The Gambia, officially the Republic of The Gambia, is the smallest country within mainland Africa and is situated on both sides of the lower reaches of the Gambia River, from which the nation takes its name.
An agreement with the French Republic in 1889 established the country’s present boundaries and The Gambia officially became a British Crown colony called British Gambia.
The Gambia achieved independence on 18th February 1965, as a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth, with HM Elizabeth II as Queen of the Gambia, represented by the Governor-General.
Shortly afterwards, the national government held a referendum proposing that the country become a republic. This referendum failed to receive the two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution at that time, but the results won widespread attention internationally as a testimony to the Gambia’s observance of secret balloting, honest elections, civil rights, and liberties.
Thereafter, on 24th April 1970, The Gambia did become a republic within the Commonwealth, following a second referendum.
Prime Minister Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara then assumed office as the nation’s first President, an executive post combining the offices of Head of State and Head of Government, and was subsequently re-elected five times.