Guinea-Bissau (i/ˈɡɪni bɪˈsaʊ/, GI-nee-bi-SOW), officially the Republic of Guinea-Bissau (Portuguese: República da Guiné-Bissau, pronounced: [ʁeˈpublikɐ dɐ ɡiˈnɛ biˈsaw]), is a country in West Africa. It covers 36,125 square kilometres (13,948 sq mi) with an estimated population of 1,704,000.
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 under some rule by the Portuguese Empire since the 16th century. In the 19th century, it was colonized as Portuguese Guinea. 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 Guinea (formerly French Guinea). Guinea-Bissau has a history of political instability since independence, and no elected president has successfully served a full five-year term.
Only 14% of the population speaks Portuguese, established as the official language in the colonial period. Almost half the population (44%) speaks Crioulo, a Portuguese-based creole language, and the remainder speak a variety of native African languages. The main religions are African traditional religions and Islam; there is a Christian (mostly Roman Catholic) minority. The country's per-capita gross domestic product is one of the lowest in the world.
Coordinates: 11°N 10°W / 11°N 10°W / 11; -10
Guinea i/ˈɡɪni/, officially the Republic of Guinea (French: République de Guinée), is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea (French: Guinée française), the modern country is sometimes referred to as Guinea-Conakry in order to distinguish it from other parts of the wider region of the same name, such as Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea. Guinea has a population of 10.5 million and an area of 245,860 square kilometres (94,927 sq mi).
Guinea is a republic. The president is directly elected by the people and is head of state and head of government. The unicameral Guinean National Assembly is the legislative body of the country, and its members are also directly elected by the people. The judicial branch is led by the Guinea Supreme Court, the highest and final court of appeal in the country.
Guinea is a predominantly Islamic country, with Muslims representing 85 percent of the population. Guinea's people belong to twenty-four ethnic groups. French, the official language of Guinea, is the main language of communication in schools, in government administration, in the media, and among the country's security forces, but more than twenty-four indigenous languages are also spoken.
Guinea is a traditional name for the region of West Africa that lies along the Gulf of Guinea. It stretches north through the forested tropical regions and ends at the Sahel.
The etymology of "Guinea" is uncertain. The English term Guinea comes directly from the Portuguese word Guiné, which emerged in the mid-15th century to refer to the lands inhabited by the Guineus, a generic term for the black African peoples south of the Senegal River (as opposed to the 'tawny' Zenaga Berbers, north of it, whom they called Azenegues or Moors). The term "Guinea" is extensively used in the 1453 chronicle of Gomes Eanes de Zurara.
King John II of Portugal took up the title of Senhor da Guiné (Lord of Guinea) from 1483. It is believed the Portuguese borrowed Guineus from the Berber term Ghinawen (sometimes Arabized as Guinauha or Genewah) meaning "the burnt people" (analogous to the Classical Greek Aithiops, "of the burned face"). The Berber terms "aginaw" or "Akal n-Iguinawen" mean "black" or "land of the blacks."
The guinea is a coin of approximately one quarter ounce of gold that was minted in the Kingdom of England and later in the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United Kingdom between 1663 and 1814. It was the first English machine-struck gold coin, originally worth one pound sterling, equal to twenty shillings, but rises in the price of gold relative to silver caused the value of the guinea to increase, at times to as high as thirty shillings. From 1717 to 1816, its value was officially fixed at twenty-one shillings. Then, Great Britain adopted the gold standard and guinea became a colloquial or specialised term.
The name came from the Guinea region in West Africa, where much of the gold used to make the coins originated. Although no longer circulated, the term guinea survives in some circles, notably horse racing, and in the sale of rams to mean an amount of one pound and one shilling (21 shillings) or one pound and five pence in decimalised currency. The name also forms the basis for the Arabic word for the Egyptian pound الجنيه el-Genēh / el-Geni, as a sum of 100 qirsh (one pound) was worth approximately 21 shillings at the end of the 19th century.
Bissau is the capital city of Guinea-Bissau. In 2007 Bissau had an estimated population of 407,424. Bissau is located on the Geba River estuary, off the Atlantic Ocean, and is Guinea-Bissau's largest city, major port, and its administrative and military centre.
The city was founded in 1687 by Portugal as a fortified port and trading center. In 1942 it became the capital of Portuguese Guinea.
After the declaration of independence by the anti-colonial guerrillas of PAIGC in 1973, the capital of the de facto independent territories was declared to be Madina do Boe. Bissau remained as the capital of the Portuguese-occupied regions, and the de jure capital of all of Portuguese Guinea. When Portugal recognized the independence of Guinea-Bissau and decolonised in 1974 due to the military coup of April 25 in Lisbon, the two territories merged and Bissau became the capital of the new independent state. The city is known for its annual carnival.
The city, as the seat of government, was the scene of intense fighting during the beginning and end of the Guinea-Bissau Civil War in 1998 and 1999.