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Driving Directions Gambia

GAMBIA is the smallest country in Africa. The Republic of the Gambia comprises a small finger of land, pushing eastwards into Senegal from the Atlantic coast in a narrow band along either side of the Gambia River.

The republic is enclosed on all its landward sides by the territory of Senegal. It mostly does not exceed 24 kilometers or 15 miles in width, only broadening to 48 kilometers or 30 miles in the east. The country is divided along its entire length by the River Gambia, which can only be crossed at two main ferry crossings.

The country consists of the river and the low plateau through which it flows interspersed with a few small, flattened hills.

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There are pristine beaches and sand cliffs backed by mangrove swamps on the coast, with tropical jungle clothing much of the river banks away from the coast. Beyond the river valley lies some more thinly wooded savannah grassland containing commercially valuable trees such as rosewood, mahogany, rubber, and oil palm.

The Gambia has two very different seasons. There is little rainfall in the dry season, but then the southwest monsoon sets in with spectacular storms producing heavy rain for four months.

Most Gambians live in villages with a few animals and grow enough millet and sorghum to feed themselves. Groundnuts and palm oil are valuable export commodities. The river provides a thriving local fishing industry, and the white sandy beaches on the coast are becoming increasingly popular with foreign tourists. The country has enjoyed greater stability than almost every other west African state (despite a failed coup attempt in 1981). It attracts an increasing number of tourists each year, which is helping to boost its economy.

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To the west lies the Atlantic coastline, which is fringed with sandy beaches. The interior is generally low-lying on both sides of the Gambia River, although elevations are higher in the east. Throughout the country, low, flat-topped hills alternate with valleys or depressions. Fertile alluvial soil is found in the eastern areas, while sandy soil predominates in the west. Mangrove swamps are found along the coast and riverbanks.

At its western end, The Gambia borders the Atlantic Ocean.

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