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Guinea-Bissau History, People, Economy

African Country Guinea-Bissau Information and Stats

All About the African Country Guinea-Bissau


Since independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has experienced considerable political and military upheaval.

Guinea-Bissau Cashew Nut Tree


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Guinea-Bissau is a small coastal West African country just to the South of Senegal where many indigenous African languages are spoken along with a unique dialect of Crioulo (Creole mixed with Portuguese and French).  Guinea-Bissau was once part of the Mali Empire known as Gabu.

From 1446-47 - First Portuguese arrived; subsequently administered as part of the Portuguese Capo Verde Islands, the Guinea area becomes important in the slave-trade. Guinea-Bissau becomes a separate colony in the Portuguese Empire in 1879.


The country is named after the Guinea region of West Africa that lies along the Gulf of Guinea and stretches north to the Sahel; "Bissau," the name of the capital city, distinguishes the country from neighboring Guinea. 

West Africa's Guinea-Bissau was part of the Portuguese Empire for centuries and was once known as the Slave Coast; today 14% of the population speaks Portuguese.

The Portuguese set up slave trade operations in the ports of Bissau and Cacheu on the coast of Guinea, the interior was not explored until around 1915 with heavy resistance from the indigenous population. The islands off the coast of Guinea-Bissau Bijagos Archipelago (islands) are 88 islands and islets of which 23 are inhabited.

The Bijagos islands are a Biosphere Reserve or internationally designated protected areas since 1996, with two National Marine Parks, João Viera-Poilão and Orango. João Viera-Poilão has the largest green sea turtle nesting site on the Atlantic coast of Africa.

Guinea-Bissau’s young and growing population is under the age of 25. At the end of the 1990s, the country experienced a conflict which drew in Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, and France and ended with the president going into exile. 

Guinea-Bissau’s history of political instability, a civil war and several coups (the latest in 2012) have resulted in a fragile state with a weak economy, high unemployment, rampant corruption, widespread poverty, and thriving drug and child trafficking.
With the country lacking educational infrastructure, school funding and materials, and qualified teachers, and with the cultural emphasis placed on religious education, parents frequently send boys to study in residential Koranic schools (daaras) in Senegal and The Gambia. 

Guinea-Bissau is the world's fifth-largest cashew exporter behind India, Vietnam, Ivory Coast and Brazil and a major exporter of illegally logged African Rosewood. Average daily consumption of the Guinea-Bissau people is .85 cents, which means the average amount of money people live on in Guinea-Bissau, is .85 cents per day. The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on no more than $1.25 per day. It is not surprising to see a potentially profitable illegal logging of African Rosewood emerge in a society with such high levels of poverty.



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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My father and mother are historians of African culture and history and their influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

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