The Gambia ( (listen)), officially the Republic of The Gambia, is a country in West Africa that is almost entirely surrounded by Senegal with the exception of its western coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. It is the smallest country within mainland Africa.
The Gambia is situated on both sides of the lower reaches of the Gambia River, the nation's namesake, which flows through the centre of The Gambia and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. It has an area of 10,689 square kilometres (4,127 sq mi) with a population of 1,857,181 as of the April 2013 census. Banjul is the Gambian capital and the largest cities are Serekunda and Brikama.
The Gambia shares historical roots with many other West African nations in the slave trade, which was the key factor in the placing and keeping of a colony on the Gambia River, first by the Portuguese, during which era it was known as A Gâmbia. Later, on 25 May 1765, The Gambia was made a part of the British Empire when the government formally assumed control, establishing the Province of Senegambia. In 1965, The Gambia gained independence under the leadership of Dawda Jawara, who ruled until Yahya Jammeh seized power in a bloodless 1994 coup. Adama Barrow became The Gambia's third president in January 2017, after defeating Jammeh in December 2016 elections. Jammeh initially accepted the results, then refused to accept them, which triggered a constitutional crisis and military intervention by the Economic Community of West African States, resulting in his exile.
The balafon (bala, balaphone) is a resonated frame, wooden keyed percussion idiophone of West Africa; part of the idiophone family of tuned percussion instruments that includes the xylophone, marimba, glockenspiel, and the vibraphone. Sound is produced by striking the tuned keys with two padded sticks.
Believed to have been developed independently of the Southern African and South American instruments now called the marimba, oral histories of the balafon date it to at least the rise of the Mali Empire in the 12th century CE. Balafon is a Manding name, but variations exist across West Africa, including the Balangi in Sierra Leone and the Gyil of the Dagara, Lobi and Gurunsi from Ghana, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire. similar instruments are played in parts of Central Africa, with the ancient Kingdom of Kongo denoting the instrument as palaku.
Credit: Jeffrey A. Salter
The children of Sir Dawda Elementary School dressed in their best uniforms to show their appreciation for the help of the crewmen from the frigate USS Jesse L. Brown.
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