Gambia Profile

The Gambia gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1965 and became the Republic of the Gambia in 1970. Following a coup attempt in 1981, Gambia, which is surrounded by Senegal, formed a treaty of federation with its surrounding nation in order to ensure its security.

This federation known as Senegambia dissolved in 1989 when Gambia declined moves towards further union, believing it was at risk of losing its own identity. A further military coup in 1994 installed Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH as president and he has been in power since that time.

However the democracy is nominal with Jammeh stating in July 2010, "Whether you like it or not, no coup will end my government, no elections can end my government. By God's grace I will rule this country as long as I wish and choose someone to replace me." He has also commented "Come 2011, whether you vote for me or not, I will win." He did with 71.54% of the vote.

Despite recent oil discoveries off its coast, Gambia is a poor country. Only around one sixth of its land is arable and poor soil quality effectively means its only main crop is peanuts and around 75% of Gambia's population depends on this crop together with rice, millet, sorghum, corn, sesame, cassava and palm kernels for subsistence consumption.

Farmers also rear cattle sheep and goats for their livelihood. A nation depending on one main export is always vulnerable to international price fluctuations and as such, Gambia is heavily reliant on international aid. Unemployment and under employment rates in Gambia are also very high.

The population of Gambia is just 1.5 million with a life expectancy of around 55 years. 68% of Gambia's rural population live in poverty, however this drops to around 40% in urban areas.


Gambia Profile

Gambia Profile

Gambia Profile

Gambia Profile


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Gambia Profile

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Gambia Profile

Matters have been compounded of late with drought in the area together with flash flooding making access to safe water increasingly difficult. Access to education is also a major issue for children in the Gambia, for whilst secondary education is free, most secondary schools will not accept children who have not had a primary education, and that is not free and beyond the means of many Gambian families. This is reflected in its literacy rate, just 50% overall dropping to just over 40% for females not least because only 39% of children in the Gambia go to secondary school. For more about the Gambia explore our information articles above.

Human Development Index Gambia

Human Development Index for Gambia 1980 - Present

The HDI (Human Development Index) is measured by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the World Bank and is based upon the life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and living standards of a country.

Gambia is in 165th place out of 186 countries and territories in 2013 when ranked in terms of life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country.


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