Today, only twenty of the islands are inhabited and the others have only small populations of the Bijagós people. The southern islands are today a nature reserve. The islands of Bubaque, Bolama, and Caravela are the most populated and are visited by tourists. This continued even during the years of unrest in Guinea-Bissau as the islands remained isolated from those events.
They constitute a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, known for animals including marine turtles and monkeys and are mostly forested. The population mostly speaks Bijagó and has a considerable degree of autonomy. The islands include: Bolama, Bubaque, Carache, Caravela, Enu, Formosa, Galinhas, João Viera, Maio, Meneque, Orango, Orangozinho, Ponta, Roxa, Rubane, Soga, Unhacomo, Uno and Uracane.
Orango is run by a matriarchy, in which the women choose their husbands, making each spouse-to-be a single plate of food (often a traditional fish eye platter). Agreement is marked by the eating of the fish.