Geography of the Gambia

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Map of the Gambia
Location of the Gambia (in circle)
Satellite image of The Gambia

The Gambia is a very small and narrow country with the border based on the Gambia River. The country is less than 48 km wide at its greatest width. The country's present boundaries were defined in 1889 after an agreement between the United Kingdom and France. It is often claimed by Gambians that the distance of the borders from the Gambia River corresponds to the area that British naval cannon of the time could reach from the river's channel. However, there is no historical evidence to support the story, and the border was actually delineated using careful surveying methods by the Franco-British boundary commission.[1][2] Apart from its coastline, where the Gambia borders the Atlantic Ocean, it is an enclave of Senegal and is by far the smallest country on mainland Africa.


The Gambia has a subtropical climate with distinct dry and rainy seasons.

From November to mid-May there is uninterrupted dry weather, with temperatures as low as 16 °C (60.8 °F) in Banjul and surrounding areas.

Hot, humid weather predominates the rest of the year, with a rainy season from June to October; during this period, temperatures may rise as high as 43 °C (109.4 °F) but are usually lower near the sea.

Mean temperatures range from 23 °C (73.4 °F) in January to 27 °C (80.6 °F) in June along the coast, and from 24 °C (75.2 °F) in January to 32 °C (89.6 °F) in May inland. The average annual rainfall ranges from 920 mm (36.2 in) in the interior to 1,450 mm (57.1 in) along the coast.


The grassy flood plain of the Gambia river, which contains Guinean mangroves near the coast, with West Sudanian savanna upriver inland.


Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and Senegal.

Geographic coordinates: 13°28′N 16°34′W / 13.467°N 16.567°W / 13.467; -16.567

Map references: Africa

total: 11,295 km²
land: 10,000 km²
water: 1,295 km²

Area - comparative: slightly less than Jamaica; slightly less than twice the size of Delaware.

Land boundaries:
total: 749 km
border countries: Senegal 749 km

Coastline: 80 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi)
contiguous zone: 18 nmi (33.3 km; 20.7 mi)
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nmi (370.4 km; 230.2 mi)
continental shelf: extent not specified

Climate: tropical; hot, rainy season (June to November); cooler, dry season (November to May)

Terrain: flood plain of the Gambia river flanked by some low hills

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Red Rock 53 m

Natural resources: fish, clay, silica sand, titanium (rutile and ilmenite), tin, zircon

Land use:
arable land: 43.48%
permanent crops: 0.49%
other: 56.03% (2011)

Irrigated land: 50 km² (2011)

Total renewable water resources: 8 km33 (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.09 km3/yr (41%/21%/39%)
per capita: 65.77 m3/yr (2005)

Natural hazards: drought (rainfall has dropped by 30% in the last 30 years)

Environment - current issues: deforestation; desertification; water-borne diseases prevalent

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Extreme points[edit]

This is a list of the extreme points of the Gambia, the points that are farther north, south, east or west than any other location.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Donald R. Wright (2004). The World and a Very Small Place: A History of Globalization in Niumi, The Gambia (New York: M.E. Sharp) p. 151–152.
  2. ^ Craig Emms and Linda Barnett (2001). Bradt Travel Guide for The Gambia (Chalford, UK: Bradt Travel Guides).