Bissau / Republic of Guinea-Bissau
African Region’s Capital of Islamic Culture for 2019
Bissau is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau. It is a port on the Atlantic, specifically on the Geba River estuary. Bissau is the main port and administrative and military hub of the country, with a population estimated at 355,000 persons and an agriculture-based economy.
Panoramic view of Bissau
Location of Bissau
Origin of Bissau
The city was founded in 1687 by the Portuguese to serve as a fortified port and trade hub, and later became the capital of Portuguese Guinea in 1942. Following the country’s independence in 1973, Madina Do Boe was declared as the de facto capital of the independent region, while Bissau remained the capital of the regions under the Portuguese control (Portuguese Guinea). However, when Portugal recognized the independence of guinea and withdrew its forces in 1974, the two regions (Portuguese Guinea and the independent regions) merged into one country whose capital is Bissau.
Guinea Bissau is famous for its annual carnival and many tourist attractions such as Fortaleza d’Amura, which houses the mausoleum of Amilcar Cabral, one of the country’s key political figures; and the memorial commemorating the victims of Guinea Bissau Port.
Many buildings were destroyed during the civil war, including the Presidential Palace and the rehabilitated French Cultural Center. The city center is still under development.
Bissau and Islamic culture
Islam is the prevalent religion is Guinea Bissau as 40% of citizens are Muslims (800,000 Muslims out of 1.4 million citizens), making Islam the religion with most followers in the country. Islam spread in Guinea Bissau is majorly thanks to the Fula people who resided in West Africa and founded, in the 14th century, a large kingdom that extended from Gambia River to the Atlantic coast. The Fula managed to conquer the Mandika Kingdom, and, given their allegiance to Almoravid dynasty, spread Islam in the region which encompassed present-day Guinea Bissau. The Fula maintained their control over the region and continued spreading Islam up until the end of the 19th century, with the advent of colonialism which oppressed the Islamic movement in the region.
Landmarks of Bissau
Bissau is abundant with landmarks of architectural and social significance, and is a platform for coexistence despite the existing cultural diversity.
Picture of the Grande Mesquita de Bissau (Great Mosque of Bissau)
Praça dos Heróis Nacionais (Natioanl Heroes Square), downtown Bissau
Entrance of the National Ethnographic Museum
Bissau as Capital of Islamic Culture for 2019
The celebration of Bissau as the Africa region’s Capital of Islamic Culture for 2019 is an opportunity to highlight the city’s cultural diversity and richness; explore its culture and historical landmarks; and publicize the human values of its culture and long-standing history.
Panoramic view of Bissau Port