Guinea-Bissau, officially the Republic of Guinea-Bissau (República da Guiné-Bissau ), is a country in West Africa that covers 36125 km2 with an estimated population of.
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 noncreolized Portuguese, established as both the official and national language. Portuguese exists in creole continuum with Crioulo, a Portuguese creole spoken by half the population (44%) and an even larger number speaks it as second tongue. The remainder speak a variety of native African languages. There are diverse religions in Guinea-Bissau with no one religion having a majority. The CIA World Factbook (2018) states there are about 40% Muslims, 22% Christians, 15% Animists and 18% unspecified or other. The country's per-capita gross domestic product is one of the lowest in the world.
The sovereign state of Guinea-Bissau is a member of the United Nations, African Union, Economic Community of West African States, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Community of Portuguese Language Countries, La Francophonie and the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone, and was a member of the now-defunct Latin Union.
Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, part of the Mali Empire; parts of this kingdom persisted until the 18th century. Other parts of the territory in the current country were considered by the Portuguese as part of their empire. Portuguese Guinea was known as the Slave Coast, as it was a major area for the exportation of African slaves by Europeans to the western hemisphere.
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. In the 1480s this Portuguese explorer reached the Congo River and the lands of Bakongo, setting up the foundations of modern Angola, some 4200 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, who set up trading posts in the 16th century, they did not explore the interior until the 19th century. The local African rulers in Guinea, some of whom prospered greatly from the slave trade, controlled the inland trade and did not allow the Europeans into the interior. They kept them in the fortified coastal settlements where the trading took place. African communities that fought back against slave traders also distrusted European adventurers and would-be settlers. The Portuguese in Guinea were largely restricted to the ports of Bissau and Cacheu. A small number of European settlers established isolated farms along Bissau's inland rivers.
For a brief period in the 1790s, the British tried 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, begun 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 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.