Guinea-Bissau Facts

Guinea-Bissau Facts and History


Guinea-Bissau – land of the Bisãos

The state of Guinea-Bissau, located on the West African Atlantic coast, one of the poorest countries on earth and hardly larger than the German state of Baden-Württemberg, is unfortunately particularly noticeable because of its globally active drug cartels and political instability.

One has to assume that almost the entire leadership of the country – especially the military – is not only involved in the drug business, but has made it an almost state task. Most of the drugs are flown in from South America and then transported on to Europe.

It’s easy to forget that it is also blessed with unspoiled nature, with white sandy beaches, picturesque islands, a dense rainforest and a year-round tropical climate. Of the barely 1.9 million residents, an estimated 500,000 live in the capital Bissau alone, the undisputed center of the small country. From Bissau, the ferry also takes you directly to the Bijagós Archipelago (Bissagos), a breathtaking island kingdom that has been a UNESCO biosphere reserve since 1996 and consists of around 88 islands off the coast of Guinea-Bissau.

By the way, Guinea-Bissau was named after the Bisãos, an ethnic group also known as Pepel.

Name of the country República da Guiné-Bissau
Name in German Republic of Guinea-Bissau
Form of government Presidential Republic
Independence September 24, 1973 – unilateral declaration of independenceSeptember 10, 1974 – recognition of independence by Portugal
Geographical location West Africa
National anthem Esta é a Nossa Pátria Bem Amada (This is our beloved land)
Population about 1.9 million (Credit: Countryaah: Guinea-Bissau Population)
Ethnicities approx. 30 ethnic groups, especially Balante (approx. 30%) and Fula (20%)
Religions about 40% are followers of natural religions, 50% Muslims and 10% Christians
Languages Official language: PortugueseColloquial language: Crioulo

and various West African languages (Fula, Mandinka, Balante)

Capital Bissau
Surface 36,125 km²
Highest mountain Madina do Boé with a height of 262 m
Longest river Mansôa
Largest lake There are no larger lakes in Guinea-Bissau.
International license plate GNB
National currency 1 CFA franc = 100 centimes
Time difference to CET – 1 h
International phone code 00245
Mains voltage, frequency 220 volts and 50 hertz
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .gw

Guinea-Bissau: history

Before the year 1000

After the Islamization of the Berber tribes of northern Africa, which took place from the 7th century, their military advance into more southern regions began. The Kingdom of Ghana, which was founded in the 8th century and was located in the border area between present-day Mauritania and Mali and whose African population sought refuge in the territory of present-day Guinea-Bissau, was also attacked.

From the year 1000 to the 18th century

According to Abbreviationfinder website, in 1240 the declining Kingdom of Ghana was conquered and incorporated into the Kingdom of Mali, which also includes the territory of what is now the Republic of Guinea-Bissau. In the 13th century, various coastal peoples and savanna ethnicities (e.g. Balante and Pepel) immigrated to the region, the latter already showing a hierarchical organization. After the immigration of the Mandingas, the kingdom of Kaabu was founded.

In 1446 the Portuguese navigator Nuno Tristão reached the coast of the country, which was subsequently claimed by the colonial power Portugal, which operated in the slave trade in the region. In 1753 the Bissau colony was founded.

In the 20th century

In 1951 Guinea-Bissau became a Portuguese overseas province. In 1956, under the leadership of Amilcar Cabral, the PAIGC unity party (party for the independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verdes) was founded. The national independence movement was supported by close cooperation with the independence movements of the other Portuguese territories (especially Angola and Mozambique) and by material aid from the Eastern Bloc countries. Between 1963 and 1974 the PAIGC guerrilla war against the Portuguese colonial power took place, which led to the collapse of the Portuguese dictatorship. On September 24th, 1973 independence was declared by PAIGC. On September 10, 1974, Portugal recognized Guinea-Bissau’s independence.

In 1973 Amilcar Cabral was murdered. Luis Cabral, his half-brother, became the country’s first president in 1974. He sought a merger of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. The PAICG became a unity party and this was followed by a political rapprochement between the country and the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. In 1980, Cabral was overthrown in a military coup by João Bernardo Vieira, who then took over the presidency. There was a break between Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. Under the new government, after the end of the East-West conflict, there was increasing democratization and a market economy orientation. The first presidential and parliamentary elections in 1994 confirmed Vieira in office.

In 1998 there was a military revolt under General Ansumana Mané, which could only be repulsed with the help of troops from Senegal and Guinea. In 1999, Vieira was overthrown and the previous speaker of parliament, Malam Bacai Sanhá, was installed as interim president. In the democratic elections of the same year, the opposition party PRS and its presidential candidate Koumba Yalá won.

In November 2000 there was another attempted coup by the military under Ansumane Mané, who was killed in the process. President Yalá ruled authoritarian and dissolved parliament in 2002. In September 2003 he was overthrown in a military coup under Chief of Staff Verissimo Correia Seabra, also a long-time PAIGC member.

The parliamentary elections in March 2004 were won by the PAIGC, but they did not receive an absolute majority.

In 2004 there was another military uprising in Bissau. The winner of the controversial presidential elections in June 2005 was Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira, who officially took office on October 1, 2005. He was murdered on March 2, 2009 by soldiers. The military has ruled since then.

Guinea-Bissau Facts