Cattle on a beach near Banjul, Gambia http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gambia_cattle.jpg Henryk Kotowski
Gambia is a small country in West Africa. Commonly called The Gambia, it is in fact the smallest country on mainland Africa, covering just 10,380 sq km (4,007 sq mi). It has a population of 1.7 million people (2011 estimate) and is one of the few countries in West Africa where English is the official language.
Like a crooked finger pointing east, The Gambia follows the course of the Gambia River all the way till the Atlantic Ocean. Nowhere is it more than 30 miles in width. Apart from the Atlantic coast, The Gambia is bordered by Senegal on all sides.
The Gambia is on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+0), so its time zone is similar to Greenwich Meridian Time. Traffic is however driven on the right (opposite from the United Kingdom). The phone IDD code here is +220.
In 2009, the Gambia had a nominal GDP of $736 million, equivalent to a per capita nominal GDP of just $440, making it one of the poorest countries in the world. Its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity stood at $1,438.
Historically, Muslim merchants had established settlements in present-day Gambia going back to the 10th century, trading in gold, slaves, ivory and other goods on the trans-Saharan trade routes. In the 14th century, the Gambia was part of the Mali Empire until the arrival of the Portuguese in the mid-15th century.
King Fahad Mosque, Banjul, Gambia http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Banjul_Moschee.jpg Ikiwaner
Trading on the Gambia River was controlled by the Portuguese until the late 16th century, when the Portuguese sold the trading rights to the English. The Gambia was part of the British empire for much of the 17th and 18th century, although the British faced repeated challenge from the French for control of the region between the Senegal and Gambia rivers. During this period, Arab traders raided the interior to capture slaves which were sold to Europeans as domestic help. The British outlawed slave trading in 1807, but was unsuccessful in ending the Gambia slave trade which persisted until 1906.
The present boundaries of the Gambia dates back to 1889 through an agreement between the British and the French. The Gambia gained independence on 18 February, 1965. It is today a republic and a member of the British Commonwealth.
Tourist boat on the Gambia River http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Georgetown_tourist_boat.jpg Ikiwaner
Planning your trip to Gambia
Visitors from selected British Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom may visit the Gambia without a visa for up to 90 days. Visitors from the United States, Canada and many European countries need to obtain a visa.
As the Gambia is becoming a popular vacation destination for Europeans, there are scheduled flights from European cities including Manchester, Amsterdam and Brussels during the tourist season, between October to April. Otherwise, getting into Gambia will require a transit in Nigeria.
Preparing Money for your trip to Gambia
The currency used in Gambia is the Gambian Dalasi (GMD).
Gambia ratified the World Heritage Convention on 1 July, 1987. As of August 2010, it has just two World Heritage Sites, both in the cultural category. Gambia does not have other sites on the World Heritage Tentative List.
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