Country of the Week: Gambia
Each week our church features a Country of the Week to pray for. We ask the Lord for laborers for the harvest in this specific country. One of the young teenage ladies in our church has begun to help us by using her writing skills to help us give you a better understanding of each featured country. Thank you Rachel Harrell, awesome teen SENDER, for using your talents to motivate others for world missions!
The Republic of Gambia, or Gambia, has 1,705,000 people inhabiting it. It is a small country landlocked by Senegal, and situated around the Gambia River, which it was named after. It is the smallest country on mainland Africa. The capitol is Banjul, but the largest metropolis is Serekunda.
Gambia is sectioned into five divisions with one city. There is the Lower River with Mansa Konko as capitol. Janjanbureh is the Central River division’s capitol. North Bank has Kerewan as capitol. Upper River’s capital is Basse. Brikama is Western’s capitol. Then Banjul as capitol of the Gambia. These divisions are further divided into 48 districts. All this is concordance with the National Constitution Article 192. The divisions were chosen by the Independent Electoral Commission.
The main religion in Gambia is Islam, with 90% of the population practicing the religion. Another 8 percent practice some strain of Christianity, largely Roman Catholicism. Some smaller Christian groups are represented. There is only 1.97 percent of Gambians who practice an indigenous religion, and the remaining population practices Buddhism.
Over half of the population of the Gambia lives in rural communities. Yet, many young people are migrating to the big cities and the capital in search of more work and education. There is a large variety of ethnic groups in Gambia, each with it’s own language and traditions. Mandinka, Fula, Wolof, Jola, and Serahule are the five largest. There are only 3,500 non- Africans in The Gambia.
Agriculture is Gambia’s biggest employer with 70 percent of the labor force working in that area. Agriculture also brings in about thirty percent of the gross domestic product of Gambia. Service is about fifty-eight percent, while industry is only eight percent. Most of the small percentage of manufacturing is related to agriculture. The few other things produced in Gambia is soap, soft drinks, and clothing.
In the late 17th through the 18th centuries, Britain and France struggled for control over the Gambia. But, in 1783, Britain was granted control of the Gambia River in the First Treaty of Versailles. The Gambian boundaries we have today were established in an 1889 agreement with the French Republic when Gambia became a British Crown Colony.
In 1906, slavery in Gambia was abolished. For years this had been a problem. Slave trading was a large business in the Gambia, and had been since the early days of British discovery.
In World War II, Gambia threw in their lot with the Allies. In 1943, American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt stopped in Gambia overnight on his way to and from the Casablanca Conference in Morocco. It was the first visit to the African continent that any American president had ever made.
On February 18, 1965, Gambia became a constitutional monarchy within the British Commonwealth of Nations. Although they were still under the Queen of England, they had gained independence as a nation.
On April 24, 1970, the Gambia became a republic and elected their first president, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara.
In 1981, Kukoi Samba Sanyang led a coup against Jawara’s presidency. Jawara, in London, called upon the Senegalese troops. They were able to crush the rebellion after a week of violence, and several hundred people dead.
In 1982, Senegal and Gambia signed the Treaty of the Confederation. Their goal was to combine armed forces and bring together their economies and currencies. In 1989, Gambia withdrew from the treaty.
In 1994, a coup was led against the Jawara administration that succeeded. The Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council ( AFPRC ) overthrew President Sir Dawda Jawara. Lieutenant Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh, chairmen of the AFPRC, took over the presidency. Political action by the opposition was prohibited.
In late 2001 and 2002, elections for presidency, legislative, and local branches were held successfully. President Yahya Jammeh was re-elected for the position he had taken over in 1994. On December 21, 2001, he was re-inaugurated as President of The Republic of the Gambia.