Guinea-Bissau Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Guinea-Bissau > Map Economy History

Facts About Guinea-Bissau

Background: In 1994, 20 years after independence from Portugal, the country's first multiparty legislative and presidential elections were held. An army uprising that triggered a bloody civil war in 1998, created hundreds of thousands of displaced persons. The president was ousted by a military junta in May 1999. An interim government turned over power in February 2000 when opposition leader Kumba YALA took office following two rounds of transparent presidential elections. Guinea-Bissau's transition back to democracy will be complicated by a crippled economy devastated by civil war and the military's predilection for governmental meddling.
Government type: republic, multiparty since mid-1991
Capital: Bissau
Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Geography of Guinea-Bissau

Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Senegal
Geographic coordinates: 12 00 N, 15 00 W
Area:
total: 36,120 sq km
land: 28,000 sq km
water: 8,120 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 724 km
border countries: Guinea 386 km, Senegal 338 km
Coastline: 350 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: tropical; generally hot and humid; monsoonal-type rainy season (June to November) with southwesterly winds; dry season (December to May) with northeasterly harmattan winds
Terrain: mostly low coastal plain rising to savanna in east
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location in the northeast corner of the country 300 m
Natural resources: fish, timber, phosphates, bauxite, unexploited deposits of petroleum
Land use:
arable land: 11%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 38%
forests and woodland: 38%
other: 12% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 17 sq km (1993 est.)
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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: this small country is swampy along its western coast and low-lying further inland

People of Guinea-Bissau

The population of Guinea-Bissau is ethnically diverse with distinct languages, customs, and social structures. Most people are farmers, with traditional religious beliefs (animism); 45% are Muslim, principally Fula and Mandinka-speaker concentrated in the north and northeast. Other important groups are the Balanta and Papel, living in the southern coastal regions, and the Manjaco and Mancanha, occupying the central and northern coastal areas.

Population: 1,416,027 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  42.09% 
15-64 years:  55.05% 
65 years and over:  2.86%
Population growth rate: 2.23% 
Birth rate: 39.29 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 15.33 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -1.66 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 110.4 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  49.42 years
male:  47.12 years
female:  51.78 years
Total fertility rate: 5.2 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Guinean (s)
adjective: Guinean
Ethnic groups: African 99% (Balanta 30%, Fula 20%, Manjaca 14%, Mandinga 13%, Papel 7%), European and mulatto less than 1%
Religions: indigenous beliefs 50%, Muslim 45%, Christian 5%
Languages: Portuguese (official), Crioulo, African languages
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 53.9%
male: 67.1%
female: 40.7% (1997 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Guinea-Bissau > Map Economy History