The World Factbook (1990)/Guinea-Bissau

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 See regional map VII


Total area: 36,120 km²; land area: 28,000 km²

Comparative area: slightly less than three times the size of Connecticut

Land boundaries: 724 km total; Guinea 386, Senegal 338 km

Coastline: 350 km

Maritime claims:

Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has rendered its decision on the Guinea-Bissau/Senegal maritime boundary (in favor of Senegal) that decision has been rejected by Guinea-Bissau

Climate: tropical; generally hot and humid; monsoon-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

Natural resources: unexploited deposits of petroleum, bauxite, phosphates; fish, timber

Land use: 11% arable land; 1% permanent crops; 43% meadows and pastures; 38% forest and woodland; 7% other

Environment: hot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season


Population: 998,963 (July 1990), growth rate 2.5% (1990)

Birth rate: 43 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 19 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 127 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 44 years male, 48 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 5.9 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Guinea-Bissauan(s); adjective—Guinea-Bissauan

Ethnic divisions: about 99% African (30% Balanta, 20% Fula, 14% Manjaca, 13% Mandinga, 7% Papel); less than 1% European and mulatto

Religion: 65% indigenous beliefs, 30% Muslim, 5% Christian

Language: Portuguese (official); Criolo and numerous African languages

Literacy: 34% (1986)

Labor force: 403,000 (est.); 90% agriculture, 5% industry, services, and commerce, 5% government; 53% of population of working age (1983)

Organized labor: only one trade union the National Union of Workers of Guinea-Bissau (UNTG)


Long-form name: Republic of Guinea-Bissau

Type: republic; highly centralized one-party regime since September 1974

Capital: Bissau

Administrative divisions: 9 regions (regiões, singular—região); Bafatá, Biombo, Bissau, Bolama, Cacheu, Gabú, Oio, Quinara, Tombali

Independence: 24 September 1973 (from Portugal; formerly Portuguese Guinea)

Constitution: 16 May 1984

Legal system: NA

National holiday: Independence Day, 24 September (1973)

Executive branch: president of the Council of State, vice presidents of the Council of State, Council of State, Council of Ministers (cabinet)

Legislative branch: unicameral National People's Assembly (Assembléia Nacional Popular)

Judicial branch: none; there is a Ministry of Justice in the Council of Ministers

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President of the Council of State Brig. Gen. João Bernardo VIEIRA (assumed power 14 November 1980 and elected President of Council of State on 16 May 1984); First Vice President Col. Iafai CAMARA (since 7 November 1985); Second Vice President Vasco CABRAL (since 21 June 1989)

Political parties and leaders: only party—African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC), President João Bernardo Vieira, leader; the party decided to retain the binational title despite its formal break with Cape Verde

Suffrage: universal at age 15

Elections: President of Council of State—last held 19 June 1989 (next to be held 19 June 1994); results—Brig. Gen. João Bernardo Vieira was reelected without opposition by the National People's Assembly;

National People's Assembly—last held 15 June 1989 (next to be held 15 June 1994); results—PAIGC is the only party; seats—(150 total) PAIGC 150, appointed by Regional Councils;

Regional Councils—last held 1 June 1989 (next to be held 1 June 1994); results—PAIGC is the only party; seats—(473 total) PAIGC 473, by public plebiscite

Communists: a few Communists, some sympathizers

Member of: ACP, AfDB, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, GATT (de facto), IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB—Islamic Development Bank, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, IRC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Alfredo Lopes CABRAL; Chancery (temporary) at the Guinea-Bissauan Permanent Mission to the UN, Suite 604, 211 East 43rd Street, New York, NY 10017; telephone (212) 661-3977; US—Ambassador William L. JACOBSEN; Embassy at 17 Avenida Domingos Ramos, Bissau (mailing address is C. P. 297, Bissau); telephone [245] 212816, 21817, 213674

Flag: 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; similar to the flag of Cape Verde which has the black star raised above the center of the red band and is framed by two corn stalks and a yellow clam shell


Overview: Guinea-Bissau ranks among the poorest countries in the world, with a per capita GDP below $200. Agriculture and fishing are the main economic activities, with cashew nuts, peanuts, and palm kernels the primary exports. Exploitation of known mineral deposits is unlikely at present because of a weak infrastructure and the high cost of development. The government's four-year plan (1988-91) has targeted agricultural development as the top priority.

GDP: $152 million, per capita $160 (1988); real growth rate 5.6% (1987)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget: revenues $20 million; expenditures $25 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1987)

Exports: $15 million (f.o.b., 1987); commodities—cashews, fish, peanuts, palm kernels; partners—Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Cape Verde, China

Imports: $49 million (f.o.b., 1987); commodities—capital equipment, consumer goods, semiprocessed goods, foods, petroleum; partners—Portugal, USSR, EC countries, other Europe, Senegal, US

External debt: $465 million (December 1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 1.7% (1986 est.)

Electricity: 22,000 kW capacity; 28 million kWh produced, 30 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: agricultural processing, beer, soft drinks

Agriculture: accounts for over 50% of GDP, nearly 100% of exports, and 80% of employment; rice is the staple food; other crops include corn, beans, cassava, cashew nuts, peanuts, palm kernels, and cotton; not self-sufficient in food; fishing and forestry potential not fully exploited

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $46 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $519 million; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $41 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $68 million

Currency: Guinea-Bissauan peso (plural—pesos); 1 Guinea-Bissauan peso (PG) = 100 centavos

Exchange rates: Guinea-Bissauan pesos (PG) per US$1—650 pesos (December 1989), NA (1988), 851.65 (1987), 238.98 (1986), 173.61 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Highways: 3,218 km; 2,698 km bituminous, remainder earth

Inland waterways: scattered stretches are important to coastal commerce

Ports: Bissau

Civil air: 2 major transport aircraft

Airports: 37 total, 18 usable; 5 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 5 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: poor system of radio relay, open-wire lines, and radiocommunications; 3,000 telephones; stations—1 AM, 2 FM, 1 TV; 1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: People's Revolutionary Armed Force (FARP); Army, Navy, and Air Force are separate components

Military manpower: males 15-49, 215,552; 122,824 fit for military service

Defense expenditures: 3.2% of GDP (1987)