The Republic of Guinea-Bissau has the sixth highest mortality rate in the world, and the average life expectancy is just under 50 years of age. This West African nation, located between Guinea and Senegal, is considered one of the poorest in the world. The legitimate economy of Guinea-Bissau relies heavily on farming and fishing. Illicit drug trafficking has grown almost unchecked, as the government has no coast guard, police do not have cars available, and the navy has no boats for patrolling the North Atlantic shores.
Guinea-Bissau gained independence from Portugal in 1974 and was ruled as an authoritarian dictatorship until 1994. Since then, military coups and assassinations have been common, and the only consistency among the nation’s leaders has been corruption. Many leaders are involved with drug trafficking, and some fear that this will prohibit the country from being transparent and stable. Guinea-Bissau is a nation of origin for child labor and sex trafficking. The majority of those trafficked are young boys whose families are falsely promised a Quranic education for their son, while in reality they are transported to neighboring Senegal where they are beaten, abused, and forced to beg for money. Two hundred of these boys are estimated to be trafficked each month, roughly seven per day.
Under Portuguese rule, Guinea-Bissau was a predominantly Catholic nation. Since their independence, Islam has grown in prominence, and today roughly half the population claims to follow Mohammed. However, there is a high level of syncretism between Islam, Catholicism, and African traditional religions. There is freedom of religion in Guinea-Bissau unlike other nations in the region, and Christians have gained respect from their humanitarian work during civil unrest. There are an increasing number of missionaries to the nation from Latin America and Asia, however they tend to congregate in existing churches, leaving smaller people groups with a lack of spiritual guidance. There is a great need for Scripture in the nation, but low literacy rates and poverty make this difficult.