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 African 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 almost an enclave of Senegal and is by far the smallest country on mainland Africa.


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

From November to mid-May there is uninterrupted dry weather, with temperatures as low as 18 °C (64.4 °F) in Banjul and surrounding areas during the night.

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 contains Guinean mangroves near the coast, and becomes 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

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

  • 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: floodplain of the Gambia River, flanked by low hills

Elevation extremes:

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 km3 (2011)
  • Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
    total: 0.09 km3/yr (41%/21%/39%)
    per capita: 65.77 m3/yr (2005)

Current issues: deforestation, desertification, prevalence of water-borne diseases, drought (rainfall has dropped by 30% in the last 30 years)

Environment - party to international agreements on:

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]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website


  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).
  3. ^ Global Environment Facility, United Nations Environment Programme (eds.): The Gambia’s Second National Communication under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Banjul, November 2012, p. 32.
  4. ^ The World Factbook: The Gambia. Chapter Geography and map.
  5. ^ On a 1966 map, two points close to Jah Kunda and Nyamanari are indicated with 174 feet, thus 53 m. Source: West Africa, Joint Operations Graphic 1:250,000: map ND 28-11 Tambacounda, Senegal (11MB). U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency. Map data from 1966.
  6. ^ "Gambia High Point".
  7. ^ Malanding S. Jaiteh, Baboucarr Sarr: Climate Change and Development in the Gambia: Challenges to Ecosystem Goods and Services, p. 1–3. Map based on: The Gambia 50,000 database 2003 topographic data. Department of Local Government and Lands.