The Republic of Guinea-Bissau (pronounced /ˈɡɪni bɪˈsaʊ/; Portuguese: República da Guiné-Bissau, IPA: [ʁɛˈpublikɐ dɐ giˈnɛ biˈsau]) is a country in western Africa, and one of the smallest states in continental Africa. It is bordered by Senegal to the north, and Guinea to the south and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west. Its size is nearly 37,000 km² with an estimated population of almost 1,600,000. Formerly the Portuguese colony of Portuguese Guinea, upon independence, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the country's name to prevent confusion with the Republic of Guinea.
Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, part of the Mali Empire; parts of this kingdom persisted until the eighteenth century, while others were part of the Portuguese Empire. Portuguese Guinea was known also, from its main economic activity, as the Slave Coast. Although the rivers and coast of this area were among the first places colonized by the Portuguese, since the 16th century, the interior was not explored until the nineteenth century. The local African rulers in Guinea, who prospered greatly from the slave trade, had no interest in allowing the Europeans any further inland than