Gambia's new president says taking over a bankrupt nation was "like carrying a mountain" and that stabilizing the economy will take time after the former leader left it in tatters.

In an interview with The Associated Press, President Adama Barrow said the government of this tiny West African nation is working to restore the confidence of international development partners.

Barrow took power a year ago after a political showdown that saw longtime dictator Yahya Jammeh fly into exile following a surprise election loss.

The new president says his administration now must persuade Gambia's population of less than 2 million to have enough faith in the country's future to stay home and not make the risky journey toward Europe like many countrymen before them.