The Gambia is called “The Smiling Coast”, it is a friendly, peaceful country with very little crime or trouble.
Crime and punishment
The only thing that is likely to trouble you in The Gambia is that the people there are too friendly and too keen to be your friend so that they might get the chance of helping you and being rewarded by maybe a few Dalasi or a pair of your old trainers.
People often ask if it is dangerous in The Gambia. The social and legal pressures in The Gambia are very strong. If anybody does wrong in the country they are first reprimanded by their family, then they are ridiculed and made to be ashamed in the local community, and then finally the local police will provide what is literally the heavy hand of the law on them in the form of a good hiding, or a night in the local jail, before they are then passed onto the country’s legal system to be tried and sentenced.
Since everyone knows everyone in the community (and seems to be related distantly to each other) then these social and legal frameworks work very well at dissuading anyone from doing wrong. The best way to confront anyone who you feel is doing wrong is to confront them politely. If someone is hassling you, you have to politely ask them to stop.
It would be wrong to suggest that there is no crime in The Gambia. The majority of people in The Gambia do not get paid work, they reply on family members with an education that do get paid work. To aspire to earn £25 in 1 month would satisfy anyone not in work. So it is fair to say that chancing themselves with a tourist to acquire that sort of money would be a lucrative thing to do. Just bear in mind that the thought of getting caught doing anything wrong far out ways the benefit they get.
The biggest worry for new comers to The Gambia is the mosquito and the malaria parasite. If you want to be sure, you should take antimalarial tablets before you arrive.
Although inoculations are not compulsory for entry from the EU, certain medication, including anti-malarial tablets, Yellow Fever, hepatitis and typhoid vaccinations will be recommended (a Yellow Fever certificate is not required for entry into The Gambia). Please ensure you consult your GP or health clinic prior to travel, who will advise on recommended inoculations and prescribe anti-malarial drugs.
We advise that you bring medicines to treat dehydration, small ailments, stomach upsets, insect bites and cuts, along with mosquito repellent and high factor sun creams.
Up to date advice can also be found from the World Health Organisation at www.who.int/ith and the Department of Health leaflet ‘Health Advice to Travellers’ is available from your GP, travel agent or can be downloaded at www.dh.gov.uk.
A tick list of medication you could take with you to The Gambia
- Malaria medication
- Dioralytes/rehydration salts
- Antiseptic cream
- Mosquito repellent
- High factor sun creams
- Cream for insect bites