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Guinea Bissau


Last modified: 2024-06-15 by rob raeside
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Guinea Bissau flag image by Željko Heimer, 19 Mar 2017

See also:

About the flag

Yellow over green bicolour with red vertical stripe at hoist containing a black five-pointed star.
Željko Heimer, 23 Oct 2001

The symbolism of this flag is inherited from the symbolism of Ghana, from which it comes: an arrangement of the pan-African colours with the black star of Africa added. Its proportions are, as in the party flag, 1:2.
Jorge Candeias, 02 Nov 1999

Construction details

GB flag specs image by Željko Heimer, 23 Oct 2001

The Album 2000 [pay00] says CSW/CSW ≅1:2. The construction details are given, but since the overall ratio is approximate, the construction details are inevitably so. The two horizontal stripes are of the same size, of course, and the width of the vertical stripe is one third of the total length. The star appears to be inscribed in a circle with the center in the midpoint of the red stripe and of diameter equal to two units used on the scheme (i.e. 1/3 of hoist).
Željko Heimer, 23 Oct 2001

I read somewhere in the 1st constitution of Guinea Bissau (or maybe in the Statutes of P.A.I.G.C.) that the three areas of the flag are to have the same area, saying nothing about the final ratio of the flag — therefore a, say, 2:3 ratio might be not really a mistaken depiction.
António Martins, 26 Jul 2009


The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics [loc12], with info approved by each NOC, gives for Guinea-Bissau PMS 032 red, 109 yellow, 355 green and black.
Ian Sumner, 11 Oct 2012

I should say that some of these colors seem to me to be just too dark: PMS 032, for one, is British red, which is known to be darker than regular red, while PMS 109 is suitable for the national flag of Germany, knowingly “darker” than regular yellow. The green stripe of the national flag of Guinea-Bissau is noticeably brighter than the the green areas of the national flags of Brazil and Portugal (these three flags are easy to find flown along in coherent displays), which are known to be prescribed as dark green — so, PMS 355 seems okay.
António Martins, 20 Mar 2017

Adoption of flag

The Independence of Guinea Bissau was proclaimed by the National Assembly, which was basically appointed by the Partido Africano para a Independência da Guiné e Cabo-Verde (PAIGC), the independence party which not only fought for independence from Portugal for Guinea Bissau from Portugal, but also for Cape Verde (Cabo Verde).

The same day [23 September 1973] as the proclamation of independence, the National Assembly proclaimed the (first) Constitution of the Republic of Guinea Bissau. It was published in the very first edition of the Boletim official República da Guiné-Bissau, (Government Gazette), of 4 January 1975. Chapter 1, Article 2 describes the flag and other symbols as follows:

Constituição da República da Guiné-Bissau
Capítulo 1 Dos fundamentos o objectivos
Artigo 2º: A Bandeira Nacional da Guiné-Bissau é constituída por três bandas com a mesma superfície, sendo uma vermelha disposta verticalmente e marcada com uma estrela negra. As outras duas são dispostas horizontalmente, sendo a superior amarela e a inferior verde.
O Hino Nacional da Guiné-Bissau é Esta é a Nossa Patria Amada.
A divisa da Guiné-Bissau é Unidade, Luta, Progresso.

Constitution of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau
Chapter 1 From fundamentals to objectives
Article 2: The Guinea-Bissau National Flag shall consist of three stripes bands with the same surface, one being red arranged vertically and marked with a black star. The other two are arranged horizontally, the upper one being yellow and the lower one being green.
The National Anthem of Guinea-Bissau is This is Our Beloved Country.
Guinea-Bissau's currency is Unity, Struggle, Progress.

The second constitution of the Republic of Guinea Bissau dates from 16 May 1984. Chapter 1, Article 22 describes the national symbols as follows:

Constituição da República da Guiné-Bissau
Título I Princípios fundamentais Da natureza e fundamentos do Estado Artigo 22º:
1. Os símbolos nacionais da República da Guiné-Bissau são a Bandeira, as Armas e o Hino.
2. A Bandeira Nacional da República da Guiné-Bissau é formada por três faixas rectangulares, de cor vermelha, em posição vertical, e amarela e verde, em posição horizontal, respectivamente do lado superior e do lado inferior direitos. A faixa vermelha é marcada com uma estrela negra de cinco pontas.
3. As Armas da República da Guiné-Bissau consistem em duas palmas dispostas em círculo, unidas pela base, onde assenta uma concha amarela, e ligadas por uma fita em que se inscreve o lema «UNIDADE LUTA PROGRESSO». Na parte central superior insere-se uma estrela negra de cinco pontas.

Constitution of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau
Title I Fundamental principles Of the nature and fundamentals of the State Article 22:
1. The national symbols of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau are the Flag, the Arms and the Anthem.
2. The National Flag of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau is formed by three rectangular bands, red, in a vertical position, and yellow and green, in a horizontal position, respectively on the upper and lower right sides. The red band is marked with a black five-pointed star.
3. The Arms of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau consist of two palms arranged in a circle, joined by the base, on which a yellow shell rests, and connected by a ribbon inscribed with the motto “UNIT LUTA PROGRESSO”. A black five-pointed star is inserted in the upper central part.

As far as I am aware there is no further legislation into the national symbols. Only the Penal Law from 13 October, 1993 protects them against wrong use. It was published in : Boletim oficial, Suplemento, nº 41, 13 October, 1993. It reads:
Decreto-Lei nº 4/93, de 13 de Outubro. Código Penal
Título VII - Dos crimes contra a seguranca do Estado
Artigo 224º: (Ultraje de símbolos nacionais)
Quem, publicamente, por palavras, gestos ou divulgações de escrito, ou por outro meio de comunicação com público, ultrajar a República, a bandeira ou hino nacional, as armas ou emblemas da soberania guineense ou faltar ao respeito que lhe é devido, é punido com prisão até três anos.

Decree-Law No. 4/93, of 13 October. Penal Code
Title VII - Crimes against State security
Article 224: (Outrage of national symbols)
Anyone who, publicly, by words, gestures or written disclosures, or by other means of communication with the public, outrages the Republic, the national flag or anthem, the weapons or emblems of Guinean sovereignty or fails to respect due to him, is punished up to three years in prison.

Jos Poels, 26 February 2018

Vertical hoisting

Historical photo of late 1974 or 1975 showing the flag hanging from a wire/rope: Like a normally hoisted flag, it can bee seen from both sides — with the top to the viewer’s right hand (as the photo shows), on one side, and with the top to the viewer’s left hand, on the other
António Martins, 13 Mar 2017

I suspect that there’s not really a fixed prescription and the only care is to have all flags (identical or not) turned to the same direction — this is especially relevant when said vertical hoisting (hanging) is done from a stretched rope or wire, not against/on a wall, and can thusly be seen from both sides (and this is, in my opinion, the proper, vexillologically informed way to deal with vertical hoisting at all).
António Martins, 20 Mar 2017

Top to the right

vertical GW flag image by Željko Heimer, 20 Mar 2017

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics [loc12], with info approved by each NOC, gives for Cape Verde a vertical flag that is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 10 Oct 2012

In the book História da Guiné e Ilhas de Cabo Verde, by PAIGC, 1974, the image on the cover is a vertical Guinean-Bissau flag (with a “leaner” star). The book does have only one image on the cover page, which is like the national flag in vertical position, with the difference that it has an irregular star, pointed to the top (of the image/book).
Francisco Santos, 29 and 30 Apr 2003

Top to the left

vertical GW flag image by Željko Heimer, 20 Mar 2017

A photo on the book História da Guiné e Ilhas de Cabo Verde, by PAIGC, 1974, shows the assembly of Madina do Boé (place of the unilateral declaration of independence, 24 Sep. 1973) in the bush or jungle with lots of small flags and a large one in vertical position in a rope like clothes to dry. The main flag, and some small, are shown with the darker (the green) stripe to the right, which means we see the reverse side of the flag (it’s not a reversed image, because there are some bands with words that we can read). The photo is captioned «Bruna Amico © Gamma, Paris». With the examples of this book and Cabral’s poster, I wonder if there is trend or old habit to use the Bissau-Guinea flag in vertical position.
Francisco Santos, 29 and 30 Apr 2003

Military symbols

See also:

Flag of the Armed Forces

GW mil flag image by Horváth Zoltán, 16 Jan 2012

It seems that Armed Forces or Army of Guinea Bissau has an own flag. Based on this picture (here) it is red with a large black star in the middle of the flag. Please note that aircraft marking has a similar design.
Horváth Zoltán, 16 Jan 2012

National Aircraft Markings


big star

GB roundel #2 image by Željko Heimer, 23 Oct 2001

Força Aérea da Guiné-Bissau was formed in 1978 and since it foundation use a black 5 points star on red disc as roundel.
Dov Gutterman, 16 Jun 2004

Red roundel with black five-pointed star. Album 2000 [pay00] show the star “throughout”, while [cos98] has it a bit smaller, probably both variations are to be seen.
Željko Heimer, 23 Oct 2001

smaller star

GB roundel #1 image by Željko Heimer, 23 Oct 2001

From this and this photo, seems that it is something between…
Dov Gutterman, 16 Jun 2004

Fin flash

Guinea Bissau also have a Coast Guard, G. C. Marítima, whose plane have a national flag as fin flash. See this photo.
Dov Gutterman, 16 Jun 2004