Full Name
Republic of Guinea-Bissau (English)
Republica da Guine-Bissau (Portuguese)
Origins of name: Guinea derives from the Berber word aguinaw, or gnawa ("black man"), which Berbers (Nomadic Saharan Peoples) have used to describe most of West Africa. ‘Bissau’ refers to the indigenous Bijagó people from the offshore islands
Formerly: Portuguese Guinea

Current Leader: Jose Mario Vaz

Gained independence on September 10, 1974 from the Portuguese
Historically, Guinea-Bissau was known as the ‘Slave Coast’ due to its strategic positioning as a slave trading post


Form of Government
President is Chief of State
Prime Minister is Head of Government
President elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits)
Prime Minister appointed by the president after consultation with party leaders in the legislature

Government structure
Prime Minister

Military Statistics
Manpower fit for military service: Males age 16-49: 194,110 and Females age 16-49: 200,660
Expenditures: 3.1% of GDP
Branches: People's Revolutionary Armed Force (FARP): Army, Navy, Air Force; Paramilitary force

Former Rulers
1974 – 1980: Luís Severino de Almeida Cabral
1980 – 1999: João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira (May 14, 1984 - May 16, 1984: Carmen Pereira – acting)
May 7, 1999 – May 14, 1999 : Ansumane Mané
1999 – 2000: Malam Bacai Sanhá
2000 – 2003: Kumba Ialá (Kumba Yallá)
2003 – 2003: Veríssimo Correia Seabra
2003 - 2005: Henrique Pereira Rosa
2005 – 2009: João Bernardo "Nino" Vieira
Mar 3, 2009 - Sep 8, 2009: Raimundo Pereira (Interim)
Sep 8, 2009 – Jan 9 2012: Malam Bacai Sanhá

Jan 9, 2012 - April 12, 2012: Raimundo Pereira

April 12, 2012 - May 11, 2012 - Mamadu Ture Kuruma (military)

May 11, 2012 - June 23, 2014: President Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo (Interim)

Altitude: 23 metres
Population: 388,028 people

Size: 1,628,603  (2012)
Life expectancy: 47.9 years
Gender Make-Up: Male: 48.62 % and Female: 51.48%

GDP per capita
$ 1,200 (2011)

$ 1,100 (2010)

Area: 36,125sqkm
Land boundaries: Guinea 386km, Senegal 338km

Major Languages
Portuguese (official), Crioulo (cognate of Spanish Criollo and of English Creole), African languages

Religious portfolio
Muslim 50%, Indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 10%

National Make-up
African 99% (includes Balanta 30%, Fula 20%, Manjaca 14%, Mandinga 13%, Papel 7%), European, Mixed race 1%

Natural Resources
Fish, Timber, Phosphates, Bauxite, Clay, Granite, Limestone, unexploited deposits of petroleum

Main exports
Cashew nuts, Shrimp, Peanuts, Palm kernels, Sawn timber

Land Use
Arable land: 8.31%
Permanent crops: 6.92%
Other: 84.77%

Monetary Unit/Currency
West African Franc (Communaute Financiere Africaine)

Dialling Code

Internet Code

Main Ports: Bissau and Bolama
Airport: Osvaldo Vieira International Airport located at 8km from Bissau

Modern issues

Soil erosion

Raimundo Pereira, a member of the PAIGC party that has dominated politics since independence, took over the role of interim president since the death of Malam Bacai Sanha on 9 January 2012.

Guinea Bissau has oil prospects. However, for significant investment to take place, it needs more conclusive results in the exploration stages
Large spurts of growth in the tourism sector has contributed substantially to the country’s economy, which is largely crippled by external debt
The nation’s dependence on cashew exports means it is highly susceptible to world price fluctuations. The country has become a major transit point for cocaine smuggled from South America en route to Europe.

There is a high level of income inequality in Guinea Bissau, which has led to social divisions based on income rather than ethnicity
There exists a problem of ‘brain drain’, the highly educated tend to emigrate
Contraception is more widely used in urban and rural areas. This is widely attributed to improvements in family planning services

Foreign Affairs
Guinea-Bissau follows a nonaligned foreign policy. The nation seeks friendly and cooperative relations with a wide variety of states and international organisations
The international community has been pressuring the nation to improve its security sector to boost political stability and prevent drug trafficking
Guinea Bissau has occasional disputes with Senegal over state borders

The Major Conflicts

War of Independence
When: 1963 - 1974
Who: African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC)led by Amilcar Cabral vs Portuguese
Why: Liberation revolution
Outcome: Portugal grants Guinea-Bissau independence with Luis Cabral, Amilcar Cabral's brother, as president after Amilcar Cabral was assassinated only months to independence. Amilcar Cabral was one of Africa's most famous freedom fighters and revolutionaries

Joao Bernardo Vieira’s Coup
When: 1980
Who: Joao Bernardo Vieira and the military vs Luis Cabral’s government
Why: Dissatisfaction with the government – predominantly due to poor economic conditions
Outcome: The bloodless coup was successful and Vieira was declared president. Plans for unification with Cape Verde were cancelled and the PAIGC in Cape Verde fractioned and formed a separate party. A nine-member military Council of the Revolution, chaired by Vieira, was set up and the constitution was suspended

General Ansumane Mane’s Coup
When: 1999
Who: General Ansumane Mane and soldiers vs Vieira’s government
Why: Vieira had sacked Mane in 1998, which led to mutinies
Outcome: Vieira was toppled and Malam Bacai Sanha, the former speaker of parliament, was installed as the interim president

2003 Military Coup
When: 2003
Who: Commander Zamora Induta and the National Forces vs government
Why: The armed forces claimed that the government was not solving the country’s problems
Outcome: The bloodless coup was successful and President Kumba Yala was taken prisoner

What to see?
Cacheu: former slave-trading town
Bijagos Islands
Saltinho Waterfall

Popular Sports

Famous Sportsmen and Sportswomen
Amarildo Almeida: sprinter
Holder da Silva: sprinter (specialises in the 100m)
Domingas Togna: 1,500m runner

Guinea-Bissau's biggest annual festival is the Latin-style Bissau carnival in February
The red river hogs, which consume dead animals and act like scavengers, can be found in Guinea-Bissau  

A message to Pope Francis as he visits Africa

Read Story:A message to Pope Francis as he visits Africa