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The Gambia: Banjul

A Gambian toilet with a sign saying 'Customer Satisfaction is Our Concern'
When you enter the Gambia, the sudden switch to English is a pleasant surprise, unlike the inside of this toilet block

I'm a little loath to ascribe such importance to the language barrier when travelling, but it's amazing how much difference crossing the border from Senegal into the Gambia has made. The Gambia – one of the few countries whose official name starts with 'the' – is a long, thin and very small country that follows the bends of the River Gambia due east from the river's mouth on the Atlantic coast, and apart from this coastal region, the country is entirely surrounded by Senegal. From end to end the Gambia is about 300km long but it only averages 35km in width, but even more bizarre is the fact that they speak English here, as it used to be a British colony.

A crowd of people walking onto a ferry
Boarding the ferry that crosses the River Gambia to the capital Banjul

Capital Village

A street in Banjul
A street scene in Banjul: pleasant, hassle-free, clean and friendly

Our first destination was Banjul, capital of the Gambia, though it's hard to believe that this compact town is actually a capital city. The Gambia is a small country but Banjul is tiny, especially by African standards, with only 50,000 inhabitants (the whole county is home to around 1.2 million people). The result is a pleasant, hassle-free city that's clean, friendly and quite unlike large cities like Dakar.