Bissau is the Capital and largest city in Guinea-Bissau, a tiny country on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa. Although worst hit by a civil war in the late 1990s, Bissau is gradually reviving its old beauties as the major port, administrative and military centre of the country, as well as a tourists’ destination. As a city filled with colourful colonial buildings, nice climate, roads lined with cashew trees –the country’s main export crop, markets filled with fresh fish, and of course, danceable great music, Bissau has often been referred to as “one of those places where days easily turn to weeks and before you know it, you have practically become a local.”
The city was established in 1687 by Portugal as a trading centre and fortified port. By 1942, it became the capital of Portuguese Guinea and when Guinea Bissau’s independence was recognized in 1974, it effectively became the country’s capital. Bissau is located 11°52′ North, 15°36′ West (11.86667, -15.60), on the Geba River estuary, off the Atlantic Ocean. It has a tropical savannah climate with an average rainfall of 2,024 millimeters (79.7 in) although this is almost entirely accounted for during the rainy season, which holds between June and September/October. From December through April, the country experiences drought.
Portuguese is the official language in the city, while sizeable population of people in the city speak Guinea-Bissau Creole. There are an approximately five hundred thousand residents in the city, about 50 percent of which are Muslims. Christians form about 15 percent of the population with the remaining population mainly devotees of traditional religion (especially animism); though a closer examination of religious practise will show that both Islamic and Christian practices are largely influenced and enriched by syncretism with traditional African beliefs.
Because Guinea-Bissau itself is a small country, Bissau its capital offers the best starting point for enjoying the country’s attractions, which include ancient architecture, beaches and their scenery, and of course the city’s spicy local delicacies.