Flag of Guinea-Bissau

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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 August 2005, former President VIEIRA was re-elected president in the second round of presidential polling. Since formally assuming office in October 2005, Vieira has pledged to pursue economic development and national reconciliation.


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

Geographic coordinates:

12 00 N, 15 00 W


total: 36,120 sq km
land: 28,000 sq km
water: 8,120 sq km

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 savannah in east

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location in the northeast corner 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)

Natural hazards:

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

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; overfishing

Geography - note:

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


1,442,029 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 41.4% (male 297,623/female 298,942)
15-64 years: 55.6% (male 384,559/female 417,811)
65 years and over: 3% (male 18,048/female 25,046) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 19 years
male: 18.4 years
female: 19.6 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.07% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

37.22 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

16.53 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 105.21 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 115.53 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 94.57 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 46.87 years
male: 45.05 years
female: 48.75 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

4.86 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

10% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

17,000 (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

1,200 (2001 est.)

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 are high risks in some locations
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis (2005)


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%


indigenous beliefs 50%, Muslim 45%, Christian 5%


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.)

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:

republic, multiparty since mid-1991



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 (unilaterally declared by Guinea-Bissau); 10 September 1974 (recognized by Portugal)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 24 September (1973)


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

Legal system:

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

unicameral National People's Assembly or Assembleia Nacional Popular (100 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve a maximum of four years)
elections: last held 28 March 2004 (next to be held in 2008)
election results: percent of vote by party - PAIGC 31.5%, PRS 24.8%, PUSD 16.1%, UE 4.1%, APU 1.3%, 13 other parties 22.2%; seats by party - PAIGC 45, PRS 35, PUSD 17, UE 2, APU 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 over $1,000); 24 Sectoral Courts (judges are not necessarily trained lawyers; they hear civil cases under $1,000 and misdemeanour criminal cases)

Economy - overview:

One of the 10 poorest countries in the world, Guinea-Bissau depends mainly on farming and fishing. Cashew crops have increased remarkably in recent years, and the country now ranks sixth in cashew production. 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. Before the war, trade reform and price liberalization were the most successful part of the country's structural adjustment program under IMF sponsorship. The tightening of monetary policy and the development of the private sector had also begun to reinvigorate the economy. Because of high costs, the development of petroleum, phosphate, and other mineral resources is not a near-term prospect. However, offshore oil prospecting has begun and could lead to much-needed revenue in the long run. The inequality of income distribution is one of the most extreme in the world. The government and international donors continue to work out plans to forward economic development from a lamentably low base. 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. Government drift and indecision, however, have resulted in continued low growth in 2002-05.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$1.103 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$280.1 million (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

2.8% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$800 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 62%
industry: 12%
services: 26% (1999 est.)

Labor force:

480,000 (1999)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 82%
industry and services: 18% (2000 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 0.5%
highest 10%: 42.4% (1991)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

4% (2002 est.)

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.)

Electricity - production:

56 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

52.08 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

2,450 bbl/day (2003 est.)


$116 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities:

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

Exports - partners:

India 52.2%, US 22.2%, Nigeria 13.2% (2004)


$176 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities:

foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, petroleum products

Imports - partners:

Senegal 44.5%, Portugal 13.8%, China 4.2% (2004)

Debt - external:

$941.5 million (2000 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$115.4 million (1995)

Currency (code):

Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

10,600 (2003)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

1,300 (2003)

Telephone system:

general assessment: small system
domestic: combination of microwave radio relay, open-wire lines, radiotelephone, and cellular communications
international: country code - 245

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 1 (transmitter out of service), FM 4, shortwave 0 (2002)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

5 (2005)

Internet users:

26,000 (2005)


28 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 25
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 20 (2005)


total: 4,400 km
paved: 453 km
unpaved: 3,947 km (1999)


four largest rivers are navigable for some distance; many inlets and creeks give shallow-water access to much of interior (2006)

Ports and terminals:

Bissau, Buba, Cacheu, Farim

Military branches:

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

Disputes - international:

attempts to stem refugees and cross-border raids, arms smuggling, and political instability from a separatist movement in Senegal's Casamance region