Hydrogeology of Guinea Bissau
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Present-day Guinea Bissau was once part of the Gabu kingdom and the ancient Mali empire. From the 15th century, the coast became a centre of slave trading by Portuguese merchants, which, as well as inland areas, became fully colonised by the Portuguese in the 19th century. An armed rebellion against colonial rule from the 1950s led to independence in 1974. The rebels were allied to an extent with independence fighters from another Portuguese colony, Cape Verde, although the two countries never unified. Since independence, Guinea Bissau has experienced constant political change, with a succession of coups.
Guinea Bissau adopted the CFA currency in 1997. There is some potential for mineral exploitation and possibly offshore hydrocarbon exploitation, but their development has been impeded by political instability and armed conflict. The economy remains dominated by agriculture and fishing, with cashew nuts and groundnuts the most important export crops. GDP and HDI remain some of the lowest world-wide. Illegal drug trafficking is significant, with the country used as a transit point for drugs between South America and Europe.
A tropical country with high but seasonal rainfall, Guinea Bissau has relatively abundant seasonal surface water resources, but dry season water supplies are largely sourced from groundwater.
Dr Kirsty Upton and Brighid Ó Dochartaigh, British Geological Survey, UK
Dr Imogen Bellwood-Howard, Institute of Development Studies, UK
Please cite this page as: Upton, Ó Dochartaigh and Bellwood-Howard, 2018.
Bibliographic reference: Upton, K, Ó Dochartaigh, B É and Bellwood-Howard, I. 2018. Africa Groundwater Atlas: Hydrogeology of Guinea Bissau. British Geological Survey. Accessed [date you accessed the information]. http://earthwise.bgs.ac.uk/index.php/Hydrogeology_of_Guinea_Bissau
Terms and conditions
|Border countries||Senegal, Guinea|
|Total surface area*||36,130 km2 (3,613,000 ha)|
|Total population (2015)*||1,844,000|
|Rural population (2015)*||962,000 (52%)|
|Urban population (2015)*||882,000 (48%)|
|UN Human Development Index (HDI) [highest = 1] (2014)*||0.4196|
* Source: FAO Aquastat
More information on average rainfall and temperature for each of the climate zones in Guinea Bissau can be seen at the Guinea Bissau climate page.
These maps and graphs were developed from the CRU TS 3.21 dataset produced by the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, UK. For more information see the climate resource page.
The geology map shows a simplified version of the geology at a national scale (see the Geology resources section for more details).
More information is available in the report UN (1988) (see References section, below).
The hydrogeology map below shows a simplified version of the type and productivity of the main aquifers at a national scale (see the hydrogeology map resource page for more details).
More information on the hydrogeology of Guinea Bissau is available in the report United Nations (1988) (see References section, below).
For further information about transboundary aquifers, please see the Transboundary aquifers resources page.
References with more information on the geology and hydrogeology of Guinea Bissau can be accessed through the Africa Groundwater Literature Archive.
WES. Guinea Bissau: Country Profile. Water, Environment and Sanitation (WES), UNICEF.
United Nations. 1988. Groundwater in North and West Africa: Guinea-Bissau. United Nations Department of Technical Cooperation for Development and Economic Commission for Africa.