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Country Guides for Africa

Gambia

Gambia The Gambia gained its independence from the UK in 1965; it formed a short-lived federation of Senegambia with Senegal between 1982 and 1989. In 1991 the two nations signed a friendship and cooperation treaty. A military coup in 1994 overthrew the president and banned political activity, but a 1996 constitution and presidential elections, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, completed a nominal return to civilian rule. The country undertook another round of presidential and legislative elections in late 2001 and early 2002.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout the region and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal.Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. All travelers to West Africa, including infants, children, and former residents of West Africa, are at risk for malaria. All travelers should take one of the following drugs (listed alphabetically): atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (in special circumstances).

Yellow fever vaccination is recommended and may be required for entry into certain of these countries. If you travel to West Africa, the easiest and safest thing to do is get a yellow fever vaccination and a signed certificate. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.

Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, is found in fresh water in the region. Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools) in these countries.

Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if possible and always use seat belts.

CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):

See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Meningococcal meningitis, for travel to most of these countries from December through June.
  • Yellow fever.
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not complete the series as infants.

To stay healthy, do...

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an “absolute 1-micron or less” filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. “Absolute 1-micron filters” are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
  • Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
    • Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
    • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
    • Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
    • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
    • Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
    • Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
    • Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
    • DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
    • Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

SAFETY AND SECURITY : The Gambia 's most recent elections were deemed free and fair by international observers, but the presidential campaign period was marked by high tension and one fatal shooting. U.S. citizens should therefore avoid political gatherings and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

Travelers driving a vehicle in The Gambia should stop at all roadblocks or road checkpoints and proceed only when instructed by security personnel. Drivers should not reverse direction to avoid a road checkpoint or make any movements that may be viewed as suspicious or provocative by security personnel. Drivers should not proceed through a road checkpoint when signaled to stop.

CRIME: Petty street crime is a problem in The Gambia. Travelers should be careful of pickpockets in the crowded market areas and on ferries. Packages or luggage should never be left unattended, especially in taxis. Travelers should also be cautious of individuals who persistently offer unsolicited help.

Visitors and resident U.S. citizens have reported residential and automobile burglaries. All U.S. citizens in The Gambia should be careful not to leave valuables or identity documents unsecured in hotel rooms or cars. Although violent crime and armed robbery are not prevalent in The Gambia, long-term residents should consider hiring a security guard for their home to prevent burglary and theft.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington , D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, AND IDENTITY FRAUD: "Confidence" scams long seen in other parts of western Africa are now on the rise in The Gambia. Con artists lure foreigners into business transactions for the purpose of obtaining their bank routing information, credit card number, or other personal data. They then use that information to impersonate the victims or obtain funds in their name.

U.S. citizens should treat with suspicion any unsolicited offers to participate in lucrative business opportunities, especially if they require financial data, money transfers, large up-front investments, or promises of confidentiality.

There are known cases of foreigners' credit card numbers being sent abroad and their accounts accessed without their knowledge. U.S. citizens have also reported their credit and ATM card numbers stolen after purchases at local stores or withdrawals from ATM machines in The Gambia.

For additional information, please consult the Department of State's publication, Advance Fee Business Scams, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov .



Source: U.S. Department of State

tropical; hot, rainy season (June to November); cooler, dry season (November to May)

Source: CIA World Factbook

Gambia's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.

To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required, as is evidence of yellow fever vaccination. Travelers are urged to obtain the latest information on customs and entry requirements from the Embassy of The Gambia, 1156 15th Street, N.W., Suite 905, Washington, D.C. 20005, tel. (202) 785-1399 and 1359; from the Permanent Mission of The Gambia to the U.N. at 820 Second Avenue, Suite 900-C, New York, N.Y. 10071, tel. (212) 949-6640; at the Gambia Tourism Authority's official web site, http://www.visitthegambia.gm; or the Government of The Gambia's website at www.gambia.com. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Gambian embassy or consulate.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.



Source: U.S. Department of State

The time zone for Gambia is 0 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Gambia would be 5:00 pm

The unit of currency in Gambia is the dalasi (GMD).

Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter

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