Gambia The People - 2023


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese


2,468,569 (2023 est.)


noun: Gambian(s)

adjective: Gambian

Ethnic groups

Mandinka/Jahanka 33.3%, Fulani/Tukulur/Lorobo 18.2%, Wolof 12.9%, Jola/Karoninka 11%, Serahuleh 7.2%, Serer 3.5%, other 4%, non-Gambian 9.9% (2019-20 est.)


English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula, other indigenous vernaculars


Muslim 96.4%, Christian 3.5%, other or none 0.1% (2019-20 est.)

Demographic profile

The Gambia’s youthful age structure – approximately 55% of the population is under the age of 25 as of 2021 – is likely to persist because the country’s total fertility rate remains strong at nearly 4 children per woman. The overall literacy rate is around 50%, and is significantly lower for women than for men. At least 70% of the populace are farmers who are reliant on rain-fed agriculture and cannot afford improved seeds and fertilizers. Crop failures caused by droughts between 2011 and 2013 increased poverty, food shortages, and malnutrition.

The Gambia is a source country for migrants and a transit and destination country for migrants and refugees. Since the 1980s, economic deterioration, drought, and high unemployment, especially among youths, have driven both domestic migration (largely urban) and migration abroad (legal and illegal). Emigrants are largely skilled workers, including doctors and nurses, and provide a significant amount of remittances. The top receiving countries for Gambian emigrants are Spain, the US, Nigeria, Senegal, and the UK. While the Gambia and Spain do not share historic, cultural, or trade ties, rural Gambians have migrated to Spain in large numbers because of its proximity and the availability of jobs in its underground economy (this flow slowed following the onset of Spain’s late 2007 economic crisis).

The Gambia’s role as a host country to refugees is a result of wars in several of its neighboring West African countries. Since 2006, refugees from the Casamance conflict in Senegal have replaced their pattern of flight and return with permanent settlement in The Gambia, often moving in with relatives along the Senegal-Gambia border. The strain of providing for about 7,400 Casamance refugees increased poverty among Gambian villagers. The number of refugees decreased to around 3,500 by 2022.

Age structure

0-14 years: 38.86% (male 484,113/female 475,134)

15-64 years: 57.57% (male 700,049/female 721,057)

65 years and over: 3.57% (2023 est.) (male 38,954/female 49,262)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 85

youth dependency ratio: 80.5

elderly dependency ratio: 4.5

potential support ratio: 22.2 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 21.8 years

male: 21.5 years

female: 22.2 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

2.23% (2023 est.)

Birth rate

28.03 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Death rate

5.71 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Population distribution

settlements are found scattered along the Gambia River; the largest communities, including the capital of Banjul, and the country's largest city, Serekunda, are found at the mouth of the Gambia River along the Atlantic coast as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 64.5% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 3.75% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

481,000 BANJUL (capital) (2023)

note: includes the local government areas of Banjul and Kanifing

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

20.7 years (2019/20 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

458 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 36.44 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 39.92 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 32.86 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 67.98 years

male: 66.26 years

female: 69.75 years (2023 est.)

Total fertility rate

3.66 children born/woman (2023 est.)

Gross reproduction rate

1.8 (2023 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

18.9% (2019/20)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 91.8% of population

rural: 85.7% of population

total: 89.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 8.2% of population

rural: 14.3% of population

total: 10.5% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

2.6% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.08 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Hospital bed density

1.1 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 75.8% of population

rural: 33.6% of population

total: 60% of population

unimproved: urban: 24.2% of population

rural: 66.4% of population

total: 40% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

respiratory diseases: meningococcal meningitis

note: on 22 March 2023, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa; The Gambia is currently considered a high risk to travelers for circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV); vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus; this means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, the CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

10.3% (2016)

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 2.67 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.21 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.02 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 2.44 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

Tobacco use

total: 11.1% (2020 est.)

male: 21.4% (2020 est.)

female: 0.8% (2020 est.)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

11.6% (2019/20)

Currently married women (ages 15-49)

60.9% (2023 est.)

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 7.5%

women married by age 18: 25.7%

men married by age 18: 0.2% (2020 est.)

Education expenditures

2.8% of GDP (2020 est.)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 58.1%

male: 65.2%

female: 51.2% (2021)

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 15.5%

male: 11.4%

female: 20.5% (2021 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Gambia The on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Gambia The 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Gambia The 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.