March 7, 2016

2356 GAMBIA - The map of the country

Located in West Africa, mostly surrounded by Senegal with a short strip of its coastline bordered with the Atlantic Ocean at its western end, the Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa. It is practically a narrow strip of land along the Gambia River, on either side of it, with less than 48km wide at its widest point, its borders following the meanders of the river. Its capital is Banjul (founded in 1816 by the British as a trading post and base for suppressing the slave trade), and the largest cities are Serekunda and Brikama.

During the 10th century, Muslim merchants and scholars established communities in several West African commercial centres. Both groups established trans-Saharan trade routes, leading to a large trade in slaves, gold, ivory (exports) and manufactured goods (imports). At the beginning of the 14th century, most of what is today called Gambia was part of the Mali Empire. The Portuguese reached this area by sea in the mid-15th century, and they began to dominate overseas trade.

In 1588, the claimant to the Portuguese throne, António, Prior of Crato, sold exclusive trade rights on the Gambia River to English merchants. During the late 17th century and throughout the 18th century, the British Empire and the French Empire struggled continually for supremacy in the region, until finally the British occupied the Gambia in 1758. As many as three million slaves may have been taken from this general region during the three centuries that the transatlantic slave trade operated.

In 1807, the british abolished the slave trade throughout empire. In 1888, The Gambia became a separate colony. An agreement with the French Republic in 1889 established the present boundaries (about 16km north and south of the Gambia River), and Gambia became a British Crown colony. In 1965, it gained independence, and since then it has had two leaders: Dawda Jawara (1970-1994, and Yahya Jammeh (which seized power in a coup as a young army officer).

The Gambia's economy is dominated by farming, fishing, and tourism. About a third of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day. A variety of ethnic groups live in the Gambia, each preserving its own language and traditions. The official language is english, and the predominant religion is Islam, practised by 90% of the country's population. Even if the constitution protects the freedom of religion, in 2015 Gambia was declared an Islamic state by the country's president.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of the series Musical Instruments of the Manding Empire, about which I wrote here.

The Gambia - Wikipedia

Sender: Dauda Mane
Sent from ??? (Gambia), on 20.12.2014

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