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Preface Last Updated: 2/12/2004 3:05 PM

In contrast to its all-enveloping neighbor, Senegal, and the massive nations surrounding it, The Gambia looks like a sliver in the side of Africa. True, it ranks among the continent’s tiniest countries, but its attractions are just as bright and boldfaced as any in the region. Its capital city, Banjul, is a uniquely African experience, with a bustling marketplace and enough streetside culture to chase away the holiday daze of glitzier cities. And for an even more “traditional” outlook, a quick trip upriver brings you into the Gambian heartland, where the colorful buzz of weekly markets vies with boat trips through mangrove creeks and bike jaunts to mud-hut villages for your time and appreciation.

The overwhelming majority of The Gambia’s population is Muslim, though many practitioners combine their faith with traditional animist beliefs. It is not uncommon to see Gambians wearing a small leather pouch around their neck, arm, or waist. Called gris-gris (pronounced “gree-gree”), these amulets are thought to ward off evil or bring good luck.

Great importance is placed on greetings in The Gambia. Mandinka people, for example, greet one another with a ritual that lasts up to half a minute, starting with the traditional Islamic greetings, Salaam aleikum and Aleikum asalaam (“Peace be with you,” “And peace be with you”).

The Gambia’s first contact with Europeans came in 1456, when Portuguese navigators landed on James Island. Although they did not establish a settlement, they continued to monopolize trade along the West African coast throughout the 16th century. (It has been suggested that the River Gambia’s name stems from the Portuguese word cambio, meaning “exchange,” or, in this context, “trade.”)

The first European settlement in The Gambia was made by Baltic Germans. Ten years later, they were displaced by the British, who were themselves ever under threat from French ships. Britain declared the River Gambia a British Protectorate in 1820. In 1886, The Gambia became a Crown Colony, and the following year France and Britain drew the boundaries between Senegal (by then a French colony) and The Gambia.

In 1965, The Gambia became independent (although Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II remained as titular head of state), and without any official explanation the “The” was added to its name.

Although The Gambia is largely defined by its natural features — from the River Gambia, which runs the length of the country, to the golden beaches of its Atlantic coast resorts — the country’s draw lies in its people, their culture, and the amiable atmosphere of daily life. You are sure to come away with as warm a feeling for Gambians as they tend to show to travelers.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 2/12/2004 3:06 PM

Situated on the western coast of Africa between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer, the Republic of The Gambia forms a narrow strip of land on either side of the Gambia River. Except for the sea coast, the country is surrounded by the Republic of Senegal and extends inland for 200 miles (320 kilometers). The Gambia is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) wide along the coast, narrowing to 15 miles (24 kilometers) at its eastern border. From sea level, interior elevations rise to 112 feet. Its dominant feature, the Gambia River, begins in the Futa Jallon highlands in Guinea and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The river is fringed with mangrove swamps for about 170 miles inland, followed by open savanna and, in places, by red iron-stone cliffs. The river is tidal throughout most of The Gambia, and the intrusion of salt water ranges from 90 miles upriver in the wet season to nearly 160 miles in the dry season. Ships up to 3,000 tons with a maximum draft of 17 feet are able to navigate 150 miles upriver to the trading port of Kaur. Banjul has a well-equipped port with two berths, spacious anchorages, large customs clearing warehouses, and a 25-ton capacity crane. Smaller fishing and pleasure boats are anchored in Oyster Creek, 2 miles from Banjul.

The Gambia is vulnerable to periodic drought because it is part of the arid Sahel Zone between the Sahara Desert and the coastal rain forest. Vegetation ranges from woodlands to savanna with sparse grass and shrubs. Much of the sandy soil is low in plant nutrients. Palm trees are present in coastal areas, and baobab, kapok, acacia, and mahogany trees are found throughout the country. Climate is subtropical with a distinct hot and rainy season from June to October, and a cooler dry season from November to May. The beginning and end of the rains are marked by high temperatures and high humidity, whereas the dry season is noted for the dusty and dry trade winds (harmattan) blowing in from the central Sahara. Temperatures range from a low of 48°F (9°C) in January to a high of 110°F (43°C) in October. Because of the cooling effect of the ocean, temperatures are lower along the coast than in the interior. Rainfall varies widely from year to year but ranges from an annual mean of 48 inches in the west to 34 inches upriver.

Because of the humid climate and the salt air along the coast, metal rusts rapidly in The Gambia, and houses near the sea may be affected by the corrosive salt air. Termites abound year round in soils and woodwork. During the dry season, the harmattan winds blow in a fine dust. However, the moderate temperatures during the dry season with mostly sunny days give The Gambia one of West Africa’s more pleasant climates.

Population Last Updated: 2/12/2004 3:07 PM

Of The Gambia’s estimated population of 1.5 million people, about 80% live in rural areas outside the urban communities of Bakau, Serrekunda, and the capital city of Banjul. Population density for the country is about 68 people per square kilometer, making The Gambia one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Of the major ethnic groups, Mandinkas predominate with 42% of the population, followed by Fula (19%), and Wolof (15%). Other substantial ethnic groups include Jola (10%), Serahule (8%), Serer (3%), Aku (1%), and Manjago (2%). Just over 1% of the population comes from other African countries with non-Africans accounting for fewer than 1% (mostly Europeans and Lebanese).

Although each ethnic group has its own particular traditions, language, and background, the people of The Gambia share many cultural patterns due to historical connections, the small size of the country, generations of intermarriage, and the unifying force of Islam.

Gambians also share much of their cultural heritage with the people of Senegal and other West African countries. Although English is the official language used in schools and the government, local languages are widely spoken.

While Wolof is commonly used in the urban areas, Mandinka predominates in the rural areas, and other local languages can often be heard.

Population growth rate is estimated at 4.2% (of which 1.7% is attributable to immigration). Infant mortality is high: 84/1,000 in the first year, 250/1,000 for 5 years and under. Life expectancy is about 59.3 years. Birth rate is 46.2/1,000.

About 90% of the population is Muslim with the remainder Christian and, to a lesser extent, followers of traditional animist beliefs and practices. Freedom of religious belief is recognized, and religious institutions are autonomous.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 2/12/2004 3:09 PM

A Member of the British Commonwealth, The Gambia became independent in 1965. Shortly thereafter, the government proposed conversion from a monarchy to a republic with an elected president replacing the British monarch as chief of state. The proposal failed to receive the two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution, but the results won widespread attention abroad as testimony to The Gambia’s observance of secret balloting, honest elections, and civil rights and liberties. On April 24, 1970, The Gambia became a republic following a majority-approved referendum.

Until a military coup in July 1994, The Gambia was led by President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, who was reelected five times. The relative stability of the Jawara era was first broken in a violent coup attempt in 1981. Kukoi Samba Sanyang, who had twice run unsuccessfully for parliament, led the coup. After a week of violence which left several hundred dead, Jawara, in London when the attack began, appealed to Senegal for help. Senegalese troops defeated the rebel force.

In the aftermath of the attempted coup, Senegal and The Gambia signed the 1982 Treaty of Confederation. The result, the Senegambia Confederation, aimed eventually to combine the armed forces of the two nations and unify their economies and currencies. The Gambia withdrew from the confederation in 1989.

In July 1994, the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) seized power in a military coup d’etat and deposed the democratically elected government of President Jawara. Captain Yahya A.J.J Jammeh, Chairman of the AFPRC became Head of State.

The AFPRC announced a transition plan for return to a democratic civilian government, which ended on January 16, 1997, with the inauguration of the National Assembly. The Provisional Independent Electoral Commission, an independent body, was established to conduct all national elections. This process culminated in the compilation of a new constitution by referendum in August 1996; Presidential and National Assembly elections were held in September 1996 and January 1997, respectively. Retired Colonel Yahya A. J.J. Jammeh was sworn in office as President of the Republic of The Gambia on November 6, 1996.

As part of its announced transition process, the AFPRC established the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) through decree in March 1995. In accordance with the transition to a democratically elected government, the commission drafted a new constitution for The Gambia, which was approved in a referendum by 58% of the electorate on August 8, 1996. The constitution, which provides for a strong presidential government, a unicameral legislature, an independent judiciary, and protection of human rights, was formally enacted in 1997.

A president, who by the new constitution, is elected for a 5-year term, heads the executive branch. President Yahya Jammeh was reelected in October 2001 in an election which international observers deemed generally free and fair, despite some shortcomings. The president then appoints a vice president and a cabinet.

The legislative branch consists of a unicameral parliament with 48 elected members, plus 5 members who are nominated by the president. The members of parliament are elected for 5-year terms. The last legislative elections, which took place in January 2002, were deemed generally free and fair by international observers, despite some shortcomings. The judiciary consists of a supreme court, court of appeals, and high court. The legal system is based on a composite of English common law, Koranic law, and customary law.

For administrative purposes, The Gambia is divided into five divisions, each headed by a regional commissioner (i.e., Western, North Bank, Lower River, Central River, and Upper River divisions). Further divisions are made by districts that are each headed by chiefs. The district chiefs, who were previously elected by village heads, will now be appointed by the President in consultation with the Secretary of State responsible for local governments. The district chiefs retain traditional power of customary law. The local government consists of six rural councils and two urban councils that have their own treasuries but are responsible to the Department of State for Local Government and Lands.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 2/12/2004 3:57 PM

The Government of The Gambia is encouraging a revival of its artistic and cultural traditions. It sponsors the Gambia National Troupe, a musical and theatrical group which performs extensively in the Banjul area; members of the Troupe have traveled widely in Europe and in other African countries. An annual cultural festival of traditional Mandinka music and dance was inaugurated in 1983 at Georgetown (Janjanburay). The Government also sponsors the biennial “Roots” festival held in Kanalai (President Jammeh’s hometown), Banjul, and Juffureh the ancestral home of Roots author Alex Haley. The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, and Culture also sponsors performance of traditional dance as well as instruction in the music of the “griot.” More than just a musician, the griot in Gambian society embodies much of the country’s national heritage through the historical narratives and family genealogies that griot families have passed on for generations. The songs of both “kora” and “balafon” musicians trace the history of the region and its founding families back to the 13th century. While the kora is a stringed instrument, the balafon is like a xylophone. Individual and ensemble performances with these instruments may be heard in Banjul and surrounding areas at hotels and other public functions. Several good recordings of this music as well as traditional drumming are available.

Local handicrafts are also expanding as a result of the tourist industry. Tie-dyed and batik cloth, wood carving, and silver and gold jewelry making are the most notable. The Gambia’s National Museum features exhibits on traditional arts and crafts, history, and ethnography. It also has a tape collection of oral histories of the region and videotapes on aspects of Gambian culture.

Scientific research in several fields important to tropical and developing countries is underway in The Gambia. The British Medical Research Council has been conducting medical research in tropical disease since 1947.

The Gambia’s education and training policies continue to focus on primary education, literacy, and qualitative improvements in curriculum and teacher training. A National Vocational Training Directorate, established in 1979, coordinates the country’s technical training. Its current priorities are to upgrade the skills of those already employed. The Gambia Technical Training Institute opened in 1983, and a Management Development Institute for training in mid-level management and accounting procedures opened in 1984. A University Extension program with St. Mary’s University of Nova Scotia was introduced in The Gambia in 1995 within the Schools of Education and Agriculture. The university graduated classes in February and August 1999. The St. Mary’s program was phased out in 2000 and students transferred to the newly established University of The Gambia.

The University of The Gambia enrolled approximately 200 new students in January 2001 and expanded its curriculum to the humanities, environmental health, medicine, and management.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 2/12/2004 3:59 PM

The Gambia, a small, developing country with an average per capita income of $330, is confronted with deep-rooted problems of a high population density, a high infant mortality rate, high illiteracy, a dearth of natural resources, a single-crop economy, and periodic drought. The country depends heavily on agriculture, with groundnuts accounting for 85%–90% of total exports. Rice, millet, and sorghum are the main food crops. Many staple foods for the urban areas are imported. However, The Gambia is currently pursuing policies to diversify its agricultural production and achieve greater self-reliance. It receives financial and technical assistance from a number of international donor agencies. Tourism is the major service industry with groundnut oil milling, the major industrial activity, although fishing industries are growing in importance, and there has been substantial investment in shrimp farming and the poultry industry. The Banjul suburb of Kanifing is developing an industrial park that includes such industries as a brewery and soft drink factory, lime juice production, metalworking factory, plastics and soap factory, and several other small enterprises. The Gambia Groundnut Council, a private agency that bought the assets of The Gambia Produce Marketing Board in 1993, was until 1998 the major groundnut exporter while a number of private trading houses dominate the import sector and the growing reexport trade. Because of the rapidly expanding tourist industry, additional hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops have been built in the Fajara Beach and Kololi areas in recent years. The tourist season in The Gambia is now year-round. Many take advantage of the lower prices at the hotels during the off-season months of June–September. Tourists are mainly British, German, Scandinavian, and French. A number of American tourists are drawn to The Gambia, largely in response to Alex Haley’s story of Roots, which symbolizes the African ancestry of black Americans.


Automobiles Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:00 PM

Visitors can use a valid U.S. or international drivers license for up to 90 days. Local third-party-liability insurance is mandatory and costs about Gambian Dalasis 600 per year. Gasoline costs approximately Gambian Dalasis 9.75 per liter. Gambians drive on the right side of the road.

Taxis. Taxis are available at designated taxi parks, hotels, and along the streets. Taxis are yellow and green in appearance. While the fares for one destination in a taxi are set by the government and are low (e.g., 3 dalasis from Bakau to Banjul) most drivers reserve the government prices for Gambian customers. Non-Gambians are forced to pay tourist prices (for what drivers call “town trips”) that average approximately 15–40 dalasis for a one-way trip within the Atlantic Coast area. Taxis are generally run down and often require a petrol stop before reaching the destination. Drivers generally speak enough English for the transaction, but usually require assistance in locating addresses off of the tourist circuit.

Roads. The major asphalt road in The Gambia runs from Banjul along the south bank of the river to Basse. The north bank road from Barra to Janjanburay is a wide laterite all-weather road. Feeder roads linking remote settlements with these two main roads have been developed throughout the country. During the rains, however, many secondary roads become impassable by normal vehicles. The Trans-Gambia Highway linking Dakar with Ziguinchor in the Casamance of southern Senegal crosses the river near Farafenni where a ferry service operates. Although the ferry crossing takes 25 minutes, frequent delays are experienced of up to 1 hour or more.

In addition to this crossing point, other ferries operate at Basse, Bansang, Jajanburay, Kaur, Kuntaur, Kerewan, and Barra. The Barra/ Banjul crossing is the most dependable and takes about 45 minutes. The first ferry leaves Banjul every day at 8 a.m., but the ferry does not operate at low tide.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:01 PM

The Banjul International Airport is located at Yundum, 16 miles from Banjul proper, about a 20-minute drive from the Embassy. The airport is one of the most modern and easily navigable facilities in West Africa. The runway is extremely well-maintained due in part that it was previously designated as an emergency-landing site for NASA space shuttles. NASA has recently terminated its operations in The Gambia.

Banjul is only 25 minutes by air from Dakar’s Yoff Airport, where numerous international connections can be made. Air Senegal, Ghana Airways, and Gambian International Airways (GIA) fly to Dakar with at least one carrier providing service each day except Mondays. Ghana Airlines flies from Accra to Baltimore Washington International (BWI) via Banjul once a week. Also during the tourist season there are weekly flights to the Canary Islands. Gambia Experience operates a chartered flight to London twice a week.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:02 PM

The Gambia Telecommunications Company (GAMTEL) installed a digital switching telephone system (GSM) in November 1986 and has recently completed the installation of a countrywide fiber optic network. Service on this system has been very reliable, and calls to Banjul and its surrounding area can be made with little difficulty. Calls upcountry are improving in quality and reliability; however, the number of people with access to a phone in this region is limited.

Connections are usually quite good although sometimes it takes time to get an open international line. Direct dialing to the U.S. using a phone credit card is possible, which costs much less than paying Gambian rates. International calls cannot be made from a telephone that does not have this capacity. Although international calls are expensive, monthly service charges and local calls are quite reasonable. Mobile phones are available and are increasing in popularity. Most mobiles use the GSM system (pre-paid phone cards that are inserted in the unit) versus the analog mobile system (the mobile phone system most American are accustomed to).

All residences have telephone lines and instruments installed in the name of the Embassy. Employees are responsible for all telephone charges in the residences. Telegrams and telexes can be sent from GAMTEL Headquarters in Banjul. Telex charges are reasonable.

Internet Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:02 PM

Internet service is available from 2 sources, GAMTEL and Both services are reliable and relatively inexpensive. Internet cafes can be found throughout the Atlantic coast area and usually charge around 25 Dalasis for 30 minutes.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:03 PM

Mail service is adequate but slow. International airmail from the U.S. takes 10–15 days. Post personnel may send and receive mail through the State Department via diplomatic pouch. Letter mail and packages sent by pouch takes approximately 7–10 working days. Mail is received twice a week. Packages can be sent from the U.S. to post through the pouch, but packages sent from Banjul must go by international airmail. Mail and packages sent by pouch to State Department employees should be addressed as follows:

Full Name (Do not use DOS) 2070 Banjul Place Dulles, VA 20189–2070

International mail should be addressed as follows:

Full Name American Embassy PMB No 19 Banjul, The Gambia

You should plan on bringing at least 2 months’ worth of U.S. postage stamps with you. None are available in country and need to be ordered from the USPS.

Radio and TV Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:04 PM

The Gambia is served by 5 FM and 1 AM radio stations. Radio Gambia, a State-owned broadcasting service, operates daily with over 100 hours of broadcasts a week in 6 languages including English. Its coverage is countrywide, although reception is poor in the eastern part of the country. The 5 FM Radio stations are Radio SYD, Radio 1 FM, Citizen FM, SUD FM, and West Coast. These are privately owned commercial stations that broadcast entertainment programs, mostly music, for 140 hours a week. They also simulcast Radio Gambia’s news programs. Their signals reach primarily the Western Division but can be heard up to Mansakonko. A good shortwave radio is required to receive BBC, VOA, and other international transmissions.

The Gambia has one State-owned TV station and with a good antenna, television programs can also be received from Senegal. VCR’s are popular among the international community and an informal exchange service has developed, but U.S. and European systems differ. There are several commercial video stores near the Embassy stocked with major motion picture releases from the U.S. and Europe, but the quality and legality of the tapes are at times questionable.

Most American VCR’s and TV’s use NTSC formatting. A multisystem television and VCR are recommended. The Embassy also provides AFRTS (Armed Forces Radio and Television Service) decoders and satellite system in each residence. In addition to AFRTS, the satellite system provides access to CNN International and several Middle Eastern stations.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:04 PM

Some American and British periodicals are available in the local grocery and bookstores. British newspapers can be bought in Banjul, but the supply is irregular. Time, Newsweek, and European and African magazines are available locally, usually with some delay.

Paperbacks, children’s books, and stationery supplies are carried by several bookstores in the Banjul area; however, the supply is limited and would not fulfill the needs of a family.

The Gambia National Library has a limited selection of books and periodicals, and the Fajara Club maintains a small lending library. Banjul has several local newspapers, which appear daily, biweekly, or monthly and comment on local and international affairs.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:05 PM

Health facilities and services in The Gambia do not meet U.S. standards. The Gambian Government runs three hospitals (Royal Victoria Hospital in Banjul and smaller hospitals in Bansang and Farafenni) and operates a network of health centers and dispensaries throughout the country. The expatriate community makes use of a private hospital clinic, Westfield Clinic, and a British facility, the Medical Research Council, both of which are staffed by qualified doctors trained in the U.K. In addition, the American community has access to several private physicians. The Embassy and Peace Corps each are staffed by contract registered nurses. The Embassy Health Unit is open during regular Embassy hours, and the nurse may be summoned during emergencies. The regional medical officer and a regional Peace Corps doctor are posted in Dakar and make periodic visits. Obstetric cases as well as medical evacuations are sent to Europe or the U.S. Several dentists have private practices in Banjul, but they are not equipped to do major dental work. Have all dental work done before coming to post.

AIDS/HIV. AIDS/HIV has not reached epidemic proportions in The Gambia, but it is prevalent throughout West Africa. The highest prevalence rate in The Gambia has been recorded among prostitutes, who are on the increase due to increased refugee movements in the region and to tourism. As in any life-threatening situation, knowledge of the problem and common sense are the best safeguards.

Community Health Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:06 PM

Tropical West Africa presents some health problems. Adequate knowledge and good health practices can keep people healthy. The major health concerns are accidents, malaria, and Hepatitis A. With preventive measures these can usually be avoided. Some common infections include skin, upper respiratory, allergies, and gastrointestinal diseases such as parasites and diarrhea. Amoebic dysentery and many gastrointestinal parasitic infections are common. Malaria, hepatitis, meningitis, and rabies are endemic. The Embassy nurse has anti-rabies serum in case of an accident. Other diseases such as tuberculosis, schistosomiasis, and upper respiratory infections are common. Skin infections such as athlete’s foot, heat rash, and boils can be problems, especially in the rainy season.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:07 PM

Personal hygiene is very important under tropical conditions. The Gambia has one of the cleanest water supplies in Africa. Water is potable and there is no longer a need to wash and soak your vegetables. Malaria suppressants must be taken regularly, and repellants containing 30% Deet and mosquito nets should be used. Take care of any small cuts or infections immediately. An International Health Certificate showing recent valid immunizations against yellow fever is all that is ordinarily requires to enter The Gambia. Cholera is spot-checked but only when the traveler is in transit from known cholera endemic locations. Have inoculations against Yellow Fever, Cholera, Typhoid Fever, and Hepatitis A before arriving and begin taking malarial suppressants at least 2 weeks before arriving. The rabies pre-exposure series is recommended and can be given at post. All pets should be inoculated against rabies.

The Health Unit stocks medications for various short-term, acute illnesses. In addition, there are several local pharmacies that carry basic medications such as antibiotics and analgesics. However, medications used on a long-term basis such as oral contraceptives, estrogen replacement therapy, insulin, high blood pressure pills, and thyroid tablets should be sent from the U.S.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:07 PM

Employment opportunities for spouses and dependents are: GSO Assistant, Programs Coordinator, CLO Assistant and RSO Assistant. Short-term contracts with the Embassy are possibilities for certain projects. Opportunities for voluntary service are available. People who find employment outside of public service, international organizations, or charitable institutions must pay an Expatriate Payroll Tax of 30,000 Dalasis regardless of salary.

American Embassy - Banjul

Post City Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:08 PM

Founded in 1816 by the British as a trading post and control point for slave traffic, Banjul is the capital and main trading center of The Gambia. Located on an island at the mouth of the Gambia River (lat. 13° 27"N., long. 16° 34"W.), its residential areas and streets are crowded. Banjul’s population of 44,500 includes Gambians, Lebanese, other Africans, and some Europeans. Shopkeepers and upriver traders are often Lebanese or Mauritanians. Interethnic relations in the country are good.

Although Banjul is the nation’s capital, most diplomats, government officials, European expatriates, and technical assistance personnel live at Cape St. Mary or Fajara, 7 to 10 miles west of Banjul near the Atlantic coast. A sizable number of Gambians commute daily to Banjul from the dense urban center of Serrekunda.

Security Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:09 PM

U.S. representation was established in The Gambia in 1830 but was withdrawn in 1867. The U.S. opened an Embassy in The Gambia in 1965 and sent its first ambassador in 1980. Formerly located in Banjul, the Embassy moved in 1984 to a three-story building on Kairaba Avenue. The Peace Corps offices are located on the same avenue. Since 1996, USAID no longer has a presence at post.

In addition to the current 7 full-time, direct-hire U.S. Government employees, there are about 85 Peace Corps volunteers who work in rural development, health, and education in various parts of the country.

The following are addresses and telephone numbers of U.S. Government offices in The Gambia:

American Embassy Chancery 92 Kairaba Avenue Fajara, The Gambia Tel. 392856, 392858, 391970 Fax 392475

U.S. Peace Corps 78 Kairaba Avenue Fajara, The Gambia Tel. 392120, 392466

Embassy hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon, (Gambian Government hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday.) The Embassy closes on all official American and Gambian holidays. See Local Holidays.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:09 PM

U.S. representation was established in The Gambia in 1830 but was withdrawn in 1867. The U.S. opened an Embassy in The Gambia in 1965 and sent its first ambassador in 1980. Formerly located in Banjul, the Embassy moved in 1984 to a three-story building on Kairaba Avenue. The Peace Corps offices are located on the same avenue. Since 1996, USAID no longer has a presence at post.

In addition to the current 7 full-time, direct-hire U.S. Government employees, there are about 100 Peace Corps volunteers who work in rural development, health, and education in various parts of the country.

The following are addresses and telephone numbers of U.S. Government offices in The Gambia:

American Embassy Chancery 92 Kairaba Avenue Fajara, The Gambia Tel. 392856, 392858, 391970 Fax 392475

U.S. Peace Corps 78 Kairaba Avenue Fajara, The Gambia Tel. 392120, 392466

Embassy hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon, (Gambian Government hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday.) The Embassy closes on all official American and Gambian holidays. See Local Holidays.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:09 PM

Permanent quarters are usually available immediately upon arrival. If this is not the case, reservations will be made in a local hotel. Several good hotels are located along the Atlantic coast. Most hotels have beach access and air-conditioned rooms. Since they are heavily booked during the October to May tourist season, give advance notice of your arrival.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:10 PM

All official personnel are housed in government-furnished quarters. The official residence (EMR) is a one-story house with beach access and a beautiful view of the ocean. In 2003 a spacious and lovely pool was added on the grounds of the EMR. Its living quarters include a master bedroom with bath and an enclosed veranda with two connecting smaller bedrooms with bath; a separate guest bedroom with small sitting room and bath; a large living room with fireplace and enclosed veranda; a large dining room with an enclosed veranda used as a breakfast room; and a large kitchen with a laundry room and storeroom. The residence is completely furnished including a washer and dryer, iron and ironing board, electric mixer, pots and pans, dishes and china, and a VCR and TV. The U.S. Government maintains other houses, comfortable in size for direct-hire personnel. Most are located in the Fajara area.

Furnishings Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:10 PM

Living quarters are furnished with basic government furniture, a refrigerator, electric stoves, freezer, air-conditioners, washer and dryer, generator, and garden tools. At least one stepdown transformer is provided. Basic living room, dining room, and bedroom furniture is supplied, including some table and floor lamps, small tables, and curtains and carpets for major rooms. The Embassy provides a temporary Welcome Kit of towels, bed linens, pots and pans, silverware, and cooking utensils which you can use until your own supplies arrive.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:10 PM

The power supply in Banjul is 3-phase, 220v, 50-cycle, AC. All official houses are wired for 220v and owing to frequent power outages here, are equipped with standby generators. Using a stepdown transformer, you can operate appliances such as fans, radios, and motors. However, appliances with critical speed factors (e.g., tape recorders) must be adapted for 50-cycle current. Have your appliances re-wired in the U.S. Bring a voltage regulator and surge protector for computers, laptops and other valuable equipment.

Food Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:11 PM

Several supermarkets in the Fajara area carry a variety of canned foods, general staples, paper products, detergents, and frozen foods. Brands are mostly British or French, with some American items (i.e., Giant Food products). Imported cheese and milk products are regularly available. There are several bakeries in the urban areas where fresh bread is plentiful. Because of shipping delays, periodic shortages of imported items may occur, sometimes for extended periods. In addition, grocery items can be ordered through NetGrocer. Reminder: no liquids, glass or aerosols are allowed since NetGrocer is shipped via Pouch.

Clothing Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:11 PM

Most people working in The Gambia dress in a relaxed fashion, appropriate for the heat and humidity. In addition to general work attire, plan to bring informal casual clothing, beachwear, sports clothing, and sturdy shoes. Cotton clothing is cooler and more comfortable than polyester fibers.

Packing a sturdy umbrella, a lightweight raincoat, and rain-resistant footwear will make life more comfortable during the short but intense rainy season.

Clothes will mildew quite rapidly in the humid, rainy season and should be kept in a closet with a mildew preventative.

An overcoat, lightweight jackets and sweaters, and warmer clothing should be included for R&R and emergency trips to colder climates.

Men Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:11 PM

Lightweight suits are recommended for men at the office and for most social occasions. A heavier suit or lightweight sports jacket and long-sleeved shirts are needed in the cooler weather during the winter months. Though most entertainment is informal, there are a few occasions when a lightweight dinner jacket would be useful. A supply of casual wear is essential and useful for field trips.

Women Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:12 PM

Loose cotton dresses are recommended daily wear for women. Lightweight suits are also recommended for women at the office. Long dresses are appropriate for dinner and cocktail parties. Slacks, jeans, and Bermuda shorts are worn in urban areas, but short shorts are not appropriate in public. Sandals and open shoes are considered appropriate and can be worn throughout the year. Pumps are also worn, but women should remember that heels are difficult to wear on the sandy roads here, especially during the rainy season, and the few walks that are cemented are very rough. Wear-and-tear on shoes is excessive. There are very few stores to buy ready-made Western style clothes, and those that are available are expensive and usually of poor quality. Fabric, however, is extremely inexpensive and very reasonable-priced tailors are available.

Children Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:12 PM

Children rarely dress up in The Gambia. Frequent washings and changes in the hot and humid season cause a lot of wear and tear on clothes. Bring a good supply of children’s clothing, as well as extra pairs of shoes.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:13 PM

Useful household items to bring include wood and plastic hangers; bed, bath, and table linens; lightweight cotton or wool blankets for the cooler months; pillows; dishes, glassware, and silverware, and kitchen utensils including pots and pans, serving trays, etc. If you have favorite toiletries and cosmetics, you should include a supply. A small selection, both men’s and women’s, are available in various stores, but most are English or French brands and are expensive.

The Embassy Health Unit provides drugs for emergencies and Mefloquine tablets for malaria prevention. Personal prescriptions can be shipped via pouch (mark “Emergency Medical Supplies” for first-class priority handling). If you wear prescription glasses, bring an extra pair and leave the prescription with a U.S. optician. Also bring ample supplies of disinfecting tablets and contact lens solutions.

Useful equipment for the beach includes coolers, plastic plates and glasses, Thermoses, beach umbrella, folding chairs, sunhats, sunscreen, etc. You can buy film locally, but the processing here is expensive. Exposed film can be sent as letter mail via pouch for U.S. processing.

Other useful items include a barbecue grill, craft and hobby supplies (e.g., sewing machine, fishing equipment, golf clubs and balls, tennis and squash rackets and balls), a well-equipped tool box, plant seeds, mildew preventative for closets, ample books, video tapes and music supplies, stationery, games, holiday decorations, and gifts for children.

Basic Services Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:14 PM

Dressmakers and tailors with a varying range of competence are available in Banjul. You must make your selection carefully and expect possible delays. A variety of imported cloth, colorful tie-dyes, lace from Nigeria, woven fabrics from Sierra Leone, indigo dyed fabrics and batiks are available. Laundry is done at home. Drycleaning is available. Shoe repairs can be done in the markets with varying degrees of success. British-made household articles can be serviced to some extent; American appliances generally cannot be adequately serviced. Stereos and video recorders may have to be sent to the U.S. or Dakar for repairs. Banjul has several hair stylists for men and women. Auto mechanics can be found, and basic auto repairs are available. However, parts for American cars must be purchased and shipped via pouch.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:14 PM

The Gambian Government has issued guideline regulations regarding wages, work hours, vacations, salary increases, and termination of services, but in many instances, these are left to negotiation. Gambian workers are now eligible for enrollment in the national social security system.

Men usually fill cook, houseboy, gardener, and driver positions. Women generally care for children and do housework and laundry. English- and French-speaking workers are available with varying ability, but because most cannot read or understand English very well, considerable care is required to ensure that instructions are understood.

Employers are not obliged to provide meals or uniforms. The U.S. Government provides direct-hire personnel with 24- hour security guards to deter theft and vandalism.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:15 PM

The Gambia is predominantly a Muslim country. Muslims do not eat pork or drink alcohol, and orthodox believers pray five times each day. Calls to prayer can be heard from local mosques, sometimes using a loudspeaker. While men will usually be seen praying in mosques and at special prayer grounds, women generally pray in the privacy of their own homes.

Friday is a special prayer day when Muslim men and women put on their best dress and gather in mosques for the afternoon prayer. This is also the day when beggars congregate near the mosque to receive alms.

Beside several mosques, Banjul and surrounding communities have Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, and Roman Catholic churches, but no synagogue. The American Church of Christ, Seventh-day Adventists, Bahai, American Baptist, and the Worldwide Evangelical Crusade have small missions in The Gambia. Complete religious freedom exists, and no overt animosity is found among differing groups.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:15 PM Most dependent children in kindergarten through grade 9 attend the Banjul American Embassy School (BAES) founded in 1984. The Marina International School is rarely used. French-speaking primary and early secondary education is available from the Ecole Francais.

Both the latter and the BAES offer prekindergarten programs, which have been used by Americans. Check with the Department’s Office of Overseas Schools or directly with the Embassy for further details.

Away From Post Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:16 PM Dependent children above grade 9 usually attend high school in the U.S. or in Europe.

The Department’s away-from-post allowance covers tuition, room and board, and periodic transportation costs between post and school. Consult the Standardized Regulations or the Department’s Allowances Staff for the current allowance.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:17 PM

Recreation in Banjul revolves around the ocean, beaches, the river, and the home. Attractive beaches line the entire coast, but the undertow is notoriously dangerous and Embassy staff is advised to use extreme caution when swimming. There is a very minor risk of theft and personal assault on the beaches and in other tourist areas. Employees who own four-wheel drive vehicles can traverse the entire length of the Banjul-to-Senegal southern beach during low tide, and enjoy pristine and remote beaches.

The water near Banjul is too cloudy for good scuba diving, particularly near the mouth of the river.

Pirogues and privately owned dinghies may be rented, and small sailboats and motorboats are occasionally for sale. Two larger sailing yachts offer opportunities for longer cruises upriver, which is ideal for bird watching.

Saltwater fishing is excellent during most times of year, and is a popular departure from work. Fishing tackle can be purchased locally, but prices are high and selection is limited. Hunting is legal and generally welcomed by rural farmers whose crops are often damaged by abundant warthogs. Other game includes guinea fowl, duck, and francolin depending upon the season and area of the country. When in heavily wooded or grassy areas it is advisable to exercise caution regarding snakes, many of which are venomous and aggressive when threatened.

The Fajara Club is a private, international club with open membership. It maintains a golf course, two tennis courts, a squash court, a swimming pool, a badminton court, snooker and ping-pong tables. It also has a bar and restaurant. The club’s facilities are basic. Other tennis courts and a few basketball courts can be found in Banjul. Swimming pools are available at the larger hotels although a fee may be charged for use of the pool and adjoining areas.

The Mission usually fields a softball team in the West African Invitational Softball Tournament (WAIST) in Dakar in February.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:19 PM

The Gambia is a birdwatcher’s paradise and The Gambia Ornithological Society sponsors regular bird walks, lectures, and slide presentations for its members. Over 400 species of birds in a breathtaking variety of colors can be found in The Gambia. If you are a gardener, you will find that various vegetables, flowers, and tropical trees will grow with effort and care in The Gambia, although some seeds and equipment are hard to come by locally.

About 15 miles from Banjul is Abuko Nature Reserve. This fenced-in park has a 1.5 mile path leading to a small zoo where hyenas, lions, and primates are kept. On the way there you can see monkeys, antelope, crocodiles, many birds, and a great variety of plants. Both in the tourist areas and in the remote parts of the country, the best time for seeing animals is in early morning or late afternoon. Farther upcountry, one can still encounter exotic species such as hyenas, hippopotamus, crocodiles, and various primates.

The Gambia has several interesting historical sites, including two former colonial forts. Fort Bullen at the town of Barra was built in 1826 to guard against possible invasions; the fort on James Island about 20 miles upriver dates back to 1651. After changing hands many times between the French and British, the James Island fort served as the seat of British influence in the region for 125 years. Juffureh, a small village near James Island, was made famous by Alex Haley’s Pulitzer prize-winning novel Roots which symbolized the African ancestry of black Americans. The “stone circles” found in The Gambia are believed to be ceremonial sites dating back as far as 100 years B.C.

The circles, which appear to contain sacrificial burials, consist of 10 to 24 cylinder-shaped megaliths cut from laterite of varying heights. About 20 sites are found on the north bank of The Gambia River scattered between Kaur and Georgetown; the most interesting are at Wassau and Kerr Batch.

Other notable historical sites include the Kataba Fort, a stronghold for local chiefs during the 19th century Muslim Holy Wars, and the obelisk near Karantaba on the north bank erected in honor of the great West African explorer, Mungo Park. It is claimed that he began his memorable journeys in search of the Niger River from this point. Other excursions in The Gambia include visits to the Gunjur and Tanji fishing villages along the southern coast; Tendaba Camp which has bungalows, a swimming pool, a few caged animals, and a restaurant on the river; Georgetown and Basse, which are larger towns and formerly important trading centers along the river; and visits to sacred crocodile pools in Kartong (southernmost town along the coast), Berending (several miles east of Barra on the north bank), and Katchikally in Bakau.

Excursions to Senegal. Dakar, the capital of Senegal, is roughly 190 miles away (a 5-hour drive from Banjul). It offers modern theaters (French films), good French food, museums, art galleries, a university, and other metropolitan services. Other excursions in neighboring Senegal include Djoudji Bird Refuge in northern Senegal; St. Louis, the former French West African capital on an island at the mouth of the Senegal River; Kafountine, Misirah, and Toubacoutta are all tourist spots along the coast with accommodations and French cuisine; Kaolack’s municipal market; Touba, a religious capital of one of Senegal’s leading Muslim sects, which has the largest mosque in sub-Saharan Africa; a tapestry museum at Thies; and Niokolo Koba Park in eastern Senegal, which has a number of lions, elephants, hippos, antelope, and other animals.

Entertainment Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:20 PM

Entertainment in The Gambia is limited. In addition to sports facilities, a bar/restaurant, and library, the Fajara Club offers a variety of scheduled activities for its members. The Club sponsors occasional drama productions and musical events. Membership is open, and the club is mainly patronized by resident expatriates and senior government officials.

The Hash House Harriers (a group of runners/walkers), the Caledonian Scottish Society, and other groups are social alternatives. The Alliance Franco-Gambienne based in Banjul offer French and Wolof classes and shows weekly films in French. Local cinemas are, with one exception, outdoor affairs which feature mostly Indian, Nigerian, and Arabic films. Major hotels have dance floors or discos, the most popular being those in the Senegambia area. The more popular discos to go to are the Calabash, Aquarius, and the Spy Bar, all located around Senegambia.

During the tourist season, hotels stage Gambian cultural shows including dancing. The African Experience produces an excellent show twice weekly during the season. The evening consists of a series of local dances with authentic Gambian cuisine served between dances. Several formal dinner dances are organized by various groups during the year.

Occasionally, visiting foreign performers appear in The Gambia; most performances take place at the Independence Stadium. Local artists also perform at the Stadium, and from December to April, soccer games are staged there on weekends. The Gambia's National Museum, located on Independence Drive in Banjul, features exhibits in arts and crafts, history, and ethnography.

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:20 PM The American community in The Gambia consists of U.S. Government personnel and contract employees, Peace Corps Volunteers, and others not directly connected to the Mission. Social life revolves around small informal dinners and cocktail parties, beach parties, and picnics.

International Contacts Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:20 PM The small size of The Gambia provides many opportunities for establishing international contacts both socially and at official levels. The Fajara Club and other societies all have a diverse, international membership. Ten diplomatic and consular missions reside in The Gambia: U.K., U.S., Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Taiwan, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, and Libya. International organizations represented include the Senegambian Permanent Secretariat, the U.N. Development Program, the European Economic Community, World Health Organization, Food and Agricultural Organization, and World Food Program. In addition, 14 countries are represented by honorary consuls. Most other diplomats accredited to The Gambia live in Dakar.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:20 PM

Functions at the State House consist of receptions and state dinners for such occasions as the Gambian Independence Day and visits by chiefs of state. Business suits for men and long dresses for women are appropriate.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:21 PM

Social life in The Gambia is relaxed and informal. Business cards are useful as are invitation cards. Local printing is of poor quality, so bring a supply of cards and invitations from the U.S.

Special Information Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:21 PM

Post Orientation prrogram

Because of the small size of post, no formal orientation program is given. The Embassy provides all newcomers connected to the Mission with a Welcome Kit that includes current information on The Gambia. Appropriate appointments are arranged after arrival.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:22 PM

Personnel traveling from the U.S. to Banjul must transit Europe and Dakar, as of this writing, but direct connections to Banjul from Europe may be reestablished. Before arrival, advise the Embassy in Banjul of what has been shipped to post.

Send all airway and surface bills of lading to the Embassy general services officer. Keep the numbers and shipping dates for emergency purposes. All shipments should be insured since breakage and pilferage is common. The Embassy has limited storage space, and no commercial storage is available. Store all valued possessions such as furniture, books, and artwork in the U.S.

Allow 4–6 weeks for airfreight to arrive and 3–4 months for unaccompanied surface baggage. Surface shipments from the U.S. arrive in Banjul via Dakar, and air shipments are generally shipped via London. Effects (air and surface) shipped to Banjul should be marked as follows:

American Ambassador (Employee’s Initials) American Embassy Banjul, The Gambia

Although U.S. Government personnel receive a temporary Welcome Kit of household supplies, include in your accompanied baggage allowance a minimum supply of linens, silverware, dishes, cooking utensils, personal decorative items, and other essential possessions.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:22 PM

The Gambia follows the Vienna Convention on privileges and immunities. Personal goods, household effects, and one personal automobile may be brought into The Gambia with few formalities. The Embassy, with copies of the carrier’s bill of lading, completes the necessary customs declaration and obtains duty clearance from the Ministry of Finance. You can bring in other needed items, not locally obtainable, duty free in the name of the Embassy. Any amount of foreign currency can be brought into the country without restrictions.

Passage Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:22 PM

You must have a valid visa for The Gambia and a current international immunization card. A Senegalese visa is essential if you transit through Senegal. Aside from the above entry requirements, no rule limits free passage of persons and their baggage and/or vehicle.

Pets Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:23 PM

A permit from the principal veterinary officer is required for a pet, but no quarantine is imposed. Since rabies is hyperendemic in The Gambia, pets must be vaccinated.

Rabies shots should be renewed annually. If bringing a pet, notify the post in advance and have the animal’s certificate accompanying it. Contact the airlines for shipping details. Transit through London with pets is complicated. Contact the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., well in advance of travel.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:23 PM

The Gambian laws regarding weapons possession are somewhat ambiguous. All decisions to license firearms are at the discretion of the Inspector General of Police. Centerfire and rimfire long arms with automatic or semi-automatic actions or barrels shorter than 20 inches are not allowed. All handguns, regardless of action type and any rifle chambered for caliber .303 British, are also prohibited. Other sporting arms and a reasonable amount of ammunition can generally be imported and licensed.

Twelve-gauge shotguns and ammunition of Eastern Europe and Russian make are available locally, although their quality may not meet U.S. standards.

The Gambian Government requires a carrying permit as well as an annually renewable game license for hunting. The Embassy general services officer can assist in applying for these licenses.

Before shipping a firearm out of the U.S., it is advisable to register it with U.S. Customs so it may be re-imported at the end of your tour.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:24 PM

The currency in The Gambia is the dalasi, which is divided into 100 bututs. Notes are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 dalasis. Coins are issued in denominations of 1 dalasi, and 50, 25, 10, and 5 butut. The exchange rate is 18 dalasis=$1 (February 2002).

Imperial weights and measures are in common use. Most shopkeepers and traders are familiar with the metric system, to which The Gambia is gradually converting. Road distances are marked in kilometers.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:24 PM


Hotels and restaurants impose a 10% sales tax. Customs and excise taxes vary. All official U.S. Government personnel and contract employees are exempt from Gambian taxes. If you have duty-free privileges, you do not pay duty on imported items. Articles imported duty-free (including cars) may generally be sold after 2 years without imposition of duty. However, check with the post for current regulations governing resale of personal property.


U.S. Government personnel may cash checks with the Embassy cashier. For others, several commercial banks and grocery stores offer banking and exchange facilities, including travelers’ checks. ATMs are available throughout the Atlantic coast area; however, it is wise to contact your bank before departing to insure that your identification code will be accepted overseas.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 2/12/2004 4:25 PM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

American University. Area Handbook for The Gambia. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C.

Barlow, C. et al. A Field Guide to Birds of The Gambia and Senegal. 1998.

Elmer, L. The Gambia: A Cultural Profile. American Embassy: Banjul, 1983.

Else, D. Lonely Planet The Gambia and Senegal. March 1999.

Gambia Country Study Guide. USA International Business Publications.

Gamble, D.P. Bibliography of The Gambia. World Bibliographical Series, No, 91, 1988.

Haffner, O. A New Geography of Senegambia. Book Production and Material Resources Unit, Ministry of Education: Banjul, 1981.

Haley, A. Roots. Doubleday & Co.: Garden City, New Jersey, 1976.

Hughs, A. and Harry G. Historical Dictionary of the Gambia. African Historical Dictionaries, No 79

Kandeh, M. and Ceesay, S. Speak Mandinka Now. Book Production and Material Resources Unit, Ministry of Education: Banjul, 1981.

McPherson, M.F. and Radelet, S. Economic Recovery in The Gambia: Insights for Adjustment in Sub-Saharan Africa (Harvard Studies in International Development). June 1996.

Southern, L. B. The Gambia: The Story of the Groundnut Colony. George Allen and Unwin Ltd.: London, 1952.

Spain, M. and Saine, M. Speak Mandinka Without Fear. Book Production and Material Resources Unit, Ministry of Education: Banjul, 1983.

Spain, M. and Saine, M. Wolof Dialogues. Book Production Unit: Banjul,1982.

Sowa, M. B. The Republic of the Gambia 2000: A Country Guide Series Report (An Oies Guide Series Report from the Aacrao-Aid Project). Nov. 1995.

The Gambia. Paris: Editions Delroisse, 1980. (Photos with descriptive dialogue.)

Tomkinson, M. The Gambia: A Holiday Guide. London, 1982.

Trilling, A., ed. The Gambia Museum Bulletin. Oral History and Antiquities Division, Vice President’s Office: Banjul, 1981.

Wright, Donald R. The World and a Very Small Place in Africa. M.E. Sharpe: Armonk, New York, 1997.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 2/13/2004 9:13 AM

U.S. Government offices in The Gambia observe both American and Gambian holidays. The following is the 2003 local holiday schedule. Holidays marked with an asterisk are lunar and are subject to change.

New Year’s Day January 1 Martin Luther King 3rd Monday January Tobaski Based on Lunar Calendar President’s Day 3rd Monday February Gambian Independence Day February 18 Yaamal Assora Based on Lunar Calendar Good Friday Friday before Easter Easter Monday Monday after Easter Gambian Labor Day May 1 Memorial Day Last Monday in May Eid-El-Fitre* Based on Lunar calendar Independence Day, U.S. July 4 July 22 Holiday Gambian Holiday Assumption Day August 15 Labor Day – American 1st Monday in Sept. Columbus Day 2nd Monday October Veteran’s Day November 11 Thanksgiving Day Last Thursday November Eid-El-Fitri Based on Lunar Calenda Christmas Day December 25

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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