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Useful Notes / Guinea-Bissau

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The Republic of Guinea-Bissau (República da Guiné-Bissau in Portuguese) is a country in West Africa. It was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, as well as the Mali Empire.

Although the Portuguese weren't technically the first Europeans to discover the land (a Venetian explorer and a Franco-Flemish trader allegedly discovered it before Diogo Cão), the Portuguese were the first to colonize the coast throughout the late 15th and early 16th centuries, exploring the interior only during the 19th century. Since there were plenty of disputes regarding the territory and, especially, the slave trade, the Portuguese presence only mantained the port of Bissau and Cacheu. Only in the 19th century did the Portuguese secured most of the coastline.

In 1956, an armed rebellion was started by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde / PAIGC), led by Amílcar Cabral. It gradually consolidated its hold on Portuguese Guinea. With help from the Soviet Union, Cuba and China, as well as the jungle-like terrain and its easily reached borderlines with allied neighbouring countries, the movement achieved control over the majority of Guinea-Bissau. However, there was a slight setback as Amílcar Cabral was assassinated in January 1973, 7 months before achieving independence.


Said independence was only recognized after the Carnation Revolution in Portugal. Amílcar's brother, Luís, became the first president of Guinea-Bissau. Following independence, many Guinean soldiers that had fought alongside the Portuguese army against the PAIGC were slaughtered by the thousands. A few managed to escape and settled in Portugal or other African nations. The country was controlled by a revolutionary council until 1984. The first multi-party elections were held in 1994, but an army uprising in May 1998 led to the Guinea-Bissau Civil War and, consequently, the ousting of president João Bernardo Vieira in June 1999. New elections were held in 2000, although there was another coup in 2003. In 2005, Vieira won the 2005 elections, but was assassinated 4 years later. Do notice that he had toppled Luís Cabral's government in 1980, and held it for 19 years. The following president, Malam Bacai Sanhá, died in 2012 (of illness), leading to another coup. The general Mamadu Ture Kuruma is taking care of the transitional period, which is still going, since a leader hasn't yet been chosen.


Only 14% of the population speaks Portuguese (the official language), while 44% speak Kriol (or crioulo), a Portuguese-based creole language, and the remainder speak native African languages.

In another note, it's one of the main African countries that, as of 2005, has been central to the shipment of cocaine to Europe. The United Nations are concerned that it might become a narco-state, since the government and the military have done little to stop the trafficking, which has increased since the latest coup.

Guinea-Bissau in media

  • Much of acclaimed documentary Sans Soleil was shot there; the film contrasts Guinea-Bissau with highly technological Japan.

The Guinea-Bissauan flag
The flag is based on that of the PAIGC, itself derived from that of Ghana. Using the Ghanian symbolism the black star symbolizes the unity of Africa, while red, yellow and green stand for the blood of Guinea-Bissau's fallen freedom fighters, the sun, and hope, respectively.


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