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The Republic of the Gambia (official: Republic of the Gambia) is located in West Africa and, with an area of 11 295 km², is the smallest state on the African continent. Gambia borders Senegal to the north, east and south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The country extends as a narrow strip on both sides of the river of the same name, the west-east extension amounts to approx. 340 km, the maximum width of the country is 50 km. The length of the coast is 80 km.

Gambia is predominantly flat, in the west there is hilly landscape, here heights up to 200 m are reached. The Gambia River and its numerous tributaries are decisive for the country’s landscape. The Gambia originates in the north of Guinea and is about 1.5 km wide inland. Before it flows into the Atlantic, its riverbed widens to a width of 11 km, but narrows again to 5 km shortly before its mouth. In the shore area the soil is predominantly swampy, the adjacent lowlands are regularly flooded; these alluvial soils represent the main cultivation area of Gambia. The areas in which the sediments are saline (due to the tides) are excluded from this. The capital Banjul lies on a peninsula at the mouth of the Gambia.

Political System

According to the Constitution of 1997, Gambia is a presidential republic in the British Commonwealth of Nations. Head of state and head of government is the president (since January 1994 the former head of the military junta, Yahya Jammeh), who is elected by the people for a term of five years (re-election possible).

  • The legislative power lies with the parliament, which consists of a chamber (National Assembly) with 53 seats. Of these, 48 are directly elected for five years and five are appointed by the President.
  • The judicature is based on British and Islamic law (Sharia).
  • The Gambia is divided into six districts (divisions) with a total of 35 districts.


Despite extensive development aid, Gambia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Although the domestic economic situation has stabilised in recent years, the upturn is not reaching the majority of the population. The greatest challenges are widespread poverty, high population growth and highly indebted public budgets.

Agriculture, which employs nearly four-fifths of Gambians, contributes one-fifth of the gross domestic product (GDP). The main crops are peanuts and cotton (export goods) as well as rice, millet, sorghum, manioc, corn and palm kernels. Citrus fruits and vegetables are also cultivated. Livestock breeding (cattle, sheep, goats, poultry) is important for the population’s own needs; animal skins are processed and exported. The proceeds from fishing serve to cover the own needs, fish and fishery products also represent export goods. Due to the high population growth, food has to be imported.

Industry has developed slightly in recent years and now accounts for 13% of GDP. These are mainly companies processing peanuts, animal skins and fish. There are also wood and textile processing companies. The energy demand is covered by smaller diesel power plants.

The Gambia has to import above all food, as well as practically all factory products and fuels – especially from China, but also from Senegal and Great Britain. The export of peanuts and peanut products, fish products and cotton goes to Thailand, Great Britain, France and India.

Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange income.

The road network covers a total of around 3,700 km, of which about 700 km are paved. Almost 400 km of waterways can be used for inland navigation. The capital Banjul on the Atlantic coast is an important seaport of West Africa. There is also an international airport nearby. Currency is the Dalasi (= 100 Butut).