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Tuesday 24th October
The Gambia Facts
The Gambia, one of Africa's smallest countries, consists of relatively narrow strips of land on either side of the River Gambia.

Apart from its Atlantic Ocean coastline The Gambia is surrounded by the Republic of Senegal.

The River Gambia, which extends the length of the country, is navigable by ocean-going ships for two hundred and forty kilometers.

The Stone Circles of Senegambia (Senegal and Gambia) consist of four large groups of stone circles and burial mounds along the River Gambia. This World Heritage site, dating back over fifteen hundred years, is part of a larger megalithic zone in the region.

James Island and Related Sites (the villages and the batteries) is a World Heritage site. The island was one of the first European settlements in the region.

The Portuguese landed on "James Island" in 1456.

Courlanders, from present-day Latvia, were the first Europeans to found a settlement in Gambia (James Island).

The British captured James Island from the Courlanders and established a colony in 1661.

The British and French vied for possession of the region for many years.

During Seven Years' War (1756-63) the British formed the Colony of Senegambia. Eventually Senegal was returned to the French.

The River Gambia was used as a route for the slave trade.

The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act (1807) prohibited the slave trade within the British Empire. (Slaves in the British colonies did not gain their freedom until the 1830s. The Abolition of Slavery Act (1833) began the process leading to emancipation).

In 1871 the French offered to exchange the Ivory Coast with the British for Gambia (almost an enclave of Senegal).

Britain and France agreed the boundaries of Gambia in 1889.

The British established a Protectorate over Gambia in 1894.

Gambia achieved independence in 1965 and became known as The Gambia.

Following a referendum in 1970 The Gambia became a republic.

The Gambia is a member of the [British] Commonwealth.

Between 1982 and 1989 The Gambia and Senegal formed the Federation of Senegambia.

In 2004 it was announced that large reserves of oil had been found in The Gambia.

Alex Haley's Pulitzer Prize winning book "Roots" is based upon the story of one of his ancestors, from the Gambian village of Juffure, who was forced into slavery in the eighteenth century.

The Maurel Freres building, in the Juffure-Albreda area, houses the permanent exhibition, "Voyage of No Return - The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the Senegambia".

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