14% of the population speaks the official language Portuguese, the language of government and national communication during centuries of colonial rule. 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 speakers also have one of the African languages and Kriol as additional 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.