Many expatriates to Gambia live between Fajara,
Kololi, Kotu up to
Bijilo, Brufut Heights and Taf Construction's Brufut
Gardens Residence where there are houses for sale and
Where is Gambia?
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 River Gambia 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 Banjul.
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 Mandinka, Wollof, Fula, 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 culture.
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.
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.
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
schools. Again, it depends on how much Western-style,
external stimulation you need to stay happy and sane.
Whatís the climate like?
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
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
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 are quite a few places in the way of
fast food in Gambia. Again, a blessing to some, a curse
to others. There are however lots of takeaway diners.
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 friends.
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 team. 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 operations.
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 clothing
etc., because the climate is humid, and domestic workers
are unaware of special treatment that some textiles
Always consult your doctor first.
Don't forget travel
Important Long-term Vaccinations:-
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
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 Gambia.
A single booster dose is strongly recommended every
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
Diphtheria & Whooping Cough:
Both 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.
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.
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.
What 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
Availability and cost of domestic help? Readily available,
and costing around £35 per month for a maid and the
same amount for a freelance garden boy / watchman.
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.
Tel: 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 (grade 6).
Tel: 449 4233
What Can I Buy For Groceries?
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.
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.
If you 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 strawberries.
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
There is a recreational club at Fajara called the Fajara
Club 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.