Guinea-Bissau Information

General Information for Guinea-Bissau

Country: Guinea-Bissau
Location: West Africa
Independence: September 10, 1974
Nationality: Guinea-Bissauan
Capital City: Bissau
Population: 1,124,537
Important Cities: Varela, Bissora, Xime
Head of State: Joao Bernado Viera
Area: 36,125
Type of Government: Military
Currency: 4,995 Pesos = 1 USD
Major peoples: Balanta, Fulani, Madinka, Manjaca, Papel
Religion: African religion 65%, Muslim 30%, Christian 5%
Climate: Tropical
Literacy: 36%
Official Language: Portuguese
Principal Languages: Kriolo, Fulfulde
Major Exports: Bauxite, Fish
Pre-Colonial History The rivers of Guinea and the islands of Cape Verde were among the first areas in Africa explored by the Portuguese in the 15th century. Portugal claimed Portuguese Guinea in 1446, but few trading posts were established before 1600. In 1630, a "captaincy-general" of Portuguese Guinea was established to administer the territory. With the collaboration of some local peoples, the Portuguese entered into the slave trade and exported large numbers of Africans to the Western Hemisphere through Cape Verde Islands. Cacheu became one of the major slave trade centers, and a small fort still stands in the town. The slave trade declined in the 19th century, and Bissau, originally founded as a military and slave-trading center in 1765, grew to become the major commercial center. Portuguese conquest and consolidation of the interior did not begin until the latter half of the 19th century. Portugal lost part of Guinea to French West Africa. The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was organized clandestinely by Amilcar Cabral and Raphael Barbosa in 1956.
Post-Colonial History Guinea-Bissau became independent on September 10, 1974, headed by President Luis Cabral. In late 1980, the government was overthrown in a relatively bloodless coup led by Prime Minister and former armed forces commander Joao Bernardo Vieira. From November 1980 to May 1984, power was held by a provisional government responsible to a revolutionary council headed by Joao Bernardo Vieira. In 1984, the council was dissolved, and the 150-member National Popular Assembly (ANP) was reconstituted. The single-party assembly approved a new constitution, elected President Vieira to a new five-year term, and elected a Council of State, which is the executive agent of the ANP. There were alleged coup plots against the Vieira Government in 1983, 1985, and 1993. In 1986, first Vice President Paulo Correia and five others were executed for treason following a lengthy trial.

Back to the Museum