West African Nations - 2012

THE GAMBIA

This tiny enclave surrounded by Senegal is the smallest country on the African continent--it is slightly larger than twice the size of Delaware. It has only 49 miles of coastline on the Atlantic. The country is actually composed of the floodplains of the Gambia River flanked by a few low hills. Though there is a goodly portion of the land that is arable, less than half is cultivated. The Gambia was a former British Colony founded in the late 1800s to be a base to suppress the slave trade after Britain abolished slavery. It gained its independence in 1965 but though it is called a republic it has had the same president since a military coup in 1994. The same man was re-elected in 2011 and has another term of 6 years with no term limits. There is a considerable amount of skepticism among foreign agencies and investors about the fiscal management of the country; therefore, little development has taken place. The country depends heavily for income on tourism and remittances from workers abroad. The little foreign investment has been in the eco-tourism industry with some infrastructure improvements to facilitate tourist travel and the building of upscale tourist accommodations. The country is quite beautiful which attracts many tourists from Europe as well as neighboring African states. The relative stability of the government has kept crime under control except for cross-border smuggling which is not a danger to the tourist trade. The only local industry is peanut processing; most of the product goes to Europe or neighboring countries. 89

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