Gambia refers to an African river as well as to the country that took its name from one of West Africa's important waterways. Surrounded on three sides by French-speaking Senegal, The Gambia's political borders enclose the lower half of a river that begins in the highlands of Guinea and cuts a swath through the country before emptying into the Atlantic. About the size of Connecticut, The Gambia is one of Africa's smallest nations. It is just 15 to 30 miles (24 to 48 kilometers) wide and less than 300 miles (483 kilometers) long. In this Lilliputian political entity, one is never far from the Gambia River, its most outstanding geographical feature.

Nearly 50 years before Columbus crossed the Atlantic, Portuguese sailors entered the Gambia River, making ...

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