Portal:The Gambia

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The Gambia (officially the Republic of The Gambia), commonly known as Gambia, is a country in Western Africa. The Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, bordered to the north, east, and south by Senegal, with a small coast on the Atlantic Ocean in the west.

Its borders roughly correspond to the path of the Gambia River, the nation's namesake, which flows through the country's center and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Its size is almost 10,500 km² with an estimated population of 1,700,000.

On 18 February 1965, Gambia was granted independence from the United Kingdom and joined The Commonwealth. Banjul is Gambia's capital, but the largest conurbation is Serekunda.

The Gambia shares historical roots with many other west African nations in the slave trade, which was key to the establishment of a colony on the Gambia river, first by the Portuguese and later by the British. Since gaining independence in 1965, The Gambia has enjoyed relative stability, with the exception of a brief period of military rule in 1994.

An agriculturally rich country, its economy is dominated by farming, fishing, and tourism. About a third of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.

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James Island, Gambia
Credit: Niels Elgaard Larsen

James Island, an island off The Gambia.

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The balafon (bala, balaphone) is a resonated frame, wooden keyed percussion idiophone of West Africa; part of the idiophone family of tuned percussion instruments that includes the xylophone, marimba, glockenspiel, and the vibraphone. Sound is produced by striking the tuned keys with two padded sticks.

Believed to have been developed independently of the Southern African and South American instruments now called the marimba, oral histories of the balafon date it to at least the rise of the Mali Empire in the 12th century CE. Balafon is a Manding name, but variations exist across West Africa, including the Balangi in Sierra Leone and the Gyil of the Dagara, Lobi and Gurunsi from Ghana, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire. similar instruments are played in parts of Central Africa, with the ancient Kingdom of Kongo denoting the instrument as palaku. (Read more...)

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Elderly Gambian woman face portrait.jpg
Credit: Ferdinand Reus

An elderly Gambian woman wearing a hijab.

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Gambia President Yahya Jammeh.jpg

Yahya Abdul-Azziz Jemus Junkung Diliu Jammeh (born May 25, 1965) is the President of The Gambia. As chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council, he took control of the country in a bloodless military coup in July 1994, and was elected as president two years later, in September 1996.

He founded the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction as his political party. Jammeh was re-elected on October 18, 2001 with about 53% of the vote; this election was generally deemed free and fair by observers, despite some very serious shortcomings ranging from overt government intimidation of voters to technical innovations (such as raising the required deposit to stand for election by a factor of 25) to distort the process in favour of the incumbent regime.

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