In 1965, the Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom. In 1982, it formed a federation of Senegambia, which lasted until 1989. In 1994, Yahya Jammeh took over the country via military coup, and has been elected president in all elections since 1996, when a new constitution and presidential elections were implemented. The Gambia has a total area of 11,295 sq km, which makes it slightly less than twice the size of Delaware, and a population of 1,840,454 people. Its natural resources are fish, clay, silica sand, titanium (rutile and ilmenite), tin, and zircon. Its official language is English; Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, and other indigenous vernaculars are also spoken there. 90% of the population is Muslim, while only 8% are Christian and 2% have indigenous beliefs. The Gambia is a republic, and has a mixed legal system of English common law, Islamic law, and customary law. Banjul is the capital of the Gambia, and the lion is its national symbol.

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    Robert B. Payne

    Professor Emeritus of Zoology, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    Curator Emeritus of Birds, Museum of Zoology