West Africa’s Guinea-Bissau was part of the Portuguese Empire for centuries and was once known as the Slave Coast; today 14% of the population speaks Portuguese.
Once hailed as a potential model for African development, the country is now one of the poorest countries in the world.
The vital cashew nut crop provides a modest living for most of Guinea-Bissau’s farmers and is the main source of foreign exchange.
But today the nation has a massive foreign debt and an economy that relies heavily on foreign aid. It has become transhipment point for Latin American drugs.
At the end of the 1990s the country experienced a conflict which drew in Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, and France and ended with the president going into exile.
- The Republic of Guinea-Bissau
- Capital: Bissau
- Population: 1.6 million
- Area: 36,125 sq km (13,948 sq miles)
- Major languages: Portuguese, Crioulo – a form of Portuguese, African languages
- Major religions: Indigenous beliefs, Islam, Christianity
- Life expectancy: 47 years (men), 50 years (women)
- Currency: CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc