30 November 2011

The Gambia-West Africa: A Travel & Birding Diary

The Gambia, located along the west coast of the "hump" of Africa, is the smallest country on the mainland of that continent. It is about the combined size of Delaware and Rhode Island, with a population of about 1.7 million, and is less than 30 miles wide at its widest point. In the top image, note the mostly yellowish cast to the Sahara Desert area. The Gambia lies just to the SW of the desert,  along the west coast. It is surrounded by Senegal. In the lower image, The Gambia is outlined in yellow in the center of the image.


The country was declared independent from the UK in 1965. The coastal city of Banjul is the capitol, and English is the official language, although other native languages commonly spoken include Mandinka, Wolef and Fula.

Historically, this part of Africa was one of the major centers of the slave trade. The Portuguese were among the first of the slave traders beginning in the 16th or 17th centuries, and the British gained control in the mid to late 1700's. However, the British abolished slavery in 1807 and established military outposts in this area after that date to enforce the abolition.

Today, the economy is dominated by agriculture, with peanuts being one of the major export products. Tourism and commercial fishing are other major industries. Many western Europeans spend their holidays here soaking up the sun and heat on the great coastline beaches. 
The Gambia River runs the length of the country and is the primary geographical feature in this country where the highest elevations are no more than about 4-500 feet above sea level. Because of these low gradients, the rive is affected by tides and salt water up to 100 miles inland. But it is a beautiful river with much mangrove habitat in its lower reaches and abundant wildlife throughout.

In blog post to follow this one, I will provide more specific detail and images on the cities, people, birds, other wildlife, an exciting ferry ride, and other subjects I noted on my recent trip to this interesting country.

1 comment:

  1. what a paradisaic place! i wonder if you have more pictures of this incredible place!