The Gambia, in West Africa, is a slither of a country with a total area of 11,300 sq. km (land 10,000 sq. km, water 1,300 sq. km.) and its only land boundary is with Senegal at 740km. The country has a population of 2 million people (April 2017 est.) It has an Atlantic Ocean facing coastline measuring 80km which runs south from Buniada Point on Jinack Island to the Allahein River in Kartong. The Gambia River courses east for approximately 487 km and roughly through the middle of the country and finally passes over Koina village, northeast of the border.
The Gambia's capital of Banjul is located on St. Mary's Island on the south bank of the river estuary and is cut off from the mainland by Oyster Creek and the Daranka Bolong. Either side of both creeks are the Tanbi Wetlands, characterised by mangroves, mudflats and saltwater creeks as far south as Mandinari.
Agriculture is the country's biggest export which is dominated by the main cash crop - groundnuts. Local efforts have been made to diversify farmers' incomes by moving them onto cashew cultivation and other more profitable cash crops.
Some of the various cooking recipes prepared in The Gambia have been introduced by various waves of immigrants from the Senegambia basin and other parts of West Africa since the early 19th century. For example Jollof Rice (Benachin) from Dakar.
The climate of The Gambia can be divided into two general seasons of wet and dry. Monsoon rains start from around mid-June to mid-October and the dry season from mid-October to the first half of June. The dry season is generally cooler and sometimes dustier.
On the defence front the army is composed of infantry battalions in the GNG, GNA and the navy.
See economy, economic sectors & the business guide.
The Gambia is a multi-ethnic society with a mix of peoples from the West Africa sub-region with various cultural, religious and linguistic differences living side by side. Ordinary citizen's lives are marked by a number of rites of passage and traditional rituals. There are at least 8 ethnic groups each with its own and sometimes overlapping customs, traditions and languages. There are over 10 languages plus various dialects spoken, most of which are part of the Niger-Congo linguistic family.
At various times in its history all or some of the country was a part of some of the great empires of West Africa and local Senegambian kingdoms. Ancient pottery artefacts have been unearthed which have been dated to around 5,500 bp. Rural villages with a knowledge of iron have been found and dated to around AD 500.
The Gambia achieved internal self-government in 1963; gained independence in 1965 and 5 years later became a republic with a president.
TRAVEL & TOURISM:
The cool, dry season from end October is when the travel & tourism sector kicks into life until the end of the Easter vacations of the following year, though some visitors continue to arrive in smaller numbers until May. From most European airports it takes about 6 hours flight time to arrive at Banjul Airport. The country offers a less expensive alternative tropical holiday destination than for example the Caribbean or South Asia. There are various 2 to 5 star tourist hotels in resorts along about 12.5 km of various beaches and coastal cliffs starting at Cape Point in Cape Saint Mary to the west of Banjul, south past Kotu and Kololi and down to Bijilo and Brufut.
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