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Guinea-Bissau

Background

Guinea-Bissau

Since independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has experienced considerable political and military upheaval. In 1980, a military coup established authoritarian dictator Joao Bernardo 'Nino' VIEIRA as president. Despite setting a path to a market economy and multiparty system, VIEIRA's regime was characterized by the suppression of political opposition and the purging of political rivals. Several coup attempts through the 1980s and early 1990s failed to unseat him. In 1994 VIEIRA was elected president in the country's first free elections. A military mutiny and resulting civil war in 1998 eventually led to VIEIRA's ouster in May 1999. In February 2000, a transitional government turned over power to opposition leader Kumba YALA after he was elected president in transparent polling. In September 2003, after only three years in office, YALA was ousted by the military in a bloodless coup, and businessman Henrique ROSA was sworn in as interim president. In 2005, former President VIEIRA was re-elected president pledging to pursue economic development and national reconciliation; he was assassinated in March 2009. Malam Bacai SANHA was elected in an emergency election held in June 2009.

About

Guinea-Bissau, (website in French), is a former Portuguese colony bordered by Senegal to the north and Guinea to the south and east.

Read more about Guinea-Bissau in our Guinea-Bissau travel guide »

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Guinea-Bissau

Full name
Republic of Guinea-Bissau
Capital
Bissau
Location

Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Senegal

Geographic coordinates

12 00 N, 15 00 W

Area comparative

slightly less than three times the size of Connecticut

Border countries

Guinea 386 km, Senegal 338 km

Coastline

350 km

Climate

tropical; generally hot and humid; monsoonal-type rainy season (June to November) with southwesterly winds; dry season (December to May) with northeasterly harmattan winds

Terrain

mostly low coastal plain rising to savanna in east

Lowest point

Atlantic Ocean 0 m

Highest point

unnamed elevation in the eastern part of the country 300 m

Natural resources

fish, timber, phosphates, bauxite, clay, granite, limestone, unexploited deposits of petroleum

Population

1,565,126 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic groups

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%

Languages

Portuguese (official), Crioulo, African languages

Government type

republic

Independence

24 September 1973 (declared); 10 September 1974 (from Portugal)

National holiday

Independence Day, 24 September (1973)

Chief of state

President Malam Bacai SANHA (since 8 September 2009)

Head of government

Prime Minister Carlos GOMES Junior (since 25 December 2008)

Internet country code

.gw

Internet users

37,100 (2009)

Airports

9 (2010)

Ports and terminals

Bissau, Buba, Cacheu, Farim

Other countries in the region