Guinea-Bissau [Country Flag of Guinea-Bissau]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Guinea-Bissau]



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

Geographic coordinates: 12 00 N, 15 00 W

Map references: Africa

total: 36,120 sq km
land: 28,000 sq km
water: 8,120 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly less than three times the size of Connecticut

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, Nuclear Test Ban, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements


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Population: 1,206,311 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 42% (male 256,315; female 255,208)
15-64 years: 55% (male 313,270; female 347,431)
65 years and over: 3% (male 15,986; female 18,101) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.32% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 38.67 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 15.48 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 111.61 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 49.14 years
male: 47.47 years
female: 50.85 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.17 children born/woman (1998 est.)

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

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 53.9%
male: 67.1%
female: 40.7% (1997 est.)


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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

Data code: PU

Government type: republic, multiparty since mid-1991

National capital: Bissau

Administrative divisions: 9 regions (regioes, singular—regiao); Bafata, Biombo, Bissau, Bolama, Cacheu, Gabu, Oio, Quinara, Tombali
note: Bolama is reported to be renamed Bolama/Bijagos

Independence: 24 September 1973 (unilaterally declared by Guinea-Bissau); 10 September 1974 (recognized by Portugal)

National holiday: Independence Day, 24 September (1973)

Constitution: 16 May 1984, amended 4 May 1991, 4 December 1991, 26 February 1993, 9 June 1993 and 1996

Legal system: NA

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Joao Bernardo VIEIRA (initially assumed power 14 November 1980 in a coup d'etat)
head of government: Prime Minister Carlos CORREIA (since 30 May 1997)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on advice of the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 3 July and 7 August 1994 (next to be held July 1999); prime minister appointed by the president after consultation with party leaders in the legislature
election results: Joao Bernardo VIEIRA elected president; percent of vote—Joao Bernardo VIEIRA 52%, Koumba YALLA 48%

Legislative branch: unicameral National People's Assembly or Assembleia Nacional Popular (100 seats; members are popularly elected to serve a maximum of four years)
elections: last held 3 July and 7 August 1994 (next to be held by NA 1998; the president determines the date for each legislature election, which must be held within four years of the last election)
election results: percent of vote by party—PAIGC 46.0%, RGB-MB 19.2%, PRS 10.3%, UM 12.8%, FLING 2.5%, PCD 5.3%, PUSD 2.9%, FCG 0.2%, others 0.8%; seats by party - PAIGC 62, RGB 19, PRS 12, UM 6, FLING 1

Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Supremo Tribunal da Justica, consists of 9 justices who are appointed by the president and serve at his pleasure, final court of appeals in criminal and civil cases; Regional Courts, supposed to be one in each of nine regions, first court of appeals for sectoral court decisions, hear all felony cases and civil cases valued at over $1,000; Sectoral Courts, supposed to be 24 of them, judges are not necessarily trained lawyers, hear civil cases under $1,000 and misdemeanor criminal cases

Political parties and leaders: African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde or PAIGC [Manuel Saturnino da COSTA, secretary general]; Front for the Liberation and Independence of Guinea or FLING [Jose Katengul M. ENDES]; Guinea-Bissau Resistance-Ba Fata Movement or RGB-MB [Domingos FERNANDES Gomes]; Guinean Civic Forum or FCG [Antonieta Rosa GOMES]; International League for Ecological Protection or LIPE [Alhaje Bubacar DJALO, president]; National Union for Democracy and Progress or UNDP [Abubacer BALDE, secretary general]; Party for Democratic Convergence or PCD [Victor MANDINGA]; Social Renovation Party or PRS [Koumba YALLA, leader]; Union for Change or UM [Jorge MANDINGA, president and Dr. Anne SAAD secretary general]; United Social Democratic Party or PUSD [Victor Sau'de MARIA]

International organization participation: ACCT (associate), ACP, AfDB, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ITU, MONUA, NAM, OAU, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mario LOPEZ DA ROSA
chancery: Suite 519, 1511K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 347-3950
FAX: [1] (202) 347-3954

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Peggy BLACKFORD
embassy: 1 Rua Ulysses S. Grant, Bairro de Penha, Bissau
mailing address: C.P. 297, 1067 Codex, Bissau, Guinea-Bissau
telephone: [245] 252273, 252274, 252275, 252276
FAX: [245] 252282

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; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia


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Economy—overview: One of the 20 poorest countries in the world, Guinea-Bissau depends mainly on farming and fishing. Cashew crops have increased remarkably in recent years, and the country now ranks sixth in cashew production. Guinea-Bissau exports fish and seafood along with small amounts of peanuts, palm kernels, and timber. Rice is the major crop and staple food. Trade reform and price liberalization are the most successful part of the country's structural adjustment program under IMF sponsorship. The tightening of monetary policy and the development of the private sector have begun to reinvigorate the economy. Inflation dropped sharply in the first quarter of 1997. Membership in the WAMU (West African Monetary Union), begun in May 1997, should help support 5% annual growth and contribute to fiscal discipline. Because of high costs, the development of petroleum, phosphate, and other mineral resources is not a near-term prospect.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$1.15 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 5% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$975 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 45%
industry: 18%
services: 37% (1997 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 65% (1996)

Labor force: 480,000

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget: $NA

Industries: agricultural products processing, beer, soft drinks

Industrial production growth rate: 2.6% (1997 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 11,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 45 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 40 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: rice, corn, beans, cassava (tapioca), cashew nuts, peanuts, palm kernels, cotton; fishing and forest potential not fully exploited

total value: $25.8 million (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: cashews 95%, fish, peanuts, palm kernels, sawn lumber (1994)
partners: Spain 35%, India 30%, Thailand 10%, Italy 10% (1995)

total value: $63 million (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: foodstuffs, transport equipment, petroleum products, machinery and equipment (1994)
partners: Thailand 27%, Portugal 23%, Japan 6%, Cote d'Ivoire 7% (1995)

Debt—external: $953 million (1996 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA

Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes; note - on 1 May 1997, Guinea-Bissau adopted as its currency the CFA franc following its membership into the BCEAO

Exchange rates: CFA francs (CFAF) per US$1—608.36 (January 1998), 583.67 (1997); Guinea-Bissauan pesos (PG) per US$1—26,373 (1996), 18,073 (1995), 12,892 (1994), 10,082 (1993)
note: as of 2 May 1997, Guinea-Bissau has adopted the CFA franc as the national currency following its membership in BCEAO

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 13,120 (1997 est.)

Telephone system: small system; only 11 telephones per 1,000 persons
domestic: combination of microwave radio relay, open-wire lines, radiotelephone, and cellular communications
international: NA

Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 3, shortwave 0

Radios: 40,000 (1994 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 2

Televisions: NA


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Railways: 0 km

total: 4,400 km
paved: 453 km
unpaved: 3,947 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: several rivers are accessible to coastal shipping

Ports and harbors: Bissau, Buba, Cacheu, and Farim

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 30 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 27
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 22 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: People's Revolutionary Armed Force (FARP; includes Army, Navy, and Air Force), paramilitary force

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 276,417 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 157,674 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $9 million (1994)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 4.5% (1994)

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: none