Guinea-Bissauan American

Guinea-Bissauan American
Total population
Less than 300 (2000 US census) [1]
Guinea-Bissau Creole, American English, Portuguese, French
Islam, Animism, Christianity

Guinea-Bissauan Americans are Americans of Guinea-Bissauan descent. As was the case with almost all current West African coastal countries (and some of Central Africa), the first people in the United States from present-day Guinea Bissau were imported as slaves. Thus, in the century 21, there are many African Americans who have discovered, through DNA analysis, they descend mainly or at least partly, from Guinea Bissauan slaves.[2]


Between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries, Guinea Bissau belonged to a wide region of West Africa called Senegambia, a very important region in the slavery trade in America and that had, between other slave ports, Bissau and Cachau, occupied by the Portuguese from the late fifteenth century (as other African places). So, since late 15th century and with the cooperation of some local tribes, the Portuguese not only entered in the slave trade, but also imported large numbers of Senegambians (primarily of Bissau and Cachau) and other Africans to the Western Hemisphere via the Cape Verde. The local African rulers in Guinea, who prospered greatly from the African slave trade, had no interest in allowing the Europeans any further inland than the fortified coastal settlements where the trading takes place, Bissau and Cachau. The Portuguese, after buying slaves to African kings and aristocracies, sold them to the European merchants (Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, Dutch, Swedish).

So, it is estimated that of the approximately 388,000 African slaves who arrived in modern United States, almost 92,000 (24 percent) were Senegambians, many then from Bissau port. In the early decades of immigration to the Chesapeake bay before 1700, most of slaves were from Senegambia (almost 6,000), being about 31,000 people by the end of the forced migration and representing almost a third of all Senegambian slaves arrived in modern United States. About 45,000 Senegambians were settled in the coastal Low Country of The Carolinas and Georgia (where they were 21 percent of African slaves) and other over 7,000 were imported in northern colonies (forming about 28 percent of the total of slaves arrived there). Meanwhile, almost 9,000 Senegambians — although mostly Bambara or Mandinka people — were imported to the Gulf region, especially to Louisiana, where they were about 40 percent of the African slaves.[3]

The slaves arrived specifically from Bissau port came from ethnic groups such as Djolas, Pepel, Bayotes, Fulbes, and Balantas and were imported to Georgia and the Gulf Coast. So, according Justin Martin, eslaves of day-present Guinea Bissau are some of the slaves who contributed to form the Gullah culture,[4] mixing their culture and language with other peoples of African descent present there (and coming from places such as the current Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Angola). [5]

After the abolition of slavery, however, the number of Guinea Bissauans who came to the United States was very scarce. So, in the 2000 census, fewer than 300 people affirmed to be of Guinea Bissauan origin or descent.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Table 1. First, Second, and Total Responses to the Ancestry Question by Detailed Ancestry Code: 2000". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  2. ^ "Growing Interest in DNA-Based Genetic Testing Among African American with Historic Election of President Elect Barack Obama". Retrieved 2013-02-21. 
  3. ^ The Abolition of slave trade: Senegambia, the Gold Coast, and the Bight of Benin. Posted in the online page of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
  4. ^ Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted. Written by Justin Martin. Page 193. First edition, 2011.
  5. ^ 100 Secrets of the Carolina Coast. Written by Randall Duckett

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