Independence Day in Gambia

Celebrated annually in the Republic of The Gambia, Independence Day is a holiday that falls on February 18th. This holiday commemorates the day the country gained its independence from Great Britain in 1965. The main celebration for this holiday takes place in the capital city of Banjul, but there are smaller celebrations observed all around the country.

At McCarthy Square in Banjul, there is a parade that features members of the military, teachers, civil servants, and even school children. This parade marches right past The Gambia’s President and other important dignitaries in the country. Food is also an important part of the celebrations, with many people enjoying dishes such as Benachin, Base Nyebe, and Cherreh.

The History of Independence Day in The Gambia

The Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa and is located on the continent’s west coast. It was first colonized by the Portuguese during the mid-15th century and soon became a hub for the African slave trade.

At the end of the 16th century, Portugal sold trade rights to the region to the British, and this began a period of British control. In 1889, The Gambia became a British Protectorate. On February 18, 1965, The Gambia achieved independence as a constitutional monarchy.

Observing Independence Day in The Gambia

This holiday is observed with a parade at McCarthy Square in the capital city of Banjul, as well as parades and marches around the rest of the country. People also get together with friends and family members and enjoy traditional dishes such as Jollof Rice—a mixture of rice, meat, and vegetables cooked in a tomato purée.

Other dishes include Domodah (chicken stewed in groundnut butter and served with rice), and Chura-Gerteh (a sweet porridge made of groundnuts and rice and served with yogurt). People also use this day off to do a little bit of traveling as well.

Where is it celebrated?
Gambia (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
February 18 Sunday
Next year (2025)
February 18 Tuesday
Last year (2023)
February 18 Saturday