Top events in Gambia


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

© / Alan Kraft

Gambia Travel Guide

Key Facts

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


1.9 million (2013).

Population density

167 per sq km.




Republic. Gained independence from the UK in 1965.

Head of state

President Yahya Jammeh since 1996.

Head of government

President Yahya Jammeh since 1996.


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: 26 January 2015

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

Banjul has returned to normal following a gun attack on the President’s residence on 30 December 2014. The attack was unsuccessful and a number of suspects were arrested, both in The Gambia and the United States. The authorities have increased security surveillance and there are a number of checkpoints currently operating in and around the capital. Expect your vehicle to be searched if you’re stopped by security forces.

There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in The Gambia. For health advice relating to Ebola, see the National Travel Health Network and Centre website. For further details about this outbreak of Ebola, see the World Health Organization website and this map showing the areas affected.

The Gambian government has closed its air borders with Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Mali. The government has also announced that any international traveller who has been present in one of these 4 countries within 21 days of arrival in The Gambia won’t be allowed to enter.

The Gambia withdrew from the Commonwealth on 3 October 2013. A period of anti-UK rhetoric by the Gambian President followed this decision. Although this rhetoric has since subsided and anti-UK sentiment among the wider population appears limited, you should avoid discussing politically sensitive topics.

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 and treason.

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.