Guinea-Bissau’s earliest stamps were issued in 1881, when it was a colony of Portugal called Portuguese Guinea (in Portuguese, Guiné Portuguesa). The area was concentrated in the coastal towns of Bissau and Cacheu. (This Portuguese colonial relationship had been in place since the fifteenth century.) These first stamps were in fact stamps from Cape Verde, which at that time oversaw Portuguese Guinea, and were overprinted GUINÉ and later GUINÉ PORTUGUESA.
Decades of colonial stamps
Guinea-Bissau remained under the colonial control of Portugal for nearly one hundred years after its first stamps; Portuguese Guinea lasted until 1951 and quite a few stamps were issued for the colony during this time. Many depicted people and things related to the land of the colony, and these are quite popular with collectors and buyers these days who have or are building a Guinea-Bissau (or Portuguese!) stamp collection.
From 1951 — 1973, the colony changed its name (and status) to the Portuguese Guinea Overseas Province (Portuguese: Guiné Portuguesa Província Ultramarina), even while many other colonies in Africa were declaring their independence from other European colonizers. During this time, stamps issued for the colony remained the same (still bearing the inscriptions REPÚBLICA PORTUGUESA and GUINÉ).
Guinea-Bissau’s independence and new stamps
In 1973 the colony declared its independence, and this was recognized in 1974 — the name temporarily became the State of Guinea Bissau, and in 1977 the Republic of Guinea-Bissau (in Portuguese, República da Guiné-Bissau). Stamps from the modern republic are striking and colorful, and remain popular with collectors today.
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