World, Africa

Gambia, the smallest country in West Africa

Country's main natural resources include fish, clay, silica sand, titanium (rutile and ilmenite), tin and zircon

Felıx Tıh   | 28.01.2020
Gambia, the smallest country in West Africa


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Gambia will boost cooperation between the two countries.

Gambia is the smallest country in West Africa in terms of area.

Turkey was the first country to recognize Gambia when it gained its independence from Britain in 1965 after being colonized for 400 years.

The country has a population of 2.1 million with 95.7 % Muslims, 4.2 % Christians and members of other religious groups.

There are many ethnic groups in Gambia.

The largest is the Mandinka (42%), followed by the Fula (18%), Wolof (16%), Jola (10%), Serers, Serahule, and the Bianunkas. The Krio people are the smallest ethnic group in the country. There are about 3,500 non-Africans living in the country, including Europeans, according to the World Population Review.

There are at least 10 languages spoken in Gambia. Apart from English which is the official language spoken in schools and public offices, there is also Wolof, Serer-Sine, Sarahole, Pulaar, Maninkakan, Mandjaque, Mandingo, Jola-Fonyi and the Aku's Creole (pidgin English), according to AccessGambia.

Stretching 450 kilometers (279.6 miles) along the Gambia River, it is completely surrounded by Senegal, except a 60-km (37-mi) Atlantic Oceanfront.


The economy of Gambia is heavily reliant on agriculture and tourism, and the country is highly dependent on foreign aid.

The main natural resources of the country are: fish, clay, silica sand, titanium (rutile and ilmenite), tin and zircon.

Its main exports are: peanuts, fish, cashew nuts, mango, various vegetables and sesame. The country's main imports are food, fuel and machinery.

The majority of the population makes a living from agriculture and cattle breeding. Small-scale industrial enterprises in the country operate on the production of peanuts, fish and leather.

The gross domestic product (GDP) of Gambia grew 6.5% in 2018 compared to the previous year.

The GDP figure in 2018 was $1.625 million. Gambia ranks 177 among 196 countries based on its GDP.

The absolute value of GDP in Gambia rose $127 million with respect to 2017, according to

Agriculture accounted for 27.8% of GDP and 78 % of the total economically active population was employed in the sector. Agriculture also accounts for about 90% of export earnings, and peanuts and peanut products make up about 70% of exports.

Gambia’s preferred staple food is rice which is cultivated primarily in the lowlands as a subsistence crop, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

Among the international organizations Gambia is a member of are the UN, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Commonwealth of the British (The Commonwealth), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), African Union (AU), West African Economic Union (ECOWAS), The African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Food Organization (WFO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Educational Science and Culture Agency (UNESCO).

Relations with Turkey

President Erdogan's visit to Gambia is historic because it is the first presidential-level visit to the country. It is envisaged to further strengthen trade and investment relations through business forums and other events.

Bilateral relations between Turkey and Gambia, which were initially advanced exclusively through the military domain as well as international platforms like the UN and OIC, have become more comprehensive and multifaceted after the opening of embassies in Banjul and Ankara in 2011.

As part of the extension of its educational activities in West African region, Turkish Maarif Foundation (TMV) has opened a primary school in Banjul in 2017.

The Maarif Turkish International School has been in operation in Banjul since October 2017 and celebrated the first graduation in July 2018.

Turkish Airlines started flights from Istanbul to Banjul twice a week in November 2018.

Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) opened a Program Coordination Office (PKO) in Banjul in August 2018.

Since 1992, the government of Turkey has granted scholarships to Gambian students.

Turkey is a traditional Gambian ally that has been extending its help in areas including education, health and security.

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