Republic. Gained independence from Portugal in 1973.
Head of state:
President José Mário Vaz since 2014.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Rui Duarte Barros since 2012.
Limited electricity supply on 220 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are used.
Guinea-Bissau is a small coastal country just to the South of Senegal where the people speak a host of local languages and Creole together with Portuguese and a little bit of French.Until recently, Guinea-Bissau was well off the tourist route. Struggles for independence and a civil war in 1998-99 devastated the economy. Tourist facilities and infrastructure remain, in general, very limited but efforts have been made to encourage visitors to this undiscovered gem of West Africa.
Although a relatively small country. Guinea-Bissau's beaches and wildlife are exceptional while West African traditions and Portuguese colonial remains can still be seen. On the coast, you can find fishing villages surrounded by forests, whereas further inland the country is dry and dusty.
The islands off the coast of Guinea-Bissau (the Bijagos Archipelago) are of exceptional beauty. These islands are home to a group of indigenous people. Turtles, sharks, manatees, and a very special and very rare form of hippopotamus that lives mostly in salt-water can all be seen here.For those willing to go off the beaten track, Guinea-Bissau has a lot going for it.
Last updated: 20 April 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime rates in Guinea-Bissau are not high but Guinea-Bissau is an extremely poor country. You should take sensible precautions. Avoid carrying valuables in public.
Land mines remain a problem in parts of the country and de-mining operations are continuing. The capital city of Bissau was declared mine-free in June 2006 by the national de-mining centre (CAAMI), which is responsible for de-mining operations and maintains lists of known minefields. Outside of the capital city, you should take local advice and stick to paved roads.
If you are travelling to or from Guinea-Bissau by road you should note that the Casamance region of south-western Senegal (an area between the southern border of Gambia and the north-western border of Guinea-Bissau) remains affected by incidents involving separatist groups and by incidents of banditry. The FCO advise against travel by road in some parts of this region of Senegal.
Traffic is generally light but road conditions (including in the capital) and driving standards are poor. Avoid road travel at night and take suitable precautions in the rainy season (June to October) when road and driving conditions can become particularly poor.
Guinea-Bissau is an inherently unpredictable country in which political instability can, and does, occur without warning. A military coup d’état in April 2012 established a transitional government which the UK did not recognise. Successful internationally recognised democratic elections (Legislative and Presidential) were held on 13 April 2014. The second round of Presidential elections was held on 18 May. Jose Mario Vaz was elected as President, taking office on 23 June. A new government, led by Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, was formed in July.