Translation and Localization for Africa: Republic of Guinea-Bissau

August 23, 2017

Guinea-Bissau, officially known as the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, has a rich history of kingdoms, colonialism and political instability. Different regions of the country were once ruled by the Kaabu and Mali Empires. Later, the Portuguese Empire came and held colonial rule from 1474 until 1974.


Several coups and civil wars have created a fragile state and a weak society with high unemployment and widespread poverty. The absence of educational infrastructure, materials and qualified teachers makes it difficult to educate the next generation.


In this blog, I will cover some brief, but important facts about Guinea-Bissau.

Guinea-Bissau's Demographics

  • There is a population of approximately 1.9 million (2017).

  • Bissau is the capital and largest city.

  • Bissau-Guineans can be divided into the following ethnic groups:

    • Fula people, who live in the north and northeast.

    • Balanta people, who live in the southern coastal regions.

    • Manjaco people, who live in the central and northern coastal regions.

Guinea-Bissau's Languages

  • The official language of Guinea-Bissau is Portuguese, although only 14% of the population speak it. It is the only language with official status and comes from colonial rule.

  • Guinea-Bissau Creole is the most widely spoken language.

  • French is also taught in schools because Guinea-Bissau is surrounded by French-speaking countries.

  • A variety of other native African languages are also spoken.

Guinea-Bissau's Culture

  • Guinea-Bissau's population has a diverse ethnic background and they are a mix of different tribes with distinct languages, social structures and customs.

  • Music is an important aspect of life in Guinea-Bissau. Gumbe, Tinga and Tina are the most popular genres and are often accompanied by rhythmically complex dances.

  • Today, the majority of the population practice Islam, followed by Christianity and other indigenous religions.

  • The national flag combines red, yellow, green and black. The black star stands for the unity of Africa, red stands for the blood shed during the struggle for independence, yellow stands for the sun and green represents hope.

Guinea-Bissau's Economy

  • The economy depends mainly on farming and fishing.

  • The main income resources are subsistence agriculture, cashew nut exports and foreign assistance.

  • Cashew exports are the main source of income for many rural communities and represent more than 80% of all exports.

  • Two out of every three people live below the poverty line.

  • The official currency is the CFA franc.

  • Only 3.5% of the population have access to the internet.

Guinea-Bissau's Future


With the renewal of foreign aid, Guinea-Bissau's economy is expected to recover from instability and make steps toward economic growth. However, long-term progress will depend on political stability and a commitment to economic reform programs.


Additional Resources on Africa and African Language Translation


In order to support the growing needs of our clients for many of the African and Middle Eastern languages, GPI has opened offices in Dubai, UAE and Cairo, Egypt to support our clients doing business in the Middle East and Africa. GPI has built teams of professional native speakers for many of the African languages whether national or indigenous, who are available to help companies with their African language translations needs.


Feel free to review our blogs and eBooks that are particularly relevant:



Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our translation services. Also let us know if you have any interesting topics you would like us to cover in future blogs.



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Waleed is a native Arabic speaker born in Menofeya (the northern part of the Nile Delta), Egypt. He is Adobe Certified Expert. He has over 13 years’ experience in multilingual design, desktop publishing and localization engineering. Over the years he has worked for localization and design companies verso and Future-Group working in the documentation desktop publishing and design departments. He also has comprehensive training and experience in many localization and CAT tools. He holds an array of professional certifications including, Adobe's ACE (Adobe Certified Expert), Adobe's Digital Imaging certification, CIW’s Certified Internet Webmaster and Programmer, IBM Web Programmer and Macromedia Designer and extensive application experience with the Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft products. He is a graduate from Menoufia University with a B.A in English Language and Literature. His hobbies include gardening, swimming and traveling.