The population of Guinea-Bissau is ethnically diverse and has many distinct languages, customs, and social structures.
Guinea-Bissauans can be divided into the following ethnic groups:
Fula and the Mandinka-speaking people, who comprise the largest portion of the population and are concentrated in the north and northeast;
Balanta and Papel people, who live in the southern coastal regions; and
Manjaco and Mancanha, who occupy the central and northern coastal areas.
Most of the remainder are mestiços of mixed Portuguese and African descent, including a Cape Verdean minority.
Portuguese natives comprise a very small percentage of Guinea-Bissauans. After Guinea-Bissau gained independence, most of the Portuguese nationals left the country. The country has a tiny Chinese population. These include traders and merchants of mixed Portuguese and Chinese ancestry from Macau, a former Asian Portuguese colony.
14% of the population speaks the official language of Portuguese, made the language of government and national communication during the colonial years. 44% speak Kriol, a Portuguese-based creole language, which is effectively a national language of communication among groups. The remainder speak a variety of native African languages unique to ethnicities.
Most Portuguese and Mestiços speak one of the African languages and Kriol as second languages. French is also taught in schools because Guinea-Bissau is surrounded by French-speaking nations. Guinea-Bissau is a full member of the Francophonie.