Portuguese Guinea

Portuguese Guinea was a territory of Portugal that sits among French Guinea and Senegal on the western coast of Africa. Formerly known as the State of Guinea, the country gained its freedom from Portugal in 1974 and is now called Guinea-Bissau.

Guinea-Bissau is among the poorest countries in the world with an economy relying on farming and fishing. Production of cashew crops has also increased in recent years. In addition to rice as its staple product, the country also exports seafood products, peanuts, palm kernels, and timber. However, in 1998, its infrastructure was destroyed by the civil war between the military junta and government troops backed by Senegal. The war had caused a tremendous impact on the nation’s economy, dropping its GDP to 28%.

In December 2003, emergency budgetary support amounting to $107 million was provided for Guinea-Bissau by the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program, and the International Monetary Fund. The amount equaled more than 80% of the country’s budget.

With the country’s strategic location along with its limited economic advancement and political faction, Guinea-Bissau has become a place for narcotic drug trafficking.

From 1914 until 1975, the country’s official currency was the Portuguese Guinean escudo that had the same rate as the Portuguese escudo. The bank responsible for issuing Portuguese Guinean escudo banknotes was the Banco Nacional Ultramarino. In 1914, a set of notes was introduced in the denominations of 10, 20, and 50 centavos. In 1921, the bank released larger denominations from 1 escudo to 100 escudo notes. In 1945, a 500-escudo banknote was released, and in 1964, a 1000-escudo paper bill was introduced.