50.3%; which means
that presently, more than half the population live in urban areas.
The population is unequally distributed in the eight Local
Government Areas (LGA) of the country. With a land area of 11,000 square kilometers,
the Gambia is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa
with a population density of 134 persons per square kilometer.
Increased population density coupled with the Sudano-Sahelian
deforestation has increased pressure on agricultural land and
contributed to declining agricultural output, which has led to
an out-flow of persons from rural to urban areas.
This is more
evident in the northern part of the Gambia. A population
movement from rural to urban areas has resulted in about 55 per
cent of the population currently living in
Banjul, Kanifing and
the Brikama Local Government Areas. In total about 50 per cent
of the population now lives in urban areas compared to 37
percent a decade ago. Immigration from neighbouring countries
also contributed in the high urbanization rate. According to
results of the 2003 Population and Housing Census, the
population growth rate in Gambia is at an
annual rate of 2.74
per cent at the national level and at a much faster rate in the
Kanifing and Brikama Local Government Areas. The population
drift to the western part of the country is attributable to the
over concentration of economic activities in the Greater
the inter-census period, 1993-2003, a rapid decline
was observed in the population growth rate. This
may be explained by a combination of factors related
to declining fertility levels, the return of large
numbers of refugees to their countries in the recent
past and the migration of youth out of the country
over the years.
With peace attained in conflict areas like
Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea Bissau and Southern Senegal (Casamance),
many refugees from these countries have either returned home or
have been resettled in Europe and the Americas.
Although fertility levels in The Gambia remain amongst the
highest in the world, recent estimates from the 2003 census
indicate declining fertility. The total fertility rate estimated
at 6.4 in 1983 declined to 6.04 in 1993 and further declined to
5.13 in 2003. The decline in fertility can be explained, mainly,
by a delay in marriage and therefore childbearing and to an
extent increased contraceptive use. Increased girls education,
which has immensely contributed to the delay in marriage amongst
girls, is another explanatory factor to declining fertility
levels in The Gambia. Regional variations have been observed in
fertility levels ranging from 3.93 in Banjul to 6.19 in the
Kuntaur Local Government Area.
Current high fertility levels coupled with the decline in
mortality (IMR and under-five) rates in the country have
resulted in a very youthful population structure. About 42 per
cent of the population is aged less than 15 years, 22 per cent
aged 15-24 years, 52 per cent aged 15-59 years and only 5 per
cent aged 60 years and above.
Mortality levels have been falling rapidly over the past three
decades. Infant mortality rate (IMR) estimated at 167 deaths per
1000 live births in 1983 declined to 84 deaths per 1000 live
births in 1993 and 75 deaths per 1000 live births in
Improvements in child survival can be attributed to gains made
in terms of increased access to health services and immunization
coverage in the country over the years.
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