Mauritania

Mauritania

Facts & figures

Full name: The Islamic Republic of Mauritania

Population: 3.6 million (UN, 2012)

Capital: Nouakchott

Area: 1.04 million sq km (398,000 sq miles)

Major languages: Arabic (official), French, others

Major religion: Islam

Life expectancy: 57 years (men), 61 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 ouguiya = 5 khoums

Main exports: Fish and fish products, iron ore, gold

GNI per capita: US $1030 (World Bank, 2011)

Internet domain: .mr

International dialling code: +222



Map

Leader

 

President: Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz

Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz took power in a coup in 2008, and was elected president the following year.

He gained another five-year term in June 2014 with almost 82% of the vote in an election boycotted by most of the opposition



Travel

Visa & travel advice

Passports:

A passport valid for at least six months is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above to enter Mauritania.

Visas:

Visas for Mauritania are required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

You must provide an invitation letter with your visa application stating the purpose of your trip.

Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy for visa requirements for Mauritania.

  • Best period

Mauritania’s rainy season lasts from July to September; average rainfall during the year is about 20 to 23 inches (51 to 58.5 centimeters.) The country is also a recipient of the harmattan, a trade wind that blows from the Sahara, bringing with it sand and limited visibility. The best times to visit Mauritania are between March through June, when the weather is generally calmer.

  • Safety

As mentioned before, women should take care not to follow men into enclosed environments, like offices or cars. If you are a woman, make sure you are always in sight of a group or a street.

Because of activity by organizations such as Al-Qaeda, the U.S. Department of State has issued a number of travel warnings for Mauritania. Be careful when traveling across the borders of Western Sahara and Mali as land mines and religious fundamentalist groups are present. Traveling from Morocco to Mauritania is also not advised. Keep apprised of travel warnings before traveling to Mauritania.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has created a security ratings system called the Ibrahim Index, wherein scores are based on each country’s quality of government. Before traveling to Mauritania or anywhere on the continent, check the index and do your research.

History

The original inhabitants of Mauritania were the Bafour, presumably a Mande ethnic group, connected to the contemporary Arabized minor social group of Imraguen ("fishermen") on the Atlantic coast.

The territory of Mauritania was on the fringe of geographical knowledge of Libya in classical antiquity. Berber immigration took place from about the 3rd century. Mauritania takes its name from the ancient Berber kingdom and later Roman province of Mauretania, and thus ultimately from the Mauri people, even though the respective territories do not overlap, historical Mauretania being considerably further north than modern Mauritania.

The Muslim conquest of the Maghreb in the 7th and 8th centuries did not reach as far south, and Islam came to Mauritania only gradually, from about the 11th century, in the context of the wider Islamization of the Sudan and medieval Arab slave trade.


Arts & Culture

  • Music :

The music of Mauritania comes predominantly from the country's largest ethnic group: the Moors. In Moorish society musicians occupy the lowest caste, iggawin. Musicians from this caste used song to praise successful warriors as well as their patrons. Iggawin also had the traditional role of messengers, spreading news between villages. In modern Mauritania, professional musicians are paid by anybody to perform; affluent patrons sometimes record the entertainment, rather than the musicians themselves, and are then considered to own the recording.

 

  • Literature

Mauritania literature focuses on the history, the culture, the beliefs and the religion. There are also a number of scientific books and travel diaries written on the Mauritania desert. From Theodore Monod to Saint-Exupery, this “terre des hommes” has always intrigued writers.

The oral tradition includes epics, storytelling, riddles, puzzles, and Islamic poetry and prose.

 

  • Film industry

 There is no Mauritanian national cinema as such, but a number of Mauritanians are actively involved with cinema, working largely from exile in Europe. The key figure, meriting a place in any list of major African filmmakers, is Med Hondo (b. 1936), who has made a number of documentaries and seven feature-length films in the course of thirty years - Soleil O (1970), The Black Wogs Your Neighbours / Les bicots-nègres vos voisins (1974), We Shall Have the Whole of Death to Sleep / Nous aurons toute la mort pour dormir (1977), West Indies West Indies / Les nègres marrons de la liberté (1979). Sarraounia (1986), Black Light / Lumière noire (1995) and Watani, A World Without Evil / Watani, un monde sans mal (1997).

 

  • Famous monuments

 

Chinguetti City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ksar

 

 

Oualata

 

 

  • Architecture history

Without coherent national planning policies, construction in modern towns and cities is anarchic. Thus, architecture in Nouakchott is a mixture of traditional French concrete building with Spanish and Asian influences. Because of the fragile and sandy terrain, buildings are low.

As a result of drought and the attraction of urban centers, most residents have become totally or party urbanized. Colonization, rapid urbanization, modern education, technology, and mass communication have led to the emergence of two cultures. The modern elite live in Western-style houses, which have replaced thatched-roof houses and tents. Houses are used to shelter extended families and guests. Even in modern houses, there is little furniture and few wall decorations. Many houses have colorful traditional pillows and mats, teapots, trays, and carpets. Mattresses are placed along the walls with traditional pillows. Houses are crowded because of strong family bonds. An urban house normally is open to relatives and friends.

Apart from mosques, government buildings follow Western styles. Some Arab-Berbers put up tents in the courtyards of their villas. Normally, there are no plants inside the house.

 


Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso

Facts & figures

Full name: Burkina Faso

Population: 17.4 million (UN, 2012)

Capital: Ouagadougou

Area: 274,200 sq km (105,870 sq miles)

Major languages: French, indigenous languages

Major religions: Indigenous beliefs, Islam, Christianity

Life expectancy: 55 years (men), 57 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes

Main exports: Cotton, animal products, gold

GNI per capita: US $580 (World Bank, 2011)

Internet domain: .bf

International dialling code: +226

Map



Leader

Blaise Compaore came to power in a coup in 1987. He subsequently won four presidential elections, the latest in November 2010. He is suspected of planning to extend his term in office beyond 2015, and former members of the ruling party in January 2014 formed a political movement to challenge him.





Travel

Visa & travel advice

To make your trip easier and enjoyable, please read carefully the following information.

For visa, the following is required:

A valid passport;

  • Two (2) application forms to be completed and available at the Embassy front desk or on the website;
  • Two (2) passport-size photos.
  • Best period

Burkina Faso has four “seasons.” The early dry season is from September to November; the middle dry season is from December to February, the late dry season is from March to May, and the wet season is from June to September. We recommend going between November and February, when the weather is dry and not too hot, and we discourage you from planning a trip during the late dry season and the start of the wet season before the rains come, as the heat can be intense and very uncomfortable.

  • Safety

Burkina Faso is one of the safest tourist destinations in West Africa, and despite the country’s poverty the people are welcoming and friendly. It is nonetheless important to use common sense and keep valuable belongings safe in crowded areas or when you’re using public forms of transportation. Check out the U.S. Department of State’s consular website for current travel advisories for Burkina Faso.

History

By the 14th century the territory of present-day Burkina Faso was occupied by the Bobo, Lobi, Gourounsi and the Mossi. The Mossi, who now make up almost half of Burkina Faso’s population, founded their first kingdom more than 500 years ago in Ouagadougou. Three more Mossi states ruled over the remainder of the country, known for their devastating attacks against the Muslim empires in Mali.

During the Scramble for Africa in the second half of the 19th century, the French broke up the traditional Mossi states, but French rule in Upper Volta, as Burkina Faso was then known, saw money and resources go elsewhere. By the time that independence came in 1960, Upper Volta was neglected, desperately poor and had become little more than a repository for forced labour.

 

Arts & Culture

  • Music

The music of Burkina Faso includes the folk music of 60 different ethnic groups. The Mossi people, centrally located around the capital, Ouagadougou, account for 40% of the population while, to the south, Gurunsi, Gurma, Dagaaba and Lobi populations, speaking Gur languages closely related to the Mossi language, extend into the coastal states. In the north and east the Fulani of the Sahel preponderate, while in the south and west the Mande languages are common; Samo, Bissa, Bobo, Senufo and Marka. Burkinabé traditional music has continued to thrive and musical output remains quite diverse. Popular music is mostly in French: Burkina Faso has yet to produce a major pan-African success.

  • Literature

Burkinabé literature was originally based around oral tradition. This remains important. In 1934, during French occupation, Dim-Dolobsom Ouedraogo published his Maximes, pensées et devinettes mossi (Maximes, Thoughts and Riddles of the Mossi), a record of the oral history of the Mossi people. The oral tradition continued to have an influence on Burkinabé writers in the post-independence Burkina Faso of the 1960s, such as Nazi Boni and Roger Nikiema. The 1960s saw a growth in the number of playwrights being published. Since the 1970s, literature has developed in Burkina Faso with many more writers being published.

  • Film industry

The cinema of Burkina Faso is an important part of the history of the post-colonial West African and African film industry. Burkina's contribution to African cinema started with the establishment of the film festival FESPACO (Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévison de Ouagadougou), which was launched as a film week in 1969 and gained government support and permanent structures in 1972. It is largest film exhibition venue in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than half a million attendants and takes place in odd numbered years in March. Burkina is also one of the countries producing most feature films in Africa. Many of the nation's filmmakers are known internationally and have won international prizes. For many years the headquarters of the Federation of Panafrican Filmmakers (FEPACI) was in Ouagadougou, rescued in 1983 from a period of moribund inactivity by the enthusiastic support and funding of President Sankara (In 2006 the Secretariat of FEPACI moved to South Africa but the headquarters of the organization is still in Ouagaoudougou). Between 1977 and 1987 Burkina Faso housed a regional film school Institut d'Education Cinématographique de Ouagadougou (INAFEC), which was instigated by FEPACI and funded in part by UNESCO, but eighty percent of its funding came from the government of Burkina Faso (no other African country participated in its funding and few sent students).

In the late 1990s, local private production companies began to proliferate and digital production became increasingly prevalent. By 2002 over twenty-five small production companies existed in the country, many pooling their resources and expertise in order to produce. The best known directors from Burkina Faso are: Mamadou Djim Kola, Gaston Kaboré, Kollo Daniel Sanou, Paul Zoumbara, Emmanuel Kalifa Sanon, Pierre S. Yameogo, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Drissa Toure, Dani Kouyate, and Régina Fanta Nacro. Burkina also produces popular television series such as Bobodjiouf. The internationally known filmmakers such as Ouedraogo, Kabore, Yameogo, and Kouyate make also popular television series.

 

  • Famous places

The amazing Bobo Dioulasso Grand Mosque is impressive representative of the traditional Sudano-Sahelian architecture, most likely - the largest building in this style in Burkina Faso. It was built in the end of the 19th century as a result of political deal between local king and Islamic religious leader.

 

Gaoua is located in the heart of Lobi country, a culturally distinct people with a distinctive architecture. Their fortified family compounds are built in the fields widely separated from their nearest neighbours. The Lobi are a fiercely independent and shy people who still adhere to many of their traditional customs. Nearby the ancient stone ruins of Loropéni are the best preserved ruins in the Lobi area and have recently been shown to be at least 1,000 years old. Much about the site is unknown but it is believed to have been occupied by the Lohron or Koulango peoples, who controlled the extraction and transformation of gold in the region when it reached its apogee from the 14th to the 17th century.

 

 

Banfora is a sleepy and picturesque in the west of Burkina Faso which comes alive on Sundays when its market attracts traders from as far away as Mali and the Ivory Coast. The surrounding region contains numerous natural attractions. These include Karfiguela Waterfalls, Lake Tengréla - home to hippos and a wide variety of bird life and the Fabedougou ‘Domes’, giant, egg-shaped rocks that date back two billion years.

 

  • ARCHITECTURE HISTORY:

Traditional architecture varies by region and ethnic group. It ranges from the temporary straw hut of the Fulbe and the tent of the Tuareg to the round hut made of adobe bricks and covered by a straw roof (used by the Mossi, Bisa, and Gurmanché). In the south, the Bobo, Dagara, Gurunsi, and Lobi build huge, castle-like houses with solid wood and mud walls and flat roofs. Over a hundred persons can live in these structures, which are sometimes colorfully decorated. Villages in the south may consist of a dozen widely-dispersed huge houses. Markets in the center of villages and towns are not only spaces for commercial activities but communication centers were news is exchanged, marriages are arranged, and company is enjoyed.

Imported building material, such as the zinc sheets for roofing, is becoming increasingly important in the countryside. In cities, large boulevards, representative roundabouts, football stadiums, and multi-storied administrative buildings like the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States in Ouagadougou symbolize modernity. An entire new quarter, called Ouaga 2000 and containing villas, embassies, and a congress center, has been built on the southern fringes of the capital. There is a drastic disparity between cities and the countryside in matters of revenue, health, education, and general infrastructure.




Cameroon

Cameroon

Full name: Republic of Cameroon

Population: 20 million (UN, 2012)

Capital: Yaounde

Area: 475,442 sq km (183,568 sq miles)

Major languages: French, English, languages of Bantu, Semi-Bantu and Sudanic groups

Major religions: Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs

Life expectancy: 51 years (men), 54 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes

Main exports: Crude oil and petroleum products, timber, cocoa, aluminium, coffee, cotton

GNI per capita: US $1,210 (World Bank, 2011)

Internet domain: .cm

International dialling code: +237





Map

Leader

In power since 1982, Paul Biya is seen as one of Africa's most entrenched leaders.






Travel

Visa & travel advice

 

 

  • Best period:

The best months for travel to Cameroon are January through April, when temperatures are moderate and the climate is dry. Luckily for you, the lowest airfares can also be found during that time. Be mindful of your terrain. Often, the mountains and plateaus can register a significant drop in temperature or a change in weather, while the coast is often warmer and more humid. 

  • Safety:

As one should always do while traveling, be aware of your surroundings and use your best judgment. Be alert when traveling at night or in crowded areas and when traveling near the borders of Chad and the Central African Republic. Keep an eye on political and social developments: elections are scheduled for 2011, and in the past some public demonstrations have turned violent. For information on travel advisories, check the U.S. Department of State’s travel page on Cameroon.

Foreign passport holders travelling to Cameroon are hereby informed that our 
new visa application forms are now available for download or at our office, and they will henceforth fulfil the following requirements in order to obtain a visa form the High Commission.

History

Bantu speakers were among the first groups to settle Cameroon, followed by the Muslim Fulani in the 18th and 19th centuries. The land escaped colonial rule until 1884, when treaties with tribal chiefs brought the area under German domination. After World War I, the League of Nations gave the French a mandate over 80% of the area, and the British 20% adjacent to Nigeria. After World War II, when the country came under a UN trusteeship in 1946, self-government was granted, and the Cameroon People's Union emerged as the dominant party by campaigning for reunification of French and British Cameroon and for independence. Accused of being under Communist control, the party waged a campaign of revolutionary terror from 1955 to 1958, when it was crushed. In British Cameroon, unification was also promoted by the leading party, the Kamerun National Democratic Party, led by John Foncha.

Arts & Culture

  • Music:

Cameroon's best know music is called Makossa. It's not the only music genre of Cameroon. There are other numerous and well known music of Cameroon such as bikutsi, ngoso and other traditional music from the various tribes in Cameroon.

All these don't mean Cameroonian musicians have no place in popular music genres such as romance, rock, pop, electronic, instrumental, classical and religious.

In fact, you will find all these in Cameroon.

However, it's worth noting that Cameroon is popularly know for Makossa. Makossa has won millions of fans beyond Cameroon.

  •  Literature:

According to David Ndachi Tagne, the "mild controversy" surrounding the origins of Cameroonian literature is due to a complex colonial history during which the French and English took over from the Germans after World War I. Overall, the French dominated literary output during the 20th Century, although it is to the German and English missionaries, and especially the local intelligentsia that one must look for the introduction of writing in the area, i.e., the production of texts in Douala, in English and later in German. For example, Sultan Ibrahim Njoya who dominated intellectual life in the Bamum region at the end of the nineteenth century, invented his own alphabet and wrote several volumes devoted to Bamum law, knowledge and customs. It was only in the 1920s that this writing was abandoned when the French destroyed his press machines, closed all his schools and imposed their own language and educational material. Rudolph Douala Manga Bell was another intellectual who was to become a prominent figure in his country. After studying law in Europe, he returned to Cameroon where he became chief of the Doualas, but like so many others, he ended up being summarily executed by a colonial administration unwilling to undertake juridicial negotiations with an African lawyer. It was at this time that Joseph Ekolo published his impressions of Europe under the title Wie ein Schwarzer das Land der Weiszen ansieht (Vision of the White World from a Black Perspective). In 1932, Jean-Louis Njemba Medou published Nnanga Kon in Boulou, a book that is sometimes considered the first novel written by a Cameroonian author.

  • Film industry:

The history of Cameroonian cinema starts in Paris with a documentary by Jean-Paul Ngassa covering the situation of Cameroonian students in France, "Aventure en France" (1962). This same topic inspires Thérèse Sita Bella, the director of Tom-Tom in Paris (1963). On return to his country, Ngassa starts working for the State service producing propaganda films about this newborn nation (1970). In 1975 on the national and international screens, the first full-length films with Pousse Pushes by Daniel Kamwa and Muna Moto by Jean Pierre Dikongue Pipa whose other films include Courte maladie and Badiaga.

The most prolific early filmmaker (produced between 1791 and 1985) and actor in Cameroon is Alphonse Béni who features in Cameroon Connection the extraordinary adventures of Inspector Bako. In 1983, Arthur Si Bita made his feature film, Les Coopérants, a modern fable. Daniel Kamwa, who breezily passes from the role of director to that of actor, generally chooses the tones of comedy. His films include, as mentioned, Pousse-Pousse (1975) and Le Cercle des Pouvoirs (1997), a cinematic accusation of Cameroonian society number one burden: corruption. 


So a handful of filmmakers in Cameroon with good international reputations gained acclaim, but there is little in the way of a formal film production infrastructure. Local skills are available in the country and in the rest of the region. Having both English and French as official languages, filmmakers and technicians from the country have special advantages on the regions larger products. They are surrounded by countries which are either Anglophone or Francophone, hence the Cameroonians are well presented in camera productions all over the region.

 

  • Famous places: 

The Castle (Schloss) of Puttkamer was built in the year 1900 as the residence of the Governor. This historical structure was an imitation of the architecture of a Wilhelminian Hunting Lodge in Brandenburg, Germany. In spite of several items and furniture having disappeared, there are a few glasses and plates left from German period.

 

The Bandjoun Museum constitutes over one hundred noteworthy objects of the cultural and artistic heritage of Bandjoun which is one of the main centers of artistic creation and tradition in Cameroon. The museum includes some rare masterpieces of African art which celebrate the pomp of the court of the kings of Bandjoun, and the opulence of the monarchs. As a storehouse of relics from the ancient past, the Bandjoun Museum is one of the important historical places of Cameroon.

  • Architecture history:

 Architecture varies by region. In the rain forest and the Grassfields, poto-poto (earthen plaster on a wooden frame) and mud brick rectangular buildings roofed in palm thatch or corrugated iron are common. Traditional Grassfields architecture was constructed of "bamboo" (the spines of raffia palm fronds); square or rectangular buildings with sliding doors were topped by conical thatched roofs. The doorposts of royalty had elaborate carvings. Traditional architecture in the north includes round mud buildings crowned in thatch. Walled compounds usually include a separate granary. Throughout the nation, structures built of concrete bricks, corrugated iron roofs, and iron grillwork have replaced other forms of housing.

Much of daily life occurs in public areas such as the courtyards of polygynous compounds. Privacy is often suspect, especially among peoples with a strong belief in malevolent and occult powers.


Cape Verde

Cape Verde

Facts & figures

Full name: Republic of Cabo Verde

Population: 505,000 (UN, 2012)

Capital: Praia

Area: 4,033 sq km (1,557 sq miles)

Major languages: Portuguese, Crioulo (a mixture of archaic Portuguese and African words)

Major religions: Christianity

Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 78 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 Cape Verdean escudo = 100 centavos

Main exports: Shoes, clothes, fish, bananas, hides, pozzolana (volcanic rock, used to make cement)

GNI per capita: US $3,540 (World Bank, 2011)

Internet domain: .cv

International dialling code: +238



Map



Leader

Jorge Carlos Fonseca won presidential elections with a decisive second-round victory in August 2011, beating the ruling party candidate.




Travel

Visa & travel advice

All visitors entering Cape Verde require a visa (cost: 40 euros) and a passport that is valid for at least another 6 months after the travel date. As a European or British citizen, you can obtain a visa at the respective embassy or consulate in your country in advance or upon arrival on Sal, Boa Vista, São Vicente and Santiago international airports (the latter is only valid for four weeks). The visa allows you to stay for 90 days. You must enter the country within 180 days after the visa has been issued. Application forms can be submitted via the Internet, fax or mail and are available on the website of the Embassy of Cape Verde.

  • Best period:

The weather is beautiful all year round, the temperature usually about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Cape Verde’s geographical position, at the northern limit of the tropical rain belt, leaves the country with very little rainfall. Although it’s highly unlikely, if rainfall is to occur, it’s usually between August and September. There is no “perfect” time to visit Cape Verde because the weather is fantastic throughout the year.

  • Safety:

Cape Verde is quite safe, and crime is relatively low. When traveling by ferry, be aware of sea conditions before taking off. For further information, visit the U.S. Department of State’s travel site on Cape Verde.

History

Uninhabited on their discovery in 1456, the Cape Verde islands became part of the Portuguese empire in 1495. A majority of today's inhabitants are of mixed Portuguese and African ancestry. Positioned on the great trade routes between Africa, Europe, and the New World, the islands became a prosperous center for the slave trade but suffered economic decline after the slave trade was abolished in 1876. In the 20th century, Cape Verde served as a shipping port. In 1951, Cape Verde's status changed from a Portuguese colony to an overseas province, and in 1961 the inhabitants became full Portuguese citizens. An independence movement led by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau (another former Portuguese colony) and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was founded in 1956. Following the 1974 coup in Portugal, after which Portugal began abandoning its colonial empire, the islands became independent (July 5, 1975).

On Jan. 13, 1991, the first multiparty elections since independence resulted in the ruling African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) losing its majority to the Movement for Democracy Party (MPD). The MPD candidate, Antonio Monteiro, won the subsequent presidential election, and was easily reelected in 1996. In 2001, Pedro Pires became president.

 

Arts & Culture

  • Music:

Cape Verde is known internationally for morna, a form of folk music usually sung in the Cape Verdean Creole, accompanied by clarinet, violin, guitar and cavaquinho. The islands also boast Funaná, Coladeira, Batuque and Cabo love music.

  • Literature:

Among the literary forms of the Cape Verde Islands, poetry plays a significant role. This may be because the censorship of the Portuguese rulers was very strict and allegoric images represented the only feasible way for expressing the true feelings of the artist. Names such as Pedro Cardoso and Eugénio Tavares, representatives of nativism, were the fathers of the literary movement on the islands. In the 1940s, the intellectual group (Capverdianidade) around Jorge Barbosa, Baltasar Lopez da Silva and Manuel Lopez with the Claridade magazine attracted attention. This can probably be called the origin of the classic Cape Verde literature. The 1950s saw the development of the Africanidade movement, which was distinguished by a much more direct political discourse that led to some of its members – including Ovídio Martins – being punished with torture as a result. Amilcar Cabral (cf. History) also supported the intellectual contents of this movement.

  • Film industry:

The first known footage showing Cape Verdean Whalers dates back to 1916. Down to the Sea in Ships, a 1921 film, starring Clara Bow, shows Cape Verdean whalers at work. In 1937 some footage is known shot by a visiting American, Marty Rose. But before 1975, the year of independence no recorded cinematic history is known from Cape Verdean local filmmakers. In l986 Claire Andrade-Watkins produced The Spirit of Cape Verde, a half-hour documentary showing the Cape verdean community in the USA. The earliest mentioning of local participation in feature film production is 1987 when Antonio Faria filmed Os Flagelados do Vento Leste (1988), based on the famous novel by Manuel Lopes. The film was featured at the Figueira de Foz Internatonal Film Festival. In 1997 Ilheu de Contenda (1995) by Leao Lopes was featured at the 1997 Milan Film Festival. In 1999 the first two films from Cape Verde were released in the US, O Testamento Do Senhor Napumoceno by Francisco Manso (1997) and Fintar O Destino by Fernando Vendrell from the same year. The production of O Testamento do Senhor Napumoceno reflects the complex cultural heritage of Cape Verde. The director, Francisco Manso, is Portuguese; the script is based on a novel by Cape Verdean Germano Almeida; the actors are mostly Brazilian including Nelson Xavier, Maria Ceica, Chico Diaz and Zezé Motta. The soundtrack features Cape Verdean musicians Tito Paris and Césaria Evora. This is the first truly Pan-Lusophonic film production and the first to be commercially released in North America. The film received acclaim at the Sao Paulo film festival. In 1998 the first (and, up till now, last) Cape Verdean Film Festival was organized by Ronald Barboza in New bedford, USA.

  • Famous places:

Beaches especially on Sal and Boa Vista are amongst some of the most beautiful in the world

 

The volcanic Island of Fogo is another essential experience, climb the Volcano, sample some wine and coffee and be amazed by the incredible landscapes.

 

 

Cidade Velha on the Island of Santiago is a historical treasure and transports you back to the time of slavery and colonialism in Africa.

  • Architecture history

Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, is a rapidly growing urban center. Its growth has been unimpeded by zoning laws or organization which has allowed it to spread out into nearby land in a haphazard way. Mindelo, the second largest city with a population of 47,000, is located on the northern island of São Vicente and provides a marked contrast as a clean, orderly city with a European feel. Many of the islands combine old colonial architecture with the new cinderblock structures that are sprouting up to house the burgeoning population. The traditional houses that dot the countryside are stone structures with thatched or tiled roofs.




Gambia

Gambia

Facts & figures

Full name: Republic of The Gambia

Population: 1.8 million (UN, 2012)

Capital: Banjul

Area: 11,295 sq km (4,361 sq miles)

Major languages: English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula

Major religions: Islam, Christianity

Life expectancy: 58 years (men), 60 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 dalasi = 100 butut

Main exports: Peanuts and peanut products, fish, cotton lint, palm kernel

GNI per capita: US $500 (World Bank, 2011)

Internet domain: .gm

International dialling code: +220




Map

Leader

President: Yahya Jammeh

Mr Jammeh has been accused of intolerance to criticism and dissent

Yahya Jammeh seized power in 1994 as a young army lieutenant and has won four widely criticised multi-party elections since then.




Travel

Visa & travel advice

UK Visitor Visas are required by many foreigners wishing to enter the UK for short stays. Whether you need a visitor visa depends on your nationality, the purpose of your visit and how long you need to stay.

The UK Visitor Visa category includes a number of specific visitor visas that allow people to holiday, visit family, get married, study a short course, sit the PLAB and many other purposes.

  • Best period

Gambia sees sunshine year-round, but it has a rainy season (June through September), during which the country’s lush foliage and the rushing water of the Gambia River are at their finest. We prefer to visit between November and June, when almost no rain falls and temperatures are lower.

  • Safety

The U.S. Department of State’s consular website has a great deal of information about safety and security in Gambia. It can’t be repeated often enough: be sensible when you travel. Be alert and aware about your surroundings.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has created a security ratings system called the Ibrahim Index, wherein scores are based on each country’s quality of government. Before traveling to South Africa or anywhere on the continent, check the index and do your research.

 

History

The modern-day Gambia was once part of the Mali and Songhai Empires.

The first written accounts of the region come from records of Arab traders in the 9th and 10th centuries AD. In medieval times the area was dominated by the trans-Saharan trade. The Mali Empire, most renowned for the Mandinka ruler Mansa Kankan Musa, brought worldwide recognition to the region due to its enormous wealth, scholarship, and civility. The North African scholar and traveler Ibn Battuta visited the area in 1352 and said this about its inhabitants:


Arts & Culture

  • Music :

The music of the Gambia is closely linked musically with that of its neighbor, Senegal, which surrounds its inland frontiers completely. Among its prominent musicians is Foday Musa Suso. Mbalax is a widely known popular dance music of the Gambia and neighbouring Senegal. It fuses popular Western music and dance, with sabar, the traditional drumming and dance music of the Wolof and Serer people.

 

  • Literature

Gambian literature is the literature that’s produced by Gambians and some of it could also be literature that’s produced by people who live in the Gambia but may not be from here. What most people don’t know is that Gambian literature is actually hundreds of years old. It began with Philis Wheatley who was a woman born in the Senegambian region, taken to the United States as a slave and became the first African-American published poet in the US. A lot of people in the US know her history but a lot of people in the Gambia don’t know her history. She’s one of the first Gambian writers. And then of course we have the contemporary writers: Lenrie Peters, Nana Grey-Johnson, Sally Singhateh, etc. We have a number of living authors who are part of our cultural heritage now.

 

  • Film industry

The Gambia gained its independence from the UK in 1965; it formed a short-lived federation of Senegambia with Senegal between 1982 and 1989. In 1991 the two nations signed a friendship and cooperation treaty. A military coup in 1994 overthrew the president and banned political activity, but a new 1996 constitution and presidential elections, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, completed a nominal return to civilian rule. The country undertook another round of presidential and legislative elections in late 2001 and early 2002.

 

  • Famous monuments

Arch 22

 

 

SENEGAMBIA / WASSU STONE CIRCLES

 

 

FORT BULLEN

 

 

  • Architecture history

Banjul is the only real urban center in Gambia. It has a typical former British colonial feel to it. The administrative buildings are built in the center of the city, tending toward Edwardian "majesty." Many of the buildings are done in pastel colors with huge gardens. The colonial bungalow is a typical form of architecture. Squatter settlements resembling poorer versions of rural settlements dot the area. There are large public areas in the British style.




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