Guinea-Bissau is a West African country with an area of 36,125 square km and houses a population of 1,815,698 individuals. The country attained its independence as recently as 1974 and has been politically unstable since then.
Islam is the most popular religion in Guinea-Bissau with Muslims accounting for 45% of the total population of the country. About 22% of the country’s population are Christians while 31% adhere to the traditional African beliefs. In reality, however, most of Guinea-Bissau’s Muslims and Christians incorporate various aspects of the indigenous African beliefs into their everyday lives and religious practices. Muslims primarily live in the eastern and northern parts of Guinea-Bissau whereas Christians dominate the coastal and southern areas of the country. Those practicing the traditional African beliefs are found throughout the country except the northern parts.
Islam In Guinea-Bissau
Most of the Muslims in Guinea-Bissau are Sunnis with a significant population being Sufi-oriented. About 2% adhere to the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam. The main ethnic groups practising Islam in the country are the Susu, Fula, Mandinka, and the Soninke peoples. The religion was introduced in the region by the trans-Saharan traders prior to the 12th century. Islam was first adopted by the region’s rulers and merchants and spread among the common masses centuries later. It was during the Biafada kingdom’s invasion of Guinea-Bissau and the Fulani jihads that the population of Muslims grew in the country.
Christianity In Guinea-Bissau
The Portuguese missionaries and traders first introduced Christianity in Guinea-Bissau in the 15th century. At that time, the spread of the religion was restricted to only the coastal regions. It was not till the 20th century that the religion started gaining a large number of followers in the country. Most Christians in Guinea-Bissau at this time were Roman Catholics. Protestantism arrived in Guinea-Bissau in 1939 and since then have become quite popular among the masses. The 1999 civil war in the country threatened the Christian missions to a large extent. However, Christianity is considered to be growing the country, especially among the followers of traditional religions. It is estimated that by 2050, Guinea-Bissau will have 30% Christians in the population.
Religious Freedom In Guinea-Bissau
The Constitution of Guinea-Bissau allows the citizens to choose their own religion. The missionaries from foreign nations are also allowed to operate without any restrictions in the country. The government generally respects these rights granted by the constitution.