The Gambia gained its independence from the UK in 1965. Geographically surrounded by Senegal, it formed a short-lived federation of Senegambia between 1982 and 1989. In 1991 the two nations signed a friendship and cooperation treaty, but tensions have flared up intermittently since then. Yahya JAMMEH led a military coup in 1994 that overthrew the president and banned political activity. A new constitution and presidential elections in 1996, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, completed a nominal return to civilian rule. JAMMEH has been elected president in all subsequent elections including most recently in late 2011.
chief of state: President Yahya JAMMEH (since 18 October 1996); note - from 1994 to 1996 he was chairman of the junta; Vice President Isatou NJIE-SAIDY (since 20 March 1997); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government:
President Yahya JAMMEH (since 18 October 1996); Vice President Isatou NJIE-SAIDY (since 20 March 1997)
Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction or APRC [Yahya A. J. J. JAMMEH] (the ruling party); Gambia People's Democratic Party or GPDP [Henry GOMEZ]; National Alliance for Democracy and Development or NADD [Halifa SALLAH]; National Convention Party or NCP [Sheriff DIBBA]; National Reconciliation Party or NRP [Hamat N. K. BAH]; People's Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism or PDOIS [Halifa SALLAH]; United Democratic Party or UDP [Ousainou DARBOE]
three equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue with white edges, and green; red stands for the sun and the savannah, blue represents the Gambia River, and green symbolizes forests and agriculture; the white stripes denote unity and peace
The Gambia has sparse natural resource deposits and a limited agricultural base, and relies in part on remittances from workers overseas and tourist receipts. About three-quarters of the population depends on the agricultural sector for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. The Gambia's natural beauty and proximity to Europe has made it one of the larger markets for tourism in West Africa, boosted by government and private sector investments in eco-tourism and upscale facilities. In the past few years, The Gambia's re-export trade - traditionally a major segment of economic activity - has declined, but its banking sector has grown rapidly. Unemployment and underemployment rates remain high; economic progress depends on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible government economic management, and on continued technical assistance from multilateral and bilateral donors. The quality of fiscal management, however, is weak. The government has promised to raise civil service wages over the next two years and the deficit is projected to worsen.
general assessment: adequate microwave radio relay and open-wire network; state-owned Gambia Telecommunications partially privatized in 2007
combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity, aided by multiple mobile-cellular providers, approached 85 per 100 persons in 2009
country code - 220; microwave radio relay links to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau; a landing station for the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) undersea fiber-optic cable is scheduled for completion in 2011; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2009)
state-owned, single-channel TV service; state-owned radio station and 4 privately-owned radio stations; transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are available, some via shortwave radio; foreign cable and satellite TV subscription services are obtainable in some parts of the country (2007)
attempts to stem refugees, cross-border raids, arms smuggling, and other illegal activities by separatists from southern Senegal's Casamance region, as well as from conflicts in other west African states
current situation: The Gambia is a source, transit, and destination country for children and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; within The Gambia, women and girls and, to a lesser extent, boys are subjected to sex trafficking and domestic servitude; women, girls, and boys from West African countries - mainly Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and Benin - are recruited for exploitation in the sex trade
Tier 2 Watch List - the government did not demonstrate increasing efforts to address human trafficking over the previous year; the Gambian Government failed to use its adequate anti-trafficking legal framework to investigate or prosecute any suspected trafficking cases (2011)