Gambia – the smallest country in Africa

Gambia – the smallest country in Africa

Can you imagine that somewhere in 21st century people still vote by putting stones in a basket and until 2016 the president was officially referred to as Sheikh, Professor, Doctor, President (according to BBC he even added an extra title - “chief bridge builder” for reasons that are far to surreal to explain here).

This country is commonly known as Gambia, although the official name is The Gambia. There are only two countries in the world with which use THE in front of their names - The Gambia and The Bahamas. The story says that in 1964 the President wrote to the Parliament sitting in UK (by that time the country was still protectorate of the UK, although under self-governance), asking to officially name the country The Gambia, because the president was afraid people would mistake Gambia with Zambia. He had a point as there were too many cases registered in which mail ended up in Zambia, instead of Gambia. Moreover the river which gave the name of the country is also called Gambia, so adding THE, really makes a difference.

The Gambia is indeed a curious country to visit. It’s actually the smallest country within mainland Africa, but is characterized with astonishing biodiversity, along the river Gambia. There are more than 569 species of bird that can be found within its territory of only 10,689 km2. Currently 3.8% of the whole country is considered natural reserve. You can visitit Niumi National Park, Kiang West National Park, River Gambia National Park, Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve, Abuko Nature Reserve, Tanbi Wetland Complex and the Tanji Karinti River Bird Reserve. In such a small territory there are several types of habitats - Mangroves and Banto Faros, Wetlands, Coast etc. and among there inhabitants you can spot hippos, dolphins, leopards, hyenas and baboons.

This little, but rich in biodiversity piece of land is surrounded three side by much larger Senegal and on the west it borders with the Atlantic Ocean. The Gambia is commonly referred as the Smiling Coast of Africa and for a good reason. People are extremely friendly and warm. Not to mention that English is the official language, meaning you’ll be able to freely communicate with the locals.

If everything mentioned so far, didn’t convince you that The Gambia is worth your time, I’ll just mention that they have amazing cuisine, palm wine and pristine white sandy beaches.

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