Guinea-Bissau Country Facts

By | June 12, 2024
Capital city Bissau
Surface 36,125 km²
Population 1,815,000
Road network length 2750 km
Length of highway network 0 km
First highway N/A
Motorway name N/A
Traffic drives Right
License plate code GW

Guinea-Bissau or Guinea-Bissau, formally the Republic of Guinea-Bissau (Portuguese: República da Guiné-Bissau) is a small country in western Africa. The country is about the same size as the Netherlands and has 1.8 million inhabitants. The capital is Bissau, after which the country is named to avoid confusion with neighboring Guinea.


Guinea-Bissau is a small country on the Atlantic coast, sandwiched between Senegal to the north and Guinea to the east and south. The country measures a maximum of 330 kilometers from west to east and 200 kilometers from north to south. The country consists largely of low-lying coastal plains, the coastline has estuaries, bays and islands. The highest point in the country is an unnamed location at 300 meters altitude. Much of the country consists of rainforest, although the east is drier with more limited vegetation.

The country has a tropical climate with temperatures ranging between 29 and 34°C all year round. It has a striking dry and wet season. More than 2000 mm of precipitation falls per year, almost completely in the period from June to October, outside of that there is virtually no precipitation and higher temperatures are possible, temperatures of around 40 °C sometimes occur, which is unusual in a tropical climate. Particularly from June to September there is a lot of precipitation, between 400 and 700 mm per month.


In 1950 the country had about half a million inhabitants, the population growth was initially small but accelerated significantly from the late 1960s. Around 1990 the limit of 1 million inhabitants was exceeded, today it has approximately 1.8 million inhabitants. The country has one large city, the capital Bissau, after which the country is named to distinguish it from neighboring Guinea. Bissau has half a million inhabitants and is ten times the size of the second largest city in the country. There are only 7 other places with more than 10,000 inhabitants.

Guinea-Bissau is a diverse country with different ethnicities, largely similar to its larger neighbor Guinea. These ethnic groups have their own culture and languages. Portuguese is the country’s official language and is spoken by more than 90% of the population, but mostly as a second language. There is also some knowledge of French as the country is bordered by French speaking countries.


The country is one of the least developed in the world. The economy is largely based on agriculture, often for its own food supply. Nearly 65% ​​of the population lives on less than $2 a day. The export consists largely of coconuts and other nuts.


The area was originally part of the Kingdom of Mali until the 18th century. In the 16th century, the Portuguese established trading posts on the coast, but the interior was not colonized until the 19th century. The colony was known as Portuguese Guinea (Guiné Portuguesa). A rebellion started in 1958, culminating in a large-scale war of independence in 1963, in which rebels were supported by communist countries. The Portuguese soon had control over the coastal towns only. The war ended with the independence of Guinea-Bissau in 1974.

The country was then governed for 10 years by a revolutionary council. The first elections were held in 1984. In 1998-99, a civil war took place in the country, during which the government was overthrown. Several coups followed.

Road Network

The estradas nacionais of Guinea-Bissau.

The paved roads of Guinea-Bissau.

Estrada national

asphalted (status 2020)

Guinea-Bissau has a limited network of paved roads. There are approximately 770 kilometers of paved road, the total road network covers approximately 2750 kilometers. The country has a network of numbered roads. The primary roads form the estradas nacionais, of which five routes exist. Of these five, only three are partially paved.

The N1 forms the primary east-west route from the capital Bissau to the border with Guinea in the far east of the country. This road is asphalted for about two thirds. In the city of Bissau, the road has partly 2×2 lanes, the only one of its type in the country. The N2 is an incomplete coastal route, because of the estuary of the river Geba it is divided into two sections. Of these, the northern part of the border with Senegal to Bissau is asphalted. The border crossing with Senegal is the only one in the country that is part of a paved road. All other border crossings are informal or part of cart tracks and dirt roads. The N3is a largely planned east-west route in the north of the country, significant parts of which do not exist. This includes much of the N4, which forms a north-south route through the east of the country. The N5 is the only estrada nacional that is completely asphalted, this road connects the south and north of the country.

There are no highways or roads in the country that resemble them. The road network of paved roads is limited, not all estradas nacionais are paved and a small number of estradas regionais are paved, especially in the region around Bissau. The country has major rivers and estuaries, giving rise to a number of longer bridges, all of which were built after 2000. Before that, people were still dependent on ferry services, which are often unsafe and informal.

There are no significant border crossings with neighboring Guinea, all cross-border numbered roads are unpaved or even little more than paths through the woods. In practice, hardly any traffic between the two countries is possible. Ferry services are important for traffic through the west of the country, due to the many inlets, bays, river deltas and islands off the coast. However, they are unreliable and shipping disasters are common.

Estradas nacionais in Guinea-Bissau
N1 • N2 • N3 • N4 • N5

Road numbering

In 2006, road numbering was introduced in Guinea-Bissau, consisting of N-roads (estrada nacional), R-roads (estrada regional) and L-roads (estrada local).

List of estradas nacionais

# No. Route Length Remark
N1 Bissau – Gabú – Buruntuma (Guinea border) 260 km Eastern part unpaved
N2 (border Senegal) – São Domingos – Bissau / Enchudé – Buba – Gandembel (border Guinea) 235 km Consists of two parts. Southern part largely unpaved
N3 Ingoré – Farima – Pirada – Buruntuma ? km Largely hypothetical/planned route
N4 (border Senegal) – Pirada – Gabú – Quebo 200 km southern part largely hypothetical / impassable
N5 Bantajã Assa – Quebo 85 km fully asphalted


Signage is virtually non-existent in Guinea-Bissau.


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