Located in west Africa, Guinea-Bissau was known as Portuguese Guinea, and was closely linked with the nearby Portuguese colony of the Cape Verde islands until it gained independence in 1974. With a population of 1.586 million (2005 estimate), it has a female life expectancy of 48.8 years. The birth rate is 37.2 per 1,000, and the infant mortality rate is 105.2 per 1,000 live births, one of the highest in the world. The maternal mortality rate at 1.1 per 100 births is also one of the highest in the world.

In tribal society, the role of women was very much seen as homemakers and caretakers of the crops, while men were involved in hunting and animal husbandry. This changed little during Portuguese rule, which started ...

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