The Gambia is an African country where many people speak English

The Gambia

The Gambia is a tiny African country on the Atlantic coast

The Republic of The Gambia is the smallest state in Africa, located in the western part of the continent in the basin of the river of the same name. The territory of only 10.3 km2 on three sides is surrounded by Senegal, and its western borders extend to the Atlantic Ocean. The country has a narrow elongated shape, its length is 400 km, and a maximum width of barely 45 km. The Gambia – one of the poorest countries in Africa, which, however, does not prevent it to be quite attractive to tourists. The colonial past of the territory, multiplied by the local color and complemented by the unique nature and the ocean – all this makes Gambia a non-trivial place for a vacation.

The Gambia

The Gambia. Photo by maripau.qat.

Discovery by Europeans

The first Europeans arrived in The Gambia in 1455, they were Portuguese travelers. In the following years, the Portuguese were actively exploring the land and later assimilated with the local Wolof and Mandinka tribes, their descendants still live in The Gambia today. In the 17th century, some of the land came into the possession of Courland, whose traders established a trading base on St. Andrew’s Island (modern name James Island).

In the second half of the 17th century the struggle for the territory was led by Britain and France, which had the same goals: the slave trade and the development of gold mines. In 1765, all the land came under British control and became part of the colony called Senegambia, and later Gambia came under the ownership of the African Company.

The Gambia History and Modernity

Gambia. The author of the photo is Andres Lund.

Independence from Britain

Over the centuries, the territory of present-day Gambia has changed hands many times. Despite the fact that the local population did not want to adopt a foreign language and culture, this long period of British presence had a great impact on the development of the region.

In 1963, the country gained the self-government that Gambians had been crying out for for so many years. Gambia became a constitutional monarchy, but the early years were very difficult. Armed conflicts broke out between different tribes, whose leaders wanted to take the place of the monarch. Only in 1970 a referendum was held, and according to its results Gambia became a presidential republic. To this day, the country is in an unstable and even distressed situation, remaining an underdeveloped agrarian country.

The Gambia Flag The Gambia

The flag of The Gambia, The Gambia. The author of the photo is Leo Kulhoven.

Local Nature and Climate

The Gambia has a subequatorial climate with two distinct seasons, dry and rainy. The air temperature varies slightly during the year: +20-27 ° C in winter and rises to +32 ° C in summer. Such a favorable climate for the African continent makes The Gambia one of the best places for agricultural development. The rainy season lasts from June to October, but even then, sunny days are not uncommon.

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The best time to travel to The Gambia is November to February. And if you want to save money, plan a vacation in the off-season, such as April or October, often during this time the weather is favorable and bestows clear skies and sunshine. For beach lovers without the crowds of tourists there is an option of traveling during the wet season, when the natural parks are closed, but the life on the coastline continues to boil.

The Gambia Coast

The Gambia. Photo by Peter Power.

Flora and Fauna of The Gambia

The Gambia has a diverse flora and fauna. In the local forests you can still see large fauna such as giraffes and elephants, the number of which is decreasing every year. Other inhabitants include hippos, hyenas, baboons, over 25 species of rodents, 31 species of bats, etc. Many rare animals can be freely encountered during a walk in one of the local national parks.

There are a total of seven nature reserves in The Gambia, the most grandiose of which are: Tandji River Bird Sanctuary with 612 hectares, Niumi National Park with 5,000 hectares, Gambia National Park or Baboon Island, a reserve for chimpanzees and others. Baboon Island is currently closed to tourists.

Monkey Gambia

The Gambia. The author of the photo is Norman Sloth.

Banjul – a miniature capital of The Gambia

The tiny town is located where the waters of the river flow into the Atlantic Ocean. According to the last census, only 34,000 people live in Banjul. Despite its modest size, the town delights with its special chamber atmosphere. The streets are never crowded with newcomers, but the harbor is teeming with life. While in Banjul, be sure to visit the grand triumphal arch with the unusual name “21”, it offers an amazing view of the city and the bay. By the way, you can visit the textile museum, located inside the arch. And in the local market you can buy authentic goods as souvenirs.

Banjul The Gambia

Banjul, The Gambia. Photo by Brian Moore.

Serekunda is the country’s largest metropolis

Southwest of Banjul lies the city of Serekunda, the business capital of The Gambia. More than 350,000 people permanently reside here, as well as people from other cities. It was originally a small town, which as it grew, absorbed the surrounding villages. The city enjoys a dynamic life and modern tourist infrastructure. Its proximity to popular resorts makes Serekunda a favorite destination for tourists who want to combine a relaxing beach vacation with an active pastime.

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Serekunda, The Gambia

Serekunda, The Gambia. Photo by DC P.

Popular attractions

As such, there are few architectural and cultural monuments in The Gambia, and it’s unlikely that anyone would decide to make a targeted visit just for them. However, if you are in the country, in addition to the beautiful nature and the majestic ocean, diversify your vacation by visiting a couple of colorful places.

One of these attractions – the village-museum Tandja, which preserved the life of the indigenous population, who lived here for centuries. On a small piece of land are straw houses, made in different styles typical of the region. Visitors to the museum can see the work of artisans and taste traditional local cuisine.

You can learn more about the country’s colonial period at the Slavery Museum in the village of Albreda. The museum is located in a 19th century building built by the British. The exhibits collected here, do not leave anyone indifferent – shackles, whips, collars – all this vividly describes a harsh and unjust reality of that bitter period in the history of the African people.

The stone circles of Wassu and Kerr Butch are an ancient monument reminiscent of English Stonehenge. Many stone blocks are concentrated on the northern bank of the Gambia River, and historians speculate that they were used by local tribes in burial rites and other sacred rituals. The largest stones weigh several hundred kilograms, while the smallest specimens can be lifted by hand.

Wassou, The Gambia

Wassou, The Gambia. Photographed by David Nyoku.

Local population and customs

About 1.7 million people live in The Gambia, of which 99% are indigenous peoples. 90% of the population are Muslim, 9% are Roman Catholic, and only 1% of Gambians remain faithful to the ancient cults of animalism, fetishism, and the cult of ancestors. English is the official language of the country, but Gambians speak more than ten languages, including Mandingo, Fula, Wolof, Diola, etc.

Virtually the entire working population is engaged in agriculture, particularly in the cultivation of peanuts and rice crops, which contribute the lion’s share of the country’s income.

Culinary Traditions of The Gambia

National cuisine as well as other local cultural aspects have been influenced by the people who have lived in the territory. Much has been learned from the English, French, and Portuguese culinary traditions.

The staple food of the Gambians is rice, usually served as a side dish with an abundance of vegetables, spices, fish or meat. One of the most popular dishes is stew with rice, meat, and peanut butter. In coastal areas you can enjoy dishes from fresh fish and a variety of seafood. Because Gambia grows peanuts in large quantities, they are served with literally every dish, regardless of what you ordered at the restaurant.

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Of drinks, a special favorite is sweet green tea, which is served with lots of foam. Holidays in The Gambia, be sure to try the palm wine, decoction of sorrel flowers and baobab juice – such exotic drinks can be tasted only when you are in Africa. The most common drink we are used to is Jarblu beer, a lager sold by the bottle or on tap.

Jarblu beer, The Gambia. Photo by Egoitz Moreno.

Tourism in The Gambia

Because the country is quite well developed tourism, there is a large choice of hotels with European level of service. All hotels are concentrated on the Atlantic coast, and in the interior of the country to rent an apartment is problematic, the only exceptions are nature reserves and parks, where you can stay overnight for no more than one night.

Russian citizens do not need a visa before the trip if your visit to the country does not exceed 59 days. At the same time, it is useful to get medical insurance to protect you from contingencies and various problems. Meningitis and yellow fever vaccinations, as well as malaria medication, should be taken before your trip.

The Gambia has an international airport near the capital city of Banjul, which receives flights from European capitals. It is best to plan your trip in advance, as you will most likely have to fly with several connections, and planes from Europe do not fly here as often as you would like.

Sunset, The Gambia

Sunset, The Gambia. Photo by Paul Wilson.

African countries that speak English as the official language

Since it is the second largest continent in the world, one might wonder if there are English-speaking countries in Africa. And the answer would be: yes, there are. In addition, there are about twenty-four countries in Africa that speak English. With a population of over 1.3 billion people in 54 countries, Africa has been a center of diversity for a very long time.

African countries that speak English as an official language

All African countries that speak English are.

1. Zambia

This is one of the African countries where English is spoken. The British made English the official language during colonial rule. It is the language of government, media, business, and education.

2. Sudan

Arabic remained the official language of Sudan. For a long time, until it was removed, they made English the only official language of the country. It is also now the main language of the country.

3. Namibia.

It is also one of the African countries where English is spoken. However, it made English and African the official language after World War I . Before that, the Germans colonized the country for three decades. Now English is the main language of the country.

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4. Uganda

It is also another African country that speaks English. Among the forty recognized languages. In addition, English is the official language of the country. Most of the population speaks and understands the language.

5. Swaziland .

It is also one of the African countries that speaks English. English and Swaziland are the two official languages of Swaziland. People know English well because it is the language of business, education, and the media.

6. Ghana

Like many other countries in West Africa . Ghana also has English as its official language. In addition, it was during colonial times that the British gave English to Ghanaians.

Today, however, it is used throughout the country, including in offices, media, and business.

7. Nigeria

It is also one of the African countries that speak English. Just like Ghana, Nigeria also inherited English from the British during the colonial era. It also makes the country with English as the official language in the West. Africa.

However, in some regions, especially in urban areas, you can find more dominant native English speakers.

8. The Gambia

It is also another African country that speaks English. Since the colonial rule . English remains the official language of The Gambia.

Represented by the English, it is still widely spoken in the country. Nevertheless, Wolof is also widely spoken as a native language.

9. Liberia

This is also another African country in which English is spoken. Just like the other countries in West Africa. Therefore, Liberia also officially speaks English.

Also, it has been a prominent language since the founding of the country.

10. Sierra Leone

It is also one of the African countries where English is spoken. English has been the main language of Sierra Leone since British rule. Bengali is the second official language of the country. While other unofficial languages are also widely spoken.

11. Tanzania.

It is also one of the African countries that speaks English. English is the official language of Tanzania besides Swahili.

English is also widely and effectively used in many parts of the country.

12. Botswana.

It is also one of the African countries where English is spoken. English and Setswana are Botswana’s two official languages. And yet Setswana is the state language of the country. In addition, English remains the business language.

13. Cameroon .

It is also one of the African countries that speaks English. French and English are the official languages of the country since it was colonized by both French and UK at different times.

In addition, there are many languages spoken in Cameroon , but these two are the only official ones.

14. Mauritius

It is also one of the African countries that speaks English. Like Cameroon, the official languages of the country are French and English.

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Before the country was taken over by the French and then by Great Britain, the country was colonized by the Dutch, who overran it from the Arabs.

15. Kenya

It is also one of Africa’s English-speaking countries. The country of Kenya has two official languages: English and Kiswahili.

Although Swahili is the national language, it is only adapted to English. However, during the colonial rule of the English.

16. Lesotho

The official language of Lesotho is English, which was only adopted during colonial rule. However, Sesotho, also the official language, is more widely spoken in the country.

17. Malawi

It is also one of the African countries that speaks English. The people of Malawi speak Chewa and English as official languages. English was also brought to the country during the colonial period.

18. Seychelles Islands.

It is also one of the African countries where English is spoken. The country has three official languages, among which is English.

During British rule, English was spread throughout the country, and it is still the official language today.

19. Eritrea.

It is also another African country that speaks English. And a country with three official languages, including Arabic, Tigrigna, and English. They introduced English after World War II.

20. Rwanda

English is one of the four official languages of Rwanda. In addition, English was introduced in order to gain a place in the world market and in international business.

21. Somaliland

Somaliland also has three official languages: English, Arabic, and Somali. During the colonization of the Northwest, English was introduced and has remained to this day.

22. South Africa.

It is also one of the African countries that speak English. English is one of the country’s many official languages.

It was also common when the British transitioned from the Dutch in the 1800s.

23. Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is a country with fifteen official languages in addition to English. The British made English the official language during colonial times. Other languages are also widely spoken in the country.

Africa is one of the largest continents in the world. And this is true of both area and population. Moreover, given the diversity it offers. It would be impossible not to have English-speaking countries.

Even if English is not the official language of those countries. It is spoken and understood in all these regions. It is also the language of business and education in these countries.

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