Regions of Guinea-Bissau

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Source [5], reported by Sorin Cosoveanu, purports to have final figures from the 2009 census, so I've used them to replace the larger numbers from source [2].

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number II-1, dated 2010-02-03, has changes to the listing for Guinea-Bissau, but nothing that affects data reported on this site. The main change is adding the prefix GW- explicitly to each province code.

International standard ISO 3166-2 was published on December 15, 1998. It superseded ISO/DIS 3166-2 (draft international standard). For Guinea-Bissau, the draft standard showed eight regions and one autonomous sector. Each division had a two-letter code. In the final standard, the same nine divisions and codes were shown, plus a list of three provinces. Each province is formed by a group of regions. The autonomous sector is not in any province. Therefore, an alternative way of dividing Guinea-Bissau is into three provinces and one autonomous sector. Nonetheless, I would still consider the regions and the autonomous sector as the primary divisions of Guinea-Bissau.

Country overview: 

ISO codeGW
LanguagePortuguese (pt)
Time zone+0


The area now known as Guinea-Bissau was a Portuguese colony, Portuguese Guinea, in 1900. It gained its independence on 1973-09-24 and was recognized by Portugal on 1974-09-10.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Guinea-bissau
  2. Dutch: Guinee Bissau, Republiek Guinea-Bissau (formal)
  3. English: Republic of Guinea-Bissau (formal), Portuguese Guinea (obsolete)
  4. Finnish: Guinea-Bissau
  5. French: Guinée-Bissau f, Guinée-Bissao
  6. German: Guinea-Bissau n
  7. Icelandic: Gínea-Bissá
  8. Italian: Guinea-Bissau f
  9. Norwegian: Guinea-Bissau, Republikken Guinea-Bissau (formal)
  10. Portuguese: Guiné-Bissau, República f da Guiné-Bissau f (formal), Guiné Portuguesa (obsolete)
  11. Russian: Республика Гвинея-Бисау (formal)
  12. Spanish: Guinea-Bissau, República f de Guinea Bissau (formal), Guinea Portuguesa (obsolete)
  13. Swedish: Guinea-Bissau
  14. Turkish: Gine-Bissau Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

distinguished from Guinea by specifying the capital

Primary subdivisions: 

Guinea-Bissau is divided into eight regiões (sing. região: regions) and one sector autónomo (autonomous sector).

9 divisions1,449,23036,12513,948
  • Region: except Bissau, which is an autonomous sector.
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes. If periods are
    replaced by hyphens, these are the same as the region codes from
    the standard ISO 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS 10-4, a U.S. government standard.
  • Prov: ISO code for the province containing this region (see below).
  • Population: 2009-03-15 census (source [5]).

Postal codes: 

Guinea-Bissau uses four-digit postal codes.

Further subdivisions:

See the Sectors of Guinea-Bissau page.

Above the regions, Guinea-Bissau is divided into three provinces and Bissau. The provinces, with their ISO codes and capitals, are Leste (L, Gabú), Norte (N, Bissorã), and Sul (S, Buba).

The regions are further subdivided into 37 sectors.

Territorial extent: 

Bolama includes the Bissagos (Bijagos) Archipelago. Some of the larger islands are Orango, Formosa, Roxa, and Caravela.

The UN LOCODE page  for Guinea-Bissau lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

Bissau: from ethnic name Bijagós or Bissagos

Change history: 

  1. 1942: Capital of country moved from Bolama to Bissau.
  2. 1950: At the time of the 1950 census, Portuguese Guinea was divided into nine circunscrições (circumscriptions; sing. circunscricão) and two concelhos (communes). The communes were Bissau and Bolama. Between then and 1973, Bafatá became a commune, Bissorã circumscription was created, and all the communes became circumscriptions.
  3. 1973-09-24: Portuguese Guinea unilaterally declared independence from Portugal. At this time, it was divided into 12 circumscriptions, as shown here.
CacheuPU0671,00081,6862,788Teixeira Pinto
GabúPU1075,00057,9959,013Nova Lamego
São DomingosPU1221,00020,3331,663São Domingos
12 circumscriptions487,488510,77733,818
  • FIPS: Codes from Defense Intelligence Agency
    Manual 65-18A, a precursor to FIPS 10-4.
  • Pop-1970: 1970-12-15 census (rounded). Populations
    and areas: source [3].
  • Pop-1950: 1950-06-15 census (source [4]).
  1. ~1976: Guinea-Bissau reorganized. Status of divisions changed to regions. Name of Catió changed to Tombali, while the eastern part of Fulacunda was annexed to it. The remainder of Fulacunda was renamed Buba, and its capital moved from Fulacunda to Buba. São Domingos and the western part of Farim annexed to Cacheu. Oio formed by merging Bissorã, Mansôa, and the remainder of Farim. Bijagós merged with Bolama.
  2. ~1978: Name of capitals of Cacheu and Gabú regions changed to match the region names.
  3. ~1990: Bissau region (PU03) split into Bissau and Biombo; name of Buba region changed to Quinara.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Bolama: Bolama-Bijagós (variant)
  2. Bissau: Sector Autónomo de Bissau (formal)
  3. Quinara: Buba (obsolete)

Population history:



  1. [1] The U.N. Statistics Division  website has census data for Guinea-Bissau's 1979, 1991, and 2008-09 censuses (retrieved 2009-09-29). The 1979 census data agree with what I had previously posted here, except that two digits were transposed in the population of Bolama region, resulting in a total that was 270 too low. The 1991 data are generally within 1-2% of those previously posted here, which were acquired from the Europa World Year Book 2001. The 2008 data are identified as provisional. I have since replaced them with final figures.
  2. [2] Instituto Nacional de Estatística Guiné-Bissau  (retrieved 2011-03-06).
  3. [3] Almanaque Abril 1979, Editora Abril, São Paulo, 1978. Total 1970 population of Guinea-Bissau comes from The Statesman's Year-Book, 1979-80 edition.
  4. [4] Demographic Yearbook , 7th Ed. Statistical Office of the United Nations, New York, 1955 (retrieved 2011-08-20).
  5. [5] População por região, sector e localidades por sexo censo 2009 , Instituto Nacional de Estatística (retrieved 2014-12-27).
  6. [6] U.N. Statistics Division  (retrieved 2009-09-29).
  7. [7] Guiné-Bissau em Números  (Guinea-Bissau in Figures), Instituto Nacional de Estatística e Censos, has area data by sector (dated 2005-09-30, retrieved 2009-09-29).
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