Exploring Guinea-Bissau: A Hidden Gem in West Africa

Introduction to Guinea-Bissau

Nestled on the West African coast, bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean, Guinea and Senegal, Guinea-Bissau is a country rich in culture, history, and natural resources. With a total area of 36,125 sq km, it’s a small nation with a diverse geography that ranges from coastal plains to savanna regions. Its coastline extends 350 km, featuring an indented estuarine landscape dotted with several offshore islands, including the notable Arquipelago Dos Bijagos. This unique setting not only makes Guinea-Bissau a place of breathtaking natural beauty but also a country with immense potential for sustainable development.

Geography and Climate

The terrain of Guinea-Bissau is predominantly a low-lying coastal plain, rising to savanna in the east. The country boasts an extensive network of rivers and estuaries, contributing to its significant area of water, roughly 8,005 sq km. The climate is tropical, characterized by a hot and humid atmosphere. The year divides into a rainy season from June to November, due to southwesterly winds, and a dry season from December to May, influenced by northeasterly harmattan winds. These climatic conditions are favorable for a variety of agricultural activities and diverse ecosystems.

Natural Resources and Agriculture

Guinea-Bissau is endowed with a wealth of natural resources including fish, timber, phosphates, bauxite, clay, granite, limestone, and potential petroleum deposits. Agriculture plays a pivotal role in the country’s economy, engaging a significant portion of the population. The agricultural landscape is dominated by products such as rice, corn, beans, cassava, cashew nuts, peanuts, and palm kernels. Despite challenges, the sector remains a cornerstone of Guinea-Bissau’s economy, contributing to both domestic consumption and export revenues.

Economic Overview

The economy of Guinea-Bissau is heavily reliant on agriculture and natural resources. Cashew nuts are particularly notable, serving as the country’s top export product. Other significant exports include fish, shrimp, and timber. The industrial sector is focused primarily on processing agricultural products, along with beer and soft drinks production. However, the country faces economic hurdles, with a GDP per capita estimated at $1,900 in 2017. Efforts to diversify the economy and improve infrastructure remain critical for sustainable growth.

Population and Urbanization

As of July 2020, Guinea-Bissau’s population was estimated at 1,927,104. Approximately 44.2% of these residents live in urban areas, with around 600,000 people residing in the capital city of Bissau. The distribution of the population is relatively uneven, with a significant concentration in the capital and other urban centers, leaving the rural areas sparsely populated. The official language is Portuguese, reflecting the country’s historical ties as a former Portuguese colony.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite its potential, Guinea-Bissau faces numerous challenges, including political instability, poverty, and inadequate infrastructure. Electrification remains a significant issue, with an estimated 2 million people without access to electricity in 2017. Nonetheless, the country has untapped opportunities, particularly in developing its natural resources sustainably, boosting the agriculture sector, and improving energy access. With concerted efforts from the government and international community, Guinea-Bissau can overcome its obstacles to achieve sustainable development and economic growth.


Guinea-Bissau, with its striking landscapes, abundant natural resources, and vibrant culture, stands as a testament to the resilience and potential of West African nations. While challenges persist, the future holds promise for this west African nation to harness its agricultural, natural, and human resources for a prosperous future. As the world seeks to support sustainable development across Africa, Guinea-Bissau offers valuable lessons and opportunities for growth, making it a country worth watching in the years to come.

Country data

Country Code PU
Region Africa
Surface 36125 sq km
Land Surface 28120 sq km
Water Surface 8005 sq km
Agricultural Surface 44.80%
Forest Surface 55.20%
Lowest Elevation Point Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest Elevation Point unnamed elevation in the eastern part of the country 300 m
GDP / capita $1,900 (2017 est.)