General issues: Portuguese colony 1881-1951, Portuguese province 1951-1974
Country name on general issues: Guine, Guiné, Guine Portuguesa, Guiné Portuguesa
Currency: 1 Milreis = 1000 Reis 1881-1912, 1 Escudo = 100 Centavos 1912-1974
Population: 170 000 in 1901, 516 000 in 1974
Political history Portuguese Guinea
Portuguese Guinea is located in western Africa. In the mid 19th century the future Portuguese Guinea is home to a number of Niger-Congo peoples most of which also live in neighboring countries and some of which were, until the late 19th century, organized in smaller kingdoms. The Portuguese had settled in Portuguese Guinea from the 15th century, establishing trade posts on the coast. The main trade was the slave trade – the Guinea Coast also being called the Slave Coast. Although slavery was abandoned by the Portuguese government in the 1830’s, the slave trade did not decline until the 1850’s.
Until well into the 19th century, Portuguese control was limited to the settlements on the coast. These were administered from Cape Verde until, in 1879, the separate colony of Portuguese Guinea was established. Events took a different turn after the 1885 Berlin conference where the colonial powers divided their respective spheres of interest in Africa. Portugal was awarded Portuguese Guinea, albeit that Portugal had to allow the Casamance region south of the Casamance River to go to France in return for recognition of the borders. The borders, as we know them until today, were finalized in 1886. A prerequisite of the Berlin conference for future recognition of territorial claims was the establishment of effective colonial administration. The Portuguese, from 1892, started to bring Portuguese Guinea under their control by military force. To pacify the mainland took at least until the mid 1920’s. The Bissagos Archipelago off the coast was the last to come under effective Portuguese rule in the 1930’s.
The Portuguese did little to develop the colony – from the Portuguese perspective the colony was a money drain: maintaining Portuguese control cost more than the earnings from the levying of taxes and profits made on agricultural production. In 1951, Portuguese Guinea gained the status of a Portuguese province – as did the other colonies in the Portuguese Empire. This political change did little to improve the position of the indigenous people – politically or economically. From the mid 1950’s political opposition grew and resulted in an armed conflict from 1963. During the war of independence, the opposition controlled ever greater parts of Portuguese Guinea. In 1973, independence was declared unilaterally. After the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, independence was recognized as the republic of Guinea-Bissau.
Postal history Portuguese Guinea
The first stamps used in Portuguese Guinea, from 1877, are the stamps of Cape Verde that issued its first stamps in 1877. The first stamps issued for Portuguese Guinea are overprints on stamps of Cape Verde – the overprint being ‘Guine’ or ‘Guiné’. The first set of definitives is of a design specific for Portuguese Guinea showing the portrait of king Luis I. Many of the subsequent issues are of the common designs for the Portuguese colonies. The stamps of Portuguese Guinea are, from 1974, superseded by the issues of the republic of Guinea-Bissau.