What Should I Know About the Gambia?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2015
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The Gambia is a country in Western Africa, completely surrounded by Senegal to the north, south, and east, and bordering the Atlantic Ocean on the west. The outline of the country follows the twists and turns of the Gambia River, from its mouth in at the Atlantic to a point past Basse Santa Su. At 4363 square miles (11,300 sq km), The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa. The capital is Banjul.

The Gambia became independent from the United Kingdom in 1965. In 1982, Senegal and Gambia formed a federation called Senegambia, but it was disbanded in 1989. The countries signed a new treaty in 1991. In 1994, a military coup overthrew political activity, which resumed in 1996, when a new constitution went into effect and presidential elections were held. The country's official name is Republic of The Gambia, and it is a republic. A July 2007 population estimate was 1,688,359. English is the official language of The Gambia, but other languages, including Mandinka, Wolof, and Fula, are spoken.

The land of The Gambia is mostly the flood plain of the Gambia River, and about 28 percent of the country is arable land. Agricultural products of The Gambia include grains, such as corn, rice, millet and sorghum, as well as cassava, palm kernels, peanuts, and sesame. Livestock include cattle, goats, and sheep. The industries of The Gambia include peanut processing, fishing, tourism, and agricultural machinery.


Foods eaten in The Gambia include

  • fu fu, a starchy food that can be made with a variety of ingredients, used to scoop up the soup, stew, or sauce that forms the main course of the meal,
  • Domadal, a sauce made from pounded peanuts,
  • Jollof Rice, a rice, tomato and meat dish with many regional variations,
  • Benachin, a vegetable meat stew, again, with many variations,
  • Bongo fish, and
  • plantain, which may be added to soups or stews, or served as a side dish.

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