Last Updated 10 November 2016

Guinea-Bissau is a former Portuguese colony in West Africa which maintains a multi-party presidential republic after undergoing a recent military coup. Religious rights are mostly respected throughout the country, although some issues persist. Guinea-Bissau is a member state of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

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Constitution and government

Religious freedom is protected in the constitution, and is generally upheld by the government. Article 6 (1) states: “In the Republic of Guinea-Bissau there shall be separation between the state and religious institutions.” Article 24 explicitly talks of non-discrimination including secular worldviews with the term “philosophical conviction”:

“All persons are equal before the law, enjoy the same rights and are subjected to the same duties, without distinction as to race, social status, intellectual or cultural level, religious belief or philosophical conviction.”

Following the latest coup in 2012, the 2014 elections were beset with logistical problems and delays, but transfer of power was achieved in June 2014, inaugurating President José Mário Vaz.

Guinea-Bissau’s population, at around 1.5 million, has overall moved from Animism toward Islam over the past decades, though often this is a largely syncretic Islam with elements not conforming to wider Sunni practices. There is minimal openly non-religious population.

“Religious freedom is legally protected and usually respected in practice.”

— Freedom House, Freedom In the World Report 2014

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