The Republic of The Gambia, commonly referred to as The Gambia, or Gambia, is a country in West Africa. Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, surrounded by Senegal except for a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean in the west. The country is situated around the Gambia River, the nation's namesake, which flows through the country's centre and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
History of the Gambia
On 18 February 1965, Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom and joined the Commonwealth of Nations.
The Gambia was led by President Dawda Jawara, who was re-elected five times. The relative stability of the Jawara era was shattered first by an attempted coup in 1981. The coup was led by Kukoi Samba Sanyang, who, on two occasions, had unsuccessfully sought election to Parliament. After a week of violence which left several hundred people dead, Jawara, in London when the attack began, appealed to Senegal for help. Senegalese troops defeated the rebel force. In the aftermath of this attempted coup, Senegal and Gambia signed a Treaty of Confederation in 1982. The goal of the Senegambia Confederation was to combine the armed forces of the two states and to unify their economies and currencies.
The Senegambia coalition continued until 1998, when it broke down over Senegal's desire to form the West African Union with Senegambia as a single member.
Thanks to the fertile land of the country, the economy is dominated by farming and fishing.
Gambia shares historical roots with many other West African nations in the slave trade, which was the key factor in the placing and keeping of a colony on the Gambia River, first by the Portuguese and later by the British.
It is a member West African Union joining in 2000.
Politics of the Gambia
The Gambia is a Presidential Republic with freely contested elections occurring every five years, the next is due in 2012.
The current frontrunner to replace the retiring President Jawara is Ousainou Darboe (born 8 August 1948).
Leadership of the Gambia
The President of the Gambia is Dawda Kairaba Jawara, (born May 16, 1924 - aged 87) was the first leader of The Gambia, serving first as Prime Minister from 1962 to 1970 and then as President from 1970 to 1982 and then again from 1998 to Present. He is also the leader of the People's Progressive Party (PPP).
Jawara was educated at the Methodist Boys’ High School in colonial Bathurst (now Banjul), then attended Achimota College in Ghana.
Initially trained as a veterinary surgeon at the Glasgow veterinary school he then moved to complete his training at Liverpool University, he served as prime minister from 1962 until 1970. After the country abolished the rule of the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, they became a republic through a referendum and Jawara became the first President on April 24, 1970.
Born Kairaba Jawara on May 16, 1924 at Barajally, MacCarthy Island Division (now Central River Division). His parents were Mamma Fatty and Almami Jawara, The public support enjoyed by the PPP stemmed, in part, from Jawara’s personal popularity. A fundamentally pragmatic and flexible individual, Jawara was no ideologue and did not possess a charismatic hold on the populace. However, he did possess the ability to inspire trust.
An important aspect of this was Jawara’s accessibility (assisted by the small size of The Gambia). He undertook annual “meet the farmers” tours, during which he listened to people’s problems and explained government policy as well as periodic meetings with sections of the Banjul Community. Despite the increased security surrounding the State House after the 1981 coup attempt, Jawara remained available to individuals or delegations seeking audience.
In addition to being fairly accessible, Jawara remained “in touch” with his people. His lifestyle, though obviously comfortable, did not feature the insensitive extravagance of some African leaders. Whether distributing gifts or inspecting projects, he demonstrated a seemingly genuine concern for his people. As time passed Jawara’s longevity and seeming invincibility also worked to his advantage. Many Gambians simply could not imagine life without him.
He announced that he will not stand for the position of president again in the upcoming elections in 2012 due to his age.
Geography and Climate of the Gambia
The Gambia is a very small and narrow country whose borders mirror the meandering Gambia River. It lies between latitudes 13° and 14°N, and longitudes 13° and 17°W. The climate of The Gambia is tropical. There is a hot and rainy season, normally from June until November, but from then until May there are cooler temperatures with less precipitation.
Trade and Industry of the Gambia
Agriculture accounts for roughly 30% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 70% of the labor force.
Within agriculture the GDP is split roughly:
- Peanut production 6.9%.
- Other crops 8.3%.
- Livestock 5.3%.
- Fishing 1.8%.
- Forestry 0.5%.
Industry accounts for approximately 8% of GDP and services approximately 58%. The limited amount of manufacturing is primarily agricultural-based (e.g., peanut processing, bakeries, a brewery, and a tannery). Other manufacturing activities include soap, soft drinks, and clothing.
Gambia has close trade links with the other West African Union members
The fact that the Gambia is enclosed by Senegal international relations are difficult. However, there are good links not only with WAU nations, but also other nations along the west coast of Africa such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, Kingdom of Morocco and Pais Del Oro (Republic of Spain)