The Republic of the Gambia, an independent member of the British Commonwealth, occupies a strip of land 7 miles (11 km.) to 20 miles (32 km.) wide and 200 miles (322 km.) long encompassing both sides of West Africa?s Gambia River, and completely surrounded by Senegal. The republic, one of Africa?s smallest countries, has an area of 4,361 sq. mi. (11,295 sq. km.) and a population of 1.24 million. Capital: Banjul. Agriculture and tourism are the principal industries. Peanuts constitute 95 per cent of export earnings. ,The Gambia was once part of the great empires of Ghana and Songhay. When Portuguese gold seekers and slave traders visited the Gambia in the 15th century, it was part of the Kingdom of Mali. In 1588 the territory became, through purchase, the first British colony in Africa. English slavers established Fort James, the first settlement, on a small island a dozen miles up the Gambia River in 1664. After alternate periods of union with Sierra Leone and existence as a separate colony, the Gambia became a British colony in 1888. On February 18, 1965, the Gambia achieved independence as a constitutional monarchy within the Commonwealth of Nations, with Elizabeth II as Head of State as Queen of the Gambia. It became a republic on April 24, 1970, remaining a member of the Commonwealth, but with the president as Chief of state and Head of Government.,, Rulers:,,, ,British to 1970,, Monetary System:,,, ,1 Shilling = 12 Pence ,1 Pound = 20 Shillings to 1970 ,1 Dalasi = 100 Bututs 1970- ,Gabon was first visited by Portuguese navigator Diego Cam in the 15th century. Dutch, French, and British traders, lured by the rich stands of hard woods and oil palms, quickly followed. The French founded their first settlement on the left bank of the Gabon River in 1839 and established their presence by signing treaties within the tribal chiefs. After gradually extending their influence into the interior during the last half of the 19th century, France occupied Gabon in 1885 and, in 1910, organized it as one of the four territories of French Equatorial Africa. It became an autonomous republic within the French Union in 1946, and on August 17, 1960, became a completely independent republic within the new French Community. ,Note: For related currency, see the Equatorial African States. Monetary System:, ,1 Franc = 100 Centimes ,Prior to the mid-19th century, France, as the other European states, maintained establishments on the west coast of Africa for the purpose of trading in slaves and gum, but made no serious attempt to colonization. From 1854 onward, the coastal acquisition ended and organization and development began. French West Africa was formed in 1895 by grouping the several colonies under one administration (Dakar) while retaining a large measure of autonomy to each of the constituent territories. The inhabitants of French West Africa were formed in 1946. With the exception of French Guiana, all the colonies voted in 1958 to become the fully independent Republic of Guinea. The present-day independent states are members of the ?Union Monetaire Quest-Aficaine.? ,Also see West African States. Monetary System:,,, ,1 Franc = 100 Centimes,, ,1 Unit = 5 Francs ,,