The Gambia - Statistics & Facts

Published by H. Plecher, Feb 11, 2019
Nicknamed the Smiling Coast of Africa, the Gambia is a long, narrow country bordered only by Senegal and a short Atlantic coast. Including the word “the” in front of its name was originally to reduce confusion with similarly named Zambia, and that convention continues. Home to a total population of roughly two million people, it is recovering from a political crisis and trying to improve development.

In late 2016, the former president of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, lost an election but refused to step down, until the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened, sending troops into the Gambia to ensure the transition of power to Adama Barrow. The new president was elected on campaign promises of reducing not only corruption, but also ballooning government debt and military spending, as well as reforming the economy. In a country that has seen poor governance and persistent unemployment, these reforms are welcome. However, it is too early to see if President Barrow will be able to achieve increased economic growth.

The Gambian people are slowly benefitting from the country’s development. Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita remains low, reflecting the low level of economic development. Life expectancy at birth remains relatively low, reflecting poor medical outcomes. However, technology brings together the population. Even though a large proportion of the country does not have electricity, there is a higher number of mobile cellular subscriptions than people in the country, illustrating how mobile phones are driving change.

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