The coastline of Guinea-Bissau is heavily indented by gulfs and inlets. The entire country is largely flat and low-lying, containing endless pools and swamps. The only high ground is in the southeast where the altitudes reach a measly 800 feet high. The coastal region and islands are forested with palms while the rest of the country is rather sparsely vegetated. Major rivers, canals, and lagoons though scatter throughout Guinea-Bissau.
Guinea-Bissau’s main attraction is its wildlife. One of the more popular game-viewing attractions is the Cantanhez Natural Park in Jemberem. The park is part of a conservation project aimed at protecting chimpanzees, monkeys, and rare birds. The River Zoo Farm is another notable wildlife attraction. Thousands of mammals, native fauna, and birds are breeded at this 500 acre farm, which includes a lake and two freshwater rivers.
Tourists are also drawn to the Bijagos Archipelago, which consists of several groups of small islands, many of them uninhabited. The most popular of the islands are Bubaque and Bolama. Bolama, in particular, was the original capital of the country. It features some excellent beaches and some ruins left behind from the old days when it used to be the capital. Bubaque, on the other hand, is completely unspoiled. There are no accommodations on this island but visitors can still camp out there. All the islands serve as habitats for manatees, sharks, turtles, and a very rare kind of hippopotamus that actually swims in salt-water.
If you want to explore Portuguese colonial remains, visit Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau. There is a Portuguese quarter that is lined with charming Mediterranean-style houses.
The principle ethnic groups in Guinea-Bissau are the Balante, Fulani, and Mandingo. The Fulani and Mandingo live primarily in the interior regions, while the Balante take to the coast.
The Portuguese were the first to visit Guinea-Bissau in 1446. They established a few scarcely used trading posts. Their interest in the territory was mainly as a source of slaves. The Portuguese, however, did not settle the territory until they colonized it in 1879.
Guerrilla attacks begun against the Portuguese in the early 1960s. Portugal resisted granting Guinea-Bissau independence until 1974. The country was governed under a one-party rule for its first 17 years of independence. Multiparty elections were constitutionally set up in 1991 and the first elections took place in 1994. General Vieira was elected president. Civil war broke out in 1998 when a separatist revolt occurred in Casamance, Senegal and Vieira was overthrown. Since then, the country has experienced a number of military coups and a series of new elections, the last one occurred in 2005 which saw Vieira return to power.