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Saturday, January 10, 2009


Although The Gambia is mainland Africa's smallest nation, it is scenically varied, with sandy beaches, lush tropical forests, swamps, marshes and large areas of wooded savannah. The River Gambia, one of Africa's great waterways, dominates the country.The Gambia is a birdwatcher's paradise, with over 540 different species. While the country's parks, reserves and up-country villages are a major draw for ecotourists and those interested in African culture, for many visitors it is the country's pleasant tropical climate and relaxing beach resorts which are the star attraction.The area around the River Gambia, known to the Carthaginians in the fifth century BC, subsequently became part of several successive African empires. During the colonial period, several European powers contested for ownership of the river and the rich trade which it carried. Britain eventually gained control of the lowest reaches, establishing an enclave in the surrounding French territories of Senegal and a useful base from which to launch attacks on French trading settlements.The Gambia was Britain's first and last colony, being officially colonised in 1765 and gaining independence 200 years later in February 1965. Since then, the country has enjoyed long spells of stability; unfortunately this has yet to translate into prosperity for its inhabitants.