Guinea-Bissau History and Geography
Guinea-Bissau (Republic of Guinea-Bissau). West African country, and one of the smallest in continental Africa. It borders Senegal to the North, and Guinea to the South and East, and with the Atlantic Ocean to the West. During the colonial period it was a Portuguese colony, forming part of the so-called Portuguese Guinea. When it became independent, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the official name of the country to avoid confusion between it and the Republic of Guinea.
According to INTERNETSAILORS, Guinea-Bissau was once part of the Gabu kingdom, part of the Mali empire ; parts of this kingdom remained until the 18th century, while others were part of the Portuguese empire. Portuguese Guinea was also known, due to its main economic activity, as the Slave Coast.
The first reports of Europeans to reach this area are those of the Venetian Alvise Cadamosto’s voyage of 1455, the voyage of 1479 – 1480 by Eustache de la Fosse, a Flemish-French merchant, and Diogo Cão who in the 1480s reached the river Congo and the Bakongo lands, thus creating the foundations of present-day Angola, about 1,200 km off the African coast of Guinea-Bissau.
Despite the fact that the rivers and the coast of this area are among the first places colonized by the Portuguese, since the 16th century, the interior was not explored until the 19th century. Local African rulers in Guinea, some of whom largely prospered from the slave trade, had no interest in allowing Europeans to pass beyond the interior of the fortified coastal towns, where the bargaining took place.. African communities that fought slave traders had even greater incentives to distrust European adventurers and would-be settlers. The Portuguese presence in Guinea is therefore largely limited to the port of Bissau and Cacheu, although isolated European farmer settlers established farms along the rivers of the interior of Bissau.
For a brief period in the 1790s the British attempted to establish a rival base on an offshore island at Bolama. However, by the 19th century the Portuguese were safe enough in Bissau, to consider the neighboring coast as their own special territory, also in the north, in part, of the south of Senegal.
An armed rebellion from 1956 by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), under the leadership of Amílcar Cabral, was consolidating its control over Portuguese Guinea. Unlike the guerrilla movements in other Portuguese colonies, the PAIGC quickly extended its military control over large portions of the territory, with the help of the jungle as its terrain, and the ease of reaching boundaries with neighboring allies and large quantities of weapons. from Cuba, China, the Soviet Union, and left-wing African countries.
Cuba also agreed to supply artillery experts, doctors and technicians. The PAIGC was even able to acquire a significant antiaircraft capability in order to defend itself against air attack. In 1973, the PAIGC had control of many parts of Guinea. Independence was declared unilaterally on September 24, 1973. Recognition became universal after the military coup in Portugal on April 25, 1974, which overthrew the Lisbon Novo state regime.
Luís Cabral was named the first president of Guinea-Bissau. 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 overthrow of the president and the civil war in Guinea-Bissau. Elections were held again in 2000 and Kumba Ialá was elected president.
In September 2003, a coup d’état took place in which Ialá was arrested, accused of being “incapable of solving the problems”. After being delayed several times, the legislative elections were held in March 2004. A mutiny by the 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 a candidate for the PRS, who claimed to be the legitimate president of the country, but the election was won by former president João Bernardo Vieira, deposed in the 1998 coup. Vieira defeated Malam Bacai Sanhá in a second electoral round, but Sanhá refused to accept, claiming that the manipulation occurred in two groups, including the capital, Bissau.
Despite reports that there had been an influx of arms in the weeks leading up to the elections and some “campaign riots” – such as attacking government offices by unknown armed men, foreign observers of the elections called them ” calm and organized “. The PAIGC won a strong parliamentary majority, with 67 out of 100 seats in the parliamentary elections 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 safe and sound. The 2 of March of 2009, however, Vieira was asesinado.Los preliminary reports indicated that a group of soldiers trying to avenge the death of the head of the Joint Chiefs, General Batista Tagme Na the Wai. Tagme was killed in an explosion on March 1, 2009. Military leaders in the country have pledged to respect the constitutional order of succession. Raimundo Pereira, spokesman for the National Assembly, was appointed as interim president until the national elections on June 28, 2009, which were won by Malam Bacai Sanhá.
2010 military revolt
A military revolt occurred in Guinea-Bissau on April 1, 2010. Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior was placed under house arrest by the soldiers, who also detained the Chief of Staff Zamora Induta. Gomes’ supporters and his party, the PAIGC, reacted to the move by demonstrating in the capital, Bissau. Indjai Antonio, the deputy chief of staff, warned that Gomes would have to be killed if the protests continued.
The EU ended its mission to reform the country’s security forces on 4 August 2010, at the risk of emboldening powerful generals and drug traffickers in the military and elsewhere. The spokesman for the EU mission in Guinea-Bissau, Miguel Souza, said the EU had to suspend its program when the mastermind of the rebellion, General Antonio Indjai, became head of the army.
Angolan military mission in Guinea-Bissau (MISSANG)
On September 10, 2010, Angola and Guinea Bissau signed a protocol in which Angola will assist the Guinean Armed Forces and police forces for two years. Around 200 Angolans from the Armed Forces will support the Military Mission in Angola, in Guinea-Bissau (MISSANG) that formally began on March 21, 2011. Angolan authorities said the ultimate goal was to help Guinea-Bissau with the military coups and drug trafficking that have plagued the small West African state for decades.
Guinea-Bissau is located between latitudes 11 ° and 13 ° N (a small area is south of 11 °), and longitudes 13 ° and 17 ° W. This small tropical country, measuring 36,125 square kilometers, is of little height, its highest point is 300 meters. The interior is savanna, and the coast is flat with the mangrove swamps of Guinea. Its torrential rainy season alternates with periods of hot and dry harmattan winds blowing from the Sahara. Likewise, on its maritime coast there are a series of archipelagos belonging to the country. Guinea-Bissau borders Senegal to the north, Guinea to the south and east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, where its Bijagós Islands are located.
Guinea-Bissau’s population is ethnically diverse and has diverse languages, customs, and social structures. Guinea-Bissau can be divided into the following ethnic groups: Fula and the Mandingo-speaking people, who comprise the majority of the population and are concentrated in the north and northeast, the Balanta and Papel people, who live in the coastal regions of the south and Manjaco and Mancanha, which occupy the central and northern coastal areas. Most of the rest are of mixed origin between Portuguese and Africans, including a minority from Cape Verde.
Portuguese natives make up a very small percentage in Guinea-Bissau. This deficit was directly caused by the exodus of the Portuguese settlers that took place after Guinea-Bissau achieved its independence. The country also has a small population of Chinese origin, including those of mixed Portuguese and Chinese descent from Macao, a former Portuguese colony in Asia.
Only 14% of the population speak the official language, Portuguese. 44% speak Creole, a Portuguese-based Creole language, and the rest speak native African languages. Most Portuguese and mestizos speak one of the African languages and Creole as a second language. French is also taught in schools, as the country is surrounded by French-speaking countries and is a full member of the Francophonie.