New Country Portfolio for Guinea Bissau | Land Portal

The Land Portal published a new country portfolio for Guinea-Bissau as part of our Country Insights initiative.  The initiative seeks to expand knowledge about how countries govern their land, the challenges they face, and the innovative solutions they find to manage land tenure issues. Each portfolio comes with a detailed description of the land governance context and a collection of related blogs, news, publications, statistical datasets and more.


Guinea-Bissau is a small country, some 36,125 km2 in extent situated on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa. Its coastline is shaped by the Bijagos archipelago comprising more than 100 small islands.  The diverse population of 1.9 million people shares borders with Senegal to the north, and Guinea Conakry to the east and south. The country has diverse and valuable natural resources and tourism potential. Given the country’s rich asset base the people of Guinea Bissau should not be poor.  Post-independence politics have instead centred around elite struggles for power that have left the majority of the population impoverished and vulnerable. 


Community land rights

Rural settlement and land use is based on the tabanca, a village that is formed by one or several moranças – extended family groupings made up of affiliated fogão, or households. Tenure arrangements reflect the organisational structures of the tabanca. The morança usually has control over a collective field, while individual fogão, have their own fields for their specific consumption. 

The larger territory occupied and utilised by each tabanca was recognised through the 1998 Land Law (discussed further below) as a territorial unit over which the one or more tabancas exercised control and management rights. This includes the communal bolanha wetlands that are re-allocated to households every season, and the use of forests for extraction and hunting. Forests also have important sacred functions. These territories can be delimited and thus formalised to obtain legal protection under the Land Law.


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