Banjul

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Banjul (formerly Bathurst), officially the City of Banjul, is the capital of The Gambia, and is in the division of the same name. The population of the city proper is only 34,828, with the Greater Banjul Area, which includes the City of Banjul and the Kanifing Municipal Council, at a population of 357,238 (2003 census).[1] Banjul is on St Mary's Island (Banjul Island), where the Gambia River enters the Atlantic Ocean. The island is connected to the mainland — by passenger and vehicle ferries to the north and by bridges to the south.

Contents

Etymology

Banjul takes its name from the Mandé people who gathered specific fibres on the island, which were used in the manufacture of ropes. Bang julo is the mandinka (Mande) word for fibre. The mispronounciation led to the word Banjul.

History

In 1651 Banjul was leased by the Duke of Courland from the king of Kombo, as part of Courland colonization.[2]

In 1816, the British founded Banjul as a trading post and base for suppressing the slave trade. The British renamed the Banjul Island to St. Mary and first named Bathurst after Henry Bathurst, the secretary of the British Colonial Office, but was changed to Banjul in 1973.[3]

On July 22, 1994 Banjul was the scene of a bloodless military coup d'état in which President Dawda Jawara was overthrown and replaced by the country's current President Yahya Jammeh. To commemorate this event, Arch 22 was built as an entrance portal to the capital. The gate is 35 metres tall and the centre of an open square. It houses a textile museum.

Attractions in the city include the Gambian National Museum, the Albert Market, Banjul State House, Banjul Court House, African Heritage Museum, two cathedrals and several major mosques.[4]

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