The Gambia , commonly known as Gambia by its residents, is a country in Western Africa. The Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, bordered to the north, east, and south by Senegal, with a small coast on the Atlantic Ocean in the west.
Its borders roughly correspond to the path of the Gambia River, the nation's namesake, which flows through the country's center and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Its size is almost 10,500 km² with an estimated population of 1,700,000.
On 18 February 1965, Gambia was granted independence from the United Kingdom and joined The Commonwealth. Banjul is Gambia's capital, but the largest conurbation is Serekunda.
The Gambia shares historical roots with many other west African nations in the slave trade, which was key to the establishment of a colony on the Gambia river, first by the Portuguese and later by the British. Since gaining independence in 1965, The Gambia has enjoyed relative stability, with the exception of a brief period of military rule in 1994.
An agriculturally rich country, its economy is dominated by farming, fishing, and tourism. About a third of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.
The Gambia is a very small and narrow country whose borders mirror the meandering Gambia River. The country is less than 30 miles wide at its widest point, with a total area of 11,300 km². Approximately 1,300 km² of the Gambia's area is covered by water. It is almost an enclave of Senegal, with all of the 460 mile border zones touching Senegal. The Gambia is the smallest country on the continent of Africa. In comparative terms the Gambia has a total area which is slightly less than that of the island of Jamaica. The western side of the country borders the North Atlantic Ocean with 50 miles of coastline.
The general climate for the Gambia is tropical. During the period from June until November, there is a period of hot weather and a very rainy season. From November until May, there are cool temperatures and is part of a dry season. The climate in the Gambia is the same found in neighboring Senegal, southern Mali and the northern part of Benin.
Its present boundaries were defined in 1889 after an agreement between the United Kingdom and France. During the negotiations between the French and the British in Paris, the French initially gave the British approximately 200 miles of the Gambia River to control. Starting with the placement of boundary markers in 1891, it took nearly fifteen years after the Paris meetings to determine the final boundary of the Gambia. The resulting series of straight lines and arcs gave the British control of areas that are approximately 10 miles ( north and south of the Gambia River.