The Republic of Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa. It has a short coastline along the Atlantic Ocean to the west and shares its borders with Senegal. The Gambia is closely associated with the Gambia River, a major river in Africa that flows through the center of the country and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Though the Gambia is small, it is also one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Its capital, Banjul, is the commercial and transportation center. The economy of Gambia largely relies on agriculture. Its main product is peanuts. The Gambia also has a booming tourism sector.
The Gambia shares strong historical ties to Senegal and the region was called Senegambia. The Gambia officially separated from Senegal, which became a part of France, when it became a protectorate of the British Empire in 1894. The Gambia achieved independence as a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth in February 1965. After a second referendum, the Gambia became a republic. It briefly reunited with Senegal to form the Senegambia Confederation from 1982 to 1989. It also left the Commonwealth in 2013. After five years, the Gambia officially rejoined the Commonwealth in 2018.
The Gambia uses the dalasi as its official currency. One dalasi is equivalent to 100 butut. The word dalasi is derived from the word dollar. The Gambia adopted the dalasi in 1971. In the same year, the Central Bank of Gambia took over the responsibilities and authority of the Gambia Currency Board.
The portrait of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, the first president of Gambia, was featured in all dalasi banknotes from the start of his administration in 1971 until its violent end in 1994. Early dalasi notes also featured different economic activities at the back of the notes. The Central Bank released a commemorative 1 dalasi note in 1978 to mark the official opening of its headquarters in Banjul.
Two years after the end of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara’s administration in 1994, the Central Bank introduced “family issue” notes. These notes had upgraded security and featured a typical Gambian citizen and a native bird in front and landmarks at the back. In 2015, the portraits of Gambian citizens were replaced by President Yahya Jammeh, the lieutenant who led the coup against the Jawara government. The 200 dalasi note was introduced and the 20 dalasi note replaced the 25 dalasi note in the same year. In 2019, the Central Bank introduced a new family of banknotes that removed portraits of people. Instead, the front side only featured indigenous birds. These notes also had upgraded security features.