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Everything you need to know about Guinea-Bissau: news, reviews, in-depth analysis, opinion and more

Guinea-Bissau: Former Portuguese West African Colony

Guinea-Bissau was formerly known as the kingdom of Gabu and a part of Mali Empire. Later it gained its autonomous status until the year 1867. Nuño Tristão was the first European explorer of Portugal to come across this area in 1446. The Portuguese colonizers in Cape Verde carried out their trading and the slave trade. In the year 1956, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde was founded. However, this country has faced major military and political mayhem since the year of its independence. In 1980, a dictatorial leader Joao Bernardo 'Nino' Vieira was made the President by a military coup.

Guinea-Bissau Fast Facts:

    · National Name: Republic of Guinea-Bissau
    · National Capital: Bissau
    · Total Area: 36,120 sq km
    · Total Population: 1,503,182 (July 2008 est.)
    · Ethnic races: African 99% (includes Balanta 30%, Fula 20%, Manjaca 14%, Mandinga 13%, Papel 7%), European and mulatto less than 1%
    · Religions: Muslim 50%, indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 10%
    · Currency: CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine)
    · GDP (per capita): $600 (2008 est.)
    · Languages: Portuguese (official), Crioulo, African languages
    · Life expectancy: 45 years (men), 48 years (women) (UN)
    · Literacy Rate: 42.4% (2003 est.)

Guinea-Bissau Geography, Climate and Economy:
Guinea-Bissau-Bissau spreads over a small area and is almost half of the size of South Carolina. Majorly the area consists of coastal plains which are low lying and swampy and consists of rain forests and wetlands covered with mangroves. However, the coastal plains extend to Savannas in the east. There are about 25 islands in this country, which lie off the coast area, and the Bijagos archipelago stretches to 48km from sea.

This country experiences warm climate throughout the year however varying in temperature seasonally. The climate is tropical and hot and humid and in the months of December to May there is a dry season followed by seasonal rainfalls from June to November.

Guinea-Bissau is ranked fifth among the other poor nations of the world. It is largely dependent on fishing and farming. It produces Cashew nuts on a large scale and exports the same along with peanuts, palm kernels, timber, fish and seafood. It also has some considerable amounts of petroleum. Its economy is also largely dependent on international aid.

Culture and Cuisine of Guinea-Bissau:
Though the majority of Guinea-Bissau locals speak in Portuguese, French and Creole, some groups also speak in their vernacular language that includes Pulaar, Mandjak, Mandinka and many others. The folk music also forms an integral part of their culture comprising of Tina and Tinga along with kussundé, Mandinga djambadon and the kundere musical tunes. Their colonial architecture depicts the origins of West African culture.

The influences of Arab, European and Asian are clearly depicted in this country’s cuisine. Fish and seafood forms an important part of Guinea-Bissau cuisine. Besides this, the fresh fruits and vegetables are used in plenty in the cuisine. Also the natives use a lot of spices that includes pepper and chilies.

Tourist Sites in Guinea-Bissau:
The Portuguese colonial influence is visible through its architectural designs, cuisines and various entertainment sources. Guinea-Bissau offers a natural scenic beauty comprising of beaches set in the backdrop of rainforests. Bissau, the capital city of the country is the center of administration and the prime tourist destination. The Museum of African Artifacts incorporates the relics of African culture. Bafata, the country’s wildlife reserve and the Roman Catholic Diocese are some of the other significant places.

Some other Guinea-Bissau Tourist Attractions are:
    · Fortaleza d' Amura barracks
    · Amilcar Cabral's mausoleum
    · Pidjiguiti Memorial
    · Bolama
    · Bijagos Biosphere Reserve
    · Bissora
    · Cacheu
    · Farim
    · Canchungo
    · Bubaque

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