THE GAMBIA, know the country better.



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GEOGRAPHY
The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa. It forms an enclave of Senegal and extends over a width of 20 – 50km on both sides of the Gambia River in the north and south and up to 320km inland from west to east upstream of the river mouth. The relief of the country is flat and it never rises beyond 55m above sea level.

CLIMATE
The Gambia is situated in a tropical zone. It is always hot there with an exceptional amount of sunshine. There are 2 main seasons: the dry season and the wet season. The dry season runs from October to June, practically without a drop of rain. The rainy season runs from July to September and with cyclones and torrential rains it sometimes makes moving around difficult. In a very short time the vegetation regenerates vigorously. The baobab trees are cover ed with green leaves and nuts, the fields become pastures for herds of happy cattle and the orchards, kitchen gardens and markets abound with fruit and vegetables. The ideal time to visit Gambia is from November to March as after March the temperatures increase dramatically.

MONEY, EXCHANGE RATES
The Gambian currency is the
Dalasi. The exchange rate is approximately 1 Euro = 40 Dalasi. There are many currency exchange offices as well as distributors close to our location. You will not have any problems or issues exchanging Euros for Dalasis close to the Senegambia Beach Hotel. Avoid changing money in the hotels, as their foreign exchange rate conversions are less competitive.
Example prices for food and drinks in a restaurant are :
Best price : 100 to 250 Dalasis (2.40 to 6 Euros).
Average price :250 to 450 Dalasis (6 to 11 euros).
More up market : >450 Dalasis (>11 euros).

PRACTICALITIES
Health: Subscribe an Medical International Insurance before leaving that includes hospitalization, medical expenses and repatriation. The medical Gambian is rather developed and pharmacies can be found almost everywhere . If you are sick, our clinical partner will be AFRICMED Clinic Ltd Gambia. which is recognized by the international insurance companies, such as World Wide Assistance, AXA, BUPA, SOS International...
Vaccine:
The vaccine for yellow fever is mandatory to travel to The Gambia. Do not forget to bring your international book of vaccinations to prove the yellow fever vaccine. Here is an informative link endemic areas of yellow fever in the world.
Malaria (Malaria):
The animal most likely to occur in the tropics is not a tiger or a snake, or even crocodile, but the MOSQUITO !
However, outside the rainy season,
malaria risk is almost non-existent during the dry season from October to May.
The Anopheles mosquito transmits malaria and is active between sunset and sunrise. Here is an interesting link for information indicating areas infected with
malaria worldwide. The disease can occur in most tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is in Africa that the risk is the most important and it is still recommended to take a preventive medication. Some people will have side effects, generally of a minor nature, when taking medications against malaria, it is for this reason that it is the doctor who will decide which medication is best. Through our experience in Africa, during our various boogie in Kenya and Mozambique we never had any side effects with Malarone.
The traveler arrives from a tropical country where all foods are controlled, sanitized, so we are unaccustomed to food toxins poorly preserved to shigella and amoeba stews and salads. Any toxin, any bacteria trigger diarrhea in travelers (turista) as trivial inevitable. This is very minor and major risk at the same time for the tourist. Half of the cases of disease are diarrhea travel. If this happens, think to re-moisturize frequently.
The best way to protect themselves is essentially washing their hands before eating!
At the restaurant, the appearance of modernity does not immune to food poisoning: It is often better to eat at a "greasy spoon" or a bush village where you meet certain culinary traditions, even approximate in a hotel restaurant "luxury" when behind in the kitchen, it respects no tradition and where it has not yet mastered the new behaviors of the modern communal kitchen.

Electricity : 220 volts, 50 Hz. English style plugs are the most common but at the Senegambia hotel you will find 2 pins socket plug.
Photos : The Gambians do not really like having their photograph taken so it is polite and sensible to ask for their permission first.
Telephone : One can use a mobile phone with the European or International Roaming option but beware of the high charges. You can easily buy a local prepaid SIM card from one of the operators provided you have an unlocked phone. To call Europe from Gambia use 00 plus the country code called. The dialing code for Gambia is 220.
Internet : It is not a problem to connect using WIFI in the hotels but depending on the time of the day the connection can be slow and not always sufficient for heavy files.

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FOOD
Rice is the basic food. The principal dishes are:
- Chicken Yassa (chicken marinated with thin slices of onions then roasted, usually served with a tomato sauce. It's alternative with fish instead of chicken is called Caldo).
- Domoda (rice with meat or fish accompanied with a sauce of tomato and peanuts).
- Benechin (rice with fish or meat). These dishes can be more or less spicey according to the tastes of the individual. There is a lot of fish, of course. Barracuda and Grupa are excellent. One can get all kinds of fresh produce vegetables and exotic fruits. The rainy season brings mangos. They are not expensive and they are delicious. The same goes for bananas, papaws, watermelons and oranges.

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FAUNA
The hunters, and the progressive retreat of the forests due mainly to a lack of water plus traditional kitchens using charcoal, has caused the disappearance of many of the animals in Gambia. Today, there remain around a hundred hippos, as well as gazelles, hinds, servals, warthogs, monitor lizards and many monkeys. The large animals are less and less numerous but fortunately, there are still many birds, which make Gambia a popular country for birdwatchers. The Abuko reserve and the small islands of Tanji are an interesting visit.

ECONOMY
Agriculture is the livelihood for three quarters of the population. The economy is very dependent on peanuts, which represent a large percentage of the countries exports. Rice, millet, sorghum as well as the products of breeding are intended for local consumption. In the last few years, cotton cultures, sisal, citrus fruits and tobacco have been developing industries. As for tourism, today it represents an important activity. The government hopes that Gambia can welcome nearly a million visitors in 2015.

HISTORY AND POLITICS
At its peak in the14th century, the empire of Mali extended into Gambia. In 1455, the Portuguese set up trading posts along the Gambia River, from which they organize the slave trade. In 1723, the British African Company purchased the land in the Gambia. In 1816 the British occupied the small territory surrounded by Senegal, and the French were not be able to dislodge them. In 1894, the country became a British protectorate.The Gambia gained its independence in 1965 and Dawda Jawara became its first president. On 22 July 1994 a group of officers led by Captain Yahya Jammeh overthrew the government. In 1996, President Jammeh agreed to initiate a process of democratization which would consolidate power in the elections of 1996 when he was popularly elected and then reelected in 2001, 2006 and 2011. President Yahya Jammeh is still the current president of the Gambia since the 2011 elections.