Friday, 14 September 2012

A Little About a Little Country

A Little About The Gambia

Salam aleikum (peace be upon you), before I go into my experience here while studying abroad in The Gambia, West Africa I will tell you more about the little country where I am studying. (Above is the flag of The Gambia).

The Gambia is a small country (less than twice the size of Delaware) surrounded by Senegal and the Atlantic Ocean. Above is a map that highlights The Gambia and below you will see a map of Africa where Senegal is labeled for you so you get an idea of where in Africa The Gambia and Senegal are.

The Gambia river runs all the way through the country, seperating it between the North Bank and the South Bank. The majority of my time here will be spent on the South Bank and in particularl in the Greater Banjul area (or kombo). Banjul is the nationals capital. The Gambia was a British colony until February 18th 1965. Senegal, however, was a French colony. Much of the original land that belonged to The Gambia was sold by the British to the French to make it part of Senegal because they were only interested in the river. That is why The Gambia has such a unique shape.

The first president of The Gambia was Dawda Jawara in 1970. The second and current president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, came into power by coop in 1994 and has been an elected president since 1996. They hold presidential elections every 5 years, however there is no limit to the amount of terms a president can hold in office. There is also a parliament in The Gambia and they are elected by the people every five years as well. However I have never been a student of politics therefore do not know much more. However if you want to know more facts about Gambia (which you should!) you can check out The Gambia: CIA World Fact Book page . It has information on the geography, politics, history, people etc.

Since The Gambia was a British colony the nations official language is English and therefore my classes at the University of The Gambia will be in English. However, everyone who lives here speaks at LEAST 2 languages (usually around 4 or 5) and prefer to speak in the language of their ancestors. Just a few of these languages include Fula, Mandinka, Jola, Sarahule, Serer, Manjago and Aku, but I am personally learning how to speak Wolof. Wolof is technically the name of the ethnic group with Olof being their language and Jolof being the ancient empire although many Westerners call the language Wolof. I will be using the correct terms in my blog as best I can.

If you would like to learn more about the Wolof here is a good link. I will definitely be talking more about Olof and Wolof later on.

The Gambia is 90% Muslim and 8% Christian according to the CIA World Fact Book. Religion is a very important part of daily life to the people of The Gambia. The five pillars of Islam are:

  1. Testimony of faith: Allah is God
  2. Salah: pray five times a day
  3. Zakat: give alms or charity
  4. Sawm: fast during Ramadan
  5. Hajj: you must go on a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means of doing so
And most everyone in The Gambia abides by these pillars every day. They incorporate their religion into their daily life and they hold the values that religion teaches them very dear. There are so many mosques in the country (in walking distance for most of the population if not all) and I hear the call to pray at least once a day if I am aware of it. I am so impressed by how important their religion is to them.

Something else you should know about The Gambia is that it is known as The Smiling Coast of Africa! Everyone is treated as a friend, there are no strangers. So please don't be a stranger and read more of my posts! 

Picture credibility to:, and

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