COUNTRIES BRIEFS Newsletter ISSN 1563-4108

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The Republic of Guinea-Bissau (Guinea-Bissau) is located in the Western Africa region, bordering the Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea and Senegal

Total area: 36,120 sq. km (land: 28,000 sq. km water: 8,120 sq. km)

Bordering countries: Guinea-Conakry over 386 km, Senegal over 338 km

Coastline: 350 km

Population: 1,285,715 (July 2000 est.) 1,360,827 (July 2003 est.) Population growth rate: 2.4% (July 2000 est.) 2.02% (2003 est.)

Independence from Portugal: September 24, 1974
National holiday: Independence Day, September 10
Constitution: May 16, 1984, amended May 4, 1991

Natural resources: fish, timber, phosphates, bauxite, petroleum deposits

Agriculture productions: rice, corn, beans, cassava, cashew nuts, peanuts, palm kernels, cotton

Industrial productions: agricultural products processing, beer, soft drinks Industrial production growth rate: 2.60 %

Guinea-Bissau is endowed with good and valuable natural resources - fish, timber, phosphates, bauxite, petroleum deposits. However, the country is listed among the poorest in the world.

However, Bissau-Guinean political leaders have, till now, failed to do so. It is only in 1994, 20 years after independence from Portugal, that the country's first multiparty legislative and presidential elections took place.

The political scene had seen the antagonism between successive head of states and the Army Chiefs of Staff. End of 1997, the Army Chief was sacked by Nino Vieira, the president. And consequently, the Army Chief engineered the uprising of the majority of the ranks; creating a messy snafu. A civil war started in 1998; two state-power's machines coexisting: a civil power led by the president and a military junta. Between January 1998 and February 1999 hundreds of thousands persons emigrated to neighboring Guinea-Conakry. Finally, the president was ousted by the military junta in May 1999; and an interim mixed civil / military government ruled the country till Mr. Koumba YALLA took office, as elected president - in February 2000.

On September 14, 2003 President Yalla was toppled by a coup led by Army chief of staff Gen. Verissimo Correia Seabre.

On September 28, 2003 new civilian administration - headed by interim president Henrique Rosa and interim prime minister Antonio Artur Rosa - sworn in after military, political parties agree to hold parliamentary and presidential elections.

On March 28, 2004 legislative elections were held and final results released on April 20, 2004 by the Supreme Court: the African Party for Independence in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, PAIGC, won 45 of 102 parliamentary seats; the Social Renovation Party (PRS) of former president Kumba Yala, won 35 seats in the vote while the United Social and Democratic Party (PSUD) of former prime minister Francisco Fadul took 17. A five-party coalition, the Electoral Union, managed two seats and the United People's alliance, which groups two parties, took only one. Two remaining seats, for representatives of Guinea-Bissau's large expatriate community, were not allocated because the authorities in the west African country opted not to allow Guinea-Bissauans abroad to vote.

Following that election, the PAIGC (which was the party that fought against Portuguese colonial power) grabs again state power, and its leader, Nino Vieira was elected state president.

On March 2, 2009, Army troops shot and killed, Nino Vieira, the president; apparently in reprisal for a bomb attack that, the night of March 01, 2009, killed the army chief of staff, Gen. Batista Tagme Na Wai.

The army command denied that a coup was under way, and the speaker of the national assembly, Raimundo Pereira, was sworn in as president, as required by the Constitution. The government is preparing for new elections. The army promising to say "away" from the transitional period.

So goes the political life in Guinea Bissau. Political observers and diplomats in the region believe that the slaying of two of the most powerful men in the country within a 24-hour-period, may, paradoxically, signals a new era for the country. Both men were seen as puppets of south-american drug cartels, and "hindrances" for the development of the country.

Anyway, whatever may be the political outcome, Guinea-Bissau's new rulers need to urgently revived a disrupted economy.

Indeed, Guinea-Bissau's economy is devastated. No economic development strategy had not been devised by the policy-makers to turn around the economy neither after the civil war, nor after the election of Yalla; nor under the "leadership" of Nino Vieira.

Farming and fishing are the main economic activities from which 90% of the population earn a meager living. Cashew nuts, peanuts, palm kernels, and fish accounting for the primary exports (Cashew alone representing more or less 70% of total export; but cashew plantations are aging and are in need of urgent regeneration and maintenance.)

The potential for an accelerated and sustained economic growth does exist if Guinea-Bissau's economic planners / political leaders set up a strategic development scheme to exploit to the maximum the agriculture sector (this is not the case currently) to boost development of:

1- Fish resources (sea catches and fish farming)
2- Forestry resources
3- Cereals production.

That is the only way to trigger the economic development of the country on a solid basis. - Click here to review a Strategic Development Scheme applicable to Guinea-Bissau.

The other alternative - developing of existing and proved oil fields; and known mineral deposits (phosphates, bauxite) - is unlikely to be implemented in a near future because of:

1- Non-existing efficient infrastructure
2- High cost of development.
3- Political internal and international instability (recurrent skirmishes on borders with Senegal; Senegal's national army is battling against Senegalese rebels from Senegal' southern Casamance region; these rebels are actively supported by some factions in Guinea-Bissau)

Guinea-Bissau - once political stability restored - is doubtless a country bound to generate double digit return on vested money because there is a lot of Catch up to be done in all sectors of the economy.

There are business opportunities in infrastructure establishment (roads, bridges, hospitals); in tourism and in agribusiness.


1- D&B Export Guide To Guinea Bissau
Digital Delivery In PDF by D&B
2- Country Review 1999/ 2000
by Debra Ewing
3- Politics, Economy And Society
by Rosemary E. Galli
4- Cuisines of Portuguese Encounters
Recipe From Portuguese Speaking Countries
by Cherie Hamilton
5- The Making of Modern Africa
Commerce And Colonial Expansion
In Senegambia And Guinea / by Joye Bowman
6- Ecology And Control
Of Anopheles Mosquitoes And Human Malaria
In Guinea Bissau / by Katinka Palsson

Click to contact Dr. Bienvenu-Magloire Quenum



US$ 366 million (2000); 400 million (2001); 367 million (2002 est.)
GNP-growth rate: 7.6% (2000); 7.2% (2001); 1.5% (2002 est.)
GNP-per capita: US$ 269 (2000); 269 (2002)

Click here for the difference between GNP and Parity Purchasing Power

GNP-composition by sector

  1. agriculture: 62%

  2. industry: 12%
  3. services: 26%

Exports: US$ .80 million (f.o.b. 2000); 71 million f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Commodities: cashews 95%, fish, peanuts, palm kernels, sawn lumber

Imports: US$ 52.5 million (f.o.b. 2000) 59 million f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Commodities: foodstuffs, transport equipment, petroleum products, machinery and equipment




A passport and a visa are required for most nationalities.

Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from their nearest Embassy of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau or from the Ministry of Tourism below listed.

Diplomatic representation in the US
918 16th Street NW
Mezzanine Suite
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: +(1) 202 872 4222
Fax: +(1) 202 872 4226
Ministry of Tourism
Ministère du tourisme, de l´environnement et de l´artisanat
Rue Guerra Mendes
3 Caixa Postal 85
Tel: (245) 201012
Fax: (245) 201012, 251152
Consulate General of Guinea-Bissau

8 Palace Gate
London, W8 5NF
Tel: +(44) 171 5895253
Fax: +(44) 171 5899590
Embassy of Guinea Bissau

70, Ave Roosevelt
1050 Brussels
Tel:+ (32) 2 647 1351


The main international air-carrier to the international Bissau's airport was Air-Afrique. Since the collapse of said company it is difficult to travel to Bissau from any West African country's city.

Chamber of Commerce, Industry
and Agriculture

Ave. Amilcar-Cabral, 7A,
Edificio dos Armazens do Povo
Tel: +(245) 20 16 05
Click here to review funding available to rebuild power generation system

There are some hotels in the Capital-City, Bissau, equipped and serviced to international standards, but it is advised to book in advance and get confirmation / support from a local partner.

It is advisable to bring all foreign currency in cash as credit cards and travelers' checks are not of common usage.

The import and export of local currency is prohibited (click here for equivalence); but the import and export of foreign currency is unlimited provided that it is declared on arrival

24 Septembro Hotel
Tel: + (245) 221034
Fax: + (245) 221002
Tourism Office
Centro de Informacao e Turismo
CP 294
Tel: +(245) 213905
Hotti Bissau Hotel
Avenida 14 De Novembro
BP 107 Bissau 1602
Tel: +(245) 25 12 25
Fax: +(245) 25 11 52
Sheraton Bissau
Hotel P O
Box 107 Bissau 1602
Tel: +(245) 25 12 51
Fax: +(245) 25 11 52

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