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Guinea-Bissau (Africa)

Introduction ::Guinea-Bissau


Since independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has experienced considerable political and military upheaval. In 1980, a military coup established authoritarian dictator Joao Bernardo 'Nino' VIEIRA as president. Despite setting a path to a market economy and multiparty system, VIEIRA's regime was characterized by the suppression of political opposition and the purging of political rivals. Several coup attempts through the 1980s and early 1990s failed to unseat him. In 1994 VIEIRA was elected president in the country's first free elections. A military mutiny and resulting civil war in 1998 eventually led to VIEIRA's ouster in May 1999. In February 2000, a transitional government turned over power to opposition leader Kumba YALA after he was elected president in transparent polling. In September 2003, after only three years in office, YALA was ousted by the military in a bloodless coup, and businessman Henrique ROSA was sworn in as interim president. In 2005, former President VIEIRA was re-elected president pledging to pursue economic development and national reconciliation; he was assassinated in March 2009. Malam Bacai SANHA was elected in an emergency election held in June 2009.

Geography ::Guinea-Bissau


Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Senegal

Geographic coordinates:
12 00 N, 15 00 W

Map references:



total: 36,125 sq km country comparison to the world: 137 land: 28,120 sq km

water: 8,005 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly less than three times the size of Connecticut

Land boundaries:

total: 724 km

border countries: Guinea 386 km, Senegal 338 km


350 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical; generally hot and humid; monsoonal-type rainy season (June to November) with southwesterly winds; dry season (December to May) with northeasterly harmattan winds


mostly low coastal plain rising to savanna in east

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

highest point: unnamed elevation in the eastern part of the country 300 m

Natural resources:

fish, timber, phosphates, bauxite, clay, granite, limestone, unexploited deposits of petroleum

Land use:

arable land: 8.31%

permanent crops: 6.92%

other: 84.77% (2005)

Irrigated land:

250 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:

31 cu km (2003)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 0.18 cu km/yr (13%/5%/82%)

per capita: 113 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards:

hot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season; brush fires

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; overfishing

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

this small country is swampy along its western coast and low-lying inland

People ::Guinea-Bissau


1,565,126 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 150

Age structure:

0-14 years: 40.8% (male 312,253/female 313,609)

15-64 years: 56.1% (male 414,924/female 445,639)

65 years and over: 3.1% (male 19,191/female 28,348) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 19.4 years

male: 18.8 years

female: 19.9 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.004% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 56

Birth rate:

35.56 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 32

Death rate:

15.52 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 10

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 83


urban population: 30% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 3.2% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.66 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 98.05 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 8 male: 108.03 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 87.77 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 48.3 years country comparison to the world: 216 male: 46.44 years

female: 50.22 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

4.58 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 36

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

1.8% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 34

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

16,000 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 85

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

1,100 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 70

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: very high

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and yellow fever

water contact disease: schistosomiasis

animal contact disease: rabies (2009)


noun: Guinean(s)

adjective: Guinean

Ethnic groups:

African 99% (includes Balanta 30%, Fula 20%, Manjaca 14%, Mandinga 13%, Papel 7%), European and mulatto less than 1%


Muslim 50%, indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 10%


Portuguese (official), Crioulo, African languages


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 42.4%

male: 58.1%

female: 27.4% (2003 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 9 years

male: 8 years

female: 5 years (2006)

Education expenditures:

5.2% of GDP (1999) country comparison to the world: 59

Government ::Guinea-Bissau

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Guinea-Bissau

conventional short form: Guinea-Bissau

local long form: Republica da Guine-Bissau

local short form: Guine-Bissau

former: Portuguese Guinea

Government type:



name: Bissau

geographic coordinates: 11 51 N, 15 35 W

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:

9 regions (regioes, singular - regiao); Bafata, Biombo, Bissau, Bolama, Cacheu, Gabu, Oio, Quinara, Tombali; note - Bolama may have been renamed Bolama/Bijagos


24 September 1973 (declared); 10 September 1974 (from Portugal)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 24 September (1973)


16 May 1984; amended 4 May 1991, 4 December 1991, 26 February 1993, 9 June 1993, and in 1996

Legal system:

based on French civil law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Malam Bacai SANHA (since 8 September 2009)

head of government: Prime Minister Carlos GOMES Junior (since 25 December 2008)

cabinet: NA (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held on 28 June 2009 with a runoff between the two leading candidates held on 26 July 2009 (next to be held by 2014); prime minister appointed by the president after consultation with party leaders in the legislature

election results: Malam Bacai SANHA elected president; percent of vote, second ballot - Malam Bacai SANHA 63.5%, Kumba YALA 36.5%

Legislative branch:

unicameral National People's Assembly or Assembleia Nacional Popular (100 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)

elections: last held on 16 November 2008 (next to be held in 2012)

election results: percent of vote by party - PAIGC 49.8%, PRS 25.3%, PRID 7.5%, PND 2.4%, AD 1.4%, other parties 13.6%; seats by party - PAIGC 67, PRS 28, PRID 3, PND 1, AD 1

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court or Supremo Tribunal da Justica (consists of nine justices appointed by the president and serve at his pleasure; final court of appeals in criminal and civil cases); Regional Courts (one in each of nine regions; first court of appeals for Sectoral Court decisions; hear all felony cases and civil cases valued at more than $1,000); 24 Sectoral Courts (judges are not necessarily trained lawyers; they hear civil cases valued at less than $1,000 and misdemeanor criminal cases)

Political parties and leaders:

African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde
or PAIGC [Carlos GOMES Junior]; Democratic Alliance or AD [Victor
MANDINGA]; Democratic Social Front or FDS [Rafael BARBOSA];
Electoral Union or UE [Joaquim BALDE]; Guinea-Bissau Civic
Forum/Social Democracy or FCGSD [Antonieta Rosa GOMES];
Guinea-Bissau Democratic Party or PDG; Guinea-Bissau Socialist
Democratic Party or PDSG [Serifo BALDE]; Labor and Solidarity Party
or PST [Lancuba INDJAI]; New Democracy Party or PND; Party for
Democratic Convergence or PCD [Victor MANDINGA]; Party for Renewal
and Progress or PRP; Party for Social Renewal or PRS [Kumba YALA];
Progress Party or PP; Republican Party for Independence and
Development or PRID [Aristides GOMES]; Union of Guinean Patriots or
UPG [Francisca VAZ]; Union for Change or UM [Amine SAAD]; United
Platform or UP (coalition formed by PCD, FDS, FLING, and RGB-MB);
United Popular Alliance or APU; United Social Democratic Party or
PUSD [Frnacisco FADUL]

Political pressure groups and leaders:

International organization participation:

UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WADB (regional), WAEMU, WCO, WFTU,

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: none; note - Guinea-Bissau does not have official representation in Washington, DC

Diplomatic representation from the US:

the US Embassy suspended operations on 14 June 1998 in the midst of violent conflict between forces loyal to then President VIEIRA and military-led junta; the US Ambassador to Senegal is accredited to Guinea-Bissau

Flag description:

two equal horizontal bands of yellow (top) and green with a vertical red band on the hoist side; there is a black five-pointed star centered in the red band; yellow symbolizes the sun; green denotes hope; red represents blood shed during the struggle for independence; the black star stands for African unity

note: uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia; the flag design was heavily influenced by the Ghanian flag

National anthem:

name: "Esta e a Nossa Patria Bem Amada" (This Is Our Beloved Country)

lyrics/music: Amilcar Lopes CABRAL/XIAO He

note: adopted 1974; a delegation from Portuguese Guinea visited China in 1963 and heard music by XIAO He; Amilcar Lopes CABRA, the leader of Guinea-Bissa"s independence movement, asked the composer to create a piece that would inspire his people to struggle for independence

Economy ::Guinea-Bissau

Economy - overview:

One of the poorest countries in the world, Guinea-Bissau's legal economy depends mainly on farming and fishing, but trafficking narcotics is probably the most lucrative trade. Cashew crops have increased remarkably in recent years. Guinea-Bissau exports fish and seafood along with small amounts of peanuts, palm kernels, and timber. Rice is the major crop and staple food. However, intermittent fighting between Senegalese-backed government troops and a military junta destroyed much of the country's infrastructure and caused widespread damage to the economy in 1998; the civil war led to a 28% drop in GDP that year, with partial recovery in 1999-2002. In December 2003, the World Bank, IMF, and UNDP were forced to step in to provide emergency budgetary support in the amount of $107 million for 2004, representing over 80% of the total national budget. The combination of limited economic prospects, a weak and faction-ridden government, and favorable geography have made this West African country a way station for drugs bound for Europe.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$1.769 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 188 $1.738 billion (2009 est.)

$1.687 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$825 million (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

1.8% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 157 3% (2009 est.)

2.8% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$1,100 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 210 $1,100 (2009 est.)

$1,100 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 62%

industry: 12%

services: 26% (1999 est.)

Labor force:

632,700 (2007) country comparison to the world: 152

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 82%

industry and services: 18% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate:

Population below poverty line:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.9%

highest 10%: 28% (2002)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.8% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 109

Central bank discount rate:

4.25% (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 98 4.75% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

Stock of narrow money:

$192.1 million (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 175 $171.2 million (31 December 2008)

Stock of broad money:

$209.3 million (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 181 $189.2 million (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:

$42.56 million (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 181 $58.87 million (31 December 2008)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Agriculture - products:

rice, corn, beans, cassava (tapioca), cashew nuts, peanuts, palm kernels, cotton; timber; fish


agricultural products processing, beer, soft drinks

Industrial production growth rate:

4.7% (2003 est.) country comparison to the world: 71

Electricity - production:

65 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 196

Electricity - consumption:

60.45 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 196

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 189

Oil - consumption:

3,000 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 180

Oil - exports:

0 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 150

Oil - imports:

2,545 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 171

Oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 173

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 103

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 147

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 69

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 167

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 171

Current account balance:

-$6 million (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 61


$133 million (2006) country comparison to the world: 185

Exports - commodities:

fish, shrimp; cashew nuts, peanuts, palm kernels, sawn lumber

Exports - partners:

India 62.21%, Nigeria 31.28%, Portugal 1.48% (2009)


$200 million (2006) country comparison to the world: 201

Imports - commodities:

foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, petroleum products

Imports - partners:

Portugal 17.33%, Senegal 13.66%, Netherlands 9.27%, India 9.11%,
Thailand 5.2%, Brazil 4.49% (2009)

Debt - external:

$941.5 million (2000 est.) country comparison to the world: 151

Exchange rates:

Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 506.04 (2009), 447.81 (2008), 493.51 (2007), 522.59 (2006)

note: since 1 January 1999, the West African CFA franc (XOF) has been pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 CFA francs per euro; West African CFA franc (XOF) coins and banknotes are not accepted in countries using Central African CFA francs (XAF), and vice versa, even though the two currencies trade at par

Communications ::Guinea-Bissau

Telephones - main lines in use:

4,800 (2009) country comparison to the world: 212

Telephones - mobile cellular:

560,300 (2009) country comparison to the world: 158

Telephone system:

general assessment: small system including a combination of microwave radio relay, open-wire lines, radiotelephone, and mobile-cellular communications

domestic: fixed-line teledensity less than 1 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity reached 35 per 100 in 2009

international: country code - 245 (2008)

Broadcast media:

1 state-owned TV station and a second station, RTP Africa, is operated by Portuguese public broadcaster RTP; 1 state-owned radio station, several private radio stations, and some community radio stations; multiple international broadcasters are available (2007)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

82 (2010) country comparison to the world: 206

Internet users:

37,100 (2009) country comparison to the world: 176

Transportation ::Guinea-Bissau


9 (2010) country comparison to the world: 158

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2

over 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 7

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 3

under 914 m: 3 (2010)


total: 3,455 km country comparison to the world: 161 paved: 965 km

unpaved: 2,490 km (2002)


rivers are navigable for some distance; many inlets and creeks give shallow-water access to much of interior (2008)

Ports and terminals:

Bissau, Buba, Cacheu, Farim

Military ::Guinea-Bissau

Military branches:

People's Revolutionary Armed Force (FARP): Army, Navy, Air Force; paramilitary force

Military service age and obligation:

18-25 years of age for selective compulsory military service (Air Force service is voluntary); 16 years of age or younger with parental consent, for voluntary service (2010)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 361,785

females age 16-49: 363,488 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 199,771

females age 16-49: 206,240 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 17,300

female: 17,523 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

3.1% of GDP (2005 est.) country comparison to the world: 39

Transnational Issues ::Guinea-Bissau

Disputes - international:

in 2006, political instability within Senegal's Casamance region resulted in thousands of Senegalese refugees, cross-border raids, and arms smuggling into Guinea-Bissau

Refugees and internally displaced persons:

refugees (country of origin): 7,454 (Senegal) (2007)

Trafficking in persons:

current situation: Guinea-Bissau is a source country for children trafficked primarily for forced begging and forced agricultural labor to other West African countries

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - for the second year in a row, Guinea-Bissau is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons, as evidenced by the continued failure to pass an anti-trafficking law and inadequate efforts to investigate or prosecute trafficking crimes or convict and punish trafficking offenders (2008)

Illicit drugs:

increasingly important transit country for South American cocaine enroute to Europe; enabling environment for trafficker operations thanks to pervasive corruption; archipelago-like geography around the capital facilitates drug smuggling


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