You are currently viewing Guinea-Bissau Cultural Norms and Rules
Rules in Guinea Bissau

Guinea-Bissau Cultural Norms and Rules

Guinea-Bissau Cultural Norms and Rules: A Traveler’s Guide


When traveling to a new country, it is crucial to familiarize ourselves with the local rules and cultural norms. Not only does this display respect for the host country, but it also ensures a smoother travel experience. In Guinea-Bissau, a small West African nation known for its rich cultural heritage, understanding the dos and don’ts is vital. This article aims to provide valuable insights into the rules and cultural norms of Guinea-Bissau for travelers.

Key Elements

Element 1: Greetings and Respectful Etiquette

In Guinea-Bissau, it is customary to greet people with a warm handshake and a genuine smile. Politeness and respect are highly valued, so addressing others with formal titles such as “Senhor” (Mr.) or “Senhora” (Mrs.) is recommended. Additionally, it is important to show deference towards older individuals and those in positions of authority.

Element 2: Dress Code and Modesty

Guinea-Bissau is deeply rooted in traditional African culture, and modesty in dressing is greatly appreciated. When visiting public places, especially religious sites, it is advisable to dress modestly by covering shoulders and knees. Wearing revealing clothing may be seen as disrespectful and offensive.

Element 3: Punctuality and Time Management

Although Guinea-Bissau operates on “African time,” it is still essential to respect people’s schedules and appointments. Being punctual shows consideration for others and is seen as a sign of professionalism. However, it is important to be flexible and patient, as delays and changes in plans may occur in this laid-back culture.

Element 4: Photography and Privacy

As with any destination, it is courteous to seek permission before taking photographs of locals or their property. In Guinea-Bissau, people generally appreciate the gesture of asking for consent. However, certain areas or individuals may prefer not to be photographed at all, so it is crucial to respect their wishes and privacy.

Element 5: Local Customs and Taboos

Guinea-Bissau has several local customs and taboos that should be observed. One such custom is to use the right hand for eating, greeting, and giving and receiving items, as the left hand is considered unclean. Additionally, it is important to avoid public display of affection, as it can be seen as inappropriate in this culture.

Element 6: Drug Laws and Safety Precautions

Travelers should be aware that Guinea-Bissau has strict laws regarding drug trafficking and possession. Engaging in such activities can lead to severe penalties, including long prison sentences. It is crucial to avoid involvement in any illegal activities and to respect the local laws to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Tips for Traveling

  1. Research and Plan Ahead: Before traveling to Guinea-Bissau, educate yourself about the country’s history, culture, and customs. This will help you navigate the local environment with more ease and respect.

  2. Learn Basic Phrases: Familiarize yourself with common Portuguese phrases, as it is the official language of Guinea-Bissau. Locals appreciate visitors who make an effort to communicate in their language.

  3. Stay Vaccinated and Carry Essential Medications: Prior to your trip, consult a healthcare professional to ensure you have the necessary vaccinations for Guinea-Bissau. It’s also recommended to carry a basic first aid kit and any necessary prescription medications.

  4. Respect the Environment: Guinea-Bissau has stunning natural landscapes and diverse wildlife. It is important to respect the environment by avoiding littering, damaging coral reefs, or disturbing wildlife.

  5. Stay Informed about Safety: Keep up-to-date with travel advisories and safety recommendations for Guinea-Bissau. It is advisable to register with your embassy or consulate and share important travel details with a trusted contact.


This article serves as a general guide to the rules and cultural norms of Guinea-Bissau for travelers. It is crucial to recognize that laws and customs can change over time. It is always recommended to seek professional advice, consult official sources, and respect the laws and regulations of the country you are visiting.