Gambia History and Geography

According to, Gambia is a state in West Africa, the smallest on the continent with only 11,295 km2. It is a narrow strip that runs from west to east, located in the Republic of Senegal. The extreme west borders the Atlantic Ocean.


In 1562 the settlers from El Fornas arrived and established their language. Fornasenc was the official language of this country until 1630, so the English spoken in the Gambia is influenced by some words from Fornasenc. When the fornasenc ceased to be official it was released to daily use, in fact today 62% of the indigenous people of the Gambia speak Fornasenc (approx. 95,000 people)..

Forms in Portuguese Furnas is a Portuguese parish belonging to the council of Povoação, located on the Island of São Miguel, Autonomous Region of Azores. The Gambia was part of the Ghana Empire as well as the Songhai Empire. The first written testimonies that are had of the region come from some texts of Arab merchants of the 9th and 10th centuries, when the Arab merchants created the trans-Saharan route by trading in slaves, gold and ivory. In the 15th century, the Portuguese inherited this trade by establishing maritime routes to trade with the Mali Empire to which the area belonged at the time.

In 1588, the pretender to the Portuguese throne, sold the exclusivity of the trade on the Gambia River to the English, which was confirmed by the Letters of Patent of Queen Elizabeth I. In 1618, King James I of England granted the exclusivity of the trade with the Gambia River the Gold Coast (now Ghana) to a British company. Between 1651 and 1661, the Gambia was indirectly a colony of the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom. The Latvians, dependent on the Polish-Lithuanian kingdom, were the first to settle on James Island, known at the time as Andrew Island until the British conquest of it in 1661. During the seventeenth and XVIII France and England fought for supremacy in the Senegal and Gambia River region. The Treaty of Versailles of 1783 gave the United Kingdom possession of the Gambia River except for the enclave of Albreda that remained under French sovereignty, being ceded to England in 1857. Almost 3 million slaves were sent from this region to the colonies in America. In 1807 the slave trade was abolished in the British Empire with the British trying to end the slave trade in The Gambia. To do this, they created the military post of Bathurst (now Banjul) in 1816. During the following years, Banjul was under the jurisdiction of the British Governor General in Sierra Leone. In 1888 the Gambia became a self-governing colony and a year later became a royal colony The country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965. In 1970, Dawda Jawara became the first president of the new state and was re-elected in 1972 and 1977.

After independence, The Gambia improved its economic development thanks to the rise in the prices of its main export commodity, peanuts, and the development of international tourism. In February 1982, together with Senegal, the Gambia formed the Confederation of Senegambia. President Jawara was defeated in 1994 by Yahya Jammeh, who established a dictatorship. Jammeh was reelected in 2001 and repealed the law that prohibited the existence of opposition parties.


It is characterized by being a very flat country, whose altitude does not exceed 300 meters above sea level. The country is crossed from east to west by the Gambia River, which gives the country its name. This river is the axis of the country and divides it into two well differentiated parts; those to the north and those to the south of it.


A sandy plateau constitutes the entirety of its relief, except in the East, where some hills rise, separated by narrow valleys.


The coast is straight and sandy, formed by wide beaches still intact and surrounded by vegetation.


The soil is generally low and flat, and for the most part sandy, as it is subject to flooding from the river during the rainy season, which takes place from June to October.


The climate is tropical dry with a short season of intense rains, especially areas of the coast; indoors, the dry season is longer. Temperatures range from 7.2 ° C to 43.3 ° C. Annual rainfall is about 1,295 mm on average.


The vegetation is particularly rich in the strip immediately next to the river, where a dense gallery forest grows, interspersed with frequent swamps and mangroves that become thicker near the mouth.

In the interior areas where the rains decrease, the humid savannah leads to, where the arboreal vegetation alternates with large clearings occupied by shrub formations. The landscape takes on the appearance of sparse forest and wooded savanna with baobabs and thorny acacias that stand out against the expanse of tall grasses.

The baobab usually reaches 20 meters in height and its trunk is usually about 9 meters in diameter. Its angular branches are reminiscent of the claws of monsters from ancient legends. It is a tree with a great capacity to retain water. When they bloom, the perfume of their white flowers spreads throughout the savannah. They also have healing properties. The fruits of the baobab are also consumed by the residents of the region.

The mangroves are tropical plants that grow in swamps preferably on the coast of West Africa. It is one of the few plants that can survive in salt water. One of the most common places where these species live is the Gambia. They are present throughout the entire course of the river. There are four types: red, the most common in West Africa, white, black, and the mangrove cap itself. They can reach 25 meters in height and are typical of rainy regions. They are inhabited by numerous animals that love the dark, fish and ducks often seek their shade.


Among the branches of the trees live a large number of monkeys, while hippos and crocodiles, snakes and iguanas, giant squirrels, small antelopes, ospreys and other animals also come close to the river. The birds abound in Gambia and you can tell that bird watching is one of the great tourist attractions of the country. Many ducks inhabit the mangroves of the Gambia. The coastal area and the estuary are home to a large number of aquatic fauna that nest among the mangroves.

Gambia History

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