Gambia Religion

Almost all Gambians are Sunni Muslims and most belong to some Muslim Brotherhood. The rest of the residents are mainly Christian, while a small group practices traditional natural religions.

Islam came to the Gambia in the 11th century with Berber merchants from southern Mauritania. Among Christians, most are Catholics, but there are also Protestant communities. There are often elements of traditional indigenous religious practice even in Gambians who profess Islam or Christianity.

The Gambia has no state religion. Freedom of religion prevails and is respected by the authorities. Religious organizations do not need to register with the authorities. The Supreme Muslim Council (Sic) is independent and advises the government on religious issues.

Religion is central to most Gambians’ everyday lives. At the same time, tolerance is high between the various religious groups and marriages across religious boundaries are common. Both Muslim and Christian holidays are observed in the country.

However, Gambians who do not belong to Sunni Islam appear to be discriminated against. Tensions prevail, among other things, between Sunni Muslims and Ahmadiyya Muslims, whom Sic does not believe belong to Islam.

In 2015, then-President Yahya Jammeh proclaimed Gambia an Islamic republic. However, the decision was repealed after the change of power in 2016. New President Adama Barrow has since stated that the Gambia should be a secular state and that religious freedom should be respected. President’s Youth Movement Barrow Youth Movement has said it will build 60 new mosques in the country, which has been criticized for blurring the border between the state and religion.

Gambia Population Pyramid 2020

  • Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Gambia, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.



The Election Commission prepares Jammeh’s protest

December 29

President Jammeh decides to reopen the Election Commission’s office. He says the closure a few weeks earlier was due to “security reasons”. The members of the Election Commission can now prepare for Jammeh’s protest against the election results to be admitted in the Supreme Court on January 10. The president has appointed six new foreign judges, who together with a Gambian judge, will decide the case.

Jammeh refuses to leave

December 21

President Jammeh says he does not intend to follow Ecowa’s call to leave his post. At the same time, representatives of the opposition alliance certify that Jammeh will not risk prosecution if he resigns properly and that Adama Barrow will treat him with respect and ask him for advice after a change of power.

The US ambassador is declared undesirable

December 19

President Jammeh orders the US Gambia ambassador, Omar Faye, to leave the country after a letter urging him to resign and accept the election results.

Barrow is preparing to take over in January

December 15

Adama Barrow says he plans to take over the presidential post on January 18. In an interview with the British BBC, he emphasized that Jammeh will not be prosecuted if the change of power is carried out properly. He also rejects the idea of ​​a military intervention from neighboring countries.

Delegation from neighboring countries is trying to mediate

13th of December

The Presidents of Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone and the UN envoy for West Africa travel to Banjul to mediate in the crisis, but they fail to make Jammeh change. A representative of Ecowas says it is not ruled out to send troops to the Gambia if the situation in the country worsens. The president’s party APRC appeals the election results to the Supreme Court. At the same time, soldiers occupy the Electoral Commission headquarters. The army chief who had previously expressed his support for Barrow also seems to have changed his mind and now supports Jammeh.

The UN calls on Jammeh to respect the election results

December 12

The UN Security Council calls on President Jammah to respect the election results. Ecowa’s chairman Ellen Johnson Sirleaf expresses fears that Jammeh risks peace in the country if he does not accept the election result, and that he should do his best to ensure a smooth change of power. Similar noises are heard from AU and several other places. Adama Barrow Meanwhile, new signs of concern are emerging in the country. In Banjul, soldiers begin to stack sandbags along a strategic highway.

Jammeh is changing

December 9

President Jammeh now claims that the election was not properly conducted due to mistakes made by the electoral authority and demands that it therefore be redone. He claims that many of his followers had been prevented from voting. He does it in a way that sounds threatening. Out of concern that something will happen to Barrow, a number of volunteers have gathered around his home to offer him protection. Senegal turns to the UN Security Council and calls on it to address the situation in The Gambia. Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye at the same time calls on Jammeh to respect the election results. He also demanded that the regime guarantee the safety of all Senegalese living in the Gambia.

Conversion gives a narrow margin of victory

December 6

The votes are recalculated due to a mistake in a region. This means that all three candidates lose votes and Barrow’s victory margin decreases, he now gets about 43 percent of the vote, against almost 40 percent for Jammeh and 17 percent for Kandeh. Voter turnout is also written down, to 59 percent.

Political prisoners are released on bail

December 5

Opposition leader Ousainou Darboe and 18 other political activists are released on bail. Darboe had planned to run in the presidential election, but could not run for office because he was in prison. (5/12)

Opposition wins in presidential election, Jammeh admits defeated

December 2

Opposition candidate Adama Barrow wins in the presidential election with just over 45 percent of the vote ahead of Jammeh with almost 37 percent and Mamma Kandeh with about 18 percent. Jammeh admits to being defeated even before the election results have been officially presented. He promises to assist the successor in facilitating the change of power in January 2017. Election’s winner is a businessman in the real estate industry and lacks previous political experience. In Banjul, opposition supporters celebrate and shout “we are free. We are not slaves anymore”.


“I have modernized the country”

November 29th

In a speech before the December 1 presidential election, President Jammeh says he has transformed the Gambia from the Stone Age level into a modern country. He points, among other things, to progress in education and care, with free schooling and free maternity care. At the same time, human rights groups accuse the regime of having harassed the opposition during the electoral movement. A small group from AU is monitoring the election. The EU has wanted to send observers, but the regime says no. During Election Day, the authorities prohibit all Internet communications and all international telephone calls. A demonstration ban is also introduced around the election.

Jammeh is running for president for the fifth time

November 10

Jammeh announces that he will run for office in December. It will be his fifth time attending. Another candidate has signed up, Mama Kandeh, who previously belonged to the ruling party. Kandeh is accused of standing just to split the opposition.

Touray supports Barrow in the presidential election

November 5

Isatou Touray jumps off the presidential election. She says she will instead work for Barrow to be elected.


Barrow challenges Jammeh in the presidential election

October 30th

There will be a political newcomer, businessman Adama Barrow, who will be the opposition candidate in the presidential election later this year. Barrow leaves the United Democratic Party (UDP) to represent all seven parties in the opposition alliance.

The Gambia announces exit from the ICC

October 25th

The Gambia announces that the country intends to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), citing that everyone who has been charged so far comes from Africa.

The opposition agrees on joint presidential candidate

15 October

Ahead of the December presidential election, the opposition parties manage to agree on a single candidate. Who will be decided at a meeting on October 30.


Coup-condemned ex-military becomes new interior minister

September 20

President Jammeh dismisses Interior Minister Ousman Sonko and announces that Momodou Alieu Bah will be the new Interior Minister. Bah has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for a coup attempt in 2006, but was released after testifying in the trial against the army chief.

Barrow and Touray are running for president

September 3

For the first time, a woman will stand in a Gambian presidential election: Isatou Touray, an expert on development issues who has been campaigning against female genital mutilation. She promises to create new jobs, among other things by trying to get Gambians abroad to return home, and she accuses President Jammeh of living a luxury life while leading one of Africa’s poorest countries. The opposition party UDP has also appointed its candidate, the relatively unknown businessman Adama Barrow.


Opposition politicians are arrested again

GDC politician Tina Faal is arrested again at the beginning of the month, and is being held in custody until at the end of agusti is released again against bail.


Opposition politicians are arrested

Tina Faal, from the newly formed party GDC (see May 2016) is arrested and charged with, among other things, embezzlement. She is later released on bail.

Eleven UDP members are sentenced to long prison terms

July 21st

Eleven members or sympathizers of the UDP are convicted of illegal meeting, rioting and conspiracy to have participated in the demonstration in April. Each is sentenced to seven points and sentenced to a total of 18 years in prison and fines. For the time being, it is unclear whether the sentence should be served at the same time, which for most would mean three years. Another 21 supporters of UDP are facing trial.

Prison for UDP leader Darboe

July 20

UDP leader Ousainou Darboe and 17 other people are each sentenced to three years in prison for organizing an illegal demonstration (see April 2016). However, they are exempted from the charge of being turned into violence.

Child marriage is prohibited

July 6

President Jammeh orders Parliament to ban girls under 18 from marrying within two weeks. Prison for up to 21 years awaits the men who marry girls and parents who give their consent to child marriage (see also Social conditions). As expected, Parliament follows the President’s directive.


“Sandeng has died in custody”

June 20

UDP politician Solo Sandeng’s lawyer says the authorities have admitted that the opposition activist died when he was in their custody. But nothing is said about the circumstances surrounding his death.

Amnesty criticizes Gambia

June 2

Human rights organization Amnesty International calls on Ecowas to exclude Gambia if the country does not release dozens of political prisoners. According to Amnesty, 51 people are awaiting trial after being arrested in April. The organization describes how opposition politicians, journalists and activists live in a state of terror before the December elections. President Jammeh also said in an interview that it is “common” for people to die in detention or during interrogations.


A new opposition party is formed

May 26

A new opposition party, the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC), is founded by dissatisfied members of the ruling APRC. It says it wants to pursue a social democratic policy.

Border block is lifted

May 25

The border crossings between Senegal and Gambia are reopened after a three-month blockade. The stalemate is lifted after negotiations between the two countries’ governments. New talks on the border conflict are scheduled for July.

More opposition activists are arrested

Representatives of the UDP say that dozens of their members have been apprehended by law enforcement officers after following the lawsuit against a party mate.


The charge against arrested opposition politicians is being expanded

April 29

Prosecutors in the case against UDP leader Darboe and others add a new charge: “conspiracy to commit a crime”. The defendants plead not guilty.

Oppositionists are being indicted for protest

April 21

36 people are being prosecuted on April 21, including Darboe, for riots and illegal protests. Human Rights Watch demands that the arrested be released and the UN calls on the Gambian authorities to investigate the circumstances surrounding Sandeng’s death. It is uncertain what has happened to the two women who were arrested and abducted at the same time as Sandeng. Minister of Information Sherrif Bojang confirms that the demonstrations have been held, but says nothing about any deaths in the detention.

Opposition leaders are arrested

UDP leader Ousainou Darboe and several of his party mates protest against the treatment of Sandeng and the other protesters and are arrested on April 16 together with three party comrades.

Opposition protest is turned down

A dozen activists from the UDP Youth Union demand a peaceful demonstration in Banjul’s political reforms and President Jammeh resigns. According to witnesses, both police and security services intervene with brutal methods and protesters are beaten and arrested, but it is unclear where they are being conducted. Later it is announced that UDP politician Solo Sandeng, who has long had a leading role within the party, has died in custody. Fatoumata Jawara, the leader of the youth federation, is also believed to be seriously injured.


Truck blockage creates shortage of goods

The Gambia’s decision to raise the fees for trucks that cross the Senegal border with 100 percent raises protests. Several truck drivers position their cars to block the border crossing, thus obstructing all commercial traffic. They also object to the border crossing being closed from seven in the evening to seven in the morning. Commodity shortages occur on both sides of the border. Similar blockades have occurred in the past. Plans have been in place for many years to build a bridge across the Gambia River to facilitate transport.


Crafting is lifted

A statement says that women are President Jammeh’s “best friends” and that the injunction to wear veils is abolished because it has “made them unhappy”.

Gambia Religion