Country Description: The Gambia is a developing country in West Africa. Facilities for tourism in Banjul are good, but are limited in availability and quality outside the capital.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport and visa are required. Travelers are urged to obtain the latest information on customs and entry requirements from the Embassy of The Gambia, Suite 1000, 1155 15th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005, telephone (202) 785-1399 and 1359; or from the Permanent Mission of The Gambia to the U.N. at 820 Second Avenue, Suite 900-C, New York, N.Y. 10071, telephone (212) 949-6640. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Gambian embassy or consulate.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: The Gambia completed a transition from military to civilian rule with presidential elections in September 1996 and parliamentary elections in January 1997. Travelers should nonetheless avoid political gatherings or demonstrations and not photograph airports or military installations. Be prepared to stop at all roadblocks or road checkpoints.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are limited and some medicines are unavailable. Doctors and hospitals often expect cash payment for health care services. Travelers should bring their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid or accepted outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. Travelers have found supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas and medical evacuation coverage to be useful. For additional health information, travelers can contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559. Internet:

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Petty street crime is on the rise. Be careful of pickpockets and the crowded market areas and on ferries. Do not leave packages or luggage unattended in taxis. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa" provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Road Safety and In-Country Travel: Although the main roads are paved in the greater Banjul area, due to narrow, pot-holed, poorly lit streets, drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution to avoid accidents. Almost all roads outside the capital are not paved and traveling is difficult because of road conditions, particularly during the rainy season, June through October. The U.S. Embassy urges visitors driving up country to travel with a recognized travel guide. Travelers should be cautious of individuals who persistently offer unsolicited help.

Import/Export Restrictions: The Gambia has strict laws on the import/export of skin bleaching creams and some medications. Visitors arriving with substances containing hydroquinone, hydrocortisone, betamethasone, flucinonide, clobestatol or clobestatone are subject to fines up to $2,000 and/or three years imprisonment. Airport police and customs officials routinely inspect incoming and outgoing luggage. For a complete list of prohibited items, contact the nearest Gambian embassy or consulate.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Aviation Oversight: As a result of an assessment conducted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in November 1994, the FAA has found the Government of The Gambia's civil aviation authority to not be in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of the Gambia's air carrier operations. Operations to the U.S. by The Gambia's air carriers are not permitted unless they arrange to have their flights conducted by a carrier from a country meeting international aviation safety standards. The Department of Defense does not permit U.S. military personnel to use carriers from The Gambia for official business except in extenuating circumstances. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation at 1-800-322-7873.

Embassy Location/Registration: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Banjul upon arrival and to obtain updated information on travel and security in The Gambia. The U.S. Embassy is located on Kairaba Avenue in Fajara, a suburb of the capital city of Banjul. The mailing address is P.M.B. No. 19, Banjul, The Gambia. The telephone numbers are (220) 392856, 392858 or 391971.

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