After 13 years of guerrilla warfare, the people of Africa's youngest nation - the Republic of Guinea-Bissau - are starting a new life of peace and independence.
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Background: After 13 years of guerrilla warfare, the people of Africa's youngest nation - the Republic of Guinea-Bissau - are starting a new life of peace and independence.
Until 10 September, it was officially a province of Portugal, although last year the PAIGC - the Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde Islands - declared independence unilaterally.
Seventy-five per-cent of the 20,000 Portuguese troops have already pulled out, and by the end of this month (October) they will all be gone.
They leave behind a small, dilapidated capital of mud huts, a harbour with two jetties, oil storage tanks and a network of strategic tarmaced roads and airstrips and an inadequate educational and medical service.
Guinea-Bissau, first discovered in 1446, was Portugal's oldest African colony. But until the beginning of this century, it was used only as a staging-post for Portuguese merchant ships heading for the more lucrative colonies of Brazil and the East.
Its undeveloped economy suffered a further setback because of the exploitation by colonial traders and farmers.
Until the last decade, the country had a relatively peaceful life. Then African nationalists began fighting a guerrilla war in the territory to win its independence.
It was a war primarily to hurt the local population, said Brigadier Carlos Fabiao, the last Governor-General of the country, and now the first Portuguese delegate to the new Republic.
Ironically, it was former Commander-in-Chief of Portuguese Forces in Guinea-Bissau, General Antonio de Spinola, who became Portugal's revolutionary President in April this year - following the overthrow of the dictatorial Caetano regime. Spinola had published theories that Portugal could never retain its African Empire by force.