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Country information: The Gambia



11.300 square kilometres


1.78 million (July 2009)

Capital city

Banjul (33.820 inhabitants 2008)

Official language

English (other local African languages for example: Mandinka 26,7%, Wolof, Dyola, Fula)

GDP per capita (PPP)

US$ 1 300 (2008)

Population growth

2.7 per cent (2009)

Life expectancy

55,4 years (men: 53,4 years, women: 57,3 years) (2009)

Infant mortality

67,3 per 1 000 live births (2009)

Rate of illiteracy

60 % (2003)




The tourism sector in Gambia has been heavily built up in the last few years. It has become the country’s largest earner of foreign currency and represents 16 percent of GDP. The country’s many national parks and the diverse animal life make it an attractive destination for ecologically-minded tourists. According to UNWTO in 2005, approximately 111,000 guests visited the country. The revenues of tourism are known for the year 1995. This year the tourism brought 21 million Euro into the country.


Commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism

In Gambia there has been increasing prostitution, although the society still only accepts sexual intercourse within the marriage. Legal protection is also provided to protect children from sexual exploitation. In addition, the Gambia on 8 August 1990 ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has undertaken to protect children against all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.


Kidnappers operate along the traditional trade routes, and children are also abducted to be used in neighbouring countries to work on the land as cheap labourers.


HIV / Aids

With the spread of prostitution, there are also fears of an increase in the frequency of HIV and AIDS. According to estimates from UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, in 2007 some 8.200 people in Gambia were infected with HIV, including 4.500 women and 1.000 children. In the same year less than 1.000 Gambians died following such infection with HIV.


Local Contacts


Centre for Children's Rights

32 Sayer Jobe Avenue

P.M.B. 200, Serrekunda PO

Banjul, Gambia



Child Protection Alliance

c/o TANGO Building

Fajara M Section

Bakau, Gambia

Phone: +220 378694

Fax: +220 378694




UNICEF - Gambia

No. 5 Kofi Annan Street

Cape Point

Kombo St. Mary

Republic of The Gambia

Phone: +220 4494 760

Fax: +220 4494 787






State and society

Gambia, the smallest country in Africa, is a presidential republic. The president is head of state and government; the office has been occupied by Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh since 1996. The legislature is a representative chamber. The legislature is the House of Representatives. The Republic has been independent since 1965. In 1994, a multi-party system was introduced.

In the Gambia phases of internal calm interchange with open confrontations. Such confrontations have increased with growing social problems.


Gambia is one of the ten poorest countries in the world, and has high infant mortality, illiteracy und malnutrition. About one-third of the population has no access to clean drinking water.


In the Gambia there are a variety of ethnic groups, which often differ greatly in terms both of culture and language. The largest include Malinke (some 34 per cent of the population), Fulani (16 per cent), Wolof (12 per cent), Dyola (9 per cent), Soninke (8 per cent). About one fifth of the population belong to other groups.

More than 90 per cent of Gambians are Moslems. In addition to Christians the remainder also consist of followers of natural religions. In many cases elements of natural religions have become mixed with Islam.

National legislation provides for equality of the sexes. In everyday village life these laws have yet to be fully implemented. The unequal treatment of women is rooted in the regional traditions. Women have no access to land ownership, and they are not allowed to have their own money or run a business. It is the task of women to work in the fields, to sell the harvest at market, to look after the children and to prepare the meals. Some suffer from the effects of female circumcision.


Children play an important role in society. They are highly prized and grow up under the protection of the extended family. The families wish the same for their children as any parents in Europe would wish for their children: a good education and a happy future. Since many families live on the poverty line, however, children often have to contribute to the household, so they may be unable to go to school. In such situations girls in particular are often forced to marry early, and against their will. Many girls are sent to the towns and cities to work for families as a housemaid. Their life is often marked by isolation, exploitation, and mistreatment, and not infrequently sexual abuse. When parents send their daughters away this is rarely done with a lack of scruples, but out of ignorance and necessity.



Gambia has no significant natural resources and its economy is agricultural, with peanuts the most important crop. It is one of the poorest countries on earth.