The Gambia is a semi-enclave state in West Africa. It is the smallest state in continental Africa. In the north, east and south it borders on Senegal, in the west it has a small coastline of the Atlantic Ocean. On February 18, 1965, The Gambia gained independence from the British Empire. She was a member of the Commonwealth of Nations until October 2, 2013, when she left this organization. In 2018, the Republic of the Gambia returned to the Commonwealth of Nations. The capital is Banjul, the largest city is Serekunda.

On December 12, 2015, President Yahya Jammeh proclaimed the Gambia an Islamic Republic. However, on January 29, 2017, his successor as head of state, Adam Barrow, removed the adjective "Islamic" from the official name, restoring the former name - the Republic of the Gambia.

The toponym "Gambia" comes from the Mandinka words Kambra/Kambaa, meaning the river Gambia. According to E. M. Pospelov, the hydronym Gambia was first mentioned in European sources in 1455-1456 in the spelling Galbia, which, apparently, is a European adaptation of the local name. It is also possible that the toponym originates from the name gamba, a special type of gourd that has a magical meaning among the Serer people.


Geographical position
The state is located between 13° and 14° N. sh. in West Africa, has the form of a strip about 400 km long, stretching on both sides of the Gambia River, the width of the strip mainly varies from 24 to 28 km, at the mouth - 45 km. In the east, north and south it has a border with the Republic of Senegal, the total length of the border is 740 km. From the west it is washed by the Atlantic Ocean, the coastline is 80 km. The area of the country is 11,000 km², of which 10,000 km² is on land, 1,000 km² is on the water surface. The Gambia also owns a continental shelf of 4,000 km² and a 200-mile coastal exclusive economic zone of 10,500 km².

Most of the country's territory does not exceed 60 m above sea level. More than 48% of the Gambia does not exceed 20 m, while about 30% is not higher than 10 m. Only 4% of the country is an area from 50 to 60 m above sea level.

Depending on the distance from the river, the country can be divided into three topographic regions:
The lower valley (4048 km², 39% of the country) is an area located directly on the Gambia River and its tributaries. It is characterized by alluvial sedimentary formations, waterlogged soils and strong moisture. The area of the lower valley is subject to regular seasonal flooding, which contributes to the formation of seasonal swamps (faro), which are up to 2 km wide, to the west of McCarthy Island.
Crossed sandy plateau (57% of the country). The territory consists of sandy hills and shallow valleys.
Sandstone plateau (4% of the country). The eastern part of the country consists of low, stony sandstone hills that are mostly uncultivated and unvegetated.

Geology and soils
The geology of The Gambia belongs to the relatively recent Tertiary and Quaternary periods. The country is part of the Tertiary continental plateau, which covers 53% of the country along the river with alluvial deposits from the Quaternary. The alternation of dry and wet periods contributed to the formation of Pleistocene iron ore deposits.

Formations of the Tertiary period include complexes of the Oligocene, Miocene and Pliocene and are part of a stable continental crust. Consist of sand, sandstone, silt and clay. The age is estimated from 33 Ma (Oligocene) to 2.5 Ma (Late Pliocene).

Quaternary deposits (not older than 1.6 million years) consist of 6 formations belonging to the Holocene and Pleistocene. The geological complexes of the Holocene era are mainly composed of coarse sand and silt along the river and coastal beach complexes of undivided sand and silt. In eastern Gambia, the Quaternary formations consist of iron ores and gravels.

In general, the country is poor in minerals. Large reserves of quartz sand, sufficient for glass production, are found in Abuko, Brufut, Darsilami (Western region), Mbankam and Bakendik (North Shore region) and Kaiafe (Lower River region). The government is looking for investors to develop these fields. On the coast of the ocean, the so-called "black" sand contains ilmenite, rutile and zircon. The reserves of these minerals after removing 1% of the soil layer are estimated at 995,000 tons. Foreign investors are currently being attracted for further development.

Water resources
The Gambia's renewable water resources are estimated at 8.0 km³/year, of which 5.0 km³ enters the country via Senegal and Guinea. Surface waters give an estimated 3.0 km³ per year, annually renewed groundwater - 0.5 km³.

The annual water consumption is 30.6 million m³, i.e. 0.38% of the total amount of renewable water resources. 67% of water is used for agriculture. The total amount of water consumed increased by 50% from 1982 to 2000, but the average amount of water consumed per person decreased from 29 to 23.5 m³. The provision of the population with clean drinking water is 62%.

The Gambia River plays an important role for transport, irrigation and fisheries. The Gambia River and its tributaries occupy 970 km², during high water - 1965 km² (18% of the total territory of the country). At the mouth, located near Cape St. Mary, the width of the river is 16 kilometers, the depth is 8.1 m. The smallest width of the river in the Gambia is about 2000 m. In Banjul, where the ferry operates to Barra, the river bed narrows to 4.8 km . The river is navigable for 225 km upstream. The first 129 km from Banjul, the river is bordered by mangrove forests, which give way to steep cliffs covered with vegetation, then banks covered with tall grass follow. The entire river and its many tributaries are known for their avifauna, as well as for the hippos, crocodiles and baboons that live there.


The climate of The Gambia is one of the most favorable in West Africa for agriculture. The climate is subequatorial, with clearly defined dry (November to May) and rainy (June to October) seasons. The dry wind that blows from the Sahara during the dry season is called the Harmattan. Thanks to him, the winters in the Gambia are mild without precipitation, sunny days prevail. From November to May, the air temperature ranges from +21 to +27 °C, relative humidity - from 30 to 60%. The average temperature in the summer months is from +27 to +32 °C with high relative humidity. The rainy season starts in June and ends in October. In general, overnight temperatures are observed to be higher onshore than inland. The amount of precipitation in most of the country does not exceed 1000 mm, and even during the rainy period, sunny days prevail.

Flora and fauna
Despite the small territory, the country is rich in flora and fauna. There are 974 plant species in the Gambia. Among the 117 species of mammals living in the Gambia, there are very large animals - giraffes and elephants, which are on the verge of extinction. The Gambia is also a habitat for hippos, spotted hyenas, warthogs, baboons and many small mammals - 31 species of bats, 27 species of rodents and others.

Of the 560 bird species found in The Gambia, 220 are known to breed in the Gambia. The number of species of marine and freshwater fish is 620. Of the reptiles (72 species), 4 species of sea turtles, 7 species of freshwater turtles, 2 species of land turtles, 17 species of lizards, 3 species of crocodiles and 39 species of snakes live in the country. There are also 33 species of amphibians living in the Gambia. The insect world of The Gambia is very diverse, with 78 species of dragonflies and 175 species of butterflies living in the country.

Protected areas
The Gambia has 7 reserves and national parks, which occupy 3.6% of the country's territory.

The Abuko National Reserve, which has been operating since 1968, is located near the village of Lamin, 25 km from Banjul. The Abuko area of 105 hectares is the smallest among African reserves. Despite its small area, Abuko is famous for its rich flora and fauna.
Bijilo Forest Park is a small (51 ha) reserve on the coast, open to the public free of charge all year round. There are few animals living in the park, there are several species of monkeys and many different types of birds.
Kiang West National Park is a forest located on the south bank of the Gambia River. Among the animals living in the park are antelopes, monkeys and an abundance of birds. The area of the park is 11,000 hectares.
The Baobolong Reserve is a 22,000 ha wetland on the north bank of the central Gambia River, opposite Kiang West Park.
Niumi National Park is located in northwestern Gambia and also includes Ginak Island. The area of the park is 5000 hectares.
The Tanji River Bird Sanctuary is located on the coast in western Gambia. 612 hectares of territory include dunes, lagoons, mangroves and other forests, which are home to many birds.
The Gambia River National Park (better known as the Baboon Islands) is located on an area of 580 hectares on river islands near Yanyanbureh. Established as a chimpanzee sanctuary. Closed to visitors.

The largest urban agglomeration of the Gambia is Greater Banjul, which includes the capital of the country, Banjul, the country's largest city, Serekunda, Bakau, and a number of smaller cities. The large city of Brikama is located 20 km south of the capital. The remaining cities are located along the Gambia River.