The Gambia

The smallest country on mainland Africa, Gambia, is surrounded by Senegal, apart from a short strip of Atlantic coastline at its western end. Banjul is the Gambian capital, but the largest cities are Serekunda and Brikama. Also called the Smiling Coast of West Africa, it gained independence from the United Kingdom on 18 February 1965 and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The official language spoken is English and the monetary unit of the Gambia is the Dalasi. It lies between latitudes 13o and 14oN, and longitudes 13° and 17°W.

A variety of ethnic groups live in the Gambia, with each preserving its own language and traditions. A percentage representation of these ethnicities gives the Mandinka 42%, Fula 18%, Wolof 16%, Jola 10%, Serahuli 9%, other 4%, and non-African 1% of the Gambian population.

Notable Places to Visit

Kiang West National Park

The Kiang West National Park (KWNP) was gazetted by the Government of The Gambia in 1987. With approximately 11,000 hectares, KWNP is Gambia's largest park. Within the boundaries can be found almost all of The Gambia's geographical variances: mangroves, salt bats, partially closed canopy forests, laterite extrusions and bolong tributaries. In addition, over 300 species of birds make their home there. The KWNP has been developed for international guests, tourists, government agencies and school children as well as other visitors.

Abuko Nature Reserve

This is Gambia's oldest protected area. It is near the holiday resorts on the Atlantic Coast and is a great tourist attraction. The reserve protects a large tract of gallery forest, and is particularly noted for its bird and monkey populations you can also see lions, hyenas and crocodiles here.

Bird Safari Camp

A tropical paradise lodge set on the meandering river banks of MacCarthy Island in The Gambia. Deep in the African bush, this idyllic location provides a perfect base for the discerning traveler who is seeking a genuine experience, away from the crowded beach resorts.

Katchikali Crocodile Pool

A sacred pool in Gambia's tourist town of Bakau has become a major attraction for foreign visitors to the West African country. The pool, discovered hundreds of years ago by the natives of Bakau some 14km (8 miles) from the capital Banjul, is home to more than 100 crocodiles.

Brikama Craft Market

Home to some of the most talented wood carvers in the country, this craft market offers a wonderful selection of woodcarvings and souvenirs that can be bought at a reasonable price.  You even get to see some of the craftsmen at work some times.

Wassu Stone Circles

These are the famed stone circles of West Africa. They consist of rings up to eight metres in diameter of 10 to 24 rounded, reddish-brown, laterite pillars, from one to two-and-a-half metres in height. The Stone Circles have now been identified as burial grounds more than 1,200 years old. Made of hewn laterite, there are scores of these sites dotting the landscape.

Juffureh

A town in The Gambia that is popular with tourists, lying 30 km inland on the north bank of the River Gambia in the North Bank Division. It is said to be where Alex Haley's novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, is set. It is home to a museum and lies near James Island. A family claiming to be the descendants of Kunta Kinte still resides here.

Tumani Tenda

This 28 year old village of 300 people is set in beautiful surroundings. Stay in one of five traditional African style houses, each individually designed by a family in the village. They are the Jola people with a strong sense of community spirit. The village is almost totally self sufficient and sells excess produce. The huts are in a camp just outside the village next to the Kafuta Bolong.

 

Notable Events

  • Roots Homecoming Festival (Reuniting the Diaspora with Mother Africa)
  • Banjul Demba Cultural Festival
  • Banjul Fine Arts Festival
  • Independence Day (18 February)
  • Abene Festival
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