Guinea-Bissau offers the international traveller far more than the pristine beaches and pompous urban settings. The unique features and strengths of this African nation have emerged through many well-preserved traditional cultures and the astonishing ecological treasures of the adjacent islands. Situated on the western frontier of the African continent, Guinea-Bissau is drenched by the waves from the North Atlantic Ocean. The nearby Bijagos Archipelago is also part of this nation. The topography of Guinea-Bissau is basically low lying without any significant heights or variation. It is dotted with swampy marshlands by the coasts and savannah in the inlands. The rainy season and harmattan winds play a major role in determining the weather conditions for Guinea-Bissau.
Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabú, which belonged to the larger Mali Empire. The first Europeans to land on the country shore were the Portuguese explorers in fifteenth century. Gradually, Guinea-Bissau developed as a major a centre of the Portuguese slave trade. The African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde was founded in 1956 and the freedom struggle gained momentum. Guinea-Bissau declared independence on September 24, 1973, which was recognised by Portugal a year later. The name of the capital city of Bissau was added to country name to distinguish it from the Republic of Guinea.