Every year, thousands of international visitors come to The Gambia, drawn by its beaches, birds, sunshine, and the country's biggest asset: the Gambian people, whose hospitality and friendliness have made it "The Smiling Coast." Tourism has become the fastest-growing sector of the economy. More and more visitors are returning year after year.
The Gambia's history is marked by almost as much cultural diversity as its current population.
The Gambia lies at the southern edge of the Sahel and is made up of mostly savannah and open woodland vegetation.
Eight different ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Mandinkas, traditionally farmers, the Fulani, traditionally herders, and the Wollof, mainly traders, live peacefully together in The Gambia. Though each group speaks its own language, English is commonly spoken and is the official language of the country .Not only is there no ethnic strife in The Gambia but there is increasing cultural interaction and intermarriage, making the country a West African melting pot.
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The Gambia has a strong musical tradition, often associated with weddings, feast-days such as the end of Ramadan, or Christmas. Traditional instruments include the kora (lute ), bala (xylophone ), and the tama (hand-held drum). Though the majority of the population is Muslim, Christmas brings a celebration with large lanterns called fanals, often in the shape of boats or houses and intricately decorated.
BasseThe Gambia's easternmost town, Basse is a lively settlement with trading houses from the turn of the century, shops, and a riverside market. For hikers and explorers, the town is a good starting point for trips to the interior.
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