Under Portuguese rule, commercial activities were significant only in the cities. The PAIGC introduced chains of all-purpose "people's stores," communally owned and managed; some of these were handed over to private traders beginning in 1985. Product distribution to inland areas is conducted by private carriers and by barge via the Geba River.
The military conflict of 1998-1999 caused a great deal of damage to the nation's land and infrastructure, which in turn had a severe effect on the agriculturally based economy. Normal business hours in the capital are 8 AM to 12 noon and 3 to 6 PM , Monday–Friday.