General information: The Gambia achieved independence in 1965 (until 1965 – a colony of Great Britain). In 1982, it formed a confederation with Senegal that existed until 1989 – Senegambia. In 1991, both states signed an agreement on friendship and cooperation. In 1994, as a result of a military coup, the president was overthrown and all political activity was prohibited; nevertheless, the new constitution adopted in 1996 and the presidential elections held at the same time (and subsequent parliamentary elections) brought about a nominal return to civilian rule.
Location: West Africa, on the northern coast of the Atlantic Ocean, near Senegal.
Geographical coordinates: 13° 28′ N. latitude, 16° 34’W
Reference map: Africa.
Area: total: 11,300 square kilometers; land surface area: 10,000 km2; water surface area: 1300 km2
Comparative area: almost twice the size of the state of Delaware.
Land borders: total length: 740 km; with neighboring states: with Senegal 740 km.
Coastline: 80 km.
Maritime claims: neutral waters: 18 nautical miles; continental shelf: no data; zone of exclusive right to fish: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: tropical; hot rainy season (June to October); milder dry season (November to May)
Terrain: Gambia river valley surrounded by low hills
Maximum and minimum elevations: lowest point: 0 m Atlantic Ocean; highest point: 53m. Nameless point.
Natural resources: fish
Land use: arable land: 18%; cultivated land: 0%; pastures: 9%; forests and plantations: 28%; others: 45% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 150 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: droughts (there has been a 30% decrease in precipitation over the past 30 years).
Current environmental issues: deforestation; desertification; spread of diseases transmitted through contaminated water.
International environmental treaties: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Waste, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands; signed but not ratified: no. Geography Note: The Gambia is practically an enclave of Senegal; it is the smallest country on the African continent.
Note to the section “Geography”:
Population: 1,411,205 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 45.22% (male 320,458; female 317,647); 15 to 64 years old: 52.13% (male 364,900; female 370,717); over 65: 2.65% (male 19,660; female 17,823) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 3.14% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 41.76 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 12.92 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 2.59 people / 1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male/female; under 15: 1.01 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 0.98 male/female; over 65: 1.11 male/female; for the general population: 1 male/female. (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 77.84 deaths/1000 births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 53.59 years; men: 51.65 years; women: 55.58 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 5.68 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 1.95% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 13,000 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 1,400 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: Gambian; adjective: Gambian.
Ethnic groups: Africans 99% (Malinke 42%, Fulbe 18%, Wolof 16%, Diola 10%, Serauli 9%, other 4%), non-Africans 1%.
Believers: Muslims 90%, Christians 9%, adherents of local beliefs 1%.
Language(s): English (official), Malinke, Wolof, Fulbe, other local dialects.
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 47.5%; men: 58.4%; women: 37.1% (2001 est.).
conventional long form: Republic of the Gambia;
Common short form: Gambia
State structure: a republic with a multi-party democratic government. See a2zgov.com to know more about Gambia government and politics.
Administrative divisions: 5 counties and 1 city*: Upper River, Banjul*, Western, Lower River, North Bank, Center River. Independence on February 18, 1965 (until 1965 – a British colony).
National holiday: Independence Day, February 18 (since 1965).
Constitution: adopted April 24, 1970; canceled in July 1994; rewritten and approved by national referendum on August 8, 1996; re-commissioned in January 1997.
Legal system: based on a combination of English common law, Koranic law and customary law; subject to the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
chief of state: President Yahya AJJ JAMMEH (since 12 October 1996) Vice President Isatou Njie SAIDY (since March 20, 1997); note – the president is both head of state and head of government;
head of government: President Yahya JAMMEH (since 12 October 1996) Vice President Izatu Njie SAIDI (since March 20, 1997); note – the president is both head of state and head of government;
Government: cabinet appointed by the president; elections: the president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term; the number of terms is not limited; elections last held 26 September 1996 (next to be held in October 2001); election results: Yahya JAMMEH elected president; percentage of votes – Yahya JAMMEH 55.8%, Ousainou DAR-BOE 35.8%.
Legislature: unicameral National Assembly (49 members; 45 elected by popular vote, 4 appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms); elections: last held 2 January 1997 (next to be held January 2002); election results: distribution of votes by parties – no data; seat distribution by party – APRC 33, UDP 7, NRP 2, PDOIS 1, independents 2.
Judiciary: Supreme Court.
Political parties and leaders: Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) (Yahia JAMMEH); National Reconciliation Party (NRP) (Hamat BACH [Hamat N. K. WAN]); People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) (Sidia JATTA); United Democratic Party (UDP) (Usein DARBOW); note: in August 1996, the government banned the following parties from standing for election: the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) (led by former President Dawda K. JAWARA, now in exile), the National Consensus Party (NCP) ( led by former Vice President Sheriff DIBBA) and the Gambia People’s Party (GPP) (Hassan Musa CAMARA).
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: АСР, AfDB, С, ССС, ЕСА, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, iMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMEE, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO.
US Diplomatic Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador John P. BOJANG; office: Suite 1000,1155 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005; phone:  (202) 785-1399; fax: [C (202) 785-1430.
US Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador George W. B. HALEY; embassy: Fajara, Kairaba Avenue, Banjul; mailing address: R. M. V. No. 19, Banjul; phone:  392856, 392858, 391970, 391971; fax:  392475.
Flag description: three equal horizontal stripes of red (top), blue (with a white border) and green (bottom).