Facts about Guinea-Bissau

World Facts Index

Guinea-BissauSince 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 elections. 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 ousted by the military in a bloodless coup, and businessman Henrique ROSA was sworn in as interim president. In 2005, former President VIEIRA was re-elected president pledging to pursue economic development and national reconciliation.

Geography of Guinea-Bissau

Location:
Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Senegal
Coordinates:
12 00 N, 15 00 W
Area:
total: 36,120 sq km
water: 8,120 sq km
land: 28,000 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
Natural hazards:
hot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season; brush fires
Environment current issues:
deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; overfishing
Geography - note:
this small country is swampy along its western coast and low-lying further inland

Population of Guinea-Bissau

Population:
1,503,182 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.4% (male 297,623/female 298,942)
15-64 years: 55.6% (male 384,559/female 417,811)
65 years and over: 3% (male 18,048/female 25,046)
Median age:
19 years
Growth rate:
2.07%
Infant mortality:
105.21 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 46.87 years
male: 45.05 years
female: 48.75 years
Fertility rate:
4.86 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: 42.4%
male: 58.1%
female: 27.4% 

Government

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Guinea-Bissau
local long form: Republica da Guine-Bissau
former: Portuguese Guinea
Government type:
republic, multiparty since mid-1991
Capital:
Bissau
Administrative divisions:
9 regions (regioes, singular - regiao); Bafata, Biombo, Bissau, Bolama, Cacheu, Gabu, Oio, Quinara, Tombali; note - Bolama may have been 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:
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Joao Bernardo 'Nino' VIEIRA (since 1 October 2005)
head of government: Prime Minister Carlos CORREIA
cabinet: NA
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held 24 July 2005 (next to be held in 2010); prime minister appointed by the president after consultation with party leaders in the legislature.
Legislative branch:
unicameral National People's Assembly or Assembleia Nacional Popular (100 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve a maximum of four years).
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Supremo Tribunal da Justica (consists of nine justices appointed by the president and serve at his pleasure; final court of appeals in criminal and civil cases); Regional Courts (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); 24 Sectoral Courts (judges are not necessarily trained lawyers; they hear civil cases under $1,000 and misdemeanor criminal cases)

Economy

One of the five 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. However, intermittent fighting between Senegalese-backed government troops and a military junta destroyed much of the country's infrastructure and caused widespread damage to the economy in 1998; the civil war led to a 28% drop in GDP that year, with partial recovery in 1999-2002. Before the war, trade reform and price liberalization were 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 had also begun to reinvigorate the economy. Because of high costs, the development of petroleum, phosphate, and other mineral resources is not a near-term prospect. Offshore oil prospecting is underway in several sectors but has not yet led to commercially viable crude deposits. The inequality of income distribution is one of the most extreme in the world. The government and international donors continue to work out plans to forward economic development from a lamentably low base. In December 2003, the World Bank, IMF, and UNDP were forced to step in to provide emergency budgetary support in the amount of $107 million for 2004, representing over 80% of the total national budget. Government drift and indecision, however, resulted in continued low growth in 2002-06. Higher raw material prices boosted growth to 3.7% in 2007.

GDP:
$826.4 million (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
2.3%
GDP per capita:
$800
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 62%
industry: 12%
services: 26% 
Inflation rate:
4% 
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 82%
industry and services: 18%
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% 
Industries:
agricultural products processing, beer, soft drinks
Agriculture:
rice, corn, beans, cassava (tapioca), cashew nuts, peanuts, palm kernels, cotton; timber; fish
Exports:
cashew nuts, shrimp, peanuts, palm kernels, sawn lumber
Export partners:
India 68.9%, Nigeria 17.5%, Ecuador 4.6% 
Imports:
foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, petroleum products
Import partners:
Senegal 35.7%, Italy 18.8%, Portugal 12.8% 
Currency:
Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States; previously the Guinea-Bissau peso (GWP) was used

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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