Stories of revolution and development in Guinea Bissau. A journey born of a word, which unites a people. A report in the looks and in the stories of those who work, create and dream every day a different country.

Discover the stories
Guinea Bissau: a timeline

In pre-colonial era, and not so long ago, in Africa there were more than 10.000 small states, kingdoms, ethnic groups, associations. In his book, The African Experience (New York 1991), the historian of University of London Roland Oliver highlights a paradox now widespread: it is said commonly that European colonialists have made a division of Africa. "A partition?" Says Oliver amazed. "But if it was a unification brutal, set with fire and sword! From 10,000 who were, they reduced to fifty. “But of all this variety, this iridescent mosaic composed of stones, bones, shells, and twigs and leaves much remains. We contemplate more and more we see how under our eyes the parts of the puzzle will change place, forms and shades, to form a show that dazzles us with its variety, its wealth, and its kaleidoscope of colors.

Ryszard Kapuściński - Ebano, 1998

Before the fifteenth century Guinea Bissau, in pre-colonial era, is a tributary kingdom known as the Gabú and is part of the Mali Empire.

1446 Nuno Tristão, according to a reconstruction legendary rather than historical, is the first Portuguese explorer to set foot in Guinea Bissau. Thus, she began their administration (also on the Cape Verde Islands) and all the area of Guinea Bissau becomes a major hub in the slave trade.

1879 The Guinea Bissau becomes a separate colony from Cape Verde.

1951 Guinea Bissau is declared the province of Portugal..

1956 Amilcar Cabral and Rafael Barbosa founded in hiding the PAIGC - African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde.

1963-74 From the headquarters of the PAIGC in Conakry, Guinea, start riots that led to the war for the independence from Portugal.

1973 Amilcar Cabral was assassinated. The PAIGC unilaterally declares the Independence of Guinea Bissau Portugal (documentary on murder).

1974 Portugal recognizes the independence to Guinea Bissau: Luis Cabral, Amilcar’s brother, becomes president.

1980 Luis Cabral was overthrown by a military coup led by Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira.

1994 Vieira was elected president.

1998 Vieira “fires” the commander of army, General Ansumane Mane, accused of supplying weapons to rebels in Senegal clandestinely.

1999 May: the soldiers led by General Mane Ansumane overthrow Vieira.

2000 January: Kumba Ialá is elected president.

2002 November: General Mane was killed, allegedly after trying to implement a coup (report).

14th september 2003 A military coup ousts President Ialá.

2004 March: After a period of “transitional government”, the PAIGC wins the election.

2005 April: Joao Bernardo Vieira returns from exile in Portugal. Moreover, in July, wins the second round of presidential elections.

2008 August: Vieira dissolves parliament and appoints the head of government former Prime Minister Carlos Correia. November: Vieira survives an attack by mutinous soldiers against his home, in what appears to be a failed coup.

2009 March: rebel soldiers killed Joao Bernardo Vieira, a few hours after the assassination of the head of army, General Tagme Na Wai (report).
July: Malam Bacai Sanha wins the presidential election.

2010 June: General Antonio Indjai is appointed head of army.

2011 December: Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior said that authorities have foiled an attempted coup against President Malam Bacai Sanha. The navy chief Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto is accused of masterminding the coup and is arrested.

2012 January: Malam Bacai Sanha President dies in hospital, in Paris. The National Assembly appoints interim president Raimundo Pereira (report).
April-May: soldiers overthrew the government. Pereira is stopped and formed a transitional government led by Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo.

2014 May: Jose Mario Vaz wins presidential elections.
September: President Vaz “fires” the powerful army chief, Antonio Indjai (report).

2015 August: President Vaz trigger a new political crisis by firing Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, after long disputes between the two.

Guinea Bissau: the country
The territory

Guinea Bissau is a small country in Western Africa. It is bordered to the north by Senegal, south and east by Equatorial Guinea (also known as Guinea Conakry, with which it is often confused) and west by the Atlantic Ocean.

It is one of the smallest states of the African continent, with its 36.000 km2 (roughly the same size of Switzerland). An area that includes many rivers that cross the country everywhere (which is unusual in the African continent) and the beautiful archipelago of Bijagos, plains and volcanic. For its environmental value, the UNESCO recognized the Archipelago as biosphere Reserve and the WWF has included among its ecoregions. Towering mangroves cover the coasts of the country and its islands; but human activity and exploitation of forest resources are putting at risk the rich biodiversity.

The capital of Guinea Bissau is Bissau, which has about 400.000 inhabitants. It stands on the wide estuary of the Geba River and is the main seaport of the country, as it is fronted by a sheltered bay. Bissau is a macramé of roads, mostly unpaved, in which you draw different quarters: from the more central, as Ajuda where there are also the majority of presidential palaces, to the poorest, as Antula or Bandim. The latter, in particular, is the scene of one of the largest markets of Bissau: in its narrow alleys and dark there are stands of fish, meat, spices alongside those of the fabrics and the small local craft.

The population

1.801 million people live in Guinea Bissau. In addition, as in all countries of the continent, there are many ethnic groups living together. The majority is of the Balanta, from North Africa and descendants of the Bantu; but are also significantly the Mandingo, the West African, the Fula, to whom we owe the introduction and spread of Islam in West Africa, and Papel.

Most of the population are animists; followed by Muslims and Christians.

The Kriol, Portuguese Creole, is the most spoken language. Although the official language is Portuguese, taught in schools and used in political meetings as well as the TV, the Kriol remains the most widespread language in everyday interactions, especially in cities. In the countryside, however, they take pride of the indigenous dialects.

The economy

Guinea Bissau occupies the 177th place in the ranking for the UNDP Human Development Report. The country is amongst the poorest countries in the world, with a local economy based primarily on fishing, on subsistence agriculture and on the exploitation of forest resources. The export agriculture is almost entirely focused on the sale of cashew nuts, which in Guinea Bissau are collected and then exported directly from the countries that provide the production, such as India and Lebanon. Price volatility of this product on the international market makes the Guinean economy more vulnerable. One of the slavery of Guinea Bissau, finally, is represented by imports, twice that of exports: despite the presence of vast fields of rice, for example, the rice itself is one of most goods imported from abroad.


Guinendadi is a multimedia report by:
Serena Carta, Fabio Lepore, Carolina Lucchesini, Sara Perro

Web design:
Q - creative science

Film-maker, photography and editing:
Carolina Lucchesini

Sound direct:
Fabio Lepore

Translations and subtitles:
Elsa Tortorella

With the support of:
Publican Press pagina su Facebook
and Smart Factory

Made in collaboration with:

engim_piemonte Engim Piemonte

In scope of the European project:

DevReporter Network DevReporter Network

Powered by:

Consorzio ONG Piemontesi Consorzio ONG Piemontesi

Federació catalana d'ONG per al desenvolupament
Federació catalana d'ONG per al desenvolupament


And with the financial support of the European Union DCI-NSAPVD/2012/279-805
For the duplication of the portal in French, English and Portuguese,
contribution of EU DCI-NSAPVD/2014/354-909.

Unione Europea

The content of the report is the sole responsibility of the authors
and does not reflect the position of European Union.

Special thanks to:
Andrea Zanchetta, Valentina Topputo, Matteo Ghiglione, Sara Gianesini, Paola Salvadori, Elena Pani e Lorenzo Chiaraviglio, Piero Meda, Ilaria Di Nunzio, Padre Lidio, Ajax Torres, Riccardo Mulas, Andrea Silvetti, Viviana Toro Matuk, Goffredo d’Onofrio, Margherita Baldarelli, Associazione Amici della Guinea Bissau

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