Capital | Bissau
Population | 1,533,964 (July 2009 est.)
Area | 36,120 sq km
Official language | Portueguese
Holidays | Independence Day, 24 September (1973)
Currency | West African CFA franc (XOF)
Time Zone | UTC+0
Best time to visit | Late November to early February, when its dry and cool.
Connecting with the Culture | Viewing the flora and fauna of the Arquipelago dos Bijagos. Dancing at Bissau’s February Carnival – music, papier machemaska and parades. Hiking and observing wildlife in the south’s sacred forests. Checking out Portuguese colonial architecture throughout the country. Relaxing on the archipelago’s pristine beaches.
Read | Susan Lowerre’s `Under the Neem Tree’, which tells a vivid story of a Peace Corps volunteer’s experience in the region.
Listen | to Super Mama Djombo and popular singers Dulce Maria Neves, N’Kassa Cobra and Patcheco.
Watch | Flora Gomes’ `The Blue Eyes of Yonta’, a film about dreams and revolution.
Eat | riz gras (rice with a greasy sauce) at rice bars, or grilled fish and salad at barracas (makeshift bar/restaurants).
Drink | cana de cajeu (cashew rum) – made from cashew fruit that surrounds the nuts.
In a word | Bon dia (good morning)
Characteristics | Monkeys, groundnuts; Portuguese colonialism; the Arquipelago dos Bijagos.
Surprises | Guinea-Bissau is the world’s sixth largest producer of cashew nuts; the Orango Islands National Park is home to a rare species of saltwater hippo. Tiny, verdant and fractured by waterways, Guinea-Bissau is a gem for those prepared to seek it out. Sleepy towns, quiet beaches and sacred rainforests dot the mainland while offshore the Arquipelago dos Bijagos has a uniqie culture and fantastic marine and animal life. Its people are some of the most unconditionally hospitable in West Africa.
NEWS ABOUT GUINEA-BISSAU
Guinea-Bissau Coup Reported
(HN, 4/12/12) - Guinea-Bissau troops staged a coup attempt Thursday, attacking the prime minister's residence, arresting politicians & taking over the ruling party headquarters & the national radio station which stopped broadcasts as did state television. Gunshots & rocket-propelled grenades were fired in the darkened streets of the capital of Bissau. The former Portuguese colony, is in the middle of a bitterly disputed 2nd round presidential election. The fate of the winner of the 1st round, outgoing PM Carlos Gomes Junior, & interim head of state Raimundo Pereira was not immediately known. The West African bloc ECOWAS has condemned the coup attempt, announced Ivorian FM Daniel Kablan Duncan in Abidjan, after a meeting of the 15-nation regional group about Mali. The 2nd-placed candidate Kumba Yala, an ex president who claims the 1st round vote March 18th was rigged - has called a boycott of the April 29 run-off vote & warned against campaigning. The election campaign for the 2nd round was supposed to start on Friday & end April 27. Since winning independence through armed combat in 1974, the country has remained in often deadly conflict & no president has ever completed a full term in office. 3 have been overthrown & 1 was assassinated in office in 2009. The latest election was held after the last president, Malam Bacai Sanha, died in January following a long illness. (Read more News24)