About Guinea Bissau [ Country ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Guinea Bissau; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this country.

Location

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

Climate

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

Terrain

Mostly low coastal plain rising to savanna in east

Elevation

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed elevation in the eastern part of the country 300 m

Geo Notes

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

Approved Official Names

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

Capital City

name: Bissau
geographic coordinates: 11 51 N, 15 35 W
time difference: UTC 0

Administrative Divisions

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

Natuaral Hazards

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

Environmental Issues

Deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; overfishing

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)

Life Expectancy

total population: 48.3 years
male: 46.44 years
female: 50.22 years (2010 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.)

Languages Spoken

Portuguese (official), Crioulo, African languages

Religions Practiced

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

Legal System

Based on French civil law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National Holiday

Independence Day, 24 September (1973)

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

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)

Background

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.

Economy Overview

One of the six 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 fifth 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. Offshore oil prospecting is underway in several sectors but has not yet led to commercially viable crude deposits. 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 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, resulted in continued low growth in 2002-06. Higher raw material prices boosted growth in 2007-09.

People Trafficking

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)

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

Guinea Bissau location map
Size

total: 36,125 sq km
land: 28,120 sq km
water: 8,005 sq km

Guinea Bissau flag
Population

1,565,126 (July 2010 est.)

Nationality

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%

HIV/AIDS Rate

1.8% (2007 est.)

Independence Date

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

Government Type

Republic

Voting Rights

18 years of age; universal

Internet Users

37,100 (2008)

Internet Hosts

82 (2010)

Internet Country Code

.gw

Refugees & IDPs

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

Number Airports

9 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)

Roadways

total: 3,455 km
paved: 965 km
unpaved: 2,490 km (2002)

Inland Waterways

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

Ports & Terminals

Bissau, Buba, Cacheu, Farim

National Budget

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA

Account Balance

-$6 million (2007 est.)

Exchange Rates

Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 481.35 (2009), 447.81 (2008), 493.51 (2007), 522.59 (2006), 527.47 (2005)
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

Inflation Rate

3.8% (2007 est.)

Main Industries

Agricultural products processing, beer, soft drinks

Agricultural Products

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

Labor Force

632,700 (2007)

Main Occupations

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

Unemployment Rate

NA%

GDP (USD Parity)

$1.712 billion (2009 est.)
$1.662 billion (2008 est.)
$1.617 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP Per Capita

$1,100 (2009 est.)
$1,100 (2008 est.)
$1,100 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: 2.9%
highest 10%: 28% (2002)

Below Poverty

NA%