There are 8 main ethnic groups in Gambia living side by side with a minimum of inter-tribal friction, each preserving its own language, music, cultural traditions and even caste systems though there is an increasing amount of cultural interaction and fusion. Indeed, the average Gambian will tell you he feels he has more in common with his countrymen than he has with a Senegalese from the same tribe! This by no means suggests that there is a lack of individual identity. While there is growth in multi-ethnic expressions, the search by groups to reaffirm their identities remains.
Each of these communities speak their own language, all of which are classified as part of the Niger-Congo language group and as a whole represent a snap-shot of Senegambia society. However, classifying people by blood or ethnic traits is increasingly difficult as there has been extensive migrations and inter-marriages over the centuries. There were migrations of people into the Gambia before the 19th century but such movement of people greatly increased after the establishment of Bathurst (Banjul) in 1816. They came from Casamance, Futa Toro, Sierra Leone, Mali, Guinea Bissau and other West African countries. people of the smiling coast of Africa.