This week, we received a request from a member of our undergraduate international student community. As the only Gambian undergrad at Duke, he suggested that we highlight the flag of the Republic of the Gambia. We thought it was a great idea!
The Gambia is a West African country surrounded by Senegal and the Atlantic Ocean. Made up of a narrow strip of land surrounding the Gambia River, is the smallest country on the mainland African continent. It is only 15 to 30 miles wide on either side of the river and extends almost 300 miles inland.
The uncommon shape and size of the country are the result of territorial compromises between Great Britain, who controlled the Gambia River, and France, who ruled Senegal.
The Gambia won independence on February 18, 1965. It was at this time that they adopted their current national flag. The blue stripe in the center symbolizes the Gambia River. The top stripe represents the sun and the bottom stripe represents agricultural production. The white stripes separating the blue from the green and red are said to stand for peace and unity.
The Gambia is ethnically diverse, with the Malinke group making up about a third of the population. Other groups include the Fulani, the Wolof, and the Soninke. English is the official language. Most people are multilingual and also speak Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, Serer, Krio, or Jola. French is also relatively well-known. The population is overwhelmingly Muslim, with 96% of people adhering to the religion. The Gambian economy is heavily dependent on peanut (groundnut) production and export.
Banjul is the Gambian capital and the largest cities are Serekunda and Brikama. The Gambia is home to beautiful white beaches and over 550 species of birds, making it a popular tourist destination.