Gambia

Gambia

Use High Level of Caution

The Gambia is in West Africa surrounded by Senegal and with about 80 kilometres of coastline bordering the North Atlantic Ocean on the west. The country is about 300 miles long and about 15 miles wide, with the Gambia River running east to west through the middle of the country. The population is about 1.8 million people. The Gambia’s government is a republic with a president serving as as chief of state and head of government.

This country achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1965 and has experienced long periods of stability. Gambia is considered to be one of the safest countries in Africa.

Gambia’s economy is greatly dependent upon agriculture, specifically peanuts, however, less than half of the arable land is cultivated. The tourism sector brings in about one-fifth of the gross domestic product. Tourists can enjoy many wildlife reserves, such as the River Gambia National Park or Kiang West National Park, eco-tourism, and beautiful beaches on the North Atlantic Ocean.

Currency GMD: Gambian dalasi
Language English
Capital Banjul
Recent Alerts None
Latest Alert Not Available

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in Gambia. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Hepatitis A

There is a significant risk for hepatitis A virus exposure in The Gambia.

Hepatitis B

There is a significant risk for acquiring hepatitis B in The Gambia.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in The Gambia, especially when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where water and food may not be safe.

Malaria

There is a serious risk of malaria throughout the year in this country.

Meningitis

The Gambia is located in the sub-Saharan meningitis belt, and outbreaks of meningitis may occur during the dry season (December to June).

Rabies

Rabies is present in this country.

Yellow Fever

There is a risk of yellow fever transmission in this country. This country requires yellow fever vaccination certificate for travellers 9 months of age and older arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for all travellers 9 months of age and older.

Cholera

Outbreaks of cholera occur frequently in this country.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis occurs in this country. Travellers to this country are at risk for tuberculosis if visiting sick friends or family, working in the health care field, or having close prolonged contact with the general population.

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever occurs in this country.

Schistosomiasis

This disease is present in this country and is acquired through contact with fresh water, such as swimming, bathing, or rafting. Well-chlorinated swimming pools and contact with saltwater in oceans or seas will not put travellers at risk for schistosomiasis.

Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya fever occurs in this country.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to Gambia.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a significant risk of exposure to hepatitis A in this country. Vaccination is recommended.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There is a significant risk of exposure to hepatitis B in this country. Vaccination is recommended.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

Since exposure to unsafe sources of food and water in The Gambia is variable, the vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended, especially when visiting smaller cities, rural areas where water and food may not be safe.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) who may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk and should be vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccine

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travellers 9 months of age and older arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for all travellers over 9 months of age.

Meningitis Vaccine

Because this country is located in the sub-Saharan meningitis belt, vaccination against meningitis is recommended if travelling during the dry season (December to June).

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to Gambia.

Anti-malarial Drugs

Anti-malarial medication is recommended for all travellers to The Gambia. Recommended medication includes atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline or mefloquine. Resistance to chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine is present.

Safety and Security in Gambia

Emergency Numbers

117
116
118
(220) 422-4914 Gambian Police Force 24-hour line

In The Gambia, emergency resources may be limited, and there may be delays in response. Emergency services may not be available in your language.

Personal Safety

Although The Gambia is considered to be one of the safest African countries, petty crime and theft against tourists is increasing. Theft of passports and also valuables from hotel rooms is increasing. Some tourists have had their passports stolen by individuals posing as security at the international airport, therefore, ask to see a photo ID badge. Tourists have been mugged when walking on the beach alone at night. Pickpocketing is common in markets, on ferries, and along the beaches in resort areas.

In general, while travelling, avoid carrying large amounts of cash and keep valuables out of sight. Arrange for alternative ways to access your money since credit cards are not widely accepted and there are very few ATMs. Travellers may have trouble exchanging currency other than British Pounds outside of the resort areas and the city of Banjul.

Politely avoid conversation or help from young unemployed men, referred to as “bumsters” who hustle tourists to try to receive money from them.

Travellers are advised against accepting “free rides” from anyone in a vehicle without a yellow license plate. Public taxis are safe and inexpensive.

Travellers are advised to carry proof of prescriptions for medications as some citizens have been detained for possession of unmarked pills. There are heavy penalties for illegal drugs.

There is no tolerance for gay and lesbian people. Private citizens have the power to make arrests for offences “against the order of nature” according to the Gambian Criminal Code. Increasingly, there has been homophobic rhetoric from the government.

The Gambian Criminal Code has recently been amended to criminalise a variety of behaviour including “causing a public nuisance”, which carries a 5-year prison term.

Areas To Avoid

Avoid land travel through the Casamance area along the border with southern Senegal. Travellers have been attacked on roads leading north from Ziguinchor to Banjul. There have been reports of armed banditry, and the personal security situation is unpredictable.

Political Unrest

Political demonstrations are rare in The Gambia.

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