Guinea-Bissau Travel Guide
Guinea-Bissau Travel: General Information
Guinea-Bissau may be struggling with a weak economy and lack of infrastructure but the tiny West African nation has quite a few things going for it that make it a tourist gem.The mainland, for instance, has some of the best beaches, mangrove swamps and thick forests with abundant wildlife. The delta islands of the coast, Arquipélago dos Bijagós, likewise are not only exceptionally beautiful, they bring the natural world alive with their populations of salt-water hippos, sea-turtles, sharks, manatees and monkeys. The Bijagós archipelago is also home to an indigenous matriarchal. Add to these the lures of West African traditions and the traces of its colonial past and you will have the Guinea-Bissau package to keep you engaged for a couple of days.
Guinea-Bissau Travel: Key Facts
Capital City: Bissau
Area: 36,125 sq km
Monetary Unit: West African CFA Franc (XOF)
Official Language: Portuguese
International Dialing Code: 245
Guinea-Bissau Travel: Popular Tourist Destinations
- Bissau: Bissau, the capital and largest city of Guinea-Bissau, is not the usual city of hustle and bustle; it is instead rendered remarkable by its relaxed pace of life. The city is dotted with old, crumbling structures like the Fortaleza d'Amura that are reminders of the nation’s colonial-past. You will also come across buildings like the Guinea-Bissau Presidential Palace and the Bissau French Cultural Centre that stand witness to the Civil War days. Bissau is also famous for its annual carnival and its café-scene.
- Bafata: Bafata, the central Guinea-Bissau township, is famous for its colonial architecture and its wildlife.
- Cacheu: Cacheu was once famous for its slave-trade and a 16th century Portuguese-fort is all that remains of those slave-trading days. The other attraction of the town is the Tarafes de Cacheu Natural Park mangrove swamp.
- Other Popular Destinations: The Bijagos Archipelago is undoubtedly the greatest attraction of Guinea-Bissau. The islands (about thirty in number – both small and big) are beyond doubt scenic but their real importance lies in the fact that together they constitute a Biosphere Reserve famous for its wild-life and marine-life. Some famous, must-visit islands in the archipelago are – Bolama, Bubaque, Caravela, Galinhas, Joao Viera, Orango, etc. Guinea-Bissau, in addition, has other attractions like the beach town of Varela, Saltinho Waterfall and the Sacred Forests of Catio and Jemberem, better known as the habitation of the African Chimpanzee.
Guinea-Bissau Travel: Economy and Infrastructure
Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest nations of the world, with a massive seventy percent (or even greater) of the population living below the poverty line. This has largely been the result of years of political instability that hindered progress in any sphere. No wonder agriculture continues to be the mainstay of Guinea-Bissau’s economy (followed by fishing). Guinea-Bissau’s chief export commodities are various nuts, including cashew nuts, ground nuts, peanuts and shrimp.
Guinea-Bissau’s political turmoil has not only played spoil-sport with its economy, it has mired progress and development in general. The nation’s infrastructure – be it transportation or communication, health or education –has suffered a lot too. The changes in the political scenario in the last decade or so seem to project a better future for the nation as a whole and this bodes well for tourists and tourism as well.
Guinea-Bissau Travel: Culture
Guinea-Bissau has a mixed population of Africans, Europeans and mulattoes – though the people are largely dark-skinned, they speak different dialects, follow different religions, customs and traditions. Islam is the religion followed by the majority (but a large-chunk of the population also practices Animism). Portuguese is the official language. Polyrhytmic Gumbe music is an essential aspect of Guinea-Bissau’s culture as is ‘warga’ or the sweet green tea.
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Recent Travel Guides from Guinea-Bissau
Bissau, the quiet little capital of Guinea-Bissau, sports a unique colonial charm of its own. Free from the insistent bustling of street peddlers and noisy merchants, the city is a memento of by-gone colonial days. Its crumbling buildings still retain much of their former beauty, and even Bissau’s atmosphere recalls the old days. ... Read more »