Capital: Bissau

Population: 1,565,126 (July 2010)

Peoples: Balanta: 30%, Fula: 20%, Manjaca: 14%, Mandinka: 13%, Papel: 7%, European/European mixed: 1%, Other African: 15%

Balanta, Fula, and most ethnic groups belong to the Western Bantoid family.  Balanta reside in coastal areas whereas Fula live in the southeastern interior.  Fula are found in many nations throughout West Africa.  Mandinka belong to the Mande family group and populate eastern areas. 

Languages: Balanta (26%), Fula [Pulaar or Fulani] (17%), Guinea-Bissau Portuguese Creole (13%), Manjaca (12%), Mandinka (11%), Papel (9%), Biafada (3%), Mankanya (3%), Bidyogo (2%), Jola-Felupe (1.5%), Mansoanka (1%), other (1.5%).  Portuguese is the official language.  Portuguese and Portuguese-based Creoles are commonly spoken second languages.  No languages have over one million native speakers.

Religion: Muslim: 50%, Indigenous beliefs: 40%, Christian: 10% (Catholic  125,000, Seventh Day Adventists  2,003, Jehovah’s Witnesses  130, ) 

Indigenous religions and Islam are the most widely followed religious orientations. Those practicing indigenous religious are widely found throughout the country except in northern areas.  Indigenous beliefs stress communication with spirits of the dead and the building of shrines to provide food and drink offerings.  Muslims are concentrated among the Fula and Mandinka and generally reside in the north and northeast.  Christians are primarily Catholic although there are many active Protestant groups.  Christians are typically found in Bissau and in cities or large towns.  

Government; Republic.

Executive: Chief of State: [Transitional] President Manuel Serifo NHAMADJO (since 11 May 2012). note: in the aftermath of the April 2012 coup that deposed the government, an agreement was reached between ECOWAS mediators and the military junta to name NHAMADJO as transitional president with a one year term

Head of Government: [Transitional] Prime Minister Rui Duarte BARROS (since 16 May 2012) cabinet: NA

Legislative: unicameral National People’s Assembly or Assembleia Nacional Popular (100 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)

elections: last held on 16 November 2008 (next to be held in 2012)

Judicial: Supreme Court or Supremo Tribunal da Justica (consists of nine justices appointed by the president and serve at his pleasure;

Living Conditions: Life Expectancy: 46.44 male, 50.22 female (2010) Literacy: 42.4% (2003); Guinea-Bissau has a poorly developed economy and ranks among the poorest nations in the world.  In 1998, the infrastructure was severely damaged by fighting between government troops and rebel militias.  Some rebuilding has occurred in the past decade, with economic growth in the late 2000s.  Inequality of wealth is extreme.  Most the population relies on subsistence agriculture.  In recent years, Guinea-Bissau has become the fifth largest cashew producer.  Agriculture employs 82% of the workforce and generates 62% of the GDP.  Corruption levels rank among the highest worldwide.  Corruption is perceived as widespread and in all areas of government.  Rebel forces in neighboring Senegal traffic bring arms into the country.  The Archipelago Dos Bijagos has become increasingly involved in trafficking cocaine and other illicit drugs from South America to Europe due to its geographic location and separation from the mainland.  Human trafficking remains a concern.  

History: African tribes have inhabited Guinea-Bissau for millennia and gave rise to the Kingdom of Gabu, which was part of the Mali Empire prior to Portuguese colonization.  The Portuguese began exploring the coastal region in the late fifteenth century which became part of Portugal’s West African Slave Coast.  Cuba and neighboring Portuguese colonies seeking independence assisted Guinea-Bissau in its independence movement, which culminated in independence from Portugal in 1974.  Almost continuous political turmoil and instability has occurred since independence.  A military coup in 1980 established Joao Bernardo Vieira as president until 1999, when the military removed him from office.  During this nineteen-year period, Vieira attempted to establish a free market system and held elections in 1994, but heavily controlled political affairs.  Kumba Yala was appointed president by the transitional government in 2000 until removed  by the military in 2003 and replaced by Henrique Rosa.  Vieira was reelected in 2003 but  was assassinated in 2009.  Malam Bacai Sanha was elected president in a 2009 emergency election. 


Pray for:

  • Men of peace,

  • Peaceful elections

  • Workers in the harvest

  • The Mennonite mission which is doing a church planting work and training locals. (about third blog down).


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