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Independence Day
Gambia

Independence Day 2019 and 2020

Independence Day is kept in a big way in Gambia every 18 February.

YearDateDayHoliday
201918 FebMonIndependence Day
202018 FebTueIndependence Day

Gambian Independence Day looks back to 18 February, 1965, when it became the last colony in all British Africa to be “set free”. Gambia had also been the first possession of Britain in Africa, though it had earlier been ruled by both France and Portugal for a total of some 300 years of colonial domination.

Due to its strategic location at the mouth of the Gambia River on the northwestern African coast, Gambia was long a stronghold of the African slave trade. But when slavery was outlawed by Britain, it became a central base from which illegal slave trading was combated.

In 1963, the UK allowed Gambia internal self-rule, before granting full independence two years later. The transition was 100 percent peaceful.

From 1962 until 1994, the dominant voice in Gambian politics was Dawda Jawara. During Jawara’s stint as president from 1970 to 1994. For seven years during that time, Jawara joined Gambia in a confederation with Senegal called “Sene-gambia”. But that was dissolved in 1989 and Jawara was overthrown in a coup in 1994.

The main Independence Day events in Gambia are held in Banjul, the capital. A military and civilian parade occur in McCarthy Square, and the president and other high government officials are present.

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