Photos of Guinea-Bissau



Since independence from Portugal in 1974, Guinea-Bissau has experienced considerable political and military upheaval. In 1980, a military coup established authoritarian General Joao Bernardo 'Nino' VIEIRA as president. Despite eventually 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, multiparty election. 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 overthrown in a bloodless military coup, and businessman Henrique ROSA was sworn in as interim president. In 2005, former President VIEIRA was reelected, 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, but he passed away in January 2012 from a long-term illness. A military coup in April 2012 prevented Guinea-Bissau's second-round presidential election - to determine SANHA's successor - from taking place. Following mediation by the Economic Community of Western African States, a civilian transitional government assumed power in 2012 and remained until Jose Mario VAZ won a free and fair election in 2014. Beginning in 2015, a political dispute between factions in the ruling PAIGC party brought government gridlock. It was not until April 2018 that a consensus prime minister could be appointed, the national legislature reopened (having been closed for two years), and a new government formed under Prime Minister Aristides GOMES. In March 2019, the government held legislative elections, voting in the PAIGC as the ruling party; however, President VAZ continues to perpetuate a political stalemate by refusing to name PAICG President Domingos SIMOES PEREIRA Prime Minister.

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

Geographic coordinates

12 00 N, 15 00 W


total: 36,125 sq km

land: 28,120 sq km

water: 8,005 sq km

country comparison to the world: 137

Area - comparative

slightly less than three times the size of Connecticut

Land boundaries

total: 762 km

border countries (2): Guinea 421 km, Senegal 341 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-lying coastal plain with a deeply indented estuarine coastline rising to savanna in east; numerous off-shore islands including the Arquipelago Dos Bijagos consisting of 18 main islands and many small islets


mean elevation: 70 m

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

agricultural land: 44.8% (2018 est.)

arable land: 8.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 6.9% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 29.7% (2018 est.)

forest: 55.2% (2018 est.)

other: 0% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

250 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

approximately one-fifth of the population lives in the capital city of Bissau along the Atlantic coast; the remainder is distributed among the eight other, mainly rural, regions as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

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

Geography - note

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

People and Society


noun: Bissau-Guinean(s)

adjective: Bissau-Guinean

Ethnic groups

Fulani 28.5%, Balanta 22.5%, Mandinga 14.7%, Papel 9.1%, Manjaco 8.3%, Beafada 3.5%, Mancanha 3.1%, Bijago 2.1%, Felupe 1.7%, Mansoanca 1.4%, Balanta Mane 1%, other 1.8%, none 2.2% (2008 est.)


Crioulo (lingua franca), Portuguese (official; largely used as a second or third language), Pular (a Fula language), Mandingo


Muslim 45.1%, Christian 22.1%, animist 14.9%, none 2%, unspecified 15.9% (2008 est.)

Demographic profile

Guinea-Bissau’s young and growing population is sustained by high fertility; approximately 60% of the population is under the age of 25. Its large reproductive-age population and total fertility rate of more than 4 children per woman offsets the country’s high infant and maternal mortality rates. The latter is among the world’s highest because of the prevalence of early childbearing, a lack of birth spacing, the high percentage of births outside of health care facilities, and a shortage of medicines and supplies.

Guinea-Bissau’s history of political instability, a civil war, and several coups (the latest in 2012) have resulted in a fragile state with a weak economy, high unemployment, rampant corruption, widespread poverty, and thriving drug and child trafficking. With the country lacking educational infrastructure, school funding and materials, and qualified teachers, and with the cultural emphasis placed on religious education, parents frequently send boys to study in residential Koranic schools (daaras) in Senegal and The Gambia. They often are extremely deprived and are forced into street begging or agricultural work by marabouts (Muslim religious teachers), who enrich themselves at the expense of the children. Boys who leave their marabouts often end up on the streets of Dakar or other large Senegalese towns and are vulnerable to even worse abuse.

Some young men lacking in education and job prospects become involved in the flourishing international drug trade. Local drug use and associated violent crime are growing.

Age structure

0-14 years: 43.17% (male 417,810/female 414,105)

15-24 years: 20.38% (male 192,451/female 200,370)

25-54 years: 30.24% (male 275,416/female 307,387)

55-64 years: 3.12% (male 29,549/female 30,661)

65 years and over: 3.08% (male 25,291/female 34,064) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 81.2

youth dependency ratio: 76

elderly dependency ratio: 5.2

potential support ratio: 19.1 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 18 years

male: 17.4 years

female: 18.6 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 214

Birth rate

36.64 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 12

Death rate

7.69 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 98

Net migration rate

-3.72 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 189

Population distribution

approximately one-fifth of the population lives in the capital city of Bissau along the Atlantic coast; the remainder is distributed among the eight other, mainly rural, regions as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 44.2% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 3.41% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

621,000 BISSAU (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.9 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

667 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 8

Infant mortality rate

total: 50.44 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 56.33 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 44.37 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 22

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 63.26 years

male: 61.04 years

female: 65.55 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 207

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 91.2% of population

rural: 60.3% of population

total: 73.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 8.5% of population

rural: 39.7% of population

total: 26.5% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

0.13 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Hospital bed density

1 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 66.5% of population

rural: 13.4% of population

total: 36.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 33.5% of population

rural: 86.6% of population

total: 63.8% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

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

vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 59.9%

male: 71.8%

female: 48.3% (2015)


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

etymology: the country is named after the Guinea region of West Africa that lies along the Gulf of Guinea and stretches north to the Sahel; "Bissau," the name of the capital city, distinguishes the country from neighboring Guinea

Government type

semi-presidential republic


name: Bissau

geographic coordinates: 11 51 N, 15 35 W

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

etymology: the meaning of Bissau is uncertain, it might be an alternative name for the Papel people who live in the area of the city of Bissau

Administrative divisions

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


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

National holiday

Independence Day, 24 September (1973)


history: promulgated 16 May 1984; note - constitution suspended following military coup April 2012, restored 2014; note - in May 2020, President EMBALO established a commission to draft a revised constitution

amendments: proposed by the National People’s Assembly if supported by at least one third of its members, by the Council of State (a presidential consultant body), or by the government; passage requires approval by at least two-thirds majority vote of the Assembly; constitutional articles on the republican and secular form of government and national sovereignty cannot be amended; amended 1991, 1993, 1996

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil law, which incorporated Portuguese law at independence and influenced by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), African Francophone Public Law, and customary law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state:  President Umaro Cissoko EMBALO (since 27 February 2020); note - President EMBALO was declared winner of the 29 December 2019 runoff presidential election by the electoral commission; however, on 28 February 2020, Cipriano CASSAMA was appointed as interim president by the parliament until the Supreme Court rules on the legitimacy of the elections due to alleged irregularities in voting; CASSAMA resigned the following day stating he had received death threats 

head of government: Prime Minister Nuno NABIAM (since 27 February 2020)

cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the prime minister, appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term; election last held on 24 November 2019 with a runoff on 29 December 2019 (next to be held in 2024); prime minister appointed by the president after consultation with party leaders in the National People's Assembly; note - the president cannot apply for a third consecutive term, nor during the 5 years following the end of the second term

election results: Umaro Sissoco EMBALO elected president in second round; percent of vote in first round - Domingos Simoes PEREIRA (PAIGC) 40.1%, Umaro Sissoco EMBALO (Madem G15) 27.7%, Nuno Gomez NABIAM (APU-PDGB) 13.2%, Jose Mario VAZ (independent) 12.4%, other 6.6%; percent of vote in second round - Umaro Sissoco EMBALO 53.6%, Domingos Simoes PEREIRA 46.5%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National People's Assembly or Assembleia Nacional Popular (102 seats; 100 members directly elected in 27 multi-seat constituencies by closed party-list proportional representation vote and 2 elected in single-seat constituencies for citizens living abroad (1 for Africa, 1 for Europe); all members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 10 March 2019 (next to be held in March 2023)

election results: percent of vote by party - PAIGC 35.2%, Madem G-15 21.1%, PRS 21.1%, other 22.6%; seats by party - PAIGC 47, Madem G-15 27, PRS 21, other 7; composition - men 88, women 14, percent of women 13.7%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court or Supremo Tribunal de Justica (consists of 9 judges and organized into Civil, Criminal, and Social and Administrative Disputes Chambers); note - the Supreme Court has both appellate and constitutional jurisdiction

judge selection and term of office: judges nominated by the Higher Council of the Magistrate, a major government organ responsible for judge appointments, dismissals, and judiciary discipline; judges appointed by the president for life

subordinate courts: Appeals Court; regional (first instance) courts; military court

Political parties and leaders

African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde or PAIGC [Domingos SIMOES PEREIRA]
Democratic Convergence Party or PCD [Vicente FERNANDES]
Movement for Democratic Alternation Group of 15 or MADEM-G15 [Braima CAMARA]
National People’s Assembly – Democratic Party of Guinea Bissau or APU-PDGB [Nuno Gomes NABIAM]
New Democracy Party or PND [Mamadu Iaia DJALO]
Party for Social Renewal or PRS [Alberto NAMBEIA]
Republican Party for Independence and Development or PRID [Aristides GOMES]
Union for Change or UM [Agnelo REGALA]

International organization participation


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

embassy: the US Embassy suspended operations on 14 June 1998; 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 Ghanaian flag

National symbol(s)

black star; national colors: red, yellow, green, black

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 then Portuguese Guinea visited China in 1963 and heard music by XIAO He; Amilcar Lopes CABRAL, the leader of Guinea-Bissau's independence movement, asked the composer to create a piece that would inspire his people to struggle for independence


Economic overview

Guinea-Bissau is highly dependent on subsistence agriculture, cashew nut exports, and foreign assistance. Two out of three Bissau-Guineans remain below the absolute poverty line. The legal economy is based on cashews and fishing. Illegal logging and trafficking in narcotics also play significant roles. The combination of limited economic prospects, weak institutions, and favorable geography have made this West African country a way station for drugs bound for Europe.

Guinea-Bissau has substantial potential for development of mineral resources, including phosphates, bauxite, and mineral sands. Offshore oil and gas exploration has begun. The country’s climate and soil make it feasible to grow a wide range of cash crops, fruit, vegetables, and tubers; however, cashews generate more than 80% of export receipts and are the main source of income for many rural communities.

The government was deposed in August 2015, and since then, a political stalemate has resulted in weak governance and reduced donor support.

The country is participating in a three-year, IMF extended credit facility program that was suspended because of a planned bank bailout. The program was renewed in 2017, but the major donors of direct budget support (the EU, World Bank, and African Development Bank) have halted their programs indefinitely. Diversification of the economy remains a key policy goal, but Guinea-Bissau’s poor infrastructure and business climate will constrain this effort.

Real GDP growth rate

5.9% (2017 est.)

6.3% (2016 est.)

6.1% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 31

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.2% (2019 est.)

0.3% (2018 est.)

1.6% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 29

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$3.821 billion (2019 est.)

$3.653 billion (2018 est.)

$3.519 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 188

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.339 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$1,989 (2019 est.)

$1,949 (2018 est.)

$1,925 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 214

Gross national saving

8.8% of GDP (2018 est.)

8.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

10.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 175

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 50% (2017 est.)

industry: 13.1% (2017 est.)

services: 36.9% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 83.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 12% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 4.1% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0.2% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 26.4% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -26.5% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 43.2 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 75.5 (2020)

Trading score: 59.6 (2020)

Enforcement score: 38.6 (2020)

Agricultural products

rice, cashew nuts, roots/tubers nes, oil palm fruit, plantains, cassava, groundnuts, vegetables, coconuts, fruit


agricultural products processing, beer, soft drinks

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 82%

industry and services: 18% (2000 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.9%

highest 10%: 28% (2002)


revenues: 246.2 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 263.5 million (2017 est.)

Public debt

53.9% of GDP (2017 est.)

57.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 87

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$27 million (2017 est.)

$16 million (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 75


$188 million (2018 est.)

$183 million (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 192

Exports - partners

India 50%, Belgium 28%, Cote d'Ivoire 8% (2019)

Exports - commodities

cashews, gold, fish, lumber, aluminum ores (2019)


$383 million (2018 est.)

$348 million (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 202

Imports - partners

Portugal 31%, Senegal 20%, China 10%, Netherlands 7%, Pakistan 7% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, rice, wheat products, soups/broths, malt extract (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$356.4 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$349.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 163

Debt - external

$1.095 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

$941.5 million (31 December 2000 est.)

country comparison to the world: 164

Exchange rates

Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar -

605.3 (2017 est.)

593.01 (2016 est.)

593.01 (2015 est.)

591.45 (2014 est.)

494.42 (2013 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 28% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 56% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 7% (2019)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 0

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 224

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 1,555,961

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 82.79 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 157

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: small system including a combination of microwave radio relay, open-wire lines, radiotelephone, and mobile cellular communications; 2 mobile network operators; one of the poorest countries in the world and this is reflected in the countries telecommunications development; radio is the most important source of information for the public (2020)

domestic: fixed-line teledensity less than 1 per 100 persons; mobile cellular teledensity is roughly 83 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 245; ACE submarine cable connecting Guinea-Bissau with 20 landing points in Western and South Africa and Europe (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

1 state-owned TV station, Televisao da Guine-Bissau (TGB) and a second station, Radio e Televisao de Portugal (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 (2019)

Internet users

total: 72,047

percent of population: 3.93% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 186

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 1,204

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 195


Airports - with paved runways

total: 2 (2019)

over 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 6 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)

under 914 m: 3 (2013)


total: 4,400 km (2018)

paved: 453 km (2018)

unpaved: 3,947 km (2018)

country comparison to the world: 150


(rivers are partially navigable; many inlets and creeks provide shallow-water access to much of interior) (2012)

Merchant marine

total: 8

by type: general cargo 5, other 3 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 162

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Bissau, Buba, Cacheu, Farim

Military and Security

Military and security forces

People's Revolutionary Armed Force (FARP): Army, Navy, Air Force; Guard Nacional (a gendarmerie force under the Ministry of Internal Administration) (2020)

Military expenditures

1.4% of GDP (2017)

1.3% of GDP (2016)

1.6% of GDP (2015)

2% of GDP (2014)

2.1% of GDP (2013)

country comparison to the world: 98

Military and security service personnel strengths

the People's Revolutionary Armed Force (FARP) has approximately 4,500 total active troops, including about 300 Navy and 100 Air Force (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the FARP is poorly armed with an inventory consisting of Soviet-era equipment, much of which is reportedly unserviceable; the only reported deliveries of military equipment to  since 2015 were patrol boats from Spain in 2017 and non-lethal equipment from China in 2015; Guinea-Bissau has also discussed acquiring military equipment with Indonesia (2020)

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 (2019)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

a longstanding low-grade conflict continues in parts of Casamance, in Senegal across the border; some rebels use Guinea-Bissau as a safe haven

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 7,696 (Senegal) (2020)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Guinea-Bissau is a source country for children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; the extent to which adults are trafficked for forced labor or forced prostitution is unclear; boys are forced into street vending in Guinea-Bissau and manual labor, agriculture, and mining in Senegal, while girls may be forced into street vending, domestic service, and, to a lesser extent, prostitution in Guinea and Senegal; some Bissau-Guinean boys at Koranic schools are forced into begging by religious teachers

tier rating: Tier 3 - Guinea-Bissau does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; despite enacting an anti-trafficking law and adopting a national action plan in 2011, the country failed to demonstrate any notable anti-trafficking efforts for the third consecutive year; existing laws prohibiting all forms of trafficking were not used to prosecute any trafficking offenders in 2014, and only one case of potential child labor trafficking was under investigation; authorities continued to rely entirely on NGOs and international organizations to provide victims with protective services; no trafficking prevention activities were conducted (2015)

Illicit drugs

increasingly important transit country for South American cocaine en route to Europe; enabling environment for trafficker operations due to pervasive corruption; archipelago-like geography near the capital facilitates drug smuggling