The #Gambia

gambia national flag
Photo by aboodi vesakaran on

Today (18th of February) people celebrate the Independence Day of The Gambia

The Gambia is officially known as The Republic of The Gambia. It is a country in West Africa, and the smallest country, by population, on mainland Africa

Politically The Gambia was a country in the British Empire, later referred to as the British Commonwealth, before it became a fully independent country in its own right. As in several British Commonwealth countries during their early stages of development as independent countries, discussions often centred on whether the British Monarchy still had a role to play in their country’s affairs. Or whether their country should be a republic

There were two referendums in The Gambia over this issue, The first referendum in 1965 saw 65.85% of the voting population vote in favour of retaining the British Monarch as their Head of State, and 34.15% voted against, so the motion to abolish the role of The Monarchy in the affairs of The Gambia was dropped because it failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to pass. There was then a second referendum on this matter in 1970, when 70.45% percent of the Gambian people voted in favour of a republic and 29.55% voted against, the motion to become a republic was then successful, and The Gambia moved forward into a new era and adopted a new constitution in 1970.

Today The Gambia has a population of 1,857,181 people according to the April 2013 census, which is a small population for many countries in the world and a very small country by population on the continent of Africa.

The Gambia has an interesting geography as it is surrounded by Senegal on all sides except for its western coast on the Atlantic Ocean. The Gambia is situated on both sides of the lower reaches of the Gambia River, the nation’s namesake, which flows through the centre of The Gambia and empties into the Atlantic Ocean, thus the long East to West shape of the country. A country which has an area of 10,689 square kilometres (4,127 sq miles).

Banjul is the Gambian capital and the country’s largest metropolitan area. Serekunda, and Brikama, are the country’s largest cities.

The Gambia is a member of the Commonwealth and, English is the country’s sole official language. Nowadays, The Gambia is also a member of the Economic Community of West African States and over 40 other international organisations, including the United Nations.

The Gambia’s economy is dominated by farming, fishing, and especially tourism. In 2015, 48.6% of the population were living in poverty and, in rural areas of the country, poverty was even more widespread, at almost 70%. However, this situation is slowly improving as prosperity levels rise, and spread, in this independent country.

Beachside in The Gambia Image credit Ikiwaner, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Some other interesting Facts about The Gambia

It’s the smallest country on mainland Africa, and smaller than Yorkshire in England!

There’s close to 600 species of bird to look out for across The Gambia

During elections, many Gambians vote using marbles – In a private booth, voters are presented with holes in the ground marked with each candidate. They then simply drop their marble into the hole designated to their preferred candidate.

There is a sacred crocodile pool in Bakau

Gambia is named after the River Gambia, one of West Africa’s major rivers

Yet, The Gambia has only 50 miles of coastline

Some Gambian Milestones

The Gambia has

·         adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with the associated Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs)

·         established national institutions to monitor, report on, promote and advocate for the the associated Sustainable Development Goals

·         embarked on a democratic transitional process in support of a strong justice system, security sector reform, and women and youth empowerment in the fulfillment of human rights for all.

·          ratified the Paris Agreement and the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol and is revising its climate change strategy. The new strategy focuses on climate change, adaptation and mitigation

·         launched The Gambia’s Health Compact. This partnership is eventually expected to accelerate progress towards Universal Health Coverage, i.e. access to high quality and affordable health care that will lead to improved and equitable health outcomes for all Gambians.

·         increased co-financing for development initiatives, focusing on job creation for their youth, migrants, women and local communities, as well as equal access to employment

·         set up The Children’s National Assembly which was launched as a non-statutory platform for children and adolescents, to have a safe space for children to meet and discuss issues affecting them

There are many other milestones well worthy of inclusion so the above are just examples of what a small independent country can achieve given the independence of their own government to progress and adapt its own ideas.

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