Life in The Gambia and Guinea

The Gambia (officially the Republic of the Gambia) is a country in West Africa. It is surrounded by Senegal, apart from a short strip of Atlantic coastline at its western end. It is the smallest country on mainland Africa. The country is situated either side of the Gambia River, the nation's namesake, which flows through the country's centre and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Its area is 11,295 km² with an estimated population of 1.7 million.

Banjul is the Gambian capital, but the largest cities are Serekunda and Brikama. The Gambia shares historical roots with many other West African nations in the slave trade, which was the key factor in the placing and keeping of a colony on the Gambia River, first by the Portuguese and later by the British. On 18 February 1965, the Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom and joined the Commonwealth of Nations, from which it withdrew in October 2013. Since gaining independence, the Gambia has enjoyed relative political stability, with the exception of a brief period of military rule in 1994.

Map and geographical location

Official name:

The Republic of The Gambia


1.7 million


Banjul, with Serrekunda as its largest metropolitan area.


Savannah and open woodland vegetation.

The Gambia River:

The Gambia is named after the river that meanders through mangrove swamps, bamboo forests, and salt flats, to the capital Banjul, which is located along the 30 mile stretch of Atlantic coast.


From June to November, the weather is warm with a very rainy season. From December to May, the climate is dry and warm, attracting many tourists due to ideal climatic conditions.


Gambians are known for their excellent music and dancing. They are well recognized for their genuine friendliness and hospitality. A wide variety of tribes exist together, living harmoniously as each preserves its own language and traditions.


The official language is English. Other main languages spoken are Wolof, Fulani, and Mandinka.


The Gambia Public Transport Corporation offers an extensive, low-coast public transit system with bus service linking all the towns in the country. Taxis are readily available, and car rental agencies offer unlimited mileage.

Banjul International Airport:

Is located 23 km from Banjul (capital) at Yundum. Airlines flying to The Gambia: ASKY Airlines, Afrinat International Airlines, Air Nigeria, Arik Air, Arkefly, Brussels Airlines, Elysian Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Hamburg International, Mahfooz Aviation, Mauritania Airways, Monarch, Neos, Royal Air Maroc, Spanair, TACV-Cabo Verde, Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomas Cook Airlines Scan, Viking Airlines and other charter flights companies

Tourism in The Gambia:

The country's biggest asset is its tourism, with tens of thousands of international visitors annually, enchanted by its beautiful beaches, flora and fauna, sunshine and pleasant climate, and the Gambian people whose hospitality and friendliness are well renowned. The Gambia has much more to offer: rich history, culture, and ethnic diversity, ecotourism, water sports and deep sea fishing, and the multiple world-class hotels.

Banking industry:

The following banks operate in the Gambia:

  • Standard Chartered Bank (Gambia) Ltd.
  • Trust Bank Ltd.
  • Bank PHB
  • Arab Gambia Islamic Bank
  • First International Bank
  • Guaranty Trust Bank (Gambia) Ltd
  • International Commercial Bank (G) Ltd
  • Access Bank Gambia Limited
  • Ecobank (Gambia) Ltd
  • Banque Sahelo-Sahelienne pour
  • Investissement et Commerce (BSIC)
  • Oceanic Bank (Gambia) Limited
  • Prime Bank (Gambia) Ltd


The Gambian Dalasi is the currency in Gambia. The symbol for the currency is GMD it is divided into 100 butut. The exchange rate for the Gambian Dalasi updated in January, 2014 is:

1.00 GBP = 62.5108 GMD

1.00 USD = 38.0371 GMD

1.00 EUR = 51.9703 GMD

Click here to convert other currencies


The Gambia is one of the safest countries in West Africa.


Students are strongly recommended to get vaccinations and boosters for:

  • Hepatitis A.
  • Hepatitis B.
  • Yellow Fever
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Tetanus

It is recommended all students carry international vaccination cards listing all vaccinations.


Malaria could be a concern in The Gambia, and therefore, students must take precautions.

Most widely used malaria prophylactic medicines include: Mefloquine, Doxycycline, and Malarone.Students are strongly advised to discuss with their physician the best option for malaria prophylaxis.

Advice may be obtained from the AIUWA Medical Office, upon arrival to The Gambia.

Another effective prophylactic mean is the mosquito net. On a nightly basis, students are advised to cover their beds with mosquito nets.

Gambian physicians are experienced in treating patients with malaria, so rest assure that access to quality anti-malarial treatment on site will not be an issue.


$20 per month

A 30 passenger bus will be the mode of transportation for AIUWA students.

Service offered from Monday-Sunday: to and from classes

Cell Phone:

$15 per month (cell phone is free)

Local phone calls are unlimited

250 minutes per month within all of The Gambia

Unlimited CUG (Close user group): Students are allowed unlimited minutes to other students from the same university with the same phone plans

3G network (data and text included)


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