Guinea Bissau


The Republic of Guinea-Bissau is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Senegal to the North, and Guinea to the South and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its West.

It covers 36,125 km² (nearly 14,000 sq mi).

Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, as well as part of the Mali Empire. Parts of this kingdom persisted until the 18th century, while a few others were part of the Portuguese Empire since the 16th century. It then became the Portuguese colony of Portuguese Guinea in the 19th century. Upon independence, declared in 1973 and recognised in 1974, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the country’s name to prevent confusion with the Republic of Guinea.

Only 14% of the population speaks the official language, Portuguese. The majority of the population (44%) speaks Kriol, a Portuguese-based creole language, and the remainder speak native African languages. The main religions are African traditional religions and Islam, and there is a Christian (mostly Catholic) minority.

Guinea-Bissau is a member of the African Union, Economic Community of West African States, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Latin Union, Community of Portuguese Language Countries, La Francophonie and the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone.

The country’s per-capita gross domestic product is one of the lowest in the world.

Guinea-Bissau is a republic. In the past, the government had been highly centralized, and multiparty governance has been in effect since mid-1991. The president is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government. At the legislative level, there is a unicameral “Assembleia Nacional Popular” (National People’s Assembly) made up of 100 members. They are popularly elected from multi-member constituencies to serve a four-year term. At the judicial level, there is a “Tribunal Supremo da Justiça” (Supreme Court) which consists of nine justices appointed by the president, they serve at the pleasure of the president.

At 36,125 square kilometres (13,948 sq mi), this small, tropical country lies at a low altitude; its highest point is 300 metres (984 ft). The interior is savanna, and the coastline is plain with swamps of Guinean mangroves. Its monsoon-like rainy season alternates with periods of hot, dry harmattan winds blowing from the Sahara. The Bijagos Archipelago extends out to sea.

Guinea-Bissau is warm all year around and there is little temperature fluctuation; it averages 26.3 °C (79.3 °F). The average rainfall for Bissau is 2,024 millimetres (79.7 in) although this is almost entirely accounted for during the rainy season which falls between June and September/October. From December through April, the country experiences drought.

Guinea-Bissau’s GDP per capita is one of the lowest in the world. The economy depends mainly on agriculture; fish, cashew nuts and ground nuts are its major exports. A long period of political instability has resulted in depressed economic activity, deteriorating social conditions, and increased macroeconomic imbalances.

Guinea-Bissau has started to show some economic advances after a pact of stability was signed by the main political parties of the country, leading to an IMF-backed structural reform program.

Capital (and largest city)     Bissau

Official language(s)     Portuguese

Government     Semi-presidential republic

Currency     West African CFA franc (XOF)

Time zone     GMT (UTC+0)

Drives on the     left

Internet TLD     .gw

Calling code     245

Government website


2013 2014 2015
Population (millions) 1.69 1.69 1.72
Gross Domestic Product (10^9 USD) in PPP 2.49 2.55 2.67
Real Growth Rate (%) 0.8 2.5 4.7
Gross National Income per capita (USD) in PPP 1,400.00 1,500.00 1,500.00
Inflation – annual average (%) 0.7 -1.5 1.8
Unemployment rate (%) N.A. N.A. N.A.
Imports (10^6 USD) 184 227.5 218.2
Exports (10^6 USD) 143.7 171.9 198.2
Exchange rate to the USD 494.42 494.42 580.5
External debt (10^9 USD) N.A. N.A. N.A.
External help per capita (USD) N.A. N.A. N.A.
Sources: World Bank


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