Have you ever wondered why somecountries, such as The Gambia are prefixed with “the”? Why is it not simply called Gambia, like other nations?

The Gambia is one of only two countries that can officially have ‘the’ attached to its name. The second country is The Bahamas.

If you have been wondering, wonder no more.

There are two reasons why ‘the’ is put in front of Gambia.

The first reason

When the country was first explored by the Portuguese they named the country A Gambie, after The River Gambia. This was directly translated to The Gambia. When the English came, they simply took over the phrase, naming ‘the’ in front of a noun so long as it is after a river or mountain.

The second reason

In 1964, a year before the country gained independence, the prime minister wrote to the Permanent Committee on Geographcal Names (the organisation that looks after geographical names around the world) asking that they continue to be called The Gambia to avoid being confused with Zambia.

The Gambia is currently embroiled in a political crisis following the refusal of its sitting president, Yahya Jammeh, to step down for the president-elect Adama Barrow.

Jammeh has refused to accept the December 1, 2016 presidential election result which saw Barrow defeat him. He is supposed to hand over power to the president-elect on Thursday, January 19 but has insisted that he will remain in power in spite of moves by ECOWAS to mediate.

 Troops from Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and Togo have massed at the borders of Senegal, waiting for a green light to intervene and unseat Jammeh.
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