The coastal nation of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau is one of the smallest countries in Africa. The population has one of the world’s lowest life expectancies and is also one of the world’s youngest. This former Portuguese colony has a remarkable history but what it doesn’t have is any UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Curious to know more? Here are some of the most interesting facts about Guinea-Bissau.
7 Interesting Facts about Guinea-Bissau
1. Guinea-Bissau is in West Africa
The Republic of Guinea-Bissau is a country located in West Africa. Senegal borders it to the north and Guinea borders it to the south-east. It has a coastline on the Atlantic ocean. Guinea-Bissau was once part of the Kingdom of Kaabu, as well as part of the Mali Empire and a sub-kingdom known as Gabu. Bissau is the capital and largest city of Guinea-Bissau.
2. Guinea-Bissau is the eighth-smallest country in continental Africa
The Republic of Guinea-Bissau covers 36,125 square kilometres (13,948 sq mi) making it the eighth-smallest country in continental Africa. As of 2022, the Republic of Guinea-Bissau has a population of 2,059,569. This is equivalent to 0.03 per cent of the total world population. Out of 235 countries (and dependencies) by population, it ranks at 150.
3. Guinea-Bissau has one of the world’s youngest populations
According to the CIA World Factbook, the median age of the Guinea-Bissaupopulation is 18 years. By way of comparison, the median age of the population of Monaco, the world’s most elderly country, is 55.4. In Guinea-Bissau, more than 63 per cent of the population is under the age of 25. Niger is the country with the lowest population median age at just 14.8 years. Guinea-Bissau also has one of the world’s lowest life expectancies. As of 2021, it had the ninth-lowest at just 58.0 years.
4. Four countries have Guinea in their name
Guinea-Bissau takes its name from the Guinea region of West Africa. This region is part of the African coast of West Africa which lies along the Gulf of Guinea. The country uses the name of its capital, Bissau, to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea. There are four countries in the world with the word Guinea in their name. In Africa, there is Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Equatorial Guinea and in Oceania, there is Papua New Guinea. In West Africa, Guinea-Bissa was once Portuguese Guinea. Equatorial Guinea was formerly called Spanish Guinea. Guinea was once called French Guinea.
5. Guinea-Bissau declared independence in 1974
In 1446, the Portuguese arrived in the region and took control of what would eventually become Guinea-Bissau. It became part of the Portuguese Cape Verde Islands. The Portuguese founded the city of Bissau in the 17th century but the city didn’t officially become the capital of modern-day Guinea-Bissau until 1942 when officials moved the capital from the island city of Bolama. Following a guerrilla war in 1973, Guinea-Bissau declared independence from Portugal. Guinea-Bissau was formally recognised as an independent nation in 1974.
6. Guinea-Bissau has no UNESCO World Heritage sites
Guinea-Bissau is one of 27 countries that does not have a single UNESCO World Heritage Site. It does have one property on the Tentative List of sites to be submitted for nomination. This site is the Bijagós archipelago located off the coast of the country which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The archipelago is made up of 88 islands and is home to a significant diversity of mammals, reptiles, birds and fish, for instance, rare pygmy hippos, sharks, manatees and turtles too.
7. The Guinea-Bissau flag is full of symbolism
The national flag of Guinea-Bissau features two horizontal stripes of yellow and green and a vertical red stripe with a black star. The colours are very symbolic, for instance, the colour yellow represents the savannas of the north. The colour green symbolises the forests of the south. The red colour represents the struggle for independence and the black star represents the people of Africa.