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Living in Gambia
A practical guide to the way of life in Gambia
The Republic of Gambia is the smallest country within the mainland of Africa, and is also sometimes known as The Gambia. This small county grew up around the Gambia River and today has fewer than two million inhabitants. Find out more about life in Gambia in this guide, from healthcare to transportation.
Life in Gambia
Healthcare in Gambia
Malaria is present throughout the year in all areas, so it is important for expatriates living in Gambia to be vaccinated and take precautions. Medical facilities are limited and there is a far greater expenditure on private healthcare than there is on public, with private clinics only seeing fee-paying patients.
Some prescription and even over-the-counter drugs are illegal in Gambia, including codeine and diazepam, which are popular in other countries, so it is important for expats to be aware of what they may bring into the country. It is also a good idea for expats to always keep prescription drugs in their original packaging, along with the prescription.
Education in Gambia
Since 1998, the first six years of schooling for children in Gambia have been made both compulsory and free. Due to a lack of resources, this has not been fully executed, however, but the enrollment rate has risen. As part of this reform of the education system in Gambia, the school start age was lowered to seven years, more unqualified teachers received training and many more text books were made available. The system is basically based on the British system, with six years of primary schooling, three years of junior school, another three of secondary or senior schooling, and four years of university.
The University of Gambia is the only university in the country and comprises a number of faculties including arts and sciences, agriculture and environment, engineering and architecture and information technology. There are more vocational options other than university, as well, with technical college being one route. Here, students can gain qualifications in nursing, teaching or farming. Expatriates who will be living in Gambia with children can also choose from a number of international schools, ranging from primary through to senior education, with a variety of curricula including French and American.
Transportation in Gambia
Expatriates can arrive in Gambia by air, sea or road. There is an international airport in Yundum, which is around 26 km from the capital city of Banjul. There is a national flag carrier airline, Gambia International Airlines, however, they only provide ground services at the airport. Gambia Bird is a second airline operating in the country, but most flights are operated by foreign air carriers, typically Brussels Air.
There is over 2,500 km of road network, most of which is unpaved. During the rainy season, some of the road network becomes unusable, and expats should take care when driving. Naturally, for a country entirely centered around a river, water travel is popular. There are around 390 km of waterways in the country, which offer both commercial and public use. Oceangoing vessels can travel over 200 km upstream, making Gambia an option for cruise travel. Ferries also operate across the river from Banjul to Barra and back.
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