Banjul takes its name from the Mandé people who gathered specific fibres on the island, which were used in the manufacture of ropes. Bang julo is the Mandinka (Mande) word for rope fibre. The mispronunciation led to the word Banjul.
In 1651 Banjul was leased by The Duke of Courland and Semigallia (German: Herzog von Kurland und Semgallen) from the King of Kombo, as part of the Couronian colonization.
In 1816, Alexander Grant, the British commandant, founded Banjul as a trading post and base for suppressing the slave trade. The British renamed Banjul Island as St. Mary's Island and first named Bathurst after The 3rd Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies at the time. The name was changed to Banjul in 1973.
On 22 July 1994, Banjul was the scene of a bloodless military coup d'état in which President Dawda Jawara was overthrown and replaced by Yahya Jammeh. To commemorate this event, Arch 22 was built as an entrance portal to the capital. The gate is 35 metres tall and stands at the centre of an open square. It houses a textile museum.
Attractions in the city include the Gambian National Museum, the Albert Market, Banjul State House, Banjul Court House, African Heritage Museum, two cathedrals and several major mosques.
Banjul is the destination of the Plymouth-Banjul Challenge, a charity road rally.
Banjul is the country's economic and administrative centre and includes the Central Bank of the Gambia. Peanut processing is the country's principal industry, but beeswax, palm wood, palm oil, and skins and hides are also shipped from the port of Banjul.
Banjul is also the home of the Gambia Technical Training Institute. GTTI is currently engaged in a partnership with non-profit organization Power Up Gambia to develop a solar energy training program.
Banjul has a very warm climate year round. Under the Köppen climate classification, Banjul features a tropical wet and dry climate. The city features a lengthy dry season, spanning from November to June and a relatively short wet season covering the remaining four months. However, during those four months, Banjul tends to see heavy precipitation. August is usually the rainiest month, with on average 500 mm of precipitation falling. Temperatures are somewhat constant, though it tends to be slightly cooler during the wet season than the dry season.
According to a Gambian government minister, Banjul is at risk of submerging under water by a metre rise in sea levels as a result of climate change and global warming.
As of May 2014, ferries sail regularly from Banjul across the River Gambia to Barra. The city is served by the Banjul International Airport. Banjul is on the Trans–West African Coastal Highway connecting it to Dakar and Bissau, and will eventually provide a paved highway link to 11 other nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Banjul Division (Greater Banjul Area) is divided into two districts: