Guinea-Bissau, on the west coast of Africa, is bordered by Senegal to it's north and and Guinea to its south-east. Orignally part of the ancient Mandinka kingdom and part of the Kaabu and Mali Empires, the country now known as Guinea-Bissau became a Portuguese colony in the 19th century and known as Portuguese Guinea. It became is one of the African countries that was not granted independence from its colonial power but unilaterally declared that independence on 24th September 1973. Although initially gaining limited recognition, the collapse of the Estado Novo regime in Portugal in 1974 led to universal recognition of Guinea-Bissau as an independent republic. The first post independence leader, Luis Cabral, inherited a wealthy economy however he set out to seek revenge on the black soldiers who had fought alongside the Portuguese army in an effort to quell rebellion before independence. It is estimated that thousands of these local soldiers were slaughtered with many more fleeing to Portugal or neighbouring African countries.
Six years later Cabral was ousted by his army chief Joao Vieira in 1980. Vieira introduced economic and political reforms, however was effectively a dictator taking little truck from political rivalries and not tolerating dissent. His rule saw numerous unsuccessful coup attempts, however in 1994 he stood as a candidate in Guinea-Bissau's first free elections and was successful. An army mutiny in 1998 was followed by the toppling of Vieira the following year and in 2000 Kumba Yala was elected president, however his behaviour was considered erratic and, after a number of senior government sackings, Kumba Yala was ousted in a further military coup in 2003 which installed an interim civilian administration headed by President Henrique Rosa with the promise of democratic elections.
These elections were held in 2005 and saw the return of former president President Vieira to power with a promise of 'national reconciliation'. The success of that promise can be measure by his assassination in March 2009. Malam Bacai Sanha then ruled Guinea-Bissau as a semi-presidential republic until his death in January 2012. After further turmoil, Jose Mario Vaz served as President of Guinea-Bissau from 23th June 2014 to 27th February 2020. Vaz ran as an independent in the 2019 elections but received only 12% of the vote in the first round and failed to advance to the second round with Umaro Sissoco Embalo assuming the presidency on 27th February 2020.
Today Guinea-Bissau is one of the poorest countries in the world, is massively in debt and is reliant on foreign aid to prevent its total collapse as a nation state with most of its population engaged in subsistence farming of rice and corn while those employed by the state frequently find their wages unpaid. Guinea Bissau also has an income from illicit drugs flowing from South America into Europe. Guinea-Bissau also has one of the highest child mortality rates for the under fives in the world with, in 2019, there being 78.5 deaths per 1,000 live births and life expectancy of the rest of the population (1.968 million, 2020) is around 58.00 years (2018). The majority of the population is illiterate, with just over 27% of females being able to read and write. Guinea-Bissau is in 175th place out of 189 countries and territories in 2019 when ranked in terms of life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country.
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