Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau

Use Normal Level of Caution

The Republic of Guinea-Bissau is in western Africa with coastline on the North Atlantic Ocean and shares borders with Senegal and Guinea. This developing country has an ethnically diverse population of about 1.6 million people. At the time of writing, there is a transitional government with a president as chief of state and prime minister as head of government.

In the 16th century, the Portuguese colonized this area around the ports of Bissau and Cacheu and was known as Portuguese Guinea. The country gained independence in 1974 and became Guinea-Bissau. In the past 40 years, the country has been beleaguered by political instability and upheaval and corruption, which has kept the country from developing and has increased poverty.

Travellers to Guinea-Bissau can visit inland national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and the Bijagós Archipelago, a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve.

Currency XOF: West African CFA franc
Language Portuguese; Crioulo da Guiné-Bissau is widely spoken
Capital Bissau
Recent Alerts None
Latest Alert Not Available

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in Guinea-Bissau. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Hepatitis A

There is a significant risk for hepatitis A virus exposure in Guinea-Bissau through contaminated food or water.

Hepatitis B

There is a significant risk for acquiring hepatitis B in Guinea-Bissau.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in Guinea-Bissau, especially when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Yellow Fever

There is a risk for yellow fever transmission in this country.

Rabies

Rabies occurs in Guinea-Bissau. Travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk.

Meningitis

Meningitis outbreaks may occur in Guinea-Bissau. Travellers who visit during the dry season (December to June) or expect to have prolonged contact with the local population are especially at risk.

Cholera

Cholera outbreaks occur in Guinea-Bissau. The risk to travellers is low unless living or working in poor sanitary conditions, drinking untreated water or eating poorly cooked or raw seafood in this country.

Dengue Fever

Outbreaks of dengue fever may occur.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis occurs in Guinea-Bissau. Travellers to Guinea-Bissau are at risk for tuberculosis if visiting sick friends or family, working in the health care field, or having close prolonged contact with the general population.

Schistosomiasis

This disease is present in Guinea-Bissau and is acquired through contact with fresh water, such as swimming, bathing, or rafting. Well-chlorinated swimming pools and contact with saltwater in oceans or seas will not put travellers at risk for schistosomiasis.

Malaria

All areas of Guinea-Bissau are at high risk for malaria.

Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya fever has occurred in this country.

Zika Fever

There is transmission of the Zika virus in this country.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to Guinea-Bissau.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a significant risk of exposure to hepatitis A for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There is a significant risk of infection with hepatitis B for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

There is a risk of exposure to typhoid fever in this country through consumption of unsafe food and water. Since exposure to unsafe sources is variable within this country, the vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended, especially when visiting smaller cities or rural areas, where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Yellow Fever Vaccine

A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for all arriving travellers 1 year of age and older. However, the vaccination is recommended for all travellers 9 months of age and older.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) who may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk and should be vaccinated.

Meningitis Vaccine

Because this country is located in the sub-Saharan meningitis belt, vaccination against meningitis is recommended if travelling during the dry season (December to June).

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to Guinea-Bissau.

Anti-malarial Drugs

Recommended anti-malaria medications include atovaquone-proguanil, mefloquine or doxycycline. Resistance to chloroquine and sulfadoxime-pyrimethamine has been reported.

Safety and Security in Guinea-Bissau

Emergency Numbers

117 See note below

There is no emergency number in Guinea-Bissau. Due to the lack of resources, police may not be able to respond to emergency situations. Travellers should check with their embassy to learn of any emergency assistance their embassy might provide.

Personal Safety

Guinea-Bissau is an extremely poor country. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, bag snatching, or other theft can occur in any tourist destination or crowded area. Petty crime commonly occurs at the airport and market, and foreigners are usually the targets. Always be alert to your personal safety. Keep valuables secured and out of sight. Safeguard your important documents, such as your passport. Avoid walking alone at night. Do not accept drinks or food from strangers and never leave your drinks out of your sight. There have been reports of assaults in the capital, Bissau.

Roads can be in poor condition. Drivers may not follow rules of the road. Avoid travelling at night if possible. There have been reports of carjackings and incidents of banditry.

In some areas of Guinea-Bissau, land mines are a risk. The city of Bissau has been declared mine-free. However, take extra care outside of Bissau and stay on paved roads. CAAMI, the national de-mining centre, maintains lists of known minefields.

Areas To Avoid

Avoid the northwestern area of Guinea-Bissau that borders the Casamance region of Senegal. There have been reports of incidents involving bandits and also clashes between the military and separatist groups. The road between São Domingos and Varela is closed due to land mines.

The country’s political instability has allowed for corruption and criminal activity. With remote areas and the unprotected coastline, Guinea-Bissau has been a transit point for illegal immigration and trafficking of light-arms and drugs.

Political Unrest

Guinea-Bissau has experienced political instability for many years. While most protests are nonviolent, minimize safety risk by avoiding public and political gatherings and demonstrations since even peaceful protests can quickly and unexpectedly become violent.

Get A Free Account!

Sitata uses advanced software algorithms to monitor the world for disease outbreaks and safety hazards. Each travel alert published by Sitata is reviewed by staff to ensure it meets the concerns of a traveller.

Sign up for a free account so that you can prepare for your trip and view the latest alerts.

Plan A Trip