Since 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; he was assassinated in March 2009. Malam Bacai SANHA was elected in an emergency election held in June 2009.
president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held on 28 June 2009 with a runoff between the two leading candidates held on 26 July 2009 (next to be held by 2014); prime minister appointed by the president after consultation with party leaders in the legislature
Malam Bacai SANHA elected president; percent of vote, second ballot - Malam Bacai SANHA 63.5%, Kumba YALA 36.5%
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 more than $1,000); 24 Sectoral Courts (judges are not necessarily trained lawyers; they hear civil cases valued at less than $1,000 and misdemeanor criminal cases)
African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde or PAIGC [Carlos GOMES Junior]; Democratic Alliance or AD [Victor MANDINGA]; Democratic Social Front or FDS [Rafael BARBOSA]; Electoral Union or UE [Joaquim BALDE]; Guinea-Bissau Civic Forum/Social Democracy or FCGSD [Antonieta Rosa GOMES]; Guinea-Bissau Democratic Party or PDG; Guinea-Bissau Socialist Democratic Party or PDSG [Serifo BALDE]; Labor and Solidarity Party or PST [Lancuba INDJAI]; New Democracy Party or PND; Party for Democratic Convergence or PCD [Victor MANDINGA]; Party for Renewal and Progress or PRP; Party for Social Renewal or PRS [Kumba YALA]; Progress Party or PP; Republican Party for Independence and Development or PRID [Aristides GOMES]; Union of Guinean Patriots or UPG [Francisca VAZ]; Union for Change or UM [Amine SAAD]; United Platform or UP (coalition formed by PCD, FDS, FLING, and RGB-MB); United Popular Alliance or APU; United Social Democratic Party or PUSD [Frnacisco FADUL]
the US Embassy suspended operations on 14 June 1998 in the midst of violent conflict between forces loyal to then President VIEIRA and military-led junta; the US Ambassador to Senegal is accredited to Guinea-Bissau
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; yellow symbolizes the sun; green denotes hope; red represents blood shed during the struggle for independence; the black star stands for African unity
note:uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia; the flag design was heavily influenced by the Ghanian flag
One of the six 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 fifth 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 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 in 2007-09.
Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 481.35 (2009), 447.81 (2008), 493.51 (2007), 522.59 (2006), 527.47 (2005)
note:since 1 January 1999, the West African CFA franc (XOF) has been pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 CFA francs per euro; West African CFA franc (XOF) coins and banknotes are not accepted in countries using Central African CFA francs (XAF), and vice versa, even though the two currencies trade at par
1 state-owned TV station and a second station, RTP Africa, is operated by Portuguese public broadcaster RTP; 1 state-owned radio station, several private radio stations, and some community radio stations; multiple international broadcasters are available (2007)
current situation: Guinea-Bissau is a source country for children trafficked primarily for forced begging and forced agricultural labor to other West African countries
Tier 2 Watch List - for the second year in a row, Guinea-Bissau is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons, as evidenced by the continued failure to pass an anti-trafficking law and inadequate efforts to investigate or prosecute trafficking crimes or convict and punish trafficking offenders (2008)
increasingly important transit country for South American cocaine enroute to Europe; enabling environment for trafficker operations thanks to pervasive corruption; archipelago-like geography around the capital facilitates drug smuggling