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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bolama is located in Guinea-Bissau
Location in Guinea-Bissau
Coordinates: 11°35′N 15°28′W / 11.583°N 15.467°W / 11.583; -15.467
Country Flag of Guinea-Bissau.svg Guinea-Bissau
Region Bolama Region
Population (2008 (est))
 - Total 10,014

Bolama is the closest of the Bijagós Islands to the mainland of Guinea-Bissau, and is also the name of the island's main town, the capital of the Bolama Region. Population 10,014 (2008 est). [1]

It is almost surrounded by mangrove swamps and is known for its cashew nuts. Although often visited by local people, the island was apparently uninhabited when British colonists settled it in 1792. Following a series of failures, they abandoned the island in 1794, another colonisation attempt in 1814 also being quickly ended.

The Portuguese also claimed Bolama in 1830 and a dispute developed. In 1860 the British proclaimed the island annexed to Sierra Leone, but in 1870 a commission chaired by Ulysses S. Grant awarded Bolama to Portugal. Subsequently, in 1879, Bolama became the first capital of Portuguese Guinea and remained so until its transfer to Bissau in 1941. Bissau had been founded in 1687 by Portugal as a fortified port and trading center. This transfer was needed due to the shortage of fresh water in Bolama. Bolama later became a seaplane stop, and a seaplane crash in 1931 is commemorated by a statue in the town.

The abandoned houses of the old capital provide a shelter for many thousands of enormous fruit eating bats. Every evening, these bats flock to the mainland, darkening the skies.

A fruit processing plant was built on Bolama shortly after independence of Guinea Bissau, with Dutch foreign aid. This plant produced canned juice and jelly of cashew fruit. However, it could not expand and had to shut down its operations, due to the shortage of fresh water on the island.

Attractions on the island include sandy beaches and the Bolama Governor's Palace. It is also designated as a biosphere reserve, and the Guinea-Bissauan government is aiming for it to be designated the nation's first World Heritage Site. A causeway links the island to the Ilha das Cobras.

Coordinates: 11°35′N 15°28′W / 11.583°N 15.467°W / 11.583; -15.467


  1. ^ World Gazetteer, Retrieved on June 16, 2008

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


Bolama is a city in Guinea-Bissau.

Get in

Pirogues are leaving regularly from Bissaus Pidjiguiti harbour, the ride takes about three hours. Price: 2000 FCFA (2007)

Bolama Court
Bolama Court

Impressive and decaying colonial buildings from the time when Bolama was capital of Guinea Bissau.


There are some good beaches on the island, though you'll have to walk for some km's from town - or rent a bike or motorbike. Make sure to be there at high tide.


Restaurants are scarce, but there are some bars serving goats meat with bread, and the PRODEPA hotel can arrange food, if ordered in advance.


There is a nice little bar at the harbour, good place to enjoy a beer while watching life going on at the harbour.

Prodepa Hotel, Bolama
Prodepa Hotel, Bolama
  • NGO PRODEPA (Projecto de Desenvolvimento da Pesca Artesanal) runs a nice and comfortable hotel close to the harbour. Has hot water and aircon.
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