Guinea

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Coordinates: 11°N 10°W / 11°N 10°W / 11; -10

Republic of Guinea
République de Guinée  (French)
Motto: "Travail, Justice, Solidarité" (French)
"Work, Justice, Solidarity"
Anthem: Liberté  (French)
Freedom
Guinea in dark green
Guinea in dark green
Location of Guinea (dark blue) – in Africa (light blue & dark grey) – in the African Union (light blue)
Location of Guinea (dark blue)

– in Africa (light blue & dark grey)
– in the African Union (light blue)

Capital
and largest city
Conakry
9°31′N 13°42′W / 9.517°N 13.700°W / 9.517; -13.700
Official languagesFrench
Vernacular
languages
Ethnic groups
([1])
Demonym(s)Guinean
GovernmentUnitary provisional government under a military junta[2]
Mamady Doumbouya
LegislatureNational Assembly
Independence 
(was the colony of French Guinea since 1891)
• from France
2 October 1958
• Republic
2 October 1958
• Current constitution
2 October 1958
• Second Republic Day
3 April 1984
5 September 2021
Area
• Total
245,857 km2 (94,926 sq mi) (77th)
• Water (%)
negligible
Population
• 2018 estimate
12,414,293[3][4] (77th)
• 2014 census
11,523,261[5]
• Density
40.9/km2 (105.9/sq mi) (164th)
GDP (PPP)2020 estimate
• Total
$26.451 billion[6]
• Per capita
$2,390[6]
GDP (nominal)2020 estimate
• Total
$9.183 billion[6]
• Per capita
$818[6]
Gini (2012)33.7[7]
medium
HDI (2019)Increase 0.477[8]
low · 178th
CurrencyGuinean franc (GNF)
Time zoneUTC (GMT)
Driving sideright
Calling code+224
ISO 3166 codeGN
Internet TLD.gn
Preceded by
French Guinea

Guinea (/ˈɡɪni/ (About this soundlisten)), officially the Republic of Guinea (French: République de Guinée), is a coastal country in West Africa. Guinea borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Guinea-Bissau to the northwest, Senegal to the north, Mali to the northeast, Cote d'Ivoire to the southeast, and Sierra Leone and Liberia to the south. Formerly known as French Guinea (French: Guinée française), the modern country is sometimes referred to as Guinea-Conakry after its capital Conakry, to distinguish it from other territories in the eponymous region such as Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea.[9][10][11][12] Guinea has a population of 12.4 million and an area of 245,857 square kilometres (94,926 sq mi).[13]

Guinea achieved independence from France in 1958.[14] It has a long history of military coups d'état.[15][16][17] In 2010, after decades of authoritarian rule, Guinea held its first democractic election.[17][18][19] Although Guinea continued to hold multi-party elections, the country continued to face ethnic conflicts, widespread corruption, and abuses by military and police.[19][20] Human rights in Guinea remain a controversial issue. In 2011, the United States government claimed that torture by security forces and abuse of women and children (including female genital mutilation) were ongoing human rights issues.[21] In 2021, a military faction overthrew president Alpha Condé and suspended the constitution.[15][16][17]

Guinea is a predominantly Islamic country, with Muslims representing 85 per cent of the population.[9][22][23] Guinea's people belong to twenty-four ethnic groups. The country is divided into four geographic regions: Maritime Guinea on the low-lying Atlantic coast, the Fouta Djallon or Middle Guinea highlands, the Upper Guinea savanna region in the northeast, and the Guinée forestière region of tropical forests. French, the official language of Guinea, is the main language of communication in schools, in government administration, and the media, but more than twenty-four indigenous languages are also spoken. The largest are by far Susu, Pular, and Maninka, which dominate respectively in Maritime Guinea, Fouta Djallon, and Upper Guinea, while Guinée forestière is ethnolinguistically diverse.

Guinea's economy is largely dependent on agriculture and mineral production.[24] It is the world's second largest producer of bauxite, and has rich deposits of diamonds and gold.[25] The country was at the core of the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Name

Guinea is named after the Guinea region. Guinea is a traditional name for the region of Africa that lies along the Gulf of Guinea. It stretches north through the forested tropical regions and ends at the Sahel. The English term Guinea comes directly from the Portuguese word Guiné, which emerged in the mid-15th century to refer to the lands inhabited by the Guineus, a generic term for the black African peoples south of the Senegal River, in contrast to the "tawny" Zenaga Berbers above it, whom they called Azenegues or Moors.

History

The land that is now Guinea belonged to a series of African empires until France colonized it in the 1890s, and made it part of French West Africa. Guinea declared its independence from France on 2 October 1958. From independence until the presidential election of 2010, Guinea was governed by a number of autocratic rulers.[26][27][28]

West African empires and kingdoms in Guinea

What is now Guinea was on the fringes of the major West African empires. The earliest, the Ghana Empire, grew on trade but ultimately fell after repeated incursions of the Almoravids. It was in this period that Islam first arrived in the region by way of North African traders.

The Sosso Empire (12th to 13th centuries) briefly flourished in the resulting void, but the Mali Empire came to prominence when Soundiata Kéïta defeated the Sosso ruler Soumangourou Kanté at the Battle of Kirina, in c. 1235. The Mali Empire was ruled by Mansa (Emperors), the most notable being Kankou Moussa, who made a famous hajj to Mecca in 1324. Shortly after his reign, the Mali Empire began to decline and was ultimately supplanted by its vassal states in the 15th century.

The most successful of these was the Songhai Empire, which expanded its power from about 1460 and eventually surpassed the Mali Empire in both territory and wealth. It continued to prosper until a civil war, over succession, followed the death of Askia Daoud in 1582. The weakened empire fell to invaders from Morocco at the Battle of Tondibi, just three years later. The Moroccans proved unable to rule the kingdom effectively, however, and it split into many small kingdoms.

Samori Toure was the founder of the Wassoulou Empire, an Islamic state in present-day Guinea that resisted French colonial rule in West Africa from 1882 until Touré's capture in 1898.

After the fall of the major West African empires, various kingdoms existed in what is now Guinea. Fulani Muslims migrated to Futa Jallon in Central Guinea, and established an Islamic state from 1727 to 1896, with a written constitution and alternate rulers. The Wassoulou or Wassulu Empire was short-lived (1878–1898), led by Samori Toure in the predominantly Malinké area of what is now upper Guinea and southwestern Mali (Wassoulou). It moved to Ivory Coast before being conquered by the French.

Colonial era

European traders competed for the cape trade from the 17th century onward and made inroads earlier.[29][30] Slaves were exported to work elsewhere. The traders used the regional slave practices.

Guinea's colonial period began with French military penetration into the area in the mid-19th century. French domination was assured by the defeat in 1898 of the armies of Samori Touré, Mansa (or Emperor) of the Ouassoulou state and leader of Malinké descent, which gave France control of what today is Guinea and adjacent areas.

France negotiated Guinea's present boundaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the British for Sierra Leone, the Portuguese for their Guinea colony (now Guinea-Bissau), and Liberia. Under the French, the country formed the Territory of Guinea within French West Africa, administered by a governor general resident in Dakar. Lieutenant governors administered the individual colonies, including Guinea.

Independence (1958)

President Ahmed Sékou Touré was supported by Communist states, and in 1961, visited Yugoslavia.

In 1958, the French Fourth Republic collapsed due to political instability and its failures in dealing with its colonies, especially Indochina and Algeria. The founding of a Fifth Republic was supported by the French people, while French President Charles de Gaulle made it clear on 8 August 1958 that France's colonies were to be given a stark choice between more autonomy in a new French Community or immediate independence in the referendum to be held on 28 September 1958. The other colonies chose the former, but Guinea—under the leadership of Ahmed Sékou Touré whose Democratic Party of Guinea-African Democratic Rally (PDG) had won 56 of 60 seats in 1957 territorial elections—voted overwhelmingly for independence. The French withdrew quickly, and on 2 October 1958, Guinea proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent republic, with Sékou Touré as president.

In response to the vote for independence, the French settlers in Guinea were quite dramatic in severing ties with Guinea. The Washington Post observed how brutal the French were in tearing down all that they thought were their contributions to Guinea: "In reaction, and as a warning to other French-speaking territories, the French pulled out of Guinea over a two-month period, taking everything they could with them. They unscrewed lightbulbs, removed plans for sewage pipelines in Conakry, the capital, and even burned medicines rather than leave them for the Guineans."[31]

Post-colonial rule (1958–2008)

Subsequently, Guinea quickly aligned itself with the Soviet Union and adopted socialist policies. This alliance was short-lived, however, as Guinea moved towards a Chinese model of socialism. Despite this, the country continued to receive investment from capitalist countries, such as the United States. By 1960, Touré had declared the PDG the country's only legal political party, and for the next 24 years, the government and the PDG were one. Touré was re-elected unopposed to four seven-year terms as president, and every five years voters were presented with a single list of PDG candidates for the National Assembly. Advocating a hybrid African Socialism domestically and Pan-Africanism abroad, Touré quickly became a polarising leader, with his government becoming intolerant of dissent, imprisoning thousands, and stifling the press.

Throughout the 1960s, the Guinean government nationalised land, removed French-appointed and traditional chiefs from power, and had strained ties with the French government and French companies. Touré's government relied on the Soviet Union and China for infrastructure aid and development, but much of this was used for political and not economic purposes, such as the building of large stadiums to hold political rallies. Meanwhile, the country's roads, railways and other infrastructure languished, and the economy stagnated.

Monument to commemorate the 1970 military victory over the Portuguese raid. The key objective not accomplished by the Portuguese raid was the capture of Ahmed Sékou Touré.

On 22 November 1970, Portuguese forces from neighbouring Portuguese Guinea staged Operation Green Sea, a raid on Conakry by several hundred exiled Guinean opposition forces. Among their goals, the Portuguese military wanted to kill or capture Sekou Touré due to his support of the PAIGC, an independence movement and rebel group that had carried out attacks inside Portuguese Guinea from their bases in Guinea.[32] After fierce fighting, the Portuguese-backed forces retreated, having freed several dozen Portuguese prisoners of war that were being held by the PAIGC in Conakry, but without having ousted Touré. In the years after the raid, massive purges were carried out by the Touré government, and at least fifty thousand people (one percent of Guinea's entire population) were killed. Countless others were imprisoned and faced torture. Often in the case of foreigners, they were forced to leave the country, after having had their Guinean spouse arrested and their children placed into state custody.

In 1977, a declining economy, mass killings, a stifling political atmosphere, and a ban on all private economic transactions led to the Market Women's Revolt, a series of anti-government riots started by women working in Conakry's Madina Market. This prompted Touré to make major reforms. Touré vacillated from supporting the Soviet Union to supporting the United States. The late 1970s and early 1980s saw some economic reforms, but Touré's centralized control of the state remained. Even the relationship with France improved; after the election of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing as French president, trade increased and the two countries exchanged diplomatic visits.

Sékou Touré died on 26 March 1984, after a heart operation in the United States, and was replaced by Prime Minister Louis Lansana Beavogui, who was to serve as interim president, pending new elections. The PDG was due to elect a new leader on 3 April 1984. Under the constitution, that person would have been the only candidate for president. However, hours before that meeting, Colonels Lansana Conté and Diarra Traoré seized power in a bloodless coup. Conté assumed the role of president, with Traoré serving as prime minister, until December.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter welcoming Ahmed Sékou Touré outside the White House, Washington, D.C., 1979

Conté immediately denounced the previous regime's record on human rights, releasing two hundred and fifty political prisoners and encouraging approximately two hundred thousand more to return from exile. He also made explicit the turn away from socialism. This did little to alleviate poverty, and the country showed no immediate signs of moving towards democracy.

In 1992, Conté announced a return to civilian rule, with a presidential poll in 1993, followed by elections to parliament in 1995 (in which his party—the Party of Unity and Progress—won 71 of 114 seats.) Despite his stated commitment to democracy, Conté's grip on power remained tight. In September 2001, the opposition leader Alpha Condé was imprisoned for endangering state security, though he was pardoned 8 months later. He subsequently spent a period of exile in France.

In 2001, Conté organized and won a referendum to lengthen the presidential term, and in 2003, he began his third term, after elections were boycotted by the opposition. In January 2005, Conté survived a suspected assassination attempt while making a rare public appearance in the capital of Conakry. His opponents claimed that he was a "tired dictator",[33] whose departure was inevitable, whereas his supporters believed that he was winning a battle with dissidents. Guinea still faced very real problems, and according to Foreign Policy, was in danger of becoming a failed state.[34]

In 2000, Guinea became embroiled in the instability which had long blighted the rest of West Africa, as rebels crossed the borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone. It seemed for a time that the country was headed for civil war.[35] Conté blamed neighbouring leaders for coveting Guinea's natural resources, though these claims were strenuously denied.[36] In 2003, Guinea agreed to plans with her neighbours to tackle the insurgents. In 2007, there were large protests against the government, resulting in the appointment of a new prime minister.[37]

Recent history

Conté remained in power until his death on 23 December 2008.[38] Several hours following his death, Moussa Dadis Camara seized control in a coup, declaring himself head of a military junta.[39] Protests against the coup became violent, and 157 people were killed when, on 28 September 2009, the junta ordered its soldiers to attack people who had gathered to protest against Camara's attempt to become president.[40] The soldiers went on a rampage of rape, mutilation, and murder, which caused many foreign governments to withdraw their support for the new regime.[41]

On 3 December 2009, an aide shot Camara during a dispute over the rampage in September. Camara went to Morocco for medical care.[41][42] Vice-President (and defense minister) Sékouba Konaté flew back from Lebanon to run the country, in Camara's absence.[43] After meeting in Ouagadougou on 13 and 14 January 2010, Camara, Konaté and Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso, produced a formal statement of twelve principles promising a return of Guinea to civilian rule within six months.[44]

The presidential election was held on 27 June,[45][46] with a second election held on 7 November, due to allegations of electoral fraud.[47] Voter turnout was high, and the elections went relatively smoothly.[48] Alpha Condé, leader of the opposition party Rally of the Guinean People (RGP), won the election, promising to reform the security sector and review mining contracts.[49]

In late February 2013, political violence erupted in Guinea after protesters took to the streets to voice their concerns over the transparency of the upcoming May 2013 elections. The demonstrations were fueled by the opposition coalition's decision to step down from the electoral process, in protest at the lack of transparency in the preparations for elections.[50] Nine people were killed during the protests, and around 220 were injured. Many of the deaths and injuries were caused by security forces using live ammunition on protesters.[51][52]

The political violence also led to inter-ethnic clashes between the Fula and Malinke, the base of support for President Condé. The former mainly supported the opposition.[53]

On 26 March 2013, the opposition party backed out of the negotiations with the government, over the upcoming 12 May election. The opposition said that the government had not respected them, and had not kept any promises they agreed to.[54]

On 25 March 2014, the World Health Organization said that Guinea's Ministry of Health had reported an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Guinea. This initial outbreak had a total of 86 cases, including 59 deaths. By 28 May, there were 281 cases, with 186 deaths.[55] It is believed that the first case was Emile Ouamouno, a 2-year-old boy who lived in the village of Meliandou. He fell ill on 2 December 2013 and died on 6 December.[56][57] On 18 September 2014, eight members of an Ebola education health care team were murdered by villagers in the town of Womey.[58] As of 1 November 2015, there had been 3,810 cases and 2,536 deaths in Guinea.[59]

The 2019–2020 Guinean protests were a series of bloody protests and mass civil unrest in Guinea against the rule of Alpha Conde that first broke out on October 14, 2019 against constitutional changes. More than 800 were killed in violent clashes.[60]

After the 2020 Guinean presidential election, Alpha Condé's election to a third term was challenged by the opposition, who accused him of fraud. Condé claimed a constitutional referendum from March 2020 allowed him to run despite the two-term limit.[61]

2021 Coup

On 5 September 2021, in an apparent coup d'état, Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya seized control of state television and declared that President Alpha Conde’s government had been dissolved and the nation’s borders closed, an announcement that came after hours of heavy gunfire erupted near the presidential palace.[62] By the same evening, the putschists declared control over all Conakry and the country's armed forces, and, according to Guinée Matin, the military fully controlled the state administration by 6 September and started to replace the civil administration with its military counterpart.[63][64]

The United Nations, European Union, African Union, and ECOWAS (Which suspended Guinea's membership), immediately denounced the coup, and called for President Condé's unconditional release. Similar responses came from various neighboring and Western countries (including the United States),[65][66][67] and also from China (which relies on Guinea for half of its aluminum ore, facilitated by its connections to President Condé).[67]

Government and politics

Alpha Condé, the former President of Guinea

Guinea is a republic. The president is directly elected by the people and is the head of state and the head of government. The unicameral National Assembly is the legislative body of the country, and its members are directly elected by the people. The judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court of Guinea, the highest and final court of appeal in the country.[68]

Guinea is a member of many international organizations, including the African Union, Agency for the French-Speaking Community, African Development Bank, Economic Community of West African States, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, IMF, and the United Nations.

Political culture

Former President Alpha Condé derived support from Guinea's second-largest ethnic group, the Malinke.[69] Guinea's opposition was backed by the Fula ethnic group,[70] who account for around 33.4 percent of the population.[71]

Executive branch

The president of Guinea is normally elected by popular vote for a five-year term; the winning candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast to be elected president. The president governs Guinea, assisted by a council of 25 civilian ministers, appointed by him. The government administers the country through eight regions, 33 prefectures, over 100 subprefectures, and many districts (known as communes in Conakry and other large cities and villages, or quartiers in the interior). District-level leaders are elected; the president appoints officials to all other levels of the highly centralized administration.

Legislative branch

The National Assembly of Guinea, the country's legislative body, did not meet from 2008 to 2013, when it was dissolved after the military coup in December. Elections have been postponed many times since 2007. In April 2012, President Condé postponed the elections indefinitely, citing the need to ensure that they were "transparent and democratic".[72]

The 2013 Guinean legislative election was held on 24 September 2013.[73] President Alpha Condé's party, the Rally of the Guinean People (RPG), won a plurality of seats in the National Assembly of Guinea, with 53 out of 114 seats. The opposition parties won a total of 53 seats, and opposition leaders denounced the official results as fraudulent.

Foreign relations

Before 2021 coup

International organizations

Guinea is a member of the United Nations General Assembly, the African Union, and the West African regional economic and political bloc, ECOWAS.

United States
President Alpha Condé with Russian President Vladimir Putin on 28 September 2017

According to a February 2009 U.S. Department of State statement, Guinea's foreign relations, including those with its West African neighbours, had improved steadily since 1985.[74] The Department's October 2018 statement indicated that -- although "the U.S. condemned" Guinea's "2008 military coup d’etat," -- the U.S. had "close relations" with Guinea before the coup, and after "Guinea’s presidential elections in 2010, the United States re-established strong diplomatic relations with the government." The statement indicated support for the "legislative elections in 2013 and a second presidential election in 2015," as signs of "democratic reform."[75]

However, a March 2021 report by the U.S. State Department blasted extensive human rights violations by the government, security forces and businesses in Guinea. The report cited extensive international criticism of the recent national elections, which yielded "President Alpha Conde’s re-election (despite disputed results)... following a controversial March referendum amending the constitution and allowing him to run for a third term."[76]

After 2021 coup

International organizations

The United Nations promptly denounced the coup, and some of Guinea's strongest allies also condemned the coup. The African Union and West Africa's regional bloc (ECOWAS), both threatened sanctions -- though some analysts expect the threats to be of limited effect because Guinea is not a member of the West African currency union, and is not a landlocked country.[77]

ECOWAS promptly suspended Guinea's membership, and demanded the unconditional release of President Condé, while sending envoys to Conakry to attempt a "constitutional" resolution of the situation.[65][66]

China

Uncharacteristically responding to another nation's internal affairs, China (which relies on Guinea for half of its aluminium ore, facilitated by connections to ousted President Condé) openly opposed the coup.[67]

United States

Immediately upon the 5 September 2021 coup d'etat, the U.S. State Department condemned the coup, warning that "violence and any extra-constitutional measures will only erode Guinea’s prospects for peace, stability, and prosperity, [and] could limit the ability of the United States and Guinea’s other international partners to support the country...," While not explicitly calling for President Condé's return to power, the U.S. called for "national dialogue to address concerns sustainably and transparently to enable a peaceful and democratic way forward for Guinea..."[78][77]

Military

Guinea's armed forces are divided into five branches—army, navy, air force, the paramilitary National Gendarmerie and the Republican Guard—whose chiefs report to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is subordinate to the Minister of Defence. In addition, regime security forces include the National Police Force (Sûreté Nationale). The Gendarmerie, responsible for internal security, has a strength of several thousand.

The army, with about 15,000 personnel, is by far the largest branch of the armed forces and is mainly responsible for protecting the state borders, the security of administered territories, and defending Guinea's national interests.

Air force personnel total about 700. Its equipment includes several Russian-supplied fighter planes and transports.

The navy has about 900 personnel and operates several small patrol craft and barges.

Human rights

Homosexuality is illegal in Guinea.[79] Same sex relations are considered a strong taboo, and the prime minister declared in 2010 that he does not consider sexual orientation a legitimate human right.[21]

Guinea has one of the world's highest rates of female circumcision according to Anastasia Gage, an associate professor at Tulane University, and Ronan van Rossem, an associate professor at Ghent University.[80] Female circumcision in Guinea had been performed on more than 98% of women as of 2009.[81] In Guinea almost all cultures, religions, and ethnicities practice female circumcision.[81] The 2005 Demographic and Health Survey reported that 96% of women have gone through the operation. Prosecutions of its practitioners are nonexistent.[21]

Regions and prefectures

The Republic of Guinea covers 245,857 square kilometres (94,926 sq mi) of West Africa, about 10 degrees north of the equator. Guinea is divided into four natural regions with distinct human, geographic, and climatic characteristics:

  • Maritime Guinea (La Guinée Maritime) covers 18% of the country.
  • Middle Guinea (La Moyenne-Guinée) covers 20% of the country.
  • Upper Guinea (La Haute-Guinée) covers 38% of the country.
  • Forested Guinea (Guinée forestière) covers 23% of the country, and is both forested and mountainous.
Fouta Djallon highlands in central Guinea

Guinea is divided into eight administrative regions which are subdivided into thirty-three prefectures. Conakry is Guinea's capital, largest city, and economic centre. Nzérékoré, located in the Guinée forestière region in Southern Guinea, is the second largest city.

Other major cities in the country with a population above 100,000 include Kankan, Kindia, Labe, Guéckédou, Boke, Mamou and Kissidougou.

  • The capital Conakry with a population of 1,667,864 ranks as a special zone.
Region Capital Population
(2014 census)
Conakry Region Conakry 1,667,864
Nzérékoré Region Nzérékoré 1,663,582
Kindia Region Kindia 1,986,329
Boké Region Boké 1,559,185
Labé Region Labé 1,081,445
Mamou Region Mamou 995,717
Kankan Region Kankan 742,733
Faranah Region Faranah 632,117

Geography

Guinea shares a border with Guinea-Bissau to the north-west, Senegal to the north, Mali to the north-east, Ivory Coast to the east, Sierra Leone to the south-west and Liberia to the south. The nation forms a crescent as it curves from its southeast region to the north and west, to its northwest border with Guinea-Bissau and southwestern coast on the Atlantic Ocean. The sources of the Niger River, the Gambia River, and the Senegal River are all found in the Guinea Highlands.[82][83][84]

At 245,857 km2 (94,926 sq mi), Guinea is roughly the size of the United Kingdom. There are 320 km (200 mi) of coastline and a total land border of 3,400 km (2,100 mi). It lies mostly between latitudes and 13°N, and longitudes and 15°W, with a small area that is west of 15°.

Guinea map of Köppen climate classification

Guinea is divided into four main regions: Maritime Guinea, also known as Lower Guinea or the Basse-Coté lowlands, populated mainly by the Susu ethnic group; the cooler, mountainous Fouta Djallon that run roughly north–south through the middle of the country, populated by Fulas; the Sahelian Haute-Guinea to the northeast, populated by Malinké; and the forested jungle regions in the southeast, with several ethnic groups. Guinea's mountains are the source for the Niger, the Gambia, and Senegal Rivers, as well as the numerous rivers flowing to the sea on the west side of the range in Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.

The highest point in Guinea is Mount Nimba at 1,752 m (5,748 ft). Although the Guinean and Ivorian sides of the Nimba Massif are a UNESCO Strict Nature Reserve, the portion of the so-called Guinean Backbone continues into Liberia, where it has been mined for decades; the damage is quite evident in the Nzérékoré Region at 7°32′17″N 8°29′50″W / 7.53806°N 8.49722°W / 7.53806; -8.49722.

Guinea is home to five ecoregions: Guinean montane forests, Western Guinean lowland forests, Guinean forest-savanna mosaic, West Sudanian savanna, and Guinean mangroves.[85] It had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 4.9/10, ranking it 114th globally out of 172 countries.[86]

Wildlife

The wildlife of Guinea is very diverse, due to the wide variety of different habitats. The southern part of the country lies within the Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity hotspot, while the north-east is characterized by dry savanna woodlands. Unfortunately, declining populations of large animals are restricted to uninhabited distant parts of parks and reserves.

Taxonomy

Species found in Guinea include the following:

Economy

Malinke fisher women on the Niger River, Niandankoro, Kankan Region, in eastern Guinea

Agriculture

The majority of Guineans work in the agriculture sector, which employs approximately 75% of the country. The rice is cultivated in the flooded zones between streams and rivers. However, the local production of rice is not sufficient to feed the country, so rice is imported from Asia. The agriculture sector of Guinea cultivates coffee beans, pineapples, peaches, nectarines, mangoes, oranges, bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, pepper, and many other types of produce. Guinea is one of the emerging regional producers of apples and pears. There are many plantations of grapes, pomegranates, and recent years have seen the development of strawberry plantations, based on the vertical hydroponic system.[87]

Natural resources

Guinea has abundant natural resources, including 25% or more of the world's known bauxite reserves. Guinea also has diamonds, gold, and other metals. The country has great potential for hydroelectric power. Currently, bauxite and alumina are the only major exports. Other industries include processing plants for beer, juices, soft drinks and tobacco. Agriculture employs 80% of the nation's labour force. Under French rule, and at the beginning of independence, Guinea was a major exporter of bananas, pineapples, coffee, peanuts, and palm oil. Guinea has considerable potential for growth in the agricultural and fishing sectors. Soil, water, and climatic conditions provide opportunities for large-scale irrigated farming and agro industry.

Mining

A proportional representation of Guinea exports, 2019

Guinea possesses over 25 billion tonnes (metric tons) of bauxite – and perhaps up to one-half of the world's reserves. In addition, Guinea's mineral wealth includes more than 4-billion tonnes of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits, and undetermined quantities of uranium. Possibilities for investment and commercial activities exist in all these areas, but Guinea's poorly developed infrastructure and rampant corruption continue to present obstacles to large-scale investment projects.[88]

Joint venture bauxite mining and alumina operations in north-west Guinea historically provide about 80% of Guinea's Foreign exchange reserves. Bauxite is refined into alumina, which is later smelted into aluminium. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea [fr] (CBG), which exports about 14 million tonnes of high-grade bauxite annually, is the main player in the bauxite industry. CBG is a joint venture, 49% owned by the Guinean government and 51% by an international consortium known as Halco Mining Inc., itself a joint venture controlled by aluminium producer Alcoa (AA), global miner Rio Tinto Group and Dadco Investments.[89] CBG has exclusive rights to bauxite reserves and resources in north-western Guinea, through 2038.[90] In 2008, protesters upset about poor electrical services blocked the tracks CBG uses. Guinea often includes a proviso in its agreements with international oil companies, requiring its partners to generate power for nearby communities.[91]

The Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), a joint venture between the government of Guinea and RUSAL, produces some 2.5 million tonnes annually, nearly all of which is exported to Russia and Eastern Europe. Dian Dian, a Guinean/Ukrainian joint bauxite venture, has a projected production rate of 1,000,000 t (1,102,311 short tons; 984,207 long tons) per year, but is not expected to begin operation for several years. The Alumina Compagnie de Guinée (ACG), which took over the former Friguia Consortium, produced about 2.4 million tonnes in 2004, as raw material for its alumina refinery. The refinery exports about 750,000 tonnes of alumina. Both Global Alumina and Alcoa-Alcan have signed conventions with the government of Guinea to build large alumina refineries, with a combined capacity of about 4 million tonnes per year.

It is very common in Guinea to see underage children engaged in manual labour in order to support their families.

The Simandou mine represents one of the largest iron ore reserves in Guinea and in the world.[92] In March 2010, Anglo-Australian corporation Rio Tinto Group and its biggest shareholder, Aluminum Corporation of China Limited (Chinalco), signed a preliminary agreement to develop Rio Tinto's iron ore project.[93] In 2017, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Britain's anti-fraud regulator, launched an official investigation into Rio Tinto's business and mining practices in Guinea.[94]

Diamonds and gold also are mined and exported on a large scale. The bulk of diamonds are mined artisanally. The largest gold mining operation in Guinea is a joint venture between the government and Ashanti Goldfields of Ghana. AREDOR, a joint diamond-mining venture between the Guinean Government (50%) and an Australian, British, and Swiss consortium, began production in 1984, and mined diamonds that were 90% gem quality. Production stopped from 1993 until 1996, when First City Mining of Canada purchased the international portion of the consortium. Société Minière de Dinguiraye (SMD) also has a large gold mining facility in Lero, near the Malian border.

Oil

In 2006, Guinea signed a production sharing agreement with Hyperdynamics Corporation of Houston to explore a large offshore tract, and was recently in partnership with Dana Petroleum PLC (Aberdeen, United Kingdom). The initial well, the Sabu-1, was scheduled to begin drilling in October 2011, at a site in approximately 700 metres of water. The Sabu-1 targeted a four-way anticline prospect with upper Cretaceous sands, and was anticipated to be drilled to a total depth of 3,600 meters.[95]

Following the completion of exploratory drilling in 2012, the Sabu-1 well was not deemed commercially viable.[96] In November 2012, Hyperdynamics subsidiary SCS reached an agreement for a sale of 40% of the concession to Tullow Oil, bringing ownership shares in the Guinea offshore tract to 37% Hyperdynamics, 40% Tullow Oil, and 23% Dana Petroleum.[97] Hyperdynamics will have until September 2016, under the current agreement, to begin drilling its next selected site, the Fatala Cenomanian turbidite fan prospect.[98][99]

Science and technology

Tourism

The "Voile de la Mariée" (Bride's Veil) waterfall in Kindia

Due to its diverse geography, Guinea presents some interesting tourist sites. Among the top attractions are the waterfalls found mostly in the Basse Guinee (Lower Guinea) and Moyenne Guinee (Middle Guinea) regions. The Soumba cascade at the foot of Mount Kakoulima in Kindia, Voile de la Mariée (Bride's Veil) in Dubreka, the Kinkon cascades that are about 80 m (260 ft) high on the Kokoula River in the prefecture of Pita, the Kambadaga falls that can reach 100 m (330 ft) during the rainy season on the same river, the Ditinn & Mitty waterfalls in Dalaba, and the Fetoré waterfalls and the stone bridge in the region of Labe are among the most well-known water-related tourist sites.

Transport infrastructure

Air

Conakry International Airport is the largest airport in the country, with flights to other cities in Africa as well as to Europe.

Domestic air services are intermittent.

Railways

Built between 1904 and 1910, a railway once linked Conakry to Kankan via Kouroussa but it ceased operating in 1995[100] and had been dismantled altogether by 2007 with rails mostly stolen and/or sold for scrap. Plans had at one time been mooted for the passenger line to be rehabilitated as part of an iron-ore development master plan but although the start of work was announced in 2010, corruption charges led the whole master plan to be paused and the line was only rebuilt as a 105 km mineral railway, paralleling the old route as far as the mines of Kalia.[101] There is also a state run mineral railway linking the bauxite mines of Sangarédi to the port of Kamsar (137 km) and a 1960s narrow-gauge line operated by Russian aluminium producer RusAl to the mines at Fria (143 km).

As part of the plans to restart iron ore mining at Simandou blocks 1 and 2, the new development consortium pledged in 2019 to fund the construction of a new heavy-duty standard gauge railway to Matakong on the Atlantic coast where they would also invest some US$20 billion in developing a deepwater port.[102] The 650 km route is far longer than an alternative heading south to the port of Buchanan, Liberia, which was considered as an alternative in an October 2019 feasibility study.[103] However, the Matakong route would be entirely within Guinea and tied to an agricultural development corridor for citizens along the route.

River

There is some river traffic on the Niger and Milo rivers.

Road Transport

Most vehicles in Guinea are more than 20 years old, and cabs are any four-door vehicle which the owner has designated as being for hire. Locals, nearly entirely without vehicles of their own, rely upon these taxis (which charge per seat) and small buses to take them around town and across the country. The major roads of Guinea are the following:

  • N1 connects Conakry, Coyah, Kindia, Mamou, Dabola, Kouroussa, and Kankan.
  • N2 connects Mamou, Faranah, Kissidougou, Guékédou, Macenta, Nzérékoré, and Lola.
  • N4 connects Coyah, Forécariah, and, Farmoreya.
  • N5 connects Mamou, Dalaba, Pita, and Labé.
  • N6 connects Kissidougou, Kankan, and Siguiri.
  • N20 connects Kamsar, Kolaboui, and Boké.

Horses and donkeys pull carts, primarily to transport construction materials.

Demography

Population in Guinea[3][4]
Year Million
1950 3.0
2000 8.8
2018 12.4

The population of Guinea is estimated at 12.4 million. Conakry, the capital and largest city, is the hub of Guinea's economy, commerce, education, and culture. In 2014, the total fertility rate (TFR) of Guinea was estimated at 4.93 children born per woman.[104]

Urbanization

Languages

Guinean women

The official language of Guinea is French. Pulaar was spoken by 33.9% of the population in 2018 as their first or native language, followed by Mandingo, with 29.4%. The third most spoken native language is the Susu, spoken by 21.2% of the population in 2018 as their first language. Other languages spoken in Guinea as Guineans native language totalled 16% of the population in 2018, including Kissi and Kpelle.[1]

Ethnic groups

The population of Guinea comprises about 24 ethnic groups. The Mandinka, also known as Mandingo or Malinké, comprise 29.4%[106] of the population and are mostly found in eastern Guinea concentrated around the Kankan and Kissidougou prefectures.[13]

The Fulas or Fulani,[70] comprise 33.4%[106] of the population and are mostly found in the Futa Djallon region.

The Soussou, comprising 21.2% of the population, are predominantly in western areas around the capital Conakry, Forécariah, and Kindia. Smaller ethnic groups make up the remaining 16%[106] of the population, including Kpelle, Kissi, Zialo, Toma and others.[13] Approximately 10,000 non-Africans live in Guinea, predominantly Lebanese, French, and other Europeans.[107]

Religion

Guinea religious sects[108]
Religion Percent
Islam
85%
Christianity
8%
Traditional African religion
7%
The Grand Mosque of Conakry was built under Ahmed Sékou Touré with funding from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.

The population of Guinea is approximately 85 percent Muslim and 8 percent Christian, with 7 percent adhering to indigenous religious beliefs.[108] Much of the population, both Muslim and Christian, also incorporate indigenous African beliefs into their outlook.[108]

The vast majority of Guinean Muslims are adherent to Sunni Islam, of the Maliki school of jurisprudence, influenced by Sufism.[109] There is also a Shi'a community in Guinea.

Christian groups include Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and Evangelical groups. Jehovah's Witnesses are active in the country and recognized by the Government. There is a small Baháʼí Faith community. There are small numbers of Hindus, Buddhists, and traditional Chinese religious groups among the expatriate community.[110]

There were three days of ethno-religious fighting in the city of Nzerekore in July 2013.[69][111] Fighting between ethnic Kpelle, who are Christian or animist, and ethnic Konianke, who are Muslims and close to the larger Malinke ethnic group, left at least 54 dead.[111] The dead included people who were killed with machetes and burned alive.[111] The violence ended after the Guinea military imposed a curfew, and President Conde made a televised appeal for calm.[111]

Education

Schoolgirls in Conakry, Guinea

The literacy rate of Guinea is one of the lowest in the world: in 2010 it was estimated that only 41% of adults were literate (52% of males and 30% of females).[112] Primary education is compulsory for 6 years,[113] but most children do not attend for so long, and many do not go to school at all. In 1999, primary school attendance was 40 percent. Children, particularly girls, are kept out of school to assist their parents with domestic work or agriculture,[114] or to be married: Guinea has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world.[115]

Health

Ebola

In 2014, an outbreak of the Ebola virus occurred in Guinea. In response, the health ministry banned the sale and consumption of bats, thought to be carriers of the disease. Despite this measure, the virus eventually spread from rural areas to Conakry,[116] and by late June 2014 had spread to neighbouring countries - Sierra Leone and Liberia. In early August 2014 Guinea closed its borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia to help contain the spread of the virus, as more new cases of the disease were being reported in those countries than in Guinea.

The outbreak began in early December in a village called Meliandou, southeastern Guinea, not far from the borders with both Liberia and Sierra Leone. The first known case involved a two-year-old child who died, after fever and vomiting and passing black stool, on 6 December. The child's mother died a week later, then a sister and a grandmother, all with symptoms that included fever, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Then, by way of care-giving visits or attendance at funerals, the outbreak spread to other villages.

Unsafe burials remained one of the primary sources of the transmission of the disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the inability to engage with local communities hindered the ability of health workers to trace the origins and strains of the virus.[117]

While WHO terminated the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 29 March 2016,[118] the Ebola Situation Report released on 30 March confirmed 5 more cases in the preceding two weeks, with viral sequencing relating one of the cases to the November 2014 outbreak.[119]

The Ebola epidemic affected the treatment of other diseases in Guinea. Healthcare visits by the population declined due to fear of infection and to mistrust in the health-care system, and the system's ability to provide routine health-care and HIV/AIDS treatments decreased due to the Ebola outbreak.[120]

Ebola re-emerged in Guinea in January–February 2021.[121]

Maternal and child healthcare

The 2010 maternal mortality rate per 100,000 births for Guinea is 680. This is compared with 859.9 in 2008 and 964.7 in 1990. The under 5 mortality rate, per 1,000 births is 146 and the neonatal mortality as a percentage of under 5's mortality is 29. In Guinea the number of midwives per 1,000 live births is 1 and the lifetime risk of death for pregnant women is 1 in 26.[122] Guinea has the second highest prevalence of female genital mutilation in the world.[123][124]

HIV/AIDS

An estimated 170,000 adults and children were infected at the end of 2004.[125][126] Surveillance surveys conducted in 2001 and 2002 show higher rates of HIV in urban areas than in rural areas. Prevalence was highest in Conakry (5%) and in the cities of the Forest Guinea region (7%) bordering Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.[127]

HIV is spread primarily through multiple-partner heterosexual intercourse. Men and women are at nearly equal risk for HIV, with young people aged 15 to 24 most vulnerable. Surveillance figures from 2001 to 2002 show high rates among commercial sex workers (42%), active military personnel (6.6%), truck drivers and bush taxi drivers (7.3%), miners (4.7%), and adults with tuberculosis (8.6%).[127]

Several factors are fueling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Guinea. They include unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners, illiteracy, endemic poverty, unstable borders, refugee migration, lack of civic responsibility, and scarce medical care and public services.[127]

Malnutrition

Malnutrition is a serious problem for Guinea. A 2012 study reported high chronic malnutrition rates, with levels ranging from 34% to 40% by region, as well as acute malnutrition rates above 10% in Upper Guinea's mining zones. The survey showed that 139,200 children suffer from acute malnutrition, 609,696 from chronic malnutrition and further 1,592,892 suffer from anemia. Degradation of care practices, limited access to medical services, inadequate hygiene practices and a lack of food diversity explain these levels.[128]

Malaria

Malaria is prevalent in Guinea. It is transmitted year-round, with peak transmission from July through October.[129] Malaria is one of the top causes of disability in Guinea.[130]

COVID-19 pandemic

The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Guinea on 13 March 2020.[131] By the end of 2020 the total number of confirmed cases was 13,722. Of these, 13,141 had recovered, 500 were active, and 81 people had died.[132]

Culture

A market stall selling vegetables in Dinguiraye Prefecture, Guinea

Sports

Football is the most popular sport in the country of Guinea,[133] alongside basketball.[134]

Football operations are run by the Guinean Football Federation.[135] The association administers the national football team, as well as the national league.[133] It was founded in 1960 and affiliated with FIFA since 1962[136] and with the Confederation of African Football since 1963.[137]

The Guinea national football team, nicknamed Syli nationale (National Elephants), have played international football since 1962.[133] Their first opponent was East Germany.[133] They have yet to reach World Cup finals, but they were runners-up to Morocco in the Africa Cup of Nations in 1976.[133]

Guinée Championnat National is the top division of Guinean football. Since it was established in 1965, three teams have dominated in winning the Guinée Coupe Nationale.[138] Horoya AC leads with 16 titles and is the current (2017–2018) champion. Hafia FC (known as Conakry II in 1960s) is second with 15 titles having dominated in 1960s and 70s, but the last coming in 1985. Third with 13 is AS Kaloum Star, known as Conakry I in the 1960s. All three teams are based in the capital, Conakry. No other team has more than five titles.

The 1970s were a golden decade for Guinean football. Hafia FC won the African Cup of Champions Clubs three times, in 1972, 1975 and 1977, while Horoya AC won the 1978 African Cup Winners' Cup.[139]

Polygamy

Polygamy is generally prohibited by law in Guinea, but there are exceptions.[140] UNICEF reports that 53.4% of Guinean women aged 15–49 are in polygamous marriages.[141]

Music

Like other West African countries, Guinea has a rich musical tradition. The group Bembeya Jazz became popular in the 1960s after Guinean independence.

Cuisine

Guinean cuisine varies by region with rice as the most common staple. Cassava is also widely consumed.[142] Part of West African cuisine, the foods of Guinea include jollof rice, maafe, and tapalapa bread. In rural areas, food is eaten from a large serving dish and eaten by hand outside of homes.[143]

See also

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Further reading

  • Davidson, Basil. "Guinea, Past and Present" (subscription required). History Today (June 1959) vol. 9, no. 6. pp. 392–398. Covers 1800 to 1959.

External links