Culture and Geography
Reviewed by: Editorial Staff
The Portuguese established The Gambia as an important trading post in 1455, and in 1618, the trading rights were sold to the British. Though Gambia officially became a British colony in 1821, it was not encouraged to develop. In 1954, The Gambia gained autonomy and the first semi-autonomous elections were held in 1962. The Gambia finally became independent on 18 February 1965. Today, the country is a fledgling democracy.
The Gambia has a great artistic tradition of music. For decades, local artists have kept folklore alive and maintained the heritage of the locals through song and dance. The most important instrument for accompanying is the kora, and the Mandinka are particularly noted for their skill in making these instruments.The Gambia stretches inland from the Atlantic along both sides of the Gambia River. This narrow stretch of land is the smallest country in Africa and is surrounded by Senegal on three sides. The river is lined with mangrove swamps and flanked by low hills. The mangroves then give way to more open country and, in places, to red ironstone cliffs. The land on either side of the river is generally open savannah with wooded areas along the drainage channels.