Guinea-Bissau, officially the Republic of Guinea-Bissau i/ˈɡɪni bɪˈsaʊ/ (Portuguese: República da Guiné-Bissau, pronounced: [ʁeˈpublikɐ dɐ ɡiˈnɛ biˈsaw]), is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Senegal to the north and Guinea to the south and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west. It covers 36,125 km² (nearly 14,000 sq mi) with an estimated population of 1,600,000.
Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, as well as part of the Mali Empire. Parts of this kingdom persisted until the 18th century, while a few others were part of the Portuguese Empire since the 16th century. It then became the Portuguese colony of Portuguese Guinea in the 19th century. Upon independence, declared in 1973 and recognised in 1974, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the country's name to prevent confusion with the bordering Republic of Guinea. Guinea-Bissau has a history of political instability since gaining independence and no elected president has successfully served a full five-year term. On the evening of 12 April 2012, members of the country's military staged a coup and arrested the interim president and a leading presidential candidate. The military has yet to declare a current leader for the country. However, former vice chief of staff, General Mamadu Ture Kuruma has taken care of the country in the transitional period and started negotiations with opposition parties.
Only 14% of the population speaks the official language, Portuguese. A plurality of the population (44%) speaks Kriol, a Portuguese-based creole language, and the remainder speak native African languages. The main religions are African traditional religions and Islam, and there is a Christian (mostly Catholic) minority.
The country's per-capita gross domestic product is one of the lowest in the world.
Guinea-Bissau is a member of the African Union, Economic Community of West African States, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Latin Union, Community of Portuguese Language Countries, La Francophonie and the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone.
Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, part of the Mali Empire; parts of this kingdom persisted until the 18th century, while others were part of the Portuguese Empire. Portuguese Guinea was known also, from its main economic activity, as the Slave Coast.
Early reports of Europeans reaching this area include those of the Venetian Alvise Cadamosto's voyage of 1455, the 1479–1480 voyage by Flemish-French trader Eustache de la Fosse, and Diogo Cão who in the 1480s reached the Congo River and the lands of Bakongo, setting up thus the foundations of modern Angola, some 1200 km down the African coast from Guinea-Bissau.
Although the rivers and coast of this area were among the first places colonized by the Portuguese, since the 16th century, the interior was not explored until the 19th century. The local African rulers in Guinea, some of whom prospered greatly from the slave trade, had no interest in allowing the Europeans any further inland than the fortified coastal settlements where the trading took place. African communities that fought back against slave traders had even greater incentives to distrust European adventurers and would-be settlers. The Portuguese presence in Guinea was therefore largely limited to the port of Bissau and Cacheu, although isolated European farmer-settlers established farms along Bissau's inland rivers.
For a brief period in the 1790s, the British attempted to establish a rival foothold on an offshore island, at Bolama. But by the 19th century the Portuguese were sufficiently secure in Bissau to regard the neighbouring coastline as their own special territory, also up north in part of present South Senegal.
An armed rebellion beginning in 1956 by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) under the leadership of Amílcar Cabral gradually consolidated its hold on then Portuguese Guinea. Unlike guerrilla movements in other Portuguese colonies, the PAIGC rapidly extended its military control over large portions of the territory, aided by the jungle-like terrain, its easily reached borderlines with neighbouring allies and large quantities of arms from Cuba, China, the Soviet Union, and left-leaning African countries. Cuba also agreed to supply artillery experts, doctors and technicians. The PAIGC even managed to acquire a significant anti-aircraft capability in order to defend itself against aerial attack. By 1973, the PAIGC was in control of many parts of Guinea, although the movement suffered a setback in January 1973 when Cabral was assassinated.
Independence was unilaterally declared on 24 September 1973. Recognition became universal following the 25 April 1974 socialist-inspired military coup in Portugal which overthrew Lisbon's Estado Novo regime.
Luís Cabral, brother of Amílcar and co-founder of PAIGC, was appointed the first President of Guinea-Bissau. Following independence local black soldiers that fought along with the Portuguese Army against the PAIGC guerrillas were slaughtered by the thousands. Some managed to escape and settled in Portugal or other African nations. One of the massacres occurred in the town of Bissorã. In 1980 the PAIGC admitted in its newspaper "Nó Pintcha" (dated 29 November 1980) that many were executed and buried in unmarked collective graves in the woods of Cumerá, Portogole and Mansabá.
The country was controlled by a revolutionary council until 1984. The first multi-party elections were held in 1994, but an army uprising in 1998 led to the president's ousting and the Guinea-Bissau Civil War. Elections were held again in 2000 and Kumba Ialá was elected president.
In September 2003, a coup took place in which the military arrested Ialá on the charge of being "unable to solve the problems." After being delayed several times, legislative elections were held in March 2004. A mutiny of military factions in October 2004 resulted in the death of the head of the armed forces, and caused widespread unrest.
In June 2005, presidential elections were held for the first time since the coup that deposed Ialá. Ialá returned as the candidate for the PRS, claiming to be the legitimate president of the country, but the election was won by former president João Bernardo Vieira, deposed in the 1999 coup. Vieira beat Malam Bacai Sanhá in a runoff election, but Sanhá initially refused to concede, claiming that tampering occurred in two constituencies including the capital, Bissau.
Despite reports that there had been an influx of arms in the weeks leading up to the election and reports of some "disturbances during campaigning"—including attacks on government offices by unidentified gunmen—foreign election monitors labelled the election as "calm and organized". PAIGC won a strong parliamentary majority, with 67 of 100 seats, in the parliamentary election held in November 2008.
In November 2008, President Vieira's official residence was attacked by members of the armed forces, killing a guard but leaving the president unharmed. On 2 March 2009, however, Vieira was assassinated by what preliminary reports indicated to be a group of soldiers avenging the death of the head of joint chiefs of staff, General Batista Tagme Na Wai. Tagme died in an explosion on Sunday, 1 March 2009 in an assassination. Military leaders in the country have pledged to respect the constitutional order of succession. National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira was appointed as an interim president until a nationwide election on 28 June 2009, which was won by Malam Bacai Sanhá.
Guinea-Bissau is a republic. In the past, the government had been highly centralized, and multiparty governance has been in effect since mid-1991. The president is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government. At the legislative level, there is a unicameral "Assembleia Nacional Popular" (National People's Assembly) made up of 100 members. They are popularly elected from multi-member constituencies to serve a four-year term. At the judicial level, there is a "Tribunal Supremo da Justiça" (Supreme Court) which consists of nine justices appointed by the president; they serve at the pleasure of the president.
Until March 2009 João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira was President of Guinea-Bissau. Elected in 2005 as an independent candidate, being declared winner of the second round by the CNE (Comité Nacional de Eleições). Vieira returned to power in 2005 after winning the presidential election only six years after being ousted from office during a civil war. Previously, he held power for 19 years after taking power in 1980 in a bloodless coup. In that action, he toppled the government of Luís Cabral. He was killed on 2 March 2009, possibly by soldiers in retaliation for the killing of the head of the joint chiefs of staff, General Batista Tagme Na Waie. This did not trigger additional violence, but there were signs of turmoil in the country, according to the advocacy group swisspeace.
In 2012, President Rachide Sambu-balde Malam Bacai Sanhá died. He belonged to PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde) – one of two major political parties in Guinea-Bissau along with the PRS (Party for Social Renewal) and alongside over twenty smaller parties. In the 2009 election to replace the assassinated Vieira, Sanhá was the presidential candidate of the PAIGC while Kumba Ialá was the presidential candidate of the PRS.
Regions and sectors
* autonomous sector
At 36,125 square kilometres (13,948 sq mi), the country is larger in size than Taiwan, Belgium, or the U.S. state of Maryland. This small, tropical country lies at a low altitude; its highest point is 300 metres (984 ft). The interior is savanna, and the coastline is plain with swamps of Guinean mangroves. Its monsoon-like rainy season alternates with periods of hot, dry harmattan winds blowing from the Sahara. The Bijagos Archipelago extends out to sea.
|1979 Census||2005 estimate|
Guinea-Bissau is warm all year around and there is little temperature fluctuation; it averages 26.3 °C (79.3 °F). The average rainfall for Bissau is 2,024 millimetres (79.7 in) although this is almost entirely accounted for during the rainy season which falls between June and September/October. From December through April, the country experiences drought.
Guinea-Bissau's GDP per capita is one of the lowest in the world, and its Human Development Index is one of the lowest on earth. More than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line. The economy depends mainly on agriculture; fish, cashew nuts and ground nuts are its major exports. A long period of political instability has resulted in depressed economic activity, deteriorating social conditions, and increased macroeconomic imbalances.
Guinea-Bissau has started to show some economic advances after a pact of stability was signed by the main political parties of the country, leading to an IMF-backed structural reform program. The key challenges for the country in the period ahead would be to achieve fiscal discipline, rebuild public administration, improve the economic climate for private investment, and promote economic diversification. After becoming independent from Portugal in 1974 due to the Portuguese Colonial War and the Carnation Revolution, the exodus of the Portuguese civilian, military and political authorities brought tremendous damage to the country's economic infrastructure, social order and standard of living.
After several years of economic downturn and political instability, in 1997, Guinea-Bissau entered the CFA franc monetary system, bringing about some internal monetary stability. The civil war that took place in 1998 and 1999 and a military coup in September 2003 again disrupted economic activity, leaving a substantial part of the economic and social infrastructure in ruins and intensifying the already widespread poverty. Following the parliamentary elections in March 2004 and presidential elections in July 2005, the country is trying to recover from the long period of instability despite a still-fragile political situation.
Beginning around 2005, drug traffickers based in Latin America began to use Guinea-Bissau, along with several neighboring West African nations, as a transshipment point to Europe for cocaine. The nation was described by a United Nations official as being at risk for becoming a "narco-state". The government and the military have done little to stop drug trafficking, which has increased since the 2012 coup d'état.
The population of Guinea-Bissau is ethnically diverse and has many distinct languages, customs, and social structures. Guinea-Bissauans can be divided into the following ethnic groups: Fula and the Mandinka-speaking people, who comprise the largest portion of the population and are concentrated in the north and northeast; the Balanta and Papel people, who live in the southern coastal regions; and the Manjaco and Mancanha, who occupy the central and northern coastal areas. Most of the remainder are mestiços of mixed Portuguese and African descent, including a Cape Verdean minority.
Portuguese natives comprise a very small percentage of Guinea-Bissauans. This deficit was directly caused by the exodus of Portuguese settlers that took place after Guinea-Bissau gained independence. The country has a tiny Chinese population, including those of mixed Portuguese and Chinese ancestry from Macau, a former Asian Portuguese colony.
Only 14% of the population speaks the official language, Portuguese. 44% speak Kriol, a Portuguese-based creole language, and the remainder speaks native . Most Portuguese and Mestiços speak one of the and Kriol as second languages. French is learned in schools, as the country is surrounded by French-speaking countries and is a full member of the Francophonie.
|Religion in Guinea-Bissau|
Throughout the 20th century, most Bissau-Guineans practiced some form of Animism. Recently, many have adopted Islam, which is currently practiced by 50% of the country's population; most of Guinea-Bissau's Muslims practice Sunni Islam. Approximately 10 percent of the country's population belong to the Christian community, and 40% continue to hold Indigenous beliefs. These statistics can be misleading, however, as both Islamic and Christian practices may be largely influenced and enriched by syncretism with traditional African beliefs.
The WHO estimates that there are fewer than 5 physicians per 100,000 persons in the country, down from 12 per 100,000 in 2007. The prevalence of HIV-infection among the adult population is 1.8%, with only 20% of infected pregnant women receiving anti retroviral coverage. Malaria is an even bigger killer; 9% of the population have reported infection, and it is the specific mortality cause almost three times as often as AIDS. (In 2008, fewer than half of children younger than five slept under antimalaria nets or had access to antimalarial drugs).
Life expectancy at birth has climbed since 1990, but remains short: the WHO's estimate of life expectancy for a child born in 2008 was 49 years (and only 47 years for a boy).
End of this section Despite lowering rates in surrounding countries, cholera rates were reported in November 2012 to be on the rise, with 1,500 cases reported and nine deaths. A 2008 cholera epidemic in Guinea-Bissau affected 14,222 people and killed 225.
Maternal and child healthcare
In June 2011, the United Nations Population Fund released a report on The State of the World's Midwifery. It contained new data on the midwifery workforce and policies relating to newborn and maternal mortality for 58 countries. The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Guinea Bissau is 1000. This is compared with 804.3 in 2008 and 966 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 195 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 24. The aim of this report is to highlight ways in which the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved, particularly Goal 4 – Reduce child mortality and Goal 5 – improve maternal death. In Guinea Bissau the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 3; one out of eighteen pregnant women die as a result of pregnancy.
Education is compulsory from the age of 7 to 13. The enrollment of boys is higher than that of girls. Child labor is very common. A significant minority of the population are illiterate.
On the other side, Guinea-Bissau has several secondary schools (general as well as technical) and a surprising number of universities, to which an institutionally autonomous Faculty of Law as well as a Faculty of Medicine have to be added.
In 1998, the gross primary enrollment rate was 53.5 percent, with higher enrollment ratio for males (67.7 percent) compared to females (40 percent). Since 2001, Guinea-Bissau has been recovering from the civil conflict of 1999, and later conflicts, which displaced one-third of the population, destroyed many schools, and prevented most young children from attending school for at least half a year.
The music of Guinea-Bissau is usually associated with the polyrhythmic gumbe genre, the country's primary musical export. However, civil unrest and other factors have combined over the years to keep gumbe, and other genres, out of mainstream audiences, even in generally syncretist African countries.
The calabash is the primary musical instrument of Guinea-Bissau, and is used in extremely swift and rhythmically complex dance music. Lyrics are almost always in Guinea-Bissau Creole, a Portuguese-based creole language, and are often humorous and topical, revolving around current events and controversies, especially AIDS.
The word gumbe is sometimes used generically, to refer to any music of the country, although it most specifically refers to a unique style that fuses about ten of the country's folk music traditions. Tina and tinga are other popular genres, while extent folk traditions include ceremonial music used in funerals, initiations and other rituals, as well as Balanta brosca and kussundé, Mandinga djambadon, and the kundere sound of the Bissagos Islands.
Flora Gomes is an internationally renowned film director; his most famous film is "Nha Fala", English: "My Voice". Gomes' Mortu Nega (Death Denied) (1988) was the first fiction film and the second feature film ever made in Guinea-Bissau. (The first feature film was N’tturudu, by director Umban u’Kest in 1987.) At FESPACO 1989, Mortu Nega won the prestigious Oumarou Ganda Prize. Mortu Nega is in Creole language with English subtitles. In 1992, Gomes directed Udju Azul di Yonta,  which was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival. Mrs. Gomes has also served on the boards of many Africa-centric film festivals.
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- http://www.ethnologue.org/show_language.asp?code=pov Kriol
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- The WHO identified only 78 physicians in the entire Guinea-Bissau health workforce in 2009 data. ("Health workforce, infrastructure, essential medicines" (PDF). 2010. p. 118. http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/EN_WHS10_Part2.pdf.) And the World Bank estimates that Guinea-Bissau had 1,575,446 residents in 2008. At the current rate of population growth there would have been about 1.61 million people in the country by 2009, of which 0.0048% are known to be medical doctors involved in patient care. The WHO estimate an average of about 20 per 100,000 across Africa, but reports a density per 10,000 population of <0.5 in its Physicians data covering the period to 2009. However, Guinea-Bissau has an unusually high ratio of nursing staff to doctors: including nurses and midwives, there are 64 medical professionals per 100,000 Bissau-Guineans
- The WHO estimates that there were 188 physicians working in the entire country as of 2007 ("Health workforce, infrastructure, essential medicines". 2009. p. 98. http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/EN_WHS09_Table6.pdf.). And The World Bank estimates that Guinea-Bissau had 1,541,040 residents in 2007 ("Midyear estimates of the resident population". 2010. http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:GNB&dl=en&hl=en&q=guinea-bissau+population.). So, about 0.0122% of the permanent population were known to be medical doctors involved in patient care, as of 2007.
- The WHO estimates a 1.8% HIV-infection rate from 2007 data among 15- to 49-year old Bissau-Guineans – see statistics on page 65 of: "2. Cause-specific mortality and morbidity" (PDF). WHO. 2010. http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/EN_WHS10_Part2.pdf.. (The section's introduction describes estimation methodology).
- As of 2008, only 20% of HIV-infected mothers or sufferers with advanced cases had anti-retroviral drug access, see: "Health service coverage". WHO. 2010. p. 91. http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/EN_WHS10_Part2.pdf.. Coverage in the general population is lower.
- "Selected infectious diseases". WHO. 2010. p. 76. http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/EN_WHS10_Part2.pdf. Retrieved 9 June 2010. – 148,542 reported cases in 2008.)
- According to the 2010 WHO report, the latest Malaria mortality rate per 100,000 Bissau-Guineans (180) is substantially greater than that for AIDS (65). ("Cause-specific mortality and morbidity". WHO. 2010. p. 64. http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/EN_WHS10_Part2.pdf. Retrieved 9 June 2010.) Among children younger than 5, Malaria is nine times more deadly (p. 65).
- "Global Health Indicators: 4. Health service coverage". WHO. 2010. p. 91. http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/EN_WHS10_Part2.pdf.
- "Global Health Indicators: Mortality and burden of disease". 2010. p. 50. http://www.who.int/whosis/whostat/EN_WHS10_Part2.pdf.. Healthy life expectancy at birth was 42, and the probability of dying between a live-birth and age 5 was 19.5% (down from 24% in 1990, p.51).
- Guinea Bissau: Cholera On the Rise, Africa: allafrica.com, 2012, http://allafrica.com/stories/201211141254.html?aa_source=mf-hdlns, retrieved 15 November 2012
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- The latter is maintained by Cuba and functions in different cities.
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- http://gumbe.com Gumbe
- http://ccas11bijagos.pbworks.com/w/page/35504203/Music%20of%20Guinea-Bissau Kundere sound and others
- http://spot.pcc.edu/~mdembrow/Nha%20Fala.htm Nha Fala/My Voice
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- Udju Azul di Yonta at California Newsreel
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- Awards and Accomplishments
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.