On a map of West Africa, The Republic of Gambia, the continent’s smallest non-island country (4,127 square miles), looks like a river running down about three quarters of the way across Senegal, on the Atlantic coast, and indeed its name is based on the 700-mile Gambia River. The two countries are so closely associated with one another that they are often referred to as Senegambia, and in fact, they were part of a short-lived confederation from 1982 to 1989. Both countries have large rural populations; share similar ethnic groups of Mandinka, Wolof, Fulani, Diola, and Soninke; and produce peanuts; yet they are strikingly different in that Senegalese are predominantly Muslim and French-speaking whereas Gambians also include some (Roman Catholic) Christians and, as the result of ...

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