Orango National Park

Covering an area of over 150,000 hectares, the Orango National Park, created in 1998, is located on the Bijagós Archipelago just off the Guinea Bissau coast.

This is the first area to be awarded the protected status in Guinea Bissau and one of the places with the greatest biodiversity in the country.

The declaration of national park is justified as it is home to the most westerly population of the common hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius).

The Bijagós Archipelago was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Bolama- Bijagós in 1996.

It is formed by the ancient delta of the Río Geba and the Río Grande where various ecosystems characterised by their great biodiversity coexist.

The soil is sacred

The archipelago covers an area of more than 10,000 Km², of which 10% is dry land. Twenty of the eighty eight islands that form part of it are inhabited, such is the case of the islands of Orango, Bubaque, Uno or Canhabaque, but many others are sacred which is why they still remain deserted.

Land is sacred to the Bijagó people, who believe it does not belong to one person, it belongs to everyone.

Matriarchal society

There is a matriarchal society in the Bijagó villages, which are built in the interior of the islands with houses made with sun-dried brick and straw.

Community life is based on the diversified exploitation of natural resources and the barter system is still used.

Locals grow rice under the palm groves and women wait for low tides to collect molluscs, while men climb to the top of the palm trees to obtain the sap and the fruits from where the palm oil is extracted.

Fauna and flora

The biological wealth of the islands makes them a unique area, particularly in terms of fauna and flora that have adapted to the saline conditions of the coasts. Here we will find the hippopotamus, which normally lives in fresh water and which over thousands of years, has adapted to the salty environment. There are also large marine herbivores, such as the African manatee which is quite common in the region.

The community of aquatic reptiles includes two types of crocodile and five species of marine turtles, with the small island of Poilao being one of the most important nesting sites in Africa for the green turtle.