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Gambia
Gambia
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Things to see in Gambia
By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Landscapes

A very narrow country that doesn't reach any wider than 37 miles, Gambia is practically closed in by Senegal. Indeed, the country lies on either side of the Gambia River, explaining its large marshy plains, especially at the mouth of the river. Mangroves make up a large part of the geography. Gambia is the smallest country in Africa and apart from a few hills the land is very flat. The river can be navigated along 150 miles starting from the Atlantic Ocean.

28% of the country is covered by forests, 18% by fertile land and 9% by permanent pastures.

Gambia also has beautiful golden sandy beaches lined with palm trees and the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Coasts

Due to its shape, Gambia only has a very narrow stretch of coastline. What's more, while it is edged by the Atlantic Ocean, a large part of it is taken up by the mouth of the Gambia River. Nevertheless, the country is still home to some beautiful beaches. The ocean is often rough but this hasn't discouraged the numerous fishing villages located right on the seafront.

Towns

Located on an island at the mouth of the Gambia River, Banjul is the largest of several major towns and cities in the surrounding urban area, which notably include Serrekunda and Bakau. Lying on the main road that constitutes the river's main crossing point, Farafenni is an important commercial town and is an inevitable port of call when taking the ferry to Casamance.

The fauna and flora

Hunting, the progressive decline of the forests due to droughts, and the traditional method of cooking with charcoal have contributed to the disappearance of many of the animals in Gambia. Still left today are some one hundred hippos, gazelles, deer, servals, warthogs, varans, and lots of monkeys. Nevertheless, there is an increasingly smaller amount of large mammals left. However, Gambia is a paradise for birds. Because of its geographical location, it is a mandatory stopping point for many migratory birds, but it is also home to more than 500 exotic species.

Boat excursions on the Gambia river are the best way to visit the country's unspoilt nature. The banks of the river are lined with mangroves and gorgeous rural scenery.

Arts and culture

Rich with history, Gambia was once part of some powerful African kingdoms, the empire of Ghana and the empire of Mali. Gambia is home to a large diversity of ethnic groups and most Gambians still live in rural villages.

Music is a very important part of life in Gambia. It often happens that at nightfall, the people come together to dance and sing to the music of the djembe and the balafon on the village square in the middle of the huts. Other times they listen to the griot, who sings stories passed down by the ancestors to the sound of the kora (a typical harp of the country).

Musical instruments have a very important symbolic value everywhere. For the audience it represents cosmogony, sex, birth and life. Everyone understands the value of the slightest detail as well as its deep significance.