Guinea Bissau


Official Name:
República da Guiné-Bissau
short form: Guiné-Bissau
int’l long form: Republic of Guinea-Bissau
int’l short form: Guinea-Bissau
formerly: Portuguese Guinea (until 1974)

ISO Country Code: gw

Local Time = UTC (no GMT time offset)

Country Calling Code: +245

Capital City: Bissau

Other Cities: Bolama (former capital of Portuguese Guinea until 1941) Bafata, Gabu, Canchungo, Farim, Cacheu.

Type: Republic, multi-party since 1991.
Independence: 24 September 1973 (proclaimed unilaterally); 10 September 1974 (de jure from Portugal).

Location: Western Africa, between Guinea and Senegal, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean.
Area: (including Bijagós Archipelago): 36,000 km² (14,000 sq. mi).
Regions: Oio, Tombali, Cacheu, Bolama, Quinara, Biombo, Bafata, Gabu.
Terrain: Almost all of Guinea-Bissau is low-lying and bathed daily by tidal waters that reach as much as 62 miles (100 kilometres) inland; savanna in the east.

Climate: Tropical; generally hot and humid; rainy season (Jun – Nov)

Nationality: Bissau-Guinean(s).
Population: 1.52 million (2009 census)
Ethnic groups: Balanta 30%, Fula 20%, Manjaca 14%, Mandinga 13%, Papel 7%, others 16%.
Religions: Indigenous beliefs 50%, Muslim 45%, Christian 5%.
Languages: Portuguese (official), Crioulo, French, many indigenous languages: Balanta-Kentohe 26%; Pulaar 18%; Mandjak 12%; Mandinka 11%; Pepel 9%; Biafada; Mancanha; Bidyogo; Ejamat; Mansoanka; Bainoukgunyuno; Nalu; Soninke; Badjara; Bayote%; Kobiana; Cassanga, Basary.
Literacy: 40%

Natural resources: Fish and timber. Deposits of bauxite and phosphate are not exploited; offshore petroleum.

Agriculture products: Cashews, tropical fruits, rice, peanuts, cotton, palm oil.

Industries: Very little industrial capacity.

Exports partners: India 52.2%, USA 22.2%,Nigeria 13.2% (2004)

Imports partners: Senegal 44.6%, Portugal13.8%, China 4.2% (2004)

Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF)

Guinea-Bissau was the only country in West Africa to have fought its way to independence. The war with Portugal ended in 1974, but since the country has been plagued by coups and political unrest.

In 1980, a military coup established authoritarian dictator Joao Bernardo ‘Nino’ VIEIRA as president, VIEIRA was a key figure in struggle against Portuguese colonial rule. 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 returned from asylum to win presidential election pledging to pursue economic development and national reconciliation. In March 2009 President VIEIRA was killed in an assassination attack. He was replaced by an elected leader (Malam Bacai Sanhá).
Guinea-Bissau is a major transit point for Latin American cocaine headed for Europe and some army officials are known to have become involved in the trade.

In April 2012 Guinea-Bissau troops staged a coup attempt, attacking the prime minister’s residence, arresting politicians and taking over the national radio station and the ruling party headquarters. This took place short before the second round of Guinea-Bissau’s presidential election and short afterAngola’s mission to support the military reform in the West African country (MISAANG) has ended.

border countries: Guinea, Senegal
related countries: Cape Verde, Portugal