According to Countryaah data, Guinea-Bissau has a population density of 53 residents per km2. By 2019, 43 percent of the population lived in rural areas, which means that Guinea-Bissau is one of the region’s least urbanized countries. During the 1990s, Guinea-Bissau received refugees from other countries in the region. Those who remain in the country mainly come from Senegal, but also Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. The country’s largest city is the capital Bissau (419,000 residents, 2012).
Guinea-Bissau’s population is mainly comprised of a number of West Atlantic-speaking ethnic groups, which feed on agriculture with rice as a base crop, supplemented by coastal and island fishing. The largest is the balance (265,000) on the coast and north of Bissau. Among the other groups are mandyako (189,000) in the northwest, pepel (140,000) on Bissau Island, and bidyogo (31,000) in the Bijagós Islands. These groups have predominantly maintained their traditional religions.
In the northern parts of the inland are the male-speaking Malinka (154,000), who are about half Muslim, and in the south, at the border with Guinea, the Muslim, livestock- feeding fulani (272,000). There is also a significant mestizo population of mixed Portuguese-African descent (190,000); it speaks creole language.
According to thesciencetutor, Portuguese is the official language in Guinea-Bissau. The native languages belong to two different branches of the Niger-Congo family. Among the Atlantic languages, which dominate along the coast and on the islands, are noted bijago, mandyako and balante. In the southeast at the border with Guinea, Fulani is spoken. Languages in the northern part of the country dominate the languages of men. The most important of these is malink.
In the 12th century, semi-nomadic herdsmen of the Falunian people came to the area that is today Guinea-Bissau. When the Mali kingdom expanded in the 13th century, the Mandinka people came to the area. Both Fulani and Mandinka brought with them an African version of Islam, which today an estimated 45% of the population confess to.
Approximately the same number devote themselves to indigenous traditional religion, while Christians are estimated to be about 10%, a majority of whom are Catholics. Portuguese sailors and traders came to the area during the first half of the 15th century, a European presence that was largely about slave trade. In 1879, Portugal declared the area a Portuguese colony, called Portuguese Guinea. The country became independent in 1973.
One of the reasons why Islam is much weaker in Guinea-Bissau than in neighboring Guinea and Senegal is that the Portuguese colonial rule countered the spread of Islam, while favoring the Catholic mission. As early as 1462, Catholicism had been established in the country.
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Before the liberation, Portugal’s constitution was in the country, which rested on Catholic grounds. Today (2012), Guinea-Bissau is an atheistic republic (ie, the country has no state religion), in which the constitution and other laws guarantee religious freedom, something that the government respects in practice. In order to operate in the country, religious communities must have a license, which seems to be a routine issue.