Photos of Gambia, The

The Gambia River, from Georgetown in the upper right corner of the photograph downstream to Mansa Konko, where it becomes an estuary about 100 km (60 mi) above Banjul, the capital of The Gambia. The river is heavily silted from rain originating in the highlands of Guinea. Image courtesy of NASA.



In the 10th century, Muslim merchants established some of The Gambia’s earliest large settlements as trans-Saharan trade hubs. These settlements eventually grew into major export centers sending slaves, gold, and ivory across the Sahara. Between the 16th and 17th centuries, European colonial powers began establishing trade with The Gambia. In 1664, the United Kingdom established a colony in The Gambia focused on exporting enslaved people across the Atlantic. During the roughly 300 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the UK and other European powers may have exported as many as 3 million people from The Gambia.

The Gambia gained its independence from the UK in 1965. Geographically surrounded by Senegal, it formed the short-lived confederation of Senegambia between 1982 and 1989. In 1994, Yahya JAMMEH led a military coup overthrowing the president and banning political activity. He subsequently won every presidential election until 2016, when he lost to Adama BARROW, who headed an opposition coalition during free and fair elections. BARROW won reelection in 2021. The Gambia is the only member of the Economic Community of West African States that does not have presidential term limits. Since the 2016 election, The Gambia and the US have enjoyed improved relations. US assistance to the country has supported democracy-strengthening activities, capacity building, economic development, and security sector education and training programs. 



Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and Senegal

Geographic coordinates

13 28 N, 16 34 W


total: 11,300 sq km

land: 10,120 sq km

water: 1,180 sq km

comparison ranking: total 165

Area - comparative

slightly less than twice the size of Delaware

Land boundaries

total: 749 km

border countries (1): Senegal 749 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 18 nm

continental shelf: extent not specified

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


tropical; hot, rainy season (June to November); cooler, dry season (November to May)


flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by some low hills


highest point: unnamed elevation 63 m; 3 km southeast of the town of Sabi

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 34 m

Natural resources

fish, clay, silica sand, titanium (rutile and ilmenite), tin, zircon

Land use

agricultural land: 56.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 41% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 14.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 43.9% (2018 est.)

other: 0% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

50 sq km (2012)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Gambia river mouth (shared with Senegal and Guinea [s]) - 1,094 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major aquifers

Senegalo-Mauritanian Basin

Population distribution

settlements are found scattered along the Gambia River; the largest communities, including the capital of Banjul, and the country's largest city, Serekunda, are found at the mouth of the Gambia River along the Atlantic coast as shown in this population distribution map

Geography - note

almost an enclave of Senegal; smallest country on the African mainland

People and Society


total: 2,523,327

male: 1,250,490

female: 1,272,837 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 144; male 144; total 144


noun: Gambian(s)

adjective: Gambian

Ethnic groups

Mandinka/Jahanka 33.3%, Fulani/Tukulur/Lorobo 18.2%, Wolof 12.9%, Jola/Karoninka 11%, Serahuleh 7.2%, Serer 3.5%, other 4%, non-Gambian 9.9% (2019-20 est.)


English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, other indigenous vernaculars


Muslim 96.4%, Christian 3.5%, other or none 0.1% (2019-20 est.)

Demographic profile

The Gambia’s youthful age structure – approximately 55% of the population is under the age of 25 as of 2021 – is likely to persist because the country’s total fertility rate remains strong at nearly 4 children per woman. The overall literacy rate is around 50%, and is significantly lower for women than for men. At least 70% of the populace are farmers who are reliant on rain-fed agriculture and cannot afford improved seeds and fertilizers. Crop failures caused by droughts between 2011 and 2013 increased poverty, food shortages, and malnutrition.

The Gambia is a source country for migrants and a transit and destination country for migrants and refugees. Since the 1980s, economic deterioration, drought, and high unemployment, especially among youths, have driven both domestic migration (largely urban) and migration abroad (legal and illegal). Emigrants are largely skilled workers, including doctors and nurses, and provide a significant amount of remittances. The top receiving countries for Gambian emigrants are Spain, the US, Nigeria, Senegal, and the UK. While the Gambia and Spain do not share historic, cultural, or trade ties, rural Gambians have migrated to Spain in large numbers because of its proximity and the availability of jobs in its underground economy (this flow slowed following the onset of Spain’s late 2007 economic crisis).

The Gambia’s role as a host country to refugees is a result of wars in several of its neighboring West African countries. Since 2006, refugees from the Casamance conflict in Senegal have replaced their pattern of flight and return with permanent settlement in The Gambia, often moving in with relatives along the Senegal-Gambia border. The strain of providing for about 7,400 Casamance refugees increased poverty among Gambian villagers. The number of refugees decreased to around 3,500 by 2022.

Age structure

0-14 years: 38.2% (male 486,472/female 477,309)

15-64 years: 58.1% (male 723,360/female 743,127)

65 years and over: 3.7% (2024 est.) (male 40,658/female 52,401)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 85

youth dependency ratio: 80.5

elderly dependency ratio: 4.5

potential support ratio: 22.2 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 20.2 years (2024 est.)

male: 19.8 years

female: 20.6 years

comparison ranking: total 205

Population growth rate

2.16% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 34

Birth rate

27.3 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 36

Death rate

5.6 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 177

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 80

Population distribution

settlements are found scattered along the Gambia River; the largest communities, including the capital of Banjul, and the country's largest city, Serekunda, are found at the mouth of the Gambia River along the Atlantic coast as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 64.5% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 3.75% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

481,000 BANJUL (capital) (2023)

note: includes the local government areas of Banjul and Kanifing

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.78 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

20.7 years (2019/20 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

458 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 17

Infant mortality rate

total: 35.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 39.1 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 32.2 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 35

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 68.4 years (2024 est.)

male: 66.7 years

female: 70.1 years

comparison ranking: total population 189

Total fertility rate

3.52 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 33

Gross reproduction rate

1.74 (2024 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 91.8% of population

rural: 85.7% of population

total: 89.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 8.2% of population

rural: 14.3% of population

total: 10.5% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

2.6% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.08 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Hospital bed density

1.1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 75.8% of population

rural: 33.6% of population

total: 60% of population

unimproved: urban: 24.2% of population

rural: 66.4% of population

total: 40% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and sexually transmitted diseases: hepatitis B (2024)

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

respiratory diseases: meningococcal meningitis

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

10.3% (2016)

comparison ranking: 138

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 2.67 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.21 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.02 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 2.44 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 121

Tobacco use

total: 11.1% (2020 est.)

male: 21.4% (2020 est.)

female: 0.8% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 130

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

11.6% (2019/20)

comparison ranking: 50

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 5.6%

women married by age 18: 23.1%

men married by age 18: 0.2% (2020 est.)

Education expenditures

2.8% of GDP (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 166


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 58.1%

male: 65.2%

female: 51.2% (2021)


Environment - current issues

deforestation due to slash-and-burn agriculture; desertification; water pollution; water-borne diseases

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban


tropical; hot, rainy season (June to November); cooler, dry season (November to May)

Land use

agricultural land: 56.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 41% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 14.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 43.9% (2018 est.)

other: 0% (2018 est.)


urban population: 64.5% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 3.75% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

2.47% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 28

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 53

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 39.1 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.53 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 1.96 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 193,441 tons (2002 est.)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Gambia river mouth (shared with Senegal and Guinea [s]) - 1,094 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major aquifers

Senegalo-Mauritanian Basin

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 40 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 20 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 40 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

8 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of The Gambia

conventional short form: The Gambia

etymology: named for the Gambia River that flows through the heart of the country

Government type

presidential republic


name: Banjul

geographic coordinates: 13 27 N, 16 34 W

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: Banjul is located on Saint Mary's Island at the mouth of the Gambia River; the Mandinka used to gather fibrous plants on the island for the manufacture of ropes; "bang julo" is Mandinka for "rope fiber"; mispronunciation over time caused the term became the word Banjul

Administrative divisions

5 regions, 1 city*, and 1 municipality**; Banjul*, Central River, Kanifing**, Lower River, North Bank, Upper River, West Coast


18 February 1965 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 18 February (1965)


history: previous 1965 (Independence Act), 1970; latest adopted 8 April 1996, approved by referendum 8 August 1996, effective 16 January 1997; note - in early 2018, the "Constitutional Review Commission," was established to draft  and assist in instituting a new constitution; a second draft completed in March 2020 was rejected by the National Assembly in September; the president announced in January 2022 government plans to draft a new constitution 

amendments: proposed by the National Assembly; passage requires at least three-fourths majority vote by the Assembly membership in each of several readings and approval by the president of the republic; a referendum is required for amendments affecting national sovereignty, fundamental rights and freedoms, government structures and authorities, taxation, and public funding; passage by referendum requires participation of at least 50% of eligible voters and approval by at least 75% of votes cast; amended 2001, 2004, 2018

Legal system

mixed legal system of English common law, Islamic law, and customary law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Adama BARROW (since 19 January 2022)

head of government: Vice President Mohammed JALLOW (since 23 February 2024)  

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 4 December 2021 (next to be held in 2026); vice president appointed by the president

election results:
Adama BARROW reelected president; percent of vote - Adama BARROW (NPP) 53.2%, Ousainou DARBOE (UDP) 27.7%, Mamma KANDEH (GDC) 12.3%, other 6.8%

2016: Adama BARROW elected president; percent of vote - Adama BARROW (Coalition 2016) 43.3%, Yahya JAMMEH (APRC) 39.6%, Mamma KANDEH (GDC) 17.1%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly (58 seats; 53 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 5 appointed by the president; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 9 April 2022 (next to be held in 2027)

election results: percent of vote by party - NPP 33.9%, UDP 28.3%, independent 22.6%, NRP 7.5%, PDOIS 3.7%, APRL 3.7%; seats by party - NPP 18, UDP 15, independent 12, NRP 4, APRL 2, PDOIS 2; composition - men 53, women 5, percentage women 8.6%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of The Gambia (consists of the chief justice and 6 justices; court sessions held with 5 justices)

judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the president after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission, a 6-member independent body of high-level judicial officials, a presidential appointee, and a National Assembly appointee; justices appointed for life or until mandatory retirement at age 75

subordinate courts: Court of Appeal; High Court; Special Criminal Court; Khadis or Muslim courts; district tribunals; magistrates courts; cadi courts

Political parties and leaders

Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction or APRC [Fabakary JATTA]
Gambia Democratic Congress or GDC [Mama KANDEH]
Gambia Moral Congress or GMC [Mai FATTY]
National People's Party or NPP [Adama BARROW]
People's Progressive Party or PPP [Yaya CEESAY)]
United Democratic Party or UDP [Ousainou DARBOE]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Momodou Lamin BAH (12 December 2022)

chancery: 5630 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011

telephone: [1] (202) 785-1399

FAX: [1] (202) 785-1430

email address and website:

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Sharon L. CROMER (since 18 March 2022)

embassy: Kairaba Avenue, Fajara, P.M.B. 19, Banjul

mailing address: 2070 Banjul Place, Washington DC  20521-2070

telephone: [220] 439-2856

FAX: [220] 439-2475

email address and website:

Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of red (top), blue with white edges, and green; red stands for the sun and the savannah, blue represents the Gambia River, and green symbolizes forests and agriculture; the white stripes denote unity and peace

National symbol(s)

lion; national colors: red, blue, green, white

National anthem

name: "For The Gambia, Our Homeland"

lyrics/music: Virginia Julie HOWE/adapted by Jeremy Frederick HOWE

note: adopted 1965; the music is an adaptation of the traditional Mandinka song "Foday Kaba Dumbuya"

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 2 (both cultural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Kunta Kinteh Island and Related Sites; Stone Circles of Senegambia


Economic overview

low-income West African economy; agriculture-dominant; high poverty rate; heightened inflation; dependent on foreign assistance and remittances; structural reforms conditioned by IMF Extended Credit Facility program

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$5.719 billion (2022 est.)
$5.482 billion (2021 est.)
$5.258 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 173

Real GDP growth rate

4.33% (2022 est.)
4.27% (2021 est.)
0.59% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 99

Real GDP per capita

$2,100 (2022 est.)
$2,100 (2021 est.)
$2,000 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 206

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.187 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

11.51% (2022 est.)
7.37% (2021 est.)
5.93% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 171

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 20.4% (2017 est.)

industry: 14.2% (2017 est.)

services: 65.4% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 94; industry 186; agriculture 45

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 90.7% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 12% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 19.2% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: -2.7% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 20.8% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -40% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

groundnuts, milk, rice, millet, oil palm fruit, maize, vegetables, cassava, fruits, sorghum (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage


peanuts, fish, hides, tourism, beverages, agricultural machinery assembly, woodworking, metalworking, clothing

Industrial production growth rate

5.59% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 53

Labor force

937,000 (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 149

Unemployment rate

4.27% (2022 est.)
4.72% (2021 est.)
4.76% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 85

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 15.5% (2021 est.)

male: 11.4%

female: 20.5%

comparison ranking: total 114

Population below poverty line

53.4% (2020 est.)

note: % of population with income below national poverty line

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

38.8 (2020 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 62

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.6%

highest 10%: 30.6% (2020 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population


28.14% of GDP (2022 est.)
26.84% of GDP (2021 est.)
22.98% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities


revenues: $252 million (2018 est.)

expenditures: $353 million (2018 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-2.6% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 115

Public debt

88% of GDP (2017 est.)
82.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 30

Taxes and other revenues

20.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 85

Current account balance

-$90.251 million (2022 est.)
-$86.877 million (2021 est.)
-$86.553 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 84


$267.377 million (2022 est.)
$142.652 million (2021 est.)
$175.682 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 197

Exports - partners

India 31%, China 23%, Italy 7%, Chile 7%, Portugal 5% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

coconuts/Brazil nuts/cashews, wood, shellfish, scrap iron, fish oil (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars


$829.516 million (2022 est.)
$726.23 million (2021 est.)
$690.979 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 193

Imports - partners

China 31%, Senegal 12%, India 8%, Brazil 8%, US 5% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

cotton fabric, rice, raw sugar, poultry, palm oil (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$568.244 million (2022 est.)
$652.671 million (2021 est.)
$387.046 million (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 175

Debt - external

$586.8 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$571.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 175

Exchange rates

dalasis (GMD) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
54.923 (2022 est.)
51.484 (2021 est.)
51.502 (2020 est.)
50.062 (2019 est.)
48.152 (2018 est.)


Electricity access

population without electricity: (2020) less than 1 million

electrification - total population: 63.6% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 82.5% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 31.2% (2021)


installed generating capacity: 137,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 235.035 million kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 69.8 million kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 178; transmission/distribution losses 49; imports 122; exports 102; consumption 183

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 98.9% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)


production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)


total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 3,900 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 192

Refined petroleum products - exports

42 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 122

Refined petroleum products - imports

3,738 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 181

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

606,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 606,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 186

Energy consumption per capita

3.547 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 177


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 60,000 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 2 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 150

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 2.678 million (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 101 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 144

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Gambia’s telecom market has five mobile networks providing effective competition; mobile subscriptions are well above the African average, itself a testament to the poor condition of the fixed-line infrastructure and the lack of availability of fixed services in many rural areas of the country; there are only four licensed ISPs, which are small networks serving local areas, and so competition is minimal; their limited services are complemented by the fixed-wireless offerings of three of the MNOs; the government has embarked on a National Broadband Network program aimed at closing the digital divide affecting many parts of the country; despite efforts to improve internet connectivity, the country ranks among the lowest globally in terms of digital readiness. (2022)

domestic: fixed-line subscriptions are 2 per 100 and  mobile-cellular teledensity nearly 110 per 100 persons (2021)

international: country code - 220; landing point for the ACE submarine cable to West Africa and Europe; microwave radio relay links to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

Broadcast media

1 state-run TV-channel; one privately-owned TV-station; 1 Online TV-station; three state-owned radio station and 31 privately owned radio stations; eight community radio stations; transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are available, some via shortwave radio; cable and satellite TV subscription services are obtainable in some parts of the country 


Internet users

total: 858,000 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 33% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 153

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 5,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.2 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 187


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 6

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 53,735 (2018)


1 (2024)

comparison ranking: 222


total: 2,977 km

paved: 518 km

unpaved: 2,459 km (2011)

comparison ranking: total 162


390 km (2010) (on River Gambia; small oceangoing vessels can reach 190 km)

comparison ranking: 98

Merchant marine

total: 15 (2023)

by type: general cargo 5, other 10

comparison ranking: total 151


total ports: 1 (2024)

large: 0

medium: 0

small: 0

very small: 1

ports with oil terminals: 1

key ports: Banjul

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Gambian Armed Forces (GAF; aka Armed Forces of the Gambia): the Gambian National Army (GNA), Gambia Navy, Gambia Air Force, Republican National Guard (2024)

note: the National Guard is responsible for VIP protection, riot control, and presidential security; the Gambia Police Force under the Ministry of Interior maintains internal security

Military expenditures

0.7% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.8% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.8% of GDP (2020 est.)
0.8% of GDP (2019 est.)
0.7% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 146

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimated 3,000 military personnel (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the GAF has a limited and obsolescent or secondhand equipment inventory originating from several suppliers, including China, Turkey, the UK, and the US (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-25 years of age for male and female voluntary military service (18-22 for officers); no conscription; service obligation six months (2024)

Military - note

the Gambian security forces have a history of involvement in domestic politics, including multiple coups attempts and mutinies, with the latest being an attempted coup in 2022; since 2017, Gambia’s security sector has been undergoing reforms as part of a national reconstruction effort to recover from the 22 years of Yahya JAMMEH’s autocratic rule under which the security forces were severely under-resourced in terms of finances and equipment and were largely directed towards regime protection and suppressing dissent; international partners, including member states of the EU, particularly France and Germany, Turkey, and the US have provided support to military and police reforms; several members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have also provided security forces for stability, as well as assistance and training through the ECOWAS Mission in the Gambia (ECOMIG); as of 2023, ECOMIG continued to provide about 1,000 military and gendarmerie personnel from Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal

the GAF is a lightly armed force with about five small infantry battalions, a handful of coastal patrol boats, and a few aircraft; in addition to external defense, the responsibilities of the GAF include providing maritime security, countering human trafficking, aiding civil authorities in emergencies and natural disaster relief, and engaging in activities such as engineering, education, health, and agriculture for domestic socio-economic development; the GAF also participates in peacekeeping missions, and since its first deployments in the 1990s, has been involved in more than 10 UN peacekeeping missions while contributing about 4,000 total troops 

the GAF traces its origins to the Gambia Regiment of the British Army; established in 1901, the Gambia Regiment was part of the West African Frontier Force (WAFF, later Royal West African Frontier Force or RWAFF) and served in both World Wars, including the British 1944-45 military campaign in Burma; the Gambia Regiment was disbanded in 1958 and replaced by the Field Force, a police paramilitary unit; the Field Force was responsible for The Gambia’s security until the establishment of the GAF in 1985; in addition, a defense agreement signed in 1965 between The Gambia and Senegal provided mutual assistance in the face of an external threat; from 1981-1989, The Gambia and Senegal formed a Confederal Army that was made up of troops from both countries (2023)

Transnational Issues