The Gambia is a small independent republic on the bulge of Africa and forms part of the West African Region. It consists of a narrow strip of land on either side of the Gambia River and is almost surrounded by Senegal. The capital city is Banjul. Other major towns are Bwiam and Kuntaur.

The official language is English but Wolof, Fulani and Mandinka are widely spoken. The local currency is the Dalasi (Da). (US$ / Da – current exchange rate).

The Gambian economy is based predominantly on exports, tourism and other services, there has been little investment to change this situation and widen the economic base. As a result, the economy is susceptible to shocks. Despite this, the economy has grown and stability is being sustained. Real interest rates remain high however.

The Gambia has a fledgling mining industry and its oil industry is small and depends on the importation of all petroleum products.

Electricity is provided by the parastatal utility Gambia Utility Corporation.

The international time zone for the Gambia is GMT and the international dialling code is +220. The airlines which fly to the Gambia are British Airways, Nigerian Airways and Ghana Airways and the national carrier, Gambia Airways. As at January 1996 visas are required by all visitors to the Gambia except nationals of Commonwealth, Scandinavian and some West European countries.

Malaria, cholera, hepatitis A, meningitis, typhoid fever, yellow fever and schistosomiasis may be contracted while travelling in The Gambia. Contraction risk is based on a number of factors including location, individual’s state of health, current immunisation status, and the local disease situation.

Shaun Bakamoso

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