Flashmag Digizine Edition Issue 107 July 2020 - Page 129

..............129............

Flashmag July 2020 www.flashmag.net

The present boundaries were defined in 1889 after an agreement between the United Kingdom and France. During the negotiations between the French and the British in Paris, the French initially gave the British around 200 miles (320 km) of the Gambia River to control. Starting with the placement of boundary markers in 1891, it took nearly 15 years after the Paris meetings to determine the final borders of The Gambia. The resulting series of straight lines and arcs gave the British control of areas about 10 miles (16 km) north and south of the Gambia River.

The Gambia's economy is dominated by farming, fishing and, especially, tourism. In 2015, 48.6% of the population lived in poverty. In rural areas, poverty is even more widespread, at almost 70%.

The Gambia is divided into eight local government areas, including the national capital, Banjul, which is classified as a city. The Divisions of the Gambia were created by the Independent Electoral Commission in accordance to Article 192 of the National Constitution.

A variety of ethnic groups live in the Gambia, each preserving its own language and traditions. The Mandinka ethnicity is the largest, followed by the Fula, Wolof, Jola/Karoninka, Serahule / Jahanka, Serers, Manjago, Bambara, Aku Marabou, Bainunka and others. The Krio people, locally known as Akus, constitute one of the smallest ethnic minorities in the Gambia. They are descendants of the Sierra Leone Creole people and have been traditionally concentrated in the capital.

The roughly 3,500 non-African residents include Europeans and families of Lebanese origin (0.23% of the total population). Most of the European minority is British, although many of the British left after independence.

Ethnic groups (2013 Census)

34.4% Mandinka - 24.1% Fula - 14.8% Wolof - 10.5% Jola - 8.2% Serahuli - 3.1% Serer - 1.9% Manjago - 1.3% Bambara - 0.5% Aku Marabou - 1.5% other

The cuisine of the Gambia includes peanuts, rice, fish, meat, onions, tomatoes, cassava, chili peppers and oysters from the River Gambia that are harvested by women. In particular, yassa and domoda curries are popular with locals and tourists.

The Gambia has a tropical climate. A hot and rainy season normally lasts from June until November, but from then until May, cooler temperatures predominate, with less precipitation.[43] The climate in The Gambia closely resembles that of neighbouring Senegal, of southern Mali, and of the northern part of Benin

Economic Overview

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 6% in 2019 against 6.5% in 2018. Services grew by 10%, supported by wholesale and retail trade, despite the Thomas Cook UK bankruptcy. Agriculture contracted by 10% due to erratic rainfall. On the demand side, growth was driven by high public and private investment. Externally financed projects (9.8% of GDP) supported public investment while private sector credit expanded rapidly (y-o-y growth of 35.8%). Inflation increased from 6.5% in 2018 to 7.1% in 2019, reflecting a reduction of the output gap and the impact of a one-off administrative price change.

The government adhered to a tight fiscal stance in 2019 and succeeded in reducing the fiscal deficit by almost 3.5 percentage points of GDP to 2.6% of GDP in 2019 (corresponding to a primary surplus of 0.6%). Revenues (excluding grants) increased markedly driven by strong tax performance. Current expenditure increased by 1% of GDP in 2019 relative to previous year to accommodate a 50% increase in civil service salaries, and higher outlays for social sectors and transitional justice initiatives. Interest payments declined from 26.1% of domestic revenues in 2018 to 22.3% in 2019. SOE subsidies were contained at 0.6% of GDP. Public debt declined from 86.7% of GDP in 2018 to 82.5% in 2019.

The restructuring of The Gambia’s external debt is being finalized following commitments provided by participating creditors. These deferrals have markedly improved The Gambia’s debt outlook.

The Gambia has met quantitative targets under the one-year IMF Staff Monitored Program (SMP) for 2019 (approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on April 24, 2019), including on domestic borrowing by the government and on poverty-reducing spending. On February 11, 2020, IMF reached staff-level agreement with the Gambia on a three-year Extended Credit Facility program in the amount of SDR 35 million (or around $48 million). This arrangement will catalyze much needed resources from other international partners enabling The Gambia to fulfill its economic potential and address pressing social needs.