Guinea

"Gn" redirects here. For information on the letters themselves, see Gn (digraph).
République de Guinée
Republic of Guinea
Flag of Guinea Coat of arms of Guinea
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Travail, Justice, Solidarité"  (French)
"Work, Justice, Solidarity"
Anthem: "Liberté"
Location of Guinea
Capital Conakry
Largest city Conakry
Official language French
Government Republic
 - President Lansana Conté
 - Prime Minister vacant
Independence  
 - from France 2 October 1958 
Area
 - Total 245,857 km² (78th)
94,926 sq mi 
 - Water (%) negligible
Population
 - July 2005 estimate 9,402,000 (83rd)
 - 1996 census 7,156,406
 - Density 38/km² (164th)
98/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $18.879 billion (111th)
 - Per capita $2,035 (142nd)
HDI  (2004) 0.445 (low) (160th)
Currency Guinean franc (GNF)
Time zone GMT (UTC)
Internet TLD .gn
Calling code +224

Guinea, officially Republic of Guinea (French: République de Guinée), is a nation in West Africa, formerly known as French Guinea. Guinea's territory has a curved shape, with its base at the Atlantic ocean, inland to the east, and turning south. The base borders Guinea-Bissau and Senegal to the north, and Mali to the north and north-east; the inland part borders Côte d'Ivoire to the south-east, Liberia to the south, and Sierra Leone to the west of the southern tip. It encompasses the water source of the Niger, Senegal, and Gambia rivers. The name Guinea is used for the region of most of Africa's west coast south of the Sahara desert and north of the Gulf of Guinea. It originates from Berber and means roughly 'land of the blacks' [citation needed]. Guinea means "woman/wife" in Susu, one of the most spoken languages in the country. Guinea is sometimes called Guinea-Conakry per its capital, to differentiate it from the neighboring Guinea-Bissau (whose capital is Bissau).

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History

The land today's Guinea has been part of a series of empires, beginning with the "Ghana Empire" which came into being c. 900. This was followed by the Sosso kingdom in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Mali Empire came to power in the area after the Battle of Kirina in 1235, and prospered until internal problems weakened it, and its states seized power in the 15th century. One chief state was the Songhai state which became the Songhai Empire. It exceeded its predecessors in territory and wealth, but it too fell prey to internal wrangling and civil war and was eventually toppled at the Battle of Tondibi in 1591.

Then the area fragmented until an Islamic state was founded in the 18th century, bringing some stability to the region. Another important event was the arrival of Fulani Muslims in the highland region of Fuuta Jalloo in the early 18th century.

Europeans first came to the area during the Portuguese Discoveries, that started the slave trade, beginning in the 15th century.

Present-day Guinea was created as a colony by France in 1890 with Noël Balley as the first governor. The capital Conakry was founded on Tombo Island in 1890. In 1895 the country was incorporated into French West Africa.

Monument to commemorate the 1970 military victory over the Portuguese invasion
Monument to commemorate the 1970 military victory over the Portuguese invasion

Guinea gained independence from France in 1958 and was governed by dictator Ahmed Sékou Touré. Touré pursued broadly socialist economic policies and suppressed opposition and free expression with little regard for human rights. After his death in 1984, Lansana Conté took power and immediately changed the economic policies but kept the close grip on power. The first elections were held in 1993 but their results and those of subsequent elections were disputed. Conté faces regular criticism for the condition of the country's economy and for his heavy-handed approach to political opponents.

As of 2005 Guinea still faces very real problems, and according to the International Crisis Group is in danger of becoming a failed state. During 2006, there were two strikes by city workers, both quickly resolved by conceding more favorable wages to city employees, and 10 students were killed to squelch a demonstration, ending that minor uprising.

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Politics

During 2006, there were two strikes by city workers, both quickly resolved by conceding more favorable wages to city employees, and 10 students were killed to quench a demonstration, ending that minor uprising. US Peace Corps volunteers continue to be active within this impoverished country.

As of January 18, 2007, a third strike had ensued, one which included workers in the mines and others across the country. Though the government conceded better wages and other main points, the strike continued, as the people were after more than mere promises. On or about the 18th of January, 2007, at least 3 people were gunned down by government/military personnel, fueling the revolution. With President Conte's failing health, it begins to look like end times for his regime. Conte's recent pardon of two very wealthy Guineans who had been jailed on charges of corruption also fueled this revolt. Whether Guinea is up to the responsibilities of self-governing in a modern world remains to be seen.

Guinea has had only two presidents. Lansana Conte took control of the country in 1984 after the death of Sekou Toure. Conte was officially elected in 1993, then reelected in 1998 and 2003. But the validity of these elections is contested, since Conte has guarded his position and has not tolerated potential adversaries.

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Administrative divisions

Guinea is divided into seven administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures. The national capital, Conakry, ranks as a special zone. The regions are: Boké, Faranah, Kankan, Kindia, Labé, Mamou, Nzérékoré and Conakry.

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Geography

Map of Guinea
Satellite image of Guinea, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Satellite image of Guinea, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
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At 94,919 square miles (245,857 km²), Guinea is roughly the size of the United Kingdom and slightly smaller than the US states of Michigan or Oregon. There are 200 miles (320 km) of coastline. The total land border is 2,112 miles (3,399 km). The countries bordering Guinea includeCôte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone.

The highest point in Guinea is Mont Nimba at 5,748 feet (1,752 m).

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Economy

Guinea possesses major mineral, hydropower, and agricultural resources, yet remains an underdeveloped nation. The country possesses over 30% of the world's bauxite reserves and is the second-largest bauxite producer. The mining sector accounted for about 75% of exports in 1999.

Long-run improvements in government fiscal arrangements, literacy, and the legal framework are needed if the country is to move out of poverty. Fighting along the Sierra Leonean and Liberian borders, as well as refugee movements, have caused major economic disruptions, aggravating a loss in investor confidence. Foreign mining companies have reduced expatriate staff. Panic buying has created food shortages and inflation and caused riots in local markets.

Guinea is not receiving multilateral aid. The IMF and World Bank cut off most assistance in 2003. Growth rose slightly in 2004, primarily due to increases in global demand and commodity prices on world markets.

In September 2006, the government signed a production sharing contract (PSC) with an American micro-cap exploration company to explore for offshore petroleum resources. Further exploration of the virgin exploration acerage is in it's very early planning stages. No exploration activity has been carried out since late 2003.

In November 2006, Transparency International, a German NGO ranked Guinea as the most perceived corrupt nation in Africa and one of the most corrupt country in the world, ranking only before Myanmar, Iraq and Haiti. In an anticorruption conference in Guatemala, Guinean minister of justice Réné Alsény Gomez declared that Guinea has engaged in judicial actions against misuse of public funds. Former Central Bank governor Fodé Soumah has been indicted on charges of corruption on November 16, 2006. At the Guatemala conference, Transparency International president Huguette Labelle has applauded the measures.

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Transportation

The railway which used to operate from Conakry to Bamako in Mali has been abandoned. As of 2006, all travel is now by plane or automobile. Most vehicles in Guinea are some 20 years old, and cabs are most any 4-door vehicle which the owner has designated as 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. Horses and donkeys are also found pulling carts, though this is primarily used to transport construction materials.

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Demographics

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Healthcare

Guinea has been reorganizing its health system since the Bamako Initiative of 1987 formally promoted a community-based methods of increasing accessibily of drugs and health care services to the population, in part by implementing user fees.[1] The new strategy dramatically increased accessibility through community-based healthcare reform, resulting in more efficient and equitable provision of services. A comprehensive approach strategy was extended to all areas of health care, with subsequent improvement in the health care indicators and improvement in health care efficiency and cost.[2]

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Culture

Like other West African countries, Guinea has a rich musical tradition. The group Bembeya Jazz became popular in the 1960s after Guinean independence. The Vancouver-based guitarist Alpha Yaya Diallo hails from Guinea and incorporates its traditional rhythms and melodies into his original compositions, for which he has won two Juno Awards.

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Languages

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Sports

Guinea's main sport is football (soccer) and although the national team has never made the World Cup Finals it has appeared at eight African Nations Cup finals; it was a runner-up in 1976 and in the quarterfinals in 2004 and 2006. The current national coach is Spaniard Quique Setien, a former player for Casablanca, Perines, Atletico de Madrid, Logrones, and Racing de Santander. Swimming is popular near the capital, Conakry, and hiking is possible in the Fouta Djallon region.

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Miscellaneous topics

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Notables

  • Bobo Balde
  • Lansana Conté
  • Mohammed Camara
  • Mohammed Sylla
  • Titi Camara
  • Teresa Chikaba
  • Amadou Diallo
  • Djibril Tamsir Niane
  • Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori
  • Alfa Yaya of Labé
  • Samori
  • Umar Tall
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Notes

  1. User fees for health: a background. Retrieved on 2006-12-28.
  2. Implementation of the Bamako Initiative: strategies in Benin and Guinea. Retrieved on 2006-12-28.
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External links

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