Gambia, The Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Gambia, The?

Overview:

Situated on the western coast of Africa between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer, the Republic of The Gambia forms a narrow strip of land on either side of the Gambia River. Except for the sea coast, the country is surrounded by the Republic of Senegal and extends inland for 200 miles (320 kilometers). The Gambia is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) wide along the coast, narrowing to 15 miles (24 kilometers) at its eastern border. From sea level, interior elevations rise to 112 feet. Its dominant feature, the Gambia River, begins in the Futa Jallon highlands in Guinea and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The river is fringed with mangrove swamps for about 170 miles inland, followed by open savanna and, in places, by red iron-stone cliffs. The river is tidal throughout most of The Gambia, and the intrusion of salt water ranges from 90 miles upriver in the wet season to nearly 160 miles in the dry season. Ships up to 3,000 tons with a maximum draft of 17 feet are able to navigate 150 miles upriver to the trading port of Kaur. Banjul has a well-equipped port with two berths, spacious anchorages, large customs clearing warehouses, and a 25-ton capacity crane. Smaller fishing and pleasure boats are anchored in Oyster Creek, 2 miles from Banjul.

The Gambia is vulnerable to periodic drought because it is part of the arid Sahel Zone between the Sahara Desert and the coastal rain forest. Vegetation ranges from woodlands to savanna with sparse grass and shrubs. Much of the sandy soil is low in plant nutrients. Palm trees are present in coastal areas, and baobab, kapok, acacia, and mahogany trees are found throughout the country.

Geography - note:

almost an enclave of Senegal; smallest country on the continent of Africa

Climate:

Climate is subtropical with a distinct hot and rainy season from June to October, and a cooler dry season from November to May. The beginning and end of the rains are marked by high temperatures and high humidity, whereas the dry season is noted for the dusty and dry trade winds (harmattan) blowing in from the central Sahara. Temperatures range from a low of 48°F (9°C) in January to a high of 110°F (43°C) in October. Because of the cooling effect of the ocean, temperatures are lower along the coast than in the interior. Rainfall varies widely from year to year but ranges from an annual mean of 48 inches in the west to 34 inches upriver.

Because of the humid climate and the salt air along the coast, metal rusts rapidly in The Gambia, and houses near the sea may be affected by the corrosive salt air. Termites abound year round in soils and woodwork. During the dry season, the harmattan winds blow in a fine dust. However, the moderate temperatures during the dry season with mostly sunny days give The Gambia one of West Africa’s more pleasant climates.

Gambia, The Use of Natural Resources

Gambia, The Environment

Climate:

Climate is subtropical with a distinct hot and rainy season from June to October, and a cooler dry season from November to May. The beginning and end of the rains are marked by high temperatures and high humidity, whereas the dry season is noted for the dusty and dry trade winds (harmattan) blowing in from the central Sahara. Temperatures range from a low of 48°F (9°C) in January to a high of 110°F (43°C) in October. Because of the cooling effect of the ocean, temperatures are lower along the coast than in the interior. Rainfall varies widely from year to year but ranges from an annual mean of 48 inches in the west to 34 inches upriver.

Because of the humid climate and the salt air along the coast, metal rusts rapidly in The Gambia, and houses near the sea may be affected by the corrosive salt air. Termites abound year round in soils and woodwork. During the dry season, the harmattan winds blow in a fine dust. However, the moderate temperatures during the dry season with mostly sunny days give The Gambia one of West Africa’s more pleasant climates.

Terrain:

flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by some low hills

Natural Resources:

fish, titanium (rutile and ilmenite), tin, zircon, silica sand, clay, petroleum

Natural Hazards:

drought (rainfall has dropped by 30% in the last 30 years)

Irrigated Land:

19 Square Miles
50 Square Kilometers

Environmental Issues:

deforestation; desertification; water-borne diseases prevalent

Environment - International Agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Gambia, The Geography

Geographic Location Africa
Total Area 4,361 Square Miles
11,295 Square Kilometers
Land Area 3,861 Square Miles
10,000 Square Kilometers
Water Area 500 Square Miles
1,295 Square Kilometers
Land Boundaries 460 Miles
740 Kilometers
Irrigated Land 19 Square Miles
50 Square Kilometers
Border Countries Senegal 740 km
Coastline 50 Miles
80 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates 13 28 N, 16 34 W
Terrain flood plain of the Gambia River flanked by some low hills
Highest Point 53 Meters
Highest Point Location unnamed location 53 m
Lowest Point Location Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Natural Resources fish, titanium (rutile and ilmenite), tin, zircon, silica sand, clay, petroleum
Time Zone UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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