Guinea-Bissau: Truth, Knowledge, History Of The West African Nation


(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Guinea-Bissau

Introduction 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 1980’s 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.
History Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu (Kaabu), part of the Mali Empire; parts of the kingdom persisted until the eighteenth century. Although the rivers and coast of this area were among the first places colonized by the Portuguese, who began slave trade in the seventeenth century, the interior was not explored until the nineteenth century.

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 the country. Unlike guerrilla movements in other Portuguese colonies, the PAIGC rapidly extended its military control over large portions of the country, aided by the jungle-like terrain and large quantities of arms from Cuba, China, the Soviet Union, and other African countries. Cuba also agreed to supply artillery experts, doctors and technicians.[1] 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 most of the country. Independence was unilaterally declared on September 24, 1973, and was recognized by a 93-7 UN General Assembly vote in November 1973. [1] Recognition became universal following the 1974 socialist-inspired military coup in Portugal.

Following independence massive crimes against humanity happened, with the extermination of the local soldiers that fought along the Portuguese army. Thousands were killed, only a few escaped to Portugal or other African nations. The most famous massacre occurred in Bissorã. In 1980 PAIGC admitted in its newspaper “Nó Pintcha” (29/11/1980) 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 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 1998 coup. Vieira was a candidate for one of the factions of the PAIGC. Vieira beat Malam Bacai Sanhá in a runoff-election, but Sanhá refused initially to concede, claiming that the elections have been fraudulent 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 the presidential palace and the Interior Ministry by as-yet-unidentified gunmen – European monitors labelled the election as “calm and organized”.

Geography Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Senegal
Geographic coordinates: 12 00 N, 15 00 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 36,120 sq km
land: 28,000 sq km
water: 8,120 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than three times the size of Connecticut
Land boundaries: total: 724 km
border countries: Guinea 386 km, Senegal 338 km
Coastline: 350 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
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
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location in the northeast corner of the country 300 m
Natural resources: fish, timber, phosphates, bauxite, clay, granite, limestone, unexploited deposits of petroleum
Land use: arable land: 8.31%
permanent crops: 6.92%
other: 84.77% (2005)
Irrigated land: 250 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 31 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.18 cu km/yr (13%/5%/82%)
per capita: 113 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season; brush fires
Environment – current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; over fishing
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: this small country is swampy along its western coast and low-lying further inland
People Population: 1,472,780 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 41.2% (male 302,408/female 303,786)
15-64 years: 55.8% (male 394,799/female 427,055)
65 years and over: 3% (male 18,463/female 26,269) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 19.1 years
male: 18.5 years
female: 19.7 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.052% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 36.81 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 16.29 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 0.995 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.924 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.703 male(s)/female
total population: 0.945 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 103.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 113.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 93.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 47.18 years
male: 45.37 years
female: 49.04 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.79 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 10% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 17,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 1,200 (2001 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoa diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever
water contact disease: sadomasochist
respiratory disease: pneumococcal meningitis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Guinean(s)
adjective: Guinean
Ethnic groups: African 99% (includes Balanta 30%, Fula 20%, Manjaca 14%, Mandinga 13%, Papel 7%), European and mulatto less than 1%
Religions: indigenous beliefs 50%, Muslim 45%, Christian 5%
Languages: Portuguese (official), Crioulo, African languages
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 42.4%
male: 58.1%
female: 27.4%

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