Top events in Gambia

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01

This is the biggest event of the year, established to commemorate the slave trade and encourage people in the African diaspora to come home. It is...

A dirt road in Gambia
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A dirt road in Gambia

© 123rf.com / Alan Kraft

Gambia Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

11,295 sq km (4,361 sq miles).

Population

1.9 million (2013).

Population density

167 per sq km.

Capital

Banjul.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from the UK in 1965.

Head of state

President Yahya Jammeh since 1996.

Head of government

President Yahya Jammeh since 1996.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are UK-style with three square pins.

The Gambia may be mainland Africa's smallest nation, but it punches way above its weight in terms of attractions. With its glorious low-key beaches, bustling towns that combine colonial architecture and traditional activities and wealth of wildlife, The Gambia is the most approachable of all West African countries.

Virtually enveloped by its much larger neighbour Senegal (an eccentric legacy of the colonial carve up of Africa), the shard of land comprising The Gambia still retains its own clear identity, and although this accessible Anglophone country does deliver relaxing winter sun at good-value rates, its rich history and fascinating mix of cultures make it hard to pigeonhole. If you escape the sun loungers you will uncover another side of the country, rich in eco-tourism opportunities, wilderness, wildlife and birdwatching.

Inextricably linked to the river Gambia, one of Africa's great waterways, The Gambia comprises a varied landscape, featuring sandy beaches, lush tropical forests, swamps, marshes and large areas of wooded savannah. Then there are Gambia's parks, reserves and riverbanks including Kiang West National Park and River Gambia National Park, where you’ll see all kinds of wildlife, amongst them monkeys, crocodiles, a small population of hippos and well over 500 bird species.

Visitors keen to experience West African music and rural culture may head off the beaten track and up-country to simple, traditional villages - there are always vibrant festivals, events full of traditional drumming, energetic dancing as well as customary wrestling matches, going on. But, for many, it is The Gambia's idyllic cocktail of sunny days, warm welcomes and relaxing Atlantic beach resorts which lures them to this little slice of Africa.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 30 July 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

An outbreak of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. If you travel to this region you should follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre. There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in The Gambia.

For further details about this outbreak of Ebola, see the World Health Organization website, the NaTHNaC outbreak surveillance database and this map showing the areas affected.

Following The Gambia’s recent decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth, there has been an increasing amount of anti-UK rhetoric from the Gambian President shown on TV and reported in the newspapers. This may increase anti-UK sentiment among parts of the wider population. You should avoid discussing politically sensitive topics. You should avoid all demonstrations.

Following political disagreement between the government of The Gambia and the European Union about the deterioration of human rights in The Gambia there has been an increase in political tension which may lead to unannounced demonstrations in Banjul and other parts of the country. You should avoid all demonstrations.

Most visits to The Gambia are trouble-free although independent travellers are at increased risk due to the lack of local support in an emergency. If you’re travelling independently, make sure next of kin in the UK have details of your itinerary and keep in regular touch.

Some foreign nationals have been detained by the police in relation to homosexuality and there has been an increase in inflammatory homophobic rhetoric across the country. See Local laws and Customs.

The Gambia has provision in law for the implementation of the death penalty for a number of crimes including arson, murder, treason and human trafficking.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against using the ferry between Banjul and Barra.

Take care when swimming in the sea. Tides, waves and under currents can all be very strong.

There is a low threat from terrorism.

If you’re living in The Gambia, you should establish contact with the British warden network. The network has established links with the British Embassy and is kept regularly updated on matters that may affect British nationals in The Gambia. To find out who your local British warden is, contact the British Embassy.

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