How Did We
people live in Guinea Bissau, which is one of the smallest
and poorest countries on the Africa continent, about twice
the size of Connecticut. Formerly call Gabu, it is located
in West Africa, between Senegal, Guinea, and the Atlantic
Ocean. On its coast are many smaller islands called
Archaeologists believe that small groups of hunter,
gatherers, and fishermen, occupied this area by 9000 BCE.
Around 900 CE, wars, famines, and climate changes brought
many more peoples into the area. Some archeologists believe
that the use of ore for iron smelting was used over 1000
years ago, long before the Europeans had it. However, some
other archaeologists dispute the time frame.
Guinea Bissau was once part of the Ghanian Empire from
the 7th to 13th century. It was succeeded by the Great Mali
Empire which lasted between 1235 to 1600 CE.
Guinea Bissau is a low lying country with daily tidal water
reaching as much as 62 miles inland. The plateau rises only
600 feet. The coast has a network of drown valleys call rias,
(similar to a swamp). The rainy season is from May to
October, and the hottest months are April and May, when
temperatures are in the mid 90s. Guinea Bissau has 3
vegetation zones. On the coast are swamps and plains with
mangroves and palm trees. The interior plain is heavily
forested, while the savanna plain in the north, has a great
variety of wildlife, with more than 491 species of birds,
crocodiles, snakes, gazelles, apes, leopards and hyenas.
Guinea Bissauís GDP (gross domestic products) are forestry,
fish, rice, peanuts, cashews, palm products, and salt
The natives of Guinea Bissau are comprised of 30%
Balanta, 20% Fulani, 14% Malinke, 13% Mandyako, 7% Pepel,
7% Bram, Mulattos and Europeans. The Balanta people occupy
the central and southern parts of Guinea Bissau. They are
renown as paddy rice growers and for their skill in farming
The religion of the Balanta people is basically Islam;
some still have Animist (voodoo) beliefs. They try to reach
God through spirits and sacrifice. Some are now accepting
Christianity, but it is a slow progress for Islam and
Animist is deeply rooted.