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Religion in Gambia

Population

According to Countryaah data, the country is densely populated and has a high urbanization grass for West Africa; In 2019, 61 percent of the population lived in cities. The two largest cities in 2014 were Kanifeng (382 100 residents) and Brikama (95 000).

Religions of Gambia

The population of Gambia consists of malinke, wolof, fulani, diola and tukulor. The largest group is Malinke, which at the 2003 census made up 42% of the population. They feed predominantly on agriculture, and despite colonization and modernization, much of the traditional social structure remains. The Malinkese community was traditionally divided into three layers: free peasants, among whom rulers of the traditional kingdoms were appointed from the leading genealogies, craftsmen, among whom are especially marked iron smiths and hoof poets (see griot), and "slaves". Although most of them are now Muslims, indigenous religious beliefs still play a significant role.

The likewise agricultural wolof, which constitutes 16 per cent of the population, has a social organization similar to malinkes. Among wolof, Islam has a stronger foothold, and in the cities they are dominant as traders and officials.

Fulani, which accounts for 18 percent of the population, feeds predominantly on livestock management and is nominally Muslim.

Closest to the coast are the agricultural diols, which make up 10 percent of the population; they too are predominantly Muslims, although elements of indigenous religion play an important role in their ethnic identity.

In addition, there is a small group called Tukulas (5,200), who are resident farmers as well as Islamic religious leaders and scribes; culturally and linguistically, they are closely related to fulani. The country also has a few thousand Europeans, 2,500 Lebanese and 2,500 Moroccans.

Language

English was the official language of 2014, when President Yahya Jammeh announced that its status as an official language would cease. The native languages ​​belong to the male branch of the Niger-Congo family. The main language of the Gambia is Malinke except in a smaller area around the middle course of the Gambia River where the western Atlantic fulani is spoken.

Religion

Sunnislam is the dominant religion in the Gambia, and comprises about 90% of the population. The majority of Gambia's Muslims are sufis of the Malikite law school. Islam came to the Gambia in the 11th century with Berber merchants from southern Mauritania. These Berbers were strongly influenced by Almoravid ideology and religiosity (see Almoravids). Today the most important organizers are Tijaniya, Qadiriya and Muridya. These arrangements pray together in joint mosques. In the country there are also small Muslim groups that are not Sufis, including a group of Ahmadiyya Muslims. The Christians (2010) account for just over 4% and among them Catholics dominate with 2.75%. Domestic beliefs play a significant role and are covered by about 8% of the population. The adherents of the modern religion of Bahai are close to 1%.

The country has no state religion but denotes itself secular. Constitution and other laws guarantee religious freedom, something that the state in practice respects. When it comes to cases of marriage, divorce and inheritance, these are dealt with under traditional Islamic law. The Supreme Muslim Council is an independent body that advises the government on issues related to religion. The Council is largely funded by the government, despite the fact that the government is not represented in the Council other than through the minister of religion's formal relations with the council. There are no requirements for religious organizations to be registered. Schools, both private and public, are allowed to conduct religious instruction. Marriage between Christians and Muslims is common and unproblematic.

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