- General Info
- Health Risks
- Security Concerns
- Weather Notes
- Electrical Standards
- Visa Info
- Time Zone
In 1994, 20 years after independence from Portugal, the country's first multiparty legislative and presidential elections were held. An army uprising that triggered a bloody civil war in 1998 created hundreds of thousands of displaced persons. A military junta ousted the president in May 1999. An interim government turned over power in February 2000 when opposition leader Kumba YALA took office following two rounds of transparent presidential elections. Guinea-Bissau's transition back to democracy will be complicated by its crippled economy, devastated in the civil war.
Source: CIA World Factbook
Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout the region and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (Typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.
Malaria is a serious, but preventable infection that can be fatal.Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. All travelers to West Africa, including infants, children, and former residents of West Africa, are at risk for malaria. All travelers should take one of the following drugs (listed alphabetically): atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (in special circumstances).
Yellow fever vaccination is recommended and may be required for entry into certain of these countries. If you travel to West Africa, the easiest and safest thing to do is get a yellow fever vaccination and a signed certificate. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.
Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.
Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, is found in fresh water in the region. Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools) in these countries.
Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if possible and always use seat belts.
CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):
See your doctor at least 46 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.
- Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
- Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
- Meningococcal meningitis, for travel to most of these countries from December through June.
- Yellow fever.
- Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
- Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
- As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 1112 years who did not complete the series as infants.
- Wash hands often with soap and water.
- Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an absolute 1-micron or less filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. Absolute 1-micron filters are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
- Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
- Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Pay special attention to mosquito protection between dusk and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito whose bite transmits malaria is active.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
- Read and follow the directions and precautions on the product label.
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin.
- Do not put repellent on wounds or broken skin.
- Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product, apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands and rubbing the product carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
- Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin. Or, spray the bed net with one of these insecticides if you are unable to find a pretreated bed net.
- DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
- Children under 10 years old should not apply insect repellent themselves. Do not apply to young children’s hands or around eyes and mouth.
- To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
- Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
SAFETY AND SECURITY: There is no U.S. diplomatic or consular presence in Guinea-Bissau. The U.S. Embassy in Bissau suspended operations on June 14, 1998. While U.S. officials from the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal make periodic visits to Guinea-Bissau, their ability to provide consular services, including emergency assistance, is very limited. The U.S. Embassy in Dakar maintains an Office in Bissau, staffed by two local employees (tel: 245-25-2273). The nearest U.S. Embassies are located in Banjul, The Gambia; Conakry, Guinea; and Dakar, Senegal.
Although the civil war that led to the closure of the U.S. Embassy ended in 1999, travelers should be aware that the political situation, though gaining stability, is still in a period of transition since the coup of September 14, 2003. Elections are scheduled for March 28, 2004. The United Nations currently has restrictions on travel to the northwest regions of the country, which border on Senegal's Casamance region. It is recommended that travelers crossing the Senegalese frontier utilize crossing points east of Cambaju. Landmines remain scattered throughout the country. The UN office in Bissau is responsible for demining operations and maintains lists of known minefields. There is also an NGO active in successfully removing mines. There have been periodic incidents of bandits accosting travelers in rural areas.
CRIME: Although there is a fairly low incidence of normal daytime street crime, travelers should observe security precautions in the city, particularly with regard to pickpocket activity in marketplaces. Travelers should refrain from walking alone at night.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
BUSINESS FRAUD: Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including Americans. While such fraud schemes in the past have been largely associated with Nigeria, they are now prevalent throughout western Africa, including Guinea-Bissau. The frauds pose a danger of both financial loss and physical harm. Recently, an increasing number of American citizens have been the targets of such scams.
Typically, these scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of the country. A series of "advance fees" must then be paid in order to conclude the transaction: for example, fees to open a bank account, or to pay certain taxes. In fact, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. One common variation of this scheme involves individuals claiming to be refugees or other victims of various western African conflicts (notably from Sierra Leone) who contact U.S. citizens to request their help in transferring large sums of money. Another typical ploy involves persons claiming to be related to present or former political leaders who need assistance to transfer large sums of cash. Other variations include what appear to be legitimate business deals requiring advance payments on contracts.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of advance-fee fraud is common sense - if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Any unsolicited business proposal originating from Guinea-Bissau should be carefully checked out before any funds are committed, any goods or services are provided, or any travel is undertaken. For additional information, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Advance Fee Business Scams, available at the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
Source: U.S. Department of State
tropical; generally hot and humid; monsoonal-type rainy season (June to November) with southwesterly winds; dry season (December to May) with northeasterly harmattan winds
Source: CIA World Factbook
Guinea-Bissau's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.
To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.
For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport, visa, and proof of onward/return ticket are required. The visa must be obtained in advance. The Embassy of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau in Washington, D.C., is closed. Those needing visas should call (or fax requests to) Guinea-Bissau's representative in the U.S. at (301) 947-3958.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
DUAL NATIONALITY: In addition to being subject to all of Guinea-Bissau's laws affecting U.S. citizens, individuals who also possess the nationality of Guinea-Bissau may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on citizens of that country. For additional information, see the Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flyer.
Source: U.S. Department of State
The time zone for Guinea-Bissau is 0 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Guinea-Bissau would be 5:00 pm
The unit of currency in Guinea-Bissau is the Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States; previously the Guinea-Bissau peso (GWP) was used.
Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter
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