Country, western Africa.
Constituting an enclave in Senegal, it lies along the Gambia River,
stretching inland 295 mi (475 km) from the Atlantic Ocean. Area: 4,127
sq mi (10,689 sq km). Population (2007 est.): 1,709,000. Capital:
Banjul. About two-fifths of the population are Malinke, followed by
Fulani (about one-fifth), Wolof (about one-eighth), and other groups.
Language: English (official). Religions: Islam; also Christianity.
Currency: dalasi. The Gambia has a wet-and-dry tropical climate and is
generally hilly, with savanna in the uplands and swamps in low-lying
areas. It has a developing market economy based largely on the
production and export of peanuts, though only about one-fourth of the
land is arable. The river serves as a major transportation artery.
Tourism is an important source of revenue. The Gambia is a republic with
one legislative body; its head of state and government is the president.
Beginning about the 13th century ce, the Wolof, Malinke, and Fulani
peoples settled in different parts of what is now The Gambia and
established villages and then kingdoms in the region. European
exploration began when the Portuguese sighted the Gambia River in 1455.
In the 17th century, when Britain and France both settled in the area,
the British Fort James, on an island about 20 mi (32 km) from the
river’s mouth, was an important collection point for the slave trade. In
1783 the Treaty of Versailles reserved the Gambia River for Britain.
After the British abolished slavery in 1807, they built a fort at the
mouth of the river to block the continuing slave trade. In 1889 The
Gambia’s boundaries were agreed upon by Britain and France; the British
declared a protectorate over the area in 1894. Independence was
proclaimed in 1965, and The Gambia became a republic within the
Commonwealth in 1970. It formed a limited confederation with Senegal in
1982, which was dissolved in 1989. During the 1990s the country faced
political problems, but its biggest concern was its poor economy, which
continued into the 21st century.
Official name Republic of The Gambia
Form of government multiparty republic with one legislative house
(National Assembly )
Head of state and government President
Official language English
Official religion none
Monetary unit dalasi (D)
Population estimate (2008) 1,754,000
Total area (sq mi) 4,363
Total area (sq km) 11,300
1Includes 5 nonelective seats.
country in western Africa situated on the Atlantic coast and
surrounded by the neighbouring country of Senegal. It occupies a long
narrow strip of land that surrounds the Gambia River. The land is flat
and is dominated by the river, which is navigable throughout the length
of the country.
The peculiar shape and size of the country are the result of
territorial compromises made during the 19th century by Great Britain,
which controlled the lower Gambia River, and France, which ruled the
neighbouring colony of Senegal. Periodic talks in the 20th century to
unite The Gambia and Senegal led to the short-lived Senegambia
The Gambia is Africa’s smallest non-island country; it is also one of
Africa’s most densely populated countries. A few towns are located
upriver, but most Gambians live in rural villages. The major ethnic
groups are similar to those in Senegal and consist of the majority
Malinke and also include Wolof, Fulani (Fulbe), Diola (Jola), and
Soninke peoples. The Gambian economy is heavily dependent on peanut
(groundnut) production and export.
The country is known for the beaches along its small Atlantic
coastline and for being home to Jufureh (Juffure), the reputed ancestral
village of Kunta Kinte, the main character in Alex Haley’s well-known
novel Roots. The capital, Banjul (called Bathurst until 1973), is
situated where the Gambia River flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Gambia is a strip of land 15 to 30 miles (25 to 50 km) wide
on either side of the Gambia River and extends almost 300 miles (480 km)
into the interior; except for a short coastline along the Atlantic
Ocean, it is entirely surrounded by Senegal.
Relief and drainage
The Gambia River is the country’s dominant feature. It flows across
a plateau of Miocene-Pliocene sandstone consisting of compacted sediment
composed predominantly of quartz grains formed from about 23.7 to 1.6
million years ago. In the east, narrow valleys are separated by broad
interfluves or flattish hills. In the west, lower and smaller sand hills
alternate with depressions filled in with sand to form a flat plain.
Soils and climate
The Gambia has a wet-and-dry tropical climate characterized by an
intense rainy season occurring generally between June and October and by
a longer dry season. Near the coast the rainy season lasts longer, and
the rainfall is heavier, diminishing eastward. At Yundum the average
annual rainfall is about 50 inches (1,300 mm), and the mean monthly
temperature tends to be in the upper 70s F (mid-20s C), while at Basse
Santa Su, about 270 miles (435 km) inland, the comparable figures are
about 40 inches (1,000 mm) and the low 80s F (upper 20s C). The relative
humidity is high but drops from December to April, when the dry
northeastern wind known as the harmattan is dominant.
Plant and animal life
The vegetation cover of The Gambia is savanna on the uplands,
various kinds of inland swamp in the low-lying areas, and mangrove swamp
along the brackish lower Gambia River. Few wild animals are native to
the region, and those that survive are under pressure from the human and
domestic animal populations. In the middle and upper river areas there
are warthogs, monkeys, baboons, antelope, pygmy hippopotamuses, and
crocodiles. In addition, more than 500 species of birds live throughout
the country. Birds and wildlife can be found in Bijilo Forest Park,
along the Atlantic coast, the Abuko Nature Reserve, just upriver from
Banjul, Kiang West National Park, farther inland, and River Gambia
National Park (also known as Baboon Island National Park), near Kuntaur.
The river basin was a focal point for migrating groups of people
escaping the turmoil of western Sudanic wars dating from the 12th
century. The Diola (Jola) are the people longest resident in the
country; they are now located mostly in western Gambia. The largest
group is the Malinke, comprising about two-fifths of the population. The
Wolof, who are the dominant group in Senegal, also predominate in
Banjul. The Fulani settled the extreme upriver areas, and their kingdom,
Fuladu, became a major power in the late 19th century. The Soninke, an
admixture of Malinke and Fulani, are also concentrated in the upriver
English is the official language, but the most frequently spoken
languages are generally of the Atlantic branch of the Niger-Congo
family. Mandinka and Wolof constitute the lingua francas of the country,
and other languages spoken include Pulaar (Fulbe), Serer, Diola, and
Soninke. Some Muslim clerics are literate in Arabic.
The population is overwhelmingly Muslim. There are a small number of
Christians—predominantly Roman Catholic—and some adherents of
Human settlement in The Gambia extends across both banks of the
river and is found in three regions: the swamps adjacent to the river,
the riverine flats, known as banto faros (from a Mande word meaning
“beyond the swamp”), and the sandstone uplands. Most rural settlement is
concentrated on the uplands, which have the best-drained soils. A number
of settlements are located in the banto faros on the middle course of
the river, where there is less danger of flooding than in the swamps.
Many villages are built on the boundary between the uplands and the
More than one-fourth of the population lives in urban areas. The
major urban concentration is around Banjul, the capital, and several
large urban centres have developed in the vicinity. Urban dwellers
retain close ties to their rural relatives, and there is considerable
interaction between rural and urban populations. Migration to urban
areas has remained steady since the 1970s.
The population growth rate and infant mortality rate in The Gambia
are among the highest in western Africa. Life expectancy is comparable
to the regional average but lower than that of the world. Over the
years, conflict in other western African countries has led to an influx
of refugees into The Gambia, most notably those fleeing from fighting in
Senegal’s Casamance region, as well as those who fled from civil wars in
Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
Gambian agriculture can be described as a classic monoculture;
peanuts (groundnuts) are the most valuable agricultural commodity. Land
is cleared by the slash-and-burn technique, but farmers practice
conservation. Most land is held in common by the villagers. There is a
sharp division of labour, with men involved in planting, cultivating,
and harvesting cash crops while women cultivate subsistence crops such
as cassava (manioc), yams, eggplant, tomatoes, rice, and lentils. There
are citrus orchards in the western area near Banjul.
The production of peanuts has increased with the wider use of
fertilizers and ox-drawn equipment and the introduction of better seeds.
In order to diversify the economy, the government has encouraged the
production of rice. A pilot scheme was begun in the mid-1960s to
introduce plantation oil palm production, but this has had little impact
on the national economy. Stock farming, always a factor in the Fulani
culture, has also received government support, but factors such as
insufficient animal husbandry techniques and the scarcity of suitable
pasture and water have limited the size of herds. The drought years of
the 1970s and ’80s seriously damaged agricultural production,
particularly upriver. The country was not as hard hit as other countries
in the region, however, and recovery has been steady.
Although the country’s small ocean coastline limits marine fishing,
there is some potential for commercial fishing offshore and in the
river. Most Gambians are not fishermen, but those who are have been
handicapped by inadequate equipment. The government has offered small
loans for the purchase of motorized fishing boats and the construction
of smoke huts for the processing of bonga (shad, or West African
herring), which is exported to other western African states.
Resources and power
The Gambia has very few exploited mineral deposits. Some amounts of
clay, sand, and gravel are excavated for local use. Foreign investors
have been granted licenses to explore offshore blocks for potential
petroleum and natural gas reserves, but these actions have not yet
yielded any production. The Gambia River holds hydroelectric potential,
but there are no dams on the river within the country’s borders. Oil is
imported to meet the country’s energy needs. Electricity is limited to
parts of Banjul and a few interior towns but is sporadic at best; most
Gambians do not have access to modern infrastructure.
The most significant industry in the country is peanut processing.
The crop is sold to agents of The Gambia Groundnut Corporation (until
1993 known as the Gambia Produce Marketing Board), which fixes the
season’s price in advance, pays the producers in cash, and sells the
crop overseas. The agents arrange for transportation of the peanuts to
Banjul or Kuntaur, where the nuts are shelled before being shipped.
After shelling, a large part of the crop is pressed into oil at pressing
mills. The residue is used as cattle cake. The construction industry has
grown in correlation with the growth of the tourism sector. Smaller
industries include the manufacture of food products, beverages,
textiles, footwear, and wood products. Handicraft and other small-scale
local craft production exists in villages throughout the country.
Finance and trade
The Central Bank of The Gambia issues the national currency, the
dalasi. There are several private banks in the country as well.
The Gambia previously had a relatively large volume of trade for such
a small country. In the early 1980s, however, the country had a yearly
adverse balance of trade reflecting the losses caused by drought. The
trade deficit continued into the 1990s and 2000s. More and more people,
especially young men, have migrated to the urban area around Banjul, and
this has led to a decrease in peanut production.
Besides peanuts, The Gambia’s exports include cotton, rice, and
cattle. In addition, the reexportation of goods constitutes a
considerable portion of the country’s export trade. All manufactured
items must be imported; other imports include petroleum products,
lumber, and cement. Trading partners include China, the countries of the
European Union, and Japan. Senegal is also a significant partner,
although much of the trade is unofficial, and the smuggling of peanuts
and other goods into Senegal is a problem. The Gambia is highly
dependent on foreign aid.
Tourism has grown in importance and is a major source of foreign
exchange. Tourists originally came from Europe, attracted by the
country’s beaches, diverse birdlife, and pleasant climate between
October and April. Tourism declined after the 1994 coup, but efforts to
revive it had met with some success by the end of the 1990s. The
International Roots Festival, an annual heritage celebration created in
1996, attracts members of the African diaspora from around the world.
Several luxury hotels have been built near Banjul. Jufureh, a village
upriver from Banjul made famous by the American writer Alex Haley in
Roots (1976), is a popular tourist attraction.
The Gambia River has historically been the chief route between the
interior and the coast, but a modern all-weather road now reaches the
eastern border and parallels the river on both sides; there are
secondary roads throughout the country as well. The majority of The
Gambia’s roads are not paved. Ferries cross the river at Banjul and at
various points where there are no bridges, and small watercraft are
common means of transport. There are no railways and no domestic air
services, although The Gambia International Airlines flies out of the
international airport located at Yundum, southwest of Banjul. The main
port is at Banjul.
Government and society
Under the constitution that was ratified 1996 and went into effect
in 1997, the president, who is the head of the state and the government,
is elected by universal suffrage to a five-year term. The president
appoints the vice president and cabinet members. Legislative power is
held by the National Assembly, comprising 53 members who serve five-year
terms. The majority of members are elected, while five are appointed by
The Gambia is organized into Local Government Areas (LGA), each of
which either is coterminous with a long-standing administrative unit
known as a division or corresponds with roughly half of a division. The
city of Banjul and the Kanifing Municipality each form a separate LGA.
Most decision making is done at the village level by traditional leaders
and councils of elders. Only serious or contentious matters are referred
to district or government bodies.
An independent judiciary is guaranteed under the constitution. The
highest judicial body is the Supreme Court. Other venues include the
Court of Appeal, the High Court, and the Special Criminal Court, and
there are Magistrate Courts and tribunals at lower levels. The Gambia’s
judicial system also provides for the implementation of Sharīʿah
(Islamic law) in the venue known as the Cadi Court; this court can be
used by the Muslim community to resolve such issues as marriage,
divorce, and matters affecting dependents.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which had been the dominant
political party since independence, fell from power after the 1994 coup.
Since 1996 the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction has
been the dominant party. In addition to the PPP, which remains active,
other opposition parties include the Gambia People’s Party, the National
Democratic Action Movement, the Peoples’ Democratic Organization for
Independence and Socialism, and the United Democratic Party.
The constitution provides for universal suffrage for citizens 18
years and older. Although women have held legislative seats and cabinet
positions, their numbers have been few.
The Gambian National Army is relatively small. The army has a
limited marine unit and an air wing. Service is voluntary, although the
constitution provides for the option of conscription. The Gambia’s
military forces have participated in various international peacekeeping
missions, including serving as United Nations Peacekeeping Forces in
Health and welfare
Although improvement has been made since independence, the overall
health conditions in The Gambia are poor. Inadequate sanitation is a
problem for more than half of the population, and about one-third of the
people do not have access to safe drinking water. Malaria poses the most
significant health threat; other parasitic diseases and tuberculosis are
also common health problems. The Gambia has a lower prevalence rate of
HIV/AIDS than many other African countries, although it appeared to be
increasing among younger women during the 2000s.
Many health-care facilities—general hospitals, health centres,
dispensaries, and maternity and child-care clinics—tend to be centred
around Banjul, but there are other hospitals and numerous clinics
throughout the country. The Medical Research Council at Fajara
investigates tropical diseases. Traditional healers are commonly
consulted, especially in rural areas. A long-standing shortage of
health-care workers in The Gambia adversely affects the staffing of
medical facilities, particularly in rural areas. To address this
problem, in 1999 the government established a medical school in the
country to train its own doctors.
Examples of colonial residential architecture can be found in
Banjul, but most dwellings are single-story and are made of wood. Family
compounds tend to be spread out over a large area with an inner
courtyard. Outside the city centre sprawling shantytowns have been
growing rapidly as more people migrate to the capital from the interior.
In upcountry towns, concrete buildings of one or two stories with tin
roofs predominate. Villages consist mostly of round mud huts with
thatched roofs, with a few single-story concrete buildings with tin
Housing supply has not been able to keep pace with The Gambia’s
population growth. As a result, overcrowding and congestion occur in
both rural and urban areas, particularly in the latter, and these
conditions contributed to the growth of slums at the end of the 20th
Education at the primary level is free but not compulsory. There are
secondary and postsecondary schools, including a teacher-training
college at Brikama. The government established the country’s first
university, the University of The Gambia, in 1999. Prior to that,
Gambian students seeking higher education had to leave the country, many
of them traveling to Sierra Leone, Ghana, Britain, or the United States.
Daily life and social customs
The Gambia has long been home to several different ethnic groups who
have maintained their individual cultural traditions; as such, the
country has a rich heritage. In the past, blacksmiths, goldsmiths,
leatherworkers, weavers, textile dyers, and other artisans were found in
all of the region’s societies. Weavers and textile dyers still make
distinctive cloth throughout the country; The Gambia is noted for its
indigo-dyed cloth in particular. Some drum and kora (a complex stringed
instrument) makers are still active, and recordings have been made of
their traditional music.
Gambian cuisine is nearly identical to Senegalese cooking. Staples
include millet, rice, yams, plantains, and cassava (manioc). Fish, both
dried and fresh, as well as sauces made from fish and peanuts dominate
the diet throughout the country. Millet and rice porridges are often
served as breakfast.
Gambians—especially those in Banjul and upcountry towns—wear both
traditional West African clothing as well as European-style dress.
Gambian women often sport elaborate head wraps and flowing caftans on
the streets of the capital and in rural villages. Men typically wear
traditional shirts and Western pants, but on Fridays and Muslim holidays
they wear traditional Arab dress and skullcaps, especially when going to
Muslim holidays, including Tobaski (also known as ʿĪd al-Aḍḥā,
marking the culmination of the hajj rites near Mecca) and Koriteh (also
known as ʿĪd al-Fiṭr, marking the end of Ramadan), and Christian
holidays, including Christmas and Easter, are observed in The Gambia. In
addition, other holidays celebrated in the country include Independence
Day, on February 18, and the Anniversary of the Second Republic, on July
Dance and music, traditionally tied to village activities, are still
important today. Regular shows are held, especially at harvest time and
during the dry season when there is less agricultural work to be done.
The musical performances of traditional West African
troubadour-historians known as griots (Wolof gewels) not only provide
entertainment but also serve to preserve cultural traditions, oral
genealogies, and historical narratives. Praise songs are also part of
the griot’s repertoire. The griots of The Gambia, many of whom play the
kora, were made famous by Alex Haley’s Roots (1976).
The Gambia National Library is located in Banjul. The Gambia
National Museum, also in Banjul, houses various ethnographic collections
that include artifacts, historical documents, and photographs. Other
museums in the country include a natural history and culture museum in
Tanji and a small regional slave trade museum at Jufureh, which is part
of the James Island and Related Sites UNESCO World Heritage site
(designated in 2003). There is a museum in Wassu devoted to the stone
circles of Senegambia (collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage
site in 2006). The circles, made of laterite pillars, are positioned
near burial mounds. Two of the four stone circle sites are located in
the country along the Gambia River near Wassu and Kerabatch and have
been dated to the 10th and 11th centuries; the other two sites are in
Sports and recreation
Gambians, like other West Africans, are enthusiastic football
(soccer) fans, and the country has a national football team. In
virtually every town and village, there is a field or open space for
playing football. The Gambia also has a national cricket team. Other
popular sports include basketball and track and field (athletics). There
are some local softball teams, mostly near Banjul. Traditional wrestling
is especially popular throughout the country. Matches involve music,
dance, costumes, and much spectacle and draw large crowds.
The Gambia participates in several international sporting
competitions. It made its Olympic debut at the 1976 Games in Montreal,
and some individual track and field athletes compete in the African
Games and the Commonwealth Games.
Banjul and its environs have numerous film theatres, and American
action films and Indian movies are especially popular. Bars and
nightclubs exist in the major towns.
Media and publishing
The Gambia Daily is published by the government. There are also
privately owned publications, such as The Daily Express, Foroyaa
(“Freedom”), The Point, and The Daily Observer. Radio Gambia, run by the
government, broadcasts in English, French, Swedish, and various Gambian
languages; there are also private radio stations operating in the
country, providing news and music programming. Access to television in
The Gambia is limited. A government station (established in 1996)
broadcasts several hours a day, and other programming often comes from
neighbouring Senegal and satellite networks.
Although The Gambia’s constitution provides for freedom of the press,
media freedom in the country is severely inhibited. Laws passed since
the mid-1990s have introduced harsh restrictions on the media, including
expensive licensing fees, jail terms for journalists found guilty of
libel or sedition, and hefty fines for individuals and organizations not
in compliance with media-related rules and regulations. Many journalists
have been harassed or arrested. Nonetheless, some independent media
outlets continue to publish materials critical of the government.
Enid R.A. Forde
Harry A. Gailey
This discussion focuses on The Gambia since the late 15th century.
For a treatment of earlier periods and of the country in its regional
context, see western Africa, history of.
Gambian history before the arrival of Europeans has been preserved to
some degree in oral traditions. Its history is closely tied to that of
neighbouring Senegal, since it was only in the late 19th century that a
distinction was made between Senegal and The Gambia; until that time the
region is often referred to as Senegambia.
The Malinke and Wolof kingdoms, fully established by the 19th
century, were still in the formative stages when the Venetian explorer
Alvise Ca’ da Mosto (Cadamosto)—in the service of Portugal’s Prince
Henry the Navigator—arrived in 1455. The Malinke were the westernmost
peoples of the old Mali empire. The Wolof probably migrated from the
Songhai regions, and the Fulani pastoralists were part of a migration
from the Futa Toro. Although locally powerful, none of the small Gambian
kingdoms were ever strong enough to dominate Senegambia. Continuing
internecine warfare made it easy for the French and British to dominate
The first Europeans in the Gambia River regions, the Portuguese,
established trading stations in the late 1400s but abandoned them within
a century. Trade possibilities in the next two centuries drew English,
French, Dutch, Swedish, and Courlander trading companies to western
A struggle ensued throughout the 18th century for prestige in
Senegambia between France and England, although trade was minimal, and
no chartered company made a profit. This changed in 1816 when Capt.
Alexander Grant was sent to the region to reestablish a base from which
the British navy could control the slave trade. He purchased Banjul
Island (St. Mary’s) from the king of Kombo, built barracks, laid out a
town, and set up an artillery battery to control access to the river.
The town, Bathurst (now Banjul), grew rapidly with the arrival of
traders and workers from Gorée and upriver. The Gambia was administered
as a part of British West Africa from 1821 to 1843. It was a separate
colony with its own governor until 1866, when control was returned to
the governor-general at Freetown, Sierra Leone, as it would remain until
British domination of the riverine areas seemed assured after 1857,
but the increasing importance of peanut cultivation in Senegal prompted
a new imperialism. By 1880 France controlled Senegal; in the 1870s the
British attempted twice to trade the Gambia to France, but opposition at
home and in the Gambia foiled these plans. Complicating matters was the
series of religious conflicts, called the Soninke-Marabout Wars, lasting
a half century. Only one Muslim leader, Maba, emerged who could have
unified the various kingdoms, but he was killed in 1864. By 1880 the
religious aspect had all but disappeared, and the conflicts were carried
on by war chiefs such as Musa Mollah, Fodi Silla, and Fodi Kabba.
As a result of a conference in Paris in 1889, France ceded control
of the Gambia River to Britain, and the present-day boundaries of the
Gambia were drawn. In 1900 Britain imposed indirect rule on the
interior, or protectorate (established in 1894), dividing it into 35
chiefdoms, each with its own chief. The real power was concentrated in
the British governor and his staff at Bathurst.
Except for some trouble with slave-raiding chiefs, the Gambia enjoyed
peace after its separation from Sierra Leone. Slavery was abolished
throughout the protectorate in 1906. During World War II the Gambia
contributed soldiers for the Burmese campaign and was used as an
Political parties were late in developing, but by 1960 there were
several demanding independence. Britain, believing that eventually the
Gambia would merge with Senegal, gave the territory revised
constitutions in 1954, 1960, and 1962 and finally granted it
independence within the Commonwealth in February 1965. The Gambia became
a republic on April 24, 1970. The first president, Sir Dawda Jawara,
head of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), was returned in all
elections after 1972. In 1981 an attempt to overthrow the government was
put down with the aid of Senegalese troops after heavy fighting in
Banjul. In the aftermath, leaders of both countries created the
confederation of Senegambia. This plan called for each state to retain
independence of action in most areas, but military and economic
resources were to be integrated. A Senegambian executive and legislature
were also established, but the confederation was dissolved in 1989.
Harry A. Gailey
The Gambia faced serious economic problems during the early 1980s.
Foreign donors began to refuse aid requests, and food and fuel
shortages, common in the rural areas, started affecting Banjul. In 1985
the government initiated a series of austerity measures and reforms that
moved the government toward a more disciplined fiscal and monetary
policy. The reform program improved The Gambia’s overall economic
outlook, and foreign assistance once again returned. For the vast
majority of peasant farmers, however, there was virtually no change in
their harsh economic plight, with bad harvests and falling peanut prices
continuing throughout the 1980s. Yet Jawara and the PPP easily won
reelection in 1987 and 1992, although opposition parties gained some
support in each election.
In July 1994 a group of young army officers, led by Capt. (later
Col.) Yahya Jammeh, staged a bloodless coup, justifying it by citing the
corruption and mismanagement of Jawara and the PPP. The Senegalese
government did not intervene as it had done in 1981, and Jawara went
into exile. The military leaders promised a return to civilian rule once
corruption had been eliminated but meanwhile ruled by proclamation.
Dissent was brutally repressed, and political activity was banned until
August 1996. Presidential elections were held late that year, with
elections for the National Assembly following in early 1997. Jammeh, now
retired from the military, was elected president, and his political
party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction,
dominated the National Assembly. A new constitution, approved by voters
in 1996, came into effect after the legislative elections.
The return to civilian rule improved The Gambia’s international
reputation; aid organizations that had left after the coup began
assisting the country once again. The Gambia sent peacekeeping forces
into war-ravaged Liberia and worked on improving relations with Senegal,
though areas along the border on the upper river remain in dispute.
Eventually, though, signs of domestic discord appeared. Jammeh’s rule
became increasingly authoritative, and by 1998 the corruption he had
pledged to eliminate was evident in his own administration. Media
freedom was restricted, and an increasing number of human rights abuses
were cited by international observers. Jammeh’s administration was the
subject of coup attempts in 2000 and 2006, which, although unsuccessful,
seemed to underline growing discontent in the country. Still, Jammeh was
reelected in 2001 and 2006 in elections generally deemed free and fair.