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, 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. A long-running dispute between factions in the ruling PAIGC party has brought the government to a political impasse; there have been five prime ministers since August 2015.



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

Geographic coordinates

12 00 N, 15 00 W

Map references



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

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
elevation extremes: 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%
arable land 8.2%; permanent crops 6.9%; permanent pasture 29.7%
forest: 55.2%
other: 0% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

250 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

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

Environment - current issues

deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; overfishing

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

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

People and Society

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.)


1,759,159 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Bissau-Guinean(s)
adjective: Bissau-Guinean


Crioulo 90.4%, Portuguese 27.1% (official), French 5.1%, English 2.9%, other 2.4%
note: shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census (2008 est.)


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: 39.28% (male 344,976/female 346,102)
15-24 years: 20.17% (male 176,050/female 178,842)
25-54 years: 32.53% (male 285,258/female 286,955)
55-64 years: 4.62% (male 31,030/female 50,215)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 22,121/female 37,610) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 78.4%
youth dependency ratio: 72.8%
elderly dependency ratio: 5.7%
potential support ratio: 17.7% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 20 years
male: 19.5 years
female: 20.5 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

1.88% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

32.9 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

14.1 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 49.3% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 4.13% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

BISSAU (capital) 492,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.62 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.6 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Child labor - children ages 5-14

total number: 226,316
percentage: 57% (2010 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

549 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 87.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 96.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 77.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 50.6 years
male: 48.6 years
female: 52.7 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

4.16 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

14.2% (2010)

Health expenditures

5.6% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.1 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

Hospital bed density

1 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking water source

urban: 98.8% of population
rural: 60.3% of population
total: 79.3% of population
urban: 1.2% of population
rural: 39.7% of population
total: 20.7% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 33.5% of population
rural: 8.5% of population
total: 20.8% of population
urban: 66.5% of population
rural: 91.5% of population
total: 79.2% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

3.69% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

42,000 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

1,900 (2014 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

6.3% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

17% (2014)

Education expenditures

2.2% of GDP (2013)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 59.9%
male: 71.8%
female: 48.3% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 9 years
male: NA
female: NA (2006)


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
note: 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" 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)

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)


promulgated 16 May 1984; amended 1991, 1993, 1996; note - constitution suspended following military coup in April 2012 and restored in 2014 (2016)

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil law which incorporated Portuguese law at independence and influenced by early French civil code and customary law

International law organization participation

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


citizenship by birth: yes
citizenship by descent: yes
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Jose Mario VAZ (since 17 June 2014)
head of government: Prime Minister Umaro Sissoco EMBALO (since 18 November 2016)
cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the prime minister, appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in two rounds if needed for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 13 April 2014 with a runoff on 18 May 2014 (next to be held in 2019); prime minister appointed by the president after consultation with party leaders in the National People's Assembly
election results: first round - Jose Mario VAZ (PAIGC) 41%, Nuno Gomez NABIAM (independent) 25.1%, other 33.9%; Jose Mario VAZ elected president in second round - Jose Mario VAZ 61.9%, Nuno Gomez NABIAM 38.1%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National People's Assembly or Assembleia Nacional Popular (102 seats; members directly elected in 2 single- and 27 multi-seat constituencies by closed party-list proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 13 April 2014 (next to be held in 2018)
election results: percent of vote by party - PAIGC 48.0%, PRS 30.8%, other parties 21.2%; seats by party - PAIGC 57, PRS 41, other 4

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court or Suprema Tribunal 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: Appeal 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]
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]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Chamber of Commerce of Agriculture, Industry, and Services

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

the US Embassy suspended operations on 14 June 1998 in the midst of violent conflict between forces loyal to then President VIEIRA and a military-led junta; the US Ambassador to Senegal, currently Ambassador James P. ZUMWALT, 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


Economy - 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 farming and fishing, but illegal logging and t

Guinea-Bissau has substantial potential for development of mineral resources including phosphates, bauxite, and mineral sands. The country’s climate and soil make it feasible to grow a wide range of cash crops, fruit, vegetables, and tubers; however, cash

With renewed donor support following elections in April-May 2014 and a successful regional bond issuance, the government of Guinea-Bissau made progress paying salaries, settling domestic arrears, and gaining more control over revenues and expenditures, bu

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$2.851 billion (2016 est.)
$2.72 billion (2015 est.)
$2.596 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.168 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

4.8% (2016 est.)
4.8% (2015 est.)
2.5% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$1,600 (2016 est.)
$1,500 (2015 est.)
$1,500 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

11.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
11.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
7.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 92.2%
government consumption: 11.4%
investment in fixed capital: 6.1%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 20.7%
imports of goods and services: -30.4% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 45%
industry: 13.3%
services: 41.7% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

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


agricultural products processing, beer, soft drinks

Industrial production growth rate

0.7% (2016 est.)

Labor force

731,300 (2013 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

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

Unemployment rate


Population below poverty line

67% (2015 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

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


revenues: $171.3 million
expenditures: $212.7 million (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

14.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-3.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.5% (2016 est.)
1.4% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

4.25% (31 December 2009)
4.75% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

15% (31 December 2016 est.)
15% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$537.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$454.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$596.5 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$514.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$255.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$206.5 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Current account balance

-$20 million (2016 est.)
-$11 million (2015 est.)


$163.2 million (2016 est.)
$202.9 million (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

fish, shrimp; cashews, peanuts, palm kernels, raw and sawn lumber

Exports - partners

India 63.5%, Nigeria 20.3%, China 5.7%, Togo 5.6% (2015)


$196.8 million (2016 est.)
$199.5 million (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, petroleum products

Imports - partners

Portugal 27.1%, Senegal 12.8%, China 6.5%, Spain 5.5%, Cuba 4.8% (2015)

Debt - external

$1.095 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$941.5 million (31 December 2000 est.)

Exchange rates

Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar -
605.7 (2016 est.)
591.45 (2015 est.)
591.45 (2014 est.)
494.42 (2013 est.)
510.53 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 1,300,000
electrification - total population: 21%
electrification - urban areas: 37%
electrification - rural areas: 6% (2013)

Electricity - production

34 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

31.62 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

39,000 kW (2015 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

99% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

1% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

2,500 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

2,423 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

500,000 Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 5,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (July 2012 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 1.238 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 72 (July 2015 est.)

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 is roughly 70 per 100 persons
international: country code - 245 (2015)

Broadcast media

1 state-owned TV station 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 interna (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 61,000
percent of population: 3.5% (July 2015 est.)


Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

J5 (2016)


8 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 3 (2013)


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


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

Ports and terminals

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


Military branches

People's Revolutionary Armed Force (FARP): Army, Navy, National Air Force (Forca Aerea Nacional); Presidential Guard (2012)

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 (2013)

Military expenditures

1.85% of GDP (2012)
1.81% of GDP (2011)
1.85% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

in 2006, political instability within Senegal's Casamance region resulted in thousands of Senegalese refugees, cross-border raids, and arms smuggling into Guinea-Bissau

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 8,601 (Senegal) (2015)

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