Modern history in Guinea-Bissau starts with the discovery by the Portuguese of the area known today as Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde. The area was explored resulting in the formation of Portuguese Guinea in 1446.
Although it took several hundred years, the area slowly grew into a major slave trading area, but the Portuguese had never penetrated beyond the coastal areas. In the 19th Century that exploration began and the Portuguese met resistance. They also faced disputes with the French and British which shaped the country as it is today.
In the early 20th Century the Portuguese were determined to conquer the inner areas, but it was only in 1936 that final victory was achieved.
In 1941 the administrative capital was moved from Bolama to Bissau and in 1952 the colony became an overseas province of Portugal.
By 1956 the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was founded by Amílcar Cabral and by 1961 it was involved in an armed rebellion against the Portuguese. Despite large numbers of Portuguese soldiers being drafted in to the country, by 1968 the PAIGC had control of most of the territory. They established civilian rule and held elections for a National Assembly.
On 24th September 1973 the PAIGC dominated National Assembly declared independence. This was recognised by the United Nations (UN), but it wasn’t until 10th September 1974 that the Portuguese government granted the country independence.
The first president, appointed in 1974, was Luís Cabral, the brother of Amilcar (who had been assassinated the year before).
In 1980 the government was overthrown in a coup led by Prime Minister João Bernardo Vieira. Between 1980 and 1984 a provisional government was established and Vieira became president. In 1984 the National popular Assembly established a new constitution and a one party state.
By 1991 moves were made to introduce multi-party elections and the Democratic Front, under the leadership of Aristide Menezes, became the first legal opposition party. In 1994 multi-party elections were held with the PAIGC taking 62 of the 100 seats in the National People’s Assembly.
The PAIGC have gone on to win every other election excepting 1999.
Meanwhile, in 1998 an attempted coup led to the Guinea-Bissau Civil War and in 1999 João Bernardo Vieira was ousted as president in another, more successful, coup. By 2000 an interim government led to elections and opposition leader, Kumba Ialá of the Party for Social Renewal (PRS), was elected president in the second round with 72% of the vote.
By 2003 the military were tired of Ialá and he was ousted in another coup which led to further civil unrest.
Fresh elections in 2005 saw the return of João Bernardo Vieira. He won the presidential election in the second round with 52.35% of the vote. In 2009 Vieira was assassinated and fresh elections saw Malam Bacai Sanhá, also of the PAIGC, elected with 63.31% of the vote in round one. On 9th January 2012 Sanhá died in a hospital in Paris and fresh elections were called for 18th March.
The President is elected by popular vote for a five-year term with no term limits.
The unicameral National People’s Assembly or Assembleia Nacional Popular has 100 members elected to serve four-year terms.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 places Guinea-Bissau at 168 out of 176 countries with a CPI 2016 score of 16 (where 100 is least corrupt).