Ethnology of the Bijagó culture, Guinea Bissau
In addition to the natural heritage, the Bijagós Islands retain an exceptional cultural heritage. The magnificent state of conservation of the archipelago is due to traditions. Because of their beliefs, the Bijagó have their own natural reserves, forests and islands that are untouchable because they are sacred, and where they cannot cultivate, hunt, or bury the dead. Among its symbolic animals are the manatee and the turtles, along with sharks, rays, hammerhead fish and sawfish, beings that they respect and revere.
The Orango Parque Hotel is not just a tourist establishment; it functions as an ecotourism development center in Guinea Bissau National Parks, and particularly in the Bijagos Islands and Orango and Vieira Poilao National Parks. The hotel is also the base of many collaborative projects developed together with IBAP (Instituto da Biodiversidade e das Áreas Protegidas) within the park: conservation projects targeting the manatee and hippopotamus populations in the region, projects designed to reduce conflicts between local people and wildlife, and projects that construct wells or renovate community health centers, among others.
The Bijagó population maintains a strong cultural identity, due to insularity and isolation. The deep respect for their animistic traditions has allowed them to preserve a society with matriarchal structures. They are calm, smiling, hospitable and friendly people, and they have great ethnographic interest.
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