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An oft-overlooked coastal jewel on the continent of Africa, the gambia is a tiny country rich with history, culture, and many opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Visitors can stay in any number of relaxing hotel accommodations, enjoying the sunny beach one day and going on an African safari the next.
Geography and History
Officially named the Republic of the Gambia, the western African country takes its name from the river which flows through it on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. The entire country’s population is under two million, an indicator of its small size. It is very narrow, stretched east to west along the coastline of the major river and bordered on the north and south by Senegal. The country was a major component of the slave trade and was the site of a Portuguese and then a British colony before it gained its independence in 1965.
The country’s proximity to the river and ocean makes the land fertile and fishing abundant. Most of its residents live in poverty, but it has enjoyed great political stability in its past, unlike many African countries. There are a variety of different ethnic groups contained within its borders, each with its own preserved language and customs, but English is the official language. Islam is the religion practiced by most of its inhabitants, although the country’s constitution grants everyone religious freedom. American soccer, or football as it’s known within the country, is by far the most popular sport.
A thriving tourism industry supports many of the Gambia’s residents and provides unique and convenient opportunities for travelers seeking sun, sand, and adventure. Hotel accommodations are plentiful and varied, with rustic camps as well as luxurious resorts. Bird watching, fishing expeditions, and safari trips are just a few of the possibilities offered by many travel agencies specializing in eco-tourism. The International Roots Home Coming Festival is a biannual event which invites many people to discover their heritage and celebrate their history with food, song, and dance. A short six-hour flight from most European destinations, it is quickly becoming a popular and economical tourist destination.
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