Guinea-Bissau

Info

Capital

Bissau

Population

1,660,870

Climate

Tropical

Currency

514.1 XOF = 1 USD (Dec. 2010)

Important Cities

Varela, Bissora, Xime

Area

36,125 sq.km.

People

Nationality

Guinea-Bissauan/Guinean

Major Peoples

Bidyogo

Religion

Muslim 50%, African religion 40%, Christian 10%

Literacy

54.2%

Principal Language

Kriolo, Fulfulde

Official Language

Portuguese

Politics

Head Of State

Joao Berna

Type of Government

Republic, Multiparty

Date of Independence

September 10, 1974

Major Exports

Fish, Cashew, Peanuts, Palm Kernels, Lumber

Precolonial History

Guinea-Bissau has its origins in the kingdom of Gabú, which became independent from the powerful Mali Empire in the 16th century. Gabú is known for its rich culture, and traditionally is considered the birthplace of the kora, a stringed instrument widely used in West Africa. The Portuguese landed at the Bissagos Islands in 1446 and claimed the region, but the Gabú kingdom resisted colonial expansion into the mainland. Local rulers controlled the supply of slaves to Portuguese Guinea, which became known as the Slave Coast. In 1687, Portugal founded the capital city of Bissau as a fortified trading post. After the decline of the Gabú kingdom in the mid-19th century, Portugal successfully embarked upon military campaigns to conquer and consolidate the area. Oppressive colonial rule, which culminated in the massacre of fifty workers striking at the Pijiguiti docks, prompted a fervent nationalist movement in the 1950s. The Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (PAIGC), led by Amílcar Cabral and Raphael Barbosa, began an armed rebellion against Portuguese rule in 1956 and controlled most of the country by the early 1970s.

Postcolonial History

Portugal recognized Guinea-Bissau’s full independence in 1974. Amílcar Cabral had been assassinated by a former PAIGC rival in 1973, but his half-brother, Luís Cabral, became the first president of Guinea-Bissau. The new nation was plagued by political dissent, poverty, and underdeveloped infrastructure. In 1980, Cabral was ousted in a bloodless coup by military leader João Bernardo Vieira. Vieira reorganized the government under a revolutionary council and later reconstituted power under a single party, the Assembleia Nacional Popular (ANP). Despite several alleged coup attempts, Vieira held the presidency until 1999 and was re-elected in 2005. He was assassinated by renegade soldiers in 2009. The new president, Malam Bacai Sanhá, died in Paris in 2011 after a long illness. The interim head of state, Raimundo Pereira, was deposed by Major General Mamadu Ture Kuruma in 2012. Former ANP leader Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo currently serves as Guinea-Bissau's interim president.

Recommended Source:

Mike Blondino, LEAD International, “The history of Guinea-Bissau” (http://leadinternational.com/about/history_gb.php).