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Guinea-Bissau, in West Africa, borders the North Atlantic Ocean, Senegal and Guinea. It gained independence from Portugal in 1974. In the past, Guinea-Bissau was considered a potential model for African development and success; however, this changed as a result of its reliance on foreign aid and the bitter civil war that raged this country in the 1990s. The current president, President Joao Bernardo Vieira, has pledged to pursue economic development and national reconciliation. Guinea-Bissau is attractive for a variety of reasons; its beaches and wildlife, its traditions and culture and the many Portuguese colonial remains and the numerous fishing villages along the coast. A special feature of Guinea-Bissau is the

islands off its coast, the Bijagos Archipelago. These islands are known to be exceptionally beautiful, home to some of the best beaches in western Africa. While different indigenous peoples live on these islands, some remain unoccupied. In the capital city, Bissau, visitors can enjoy the Museum of African Artifacts where they can enjoy the traditional sculptures, pottery and weaving.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Country Flag: Guinea Bissau's Flag

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; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia

Nationality: Guinean

Capital: Bissau

Population: 1,442,029 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 41.4%
  • 15-64 years: 55.6%
  • 65 years and over: 3% (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: 2.07% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 42.4% of the population is literate (male: 58.1%, female: 27.4%) (2003 est.)

Major religions: Indigenous beliefs 50%, Muslim 45%, Christian 5%

Languages: Portuguese (official), Crioulo, African languages

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

Area comparative to Canadian province: half the size of New Brunswick

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

Environmental Issues: deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; overfishing


Guinea-Bissau is ranked as one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. It depends mainly on farming, with rice as the major crop, and fishing. It ranks sixth in cashew production. Guinea-Bissau mainly exports seafood and small amounts of peanuts, timber and palm kernels. The year 1998 brought economic deterioration in Guinea-Bissau’s economy as a result of the fighting between Senegalese-backed government troops and a military junta. Guinea-Bissau is focusing on exploring offshore oil, which, if successful, will provide the country with substantial revenues. The government continues to work with international donors to improve Guinea-Bissau’s economic situation to improve issues such as the extreme inequality of income distribution.

Major industries:

  • agricultural products processing
  • beer
  • soft drinks

Agricultural products:

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

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003)

Railways: N/A

Road map: 4,400 km (paved: 453 km, unpaved: 3,947 km)

Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc


Telephone lines in use: 10,600 (2003)

Cellular lines in use: 1,300 (2003)

Television Stations: NA (2005)

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

Internet users: 26,000 (2005)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 10% (2003 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 17,000 (2001 est.)

More Information

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