The Gambia has no important mineral or other natural resources and has a limited agricultural base. About 75% of the population depends on crops and livestock for its livelihood. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. Re-export trade normally constitutes a major segment of economic activity, but the 50% devaluation of the CFA franc in January 1994 made Senegalese goods more competitive and hurt the re-export trade. The Gambia has benefited from a rebound in tourism after its decline in response to the military's takeover in July 1994.
Current GDP per capita of The Gambia registered a peak growth of 23.3% in the Seventies. But this proved unsustainable and it consequently shrank by 8.30% in the Eighties and a further 5.20% in the Nineties.
Tourism in this country has three major strands. There is the traditional "sun, sea and sex" holiday making use of the hot climate and wonderful beaches. The Gambia is also usually the first African destination for many European birders, in view of its easily accessed and spectacular avian fauna. There are also a significant number of African-Americans tracing their roots in this country, from which so many Africans were taken during the slave trade.
The tourist season is the dry season, during the Northern Hemisphere winter.
Short-run economic progress remains highly dependent on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid and on responsible government economic management as forwarded by IMF technical help and advice.
This is a chart of trend of gross domestic product of Gambia at market prices estimated by the International Monetary Fund with figures in millions of Dalasi (currency used in Gambia).
For purchasing power parity comparisons, the US Dollar is exchanged at 4.35 Dalasi only.
The Gambia's economy is characterized by traditional subsistence agriculture, a historic reliance on peanuts or groundnuts for export earnings, a re-export trade built up around its ocean port, low import duties, minimal administrative procedures, a fluctuating exchange rate with no exchange controls, and a significant tourism industry. Average wages in 2007 hover around $1-2 per day.
Agriculture accounts for 23% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 75% of the labor force. Within agriculture, peanut production accounts for 5.3% of GDP, other crops 8.3%, livestock 4.4%, fishing 1.8%, and forestry 0.5%. Industry accounts for 12% of GDP and forestry 0.5%. Manufacturing accounts for 6% of GDP. The limited amount of manufacturing is primarily agriculturally based (e.g., peanut processing, bakeries, a brewery, and a tannery). Other manufacturing activities include soap, soft drinks, and clothing. Services account for 19% of GDP.
In FY 1999 the UK and other EU countries were The Gambia's major domestic export markets, accounting for 86% in total; followed by Asia at 14%; and the African subregion, including Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, and Ghana at 8%. The U.K. and the other EU countries--namely, Germany, France, Netherlands, and Belgium--were the major source of imports accounting for 60% of the total share of imports followed by Asia at 23%, and Cote d'Ivoire and other African countries at 17%. The Gambia reports 11% of its exports going to and 14.6% of its imports coming from the United States.
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