Guinea (pronounced /ˈɡɪni/, officially the Republic of Guinea French: République de Guinée), is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea (Guinée française), it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbor Guinea-Bissau. Conakry is the capital, the seat of the national government, and the largest city.
Guinea has almost 246,000 square kilometres (94,981 sq mi). It forms a crescent by curving from its western border on the Atlantic Ocean toward the east and the south. Its northern border is shared with Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Mali, the southern one with Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire. The Niger River arises in Guinea and runs eastward.
Guinea's 10,000,000 people belong to twenty-four ethnic groups. The most prominent groups are the Fula, Mandinka, and Susu.
The land that is now Guinea belonged to a series of 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. Since its independence, Guinea has had autocratic rulers who have made Guinea one of the poorest countries in the world.
Monument to commemorate the 1970 military victory over the Mercenaries invasion
Governments Since Independence
Ahmed Sékou Touré became President upon Guinea's independence. By violent repression, he ruled until 26 March 1984, when he died unexpectedly. By a quick coup d'état, Lansana Conté became the President after Touré. By despotic means, Conté clung to power until his death in 2008. Despite extraordinary aluminium rich resources, he was unable to improve the desperate economic plight into which Touré had plunged the country.
On 23 December 2008, Moussa Dadis Camara seized control of Guinea as the head of a junta. On 28 September 2009, the junta ordered its soldiers to attack people who had gathered to protest any attempt by Camara to become President. The soldiers went on a rampage of rape, mutilation, and murder.
On 3 December 2009, an aide shot Camara during a dispute about the rampage of September 2009. Camara went to Morocco for medical care. Vice-President (and defense minister) Sékouba Konaté flew back from Lebanon to run the country in Camara's absence.
On January 12, 2010 Camara was flown from Morocco to Burkina Faso. After meeting in Ouagadougou on January 13 and 14, 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. It was agreed that the military would not contest the forthcoming elections, and Camara would continue his convalescence outside Guinea. On 21 January 2010 the military junta appointed Jean-Marie Doré as Prime Minister of a six-month transition government, leading up to elections.
The presidential election was set to take place on 27 June and 18 July 2010, it was held as being the first free and fair election since independence in 1958. The first round took place normally on the 27 June 2010 with ex Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and his rival Alpha Condé emerging as the two runners-up for the second round. However, due to allegations of electoral fraud, the second round of the election has been postponed until 19 September 2010. A further delay until October 10 has been announced by the electoral commission (CENI), subject to approval by Sekouba Konate..
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
* Mid-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
Guinea is divided into seven administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures. The national capital, Conakry, ranks as a special zone.
* The capital Conakry with a population of 1,548,470 ranks as a special zone.
At 245 800 km², Guinea is roughly the size of the United Kingdom and slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Oregon. There are 300 km of coastline and a total land border of 3400 km. Its neighbours are Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
The country is divided into four main regions: 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 Peuls, 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 Mont Nimba at 1750 m. 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 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. Bauxite and alumina are currently the only major exports. Other industries include processing plants for beer, juices, soft drinks and tobacco. Agriculture employs 80% of the nation's labor force. Under French rule, and at the beginning of independence, Guinea was a major exporter of bananas, pineapples, coffee, peanuts, and palm oil.
Richly endowed with minerals, 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. Guinea has considerable potential for growth in agricultural and fishing sectors. Soil, water, and climatic conditions provide opportunities for large-scale irrigated farming and agro industry. 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.
Joint venture bauxite mining and alumina operations in northwest Guinea historically provide about 80% of Guinea's foreign exchange. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea (CBG) 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 led by Alcoa and Alcan. CBG exports about 14 million tonnes of high-grade bauxite annually. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), a joint venture between the Government of Guinea and Russki Alumina, 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 ST; 984,207 LT) per year, but is not expected to begin operations 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.
Diamonds and gold also are mined and exported on a large scale. 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 are 90% gem quality. Production stopped from 1993 until 1996, when First City Mining of Canada purchased the international portion of the consortium. The bulk of diamonds are mined artisanally. The largest gold mining operation in Guinea is a joint venture between the government and Ashanti Gold Fields of Ghana. SMD also has a large gold mining facility in Lero near the Malian border. Other concession agreements have been signed for iron ore, but these projects await preliminary exploration and financing results.
Problems and Reforms
The Guinean Government adopted policies in the 1990s to return commercial activity to the private sector, promote investment, reduce the role of the state in the economy, and improve the administrative and judicial framework. Guinea has the potential to develop, if the government carries out its announced policy reforms, and if the private sector responds appropriately. So far, corruption and favoritism, lack of long-term political stability, and lack of a transparent budgeting process continue to dampen foreign investor interest in major projects in Guinea.
Reforms since 1985 include eliminating restrictions on agriculture and foreign trade, liquidation of some parastatals, the creation of a realistic exchange rate, increased spending on education, and cutting the government bureaucracy. In July 1996, President Lansana Conté appointed a new government, which promised major economic reforms, including financial and judicial reform, rationalization of public expenditures, and improved government revenue collection. Under 1996 and 1998 International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank agreements, Guinea continued fiscal reforms and privatization, and shifted governmental expenditures and internal reforms to the education, health, infrastructure, banking, and justice sectors.
The government revised the private investment code in 1998 to stimulate economic activity in the spirit of free enterprise. The code does not discriminate between foreigners and nationals and allows for repatriation of profits. While the code restricts development of Guinea's hydraulic resources to projects in which Guineans have majority shareholdings and management control, it does contain a clause permitting negotiations of more favorable conditions for investors in specific agreements. Foreign investments outside Conakry are entitled to more favorable terms. A national investment commission has been formed to review all investment proposals. Guinea and the United States have an investment guarantee agreement that offers political risk insurance to American investors through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). In addition, Guinea has inaugurated an arbitration court system, which allows for the quick resolution of commercial disputes.
Cabinet changes in 1999, which increased corruption, economic mismanagement, and excessive government spending, combined to slow the momentum for economic reform. The informal sector continues to be a major contributor to the economy.
Until June 2001, private operators managed the production, distribution, and fee-collection operations of water and electricity under performance-based contracts with the Government of Guinea. However, the two utilities are plagued by inefficiency and corruption. Foreign private investors in these operations departed the country in frustration.
In 2002, the IMF suspended Guinea's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) because the government failed to meet key performance criteria. In reviews of the PRGF, the World Bank noted that Guinea had met its spending goals in targeted social priority sectors. However, spending in other areas, primarily defense, contributed to a significant fiscal deficit. The loss of IMF funds forced the government to finance its debts through Central Bank advances. The pursuit of unsound economic policies has resulted in imbalances that are proving hard to correct.
Under then-Prime Minister Diallo, the government began a rigorous reform agenda in December 2004 designed to return Guinea to a PRGF with the IMF. Exchange rates have been allowed to float, price controls on gasoline have been loosened, and government spending has been reduced while tax collection has been improved. These reforms have not reduced inflation, which hit 27% in 2004 and 30% in 2005. Currency depreciation is also a concern. The Guinea franc was trading at 2550 to the dollar in January 2005. It hit 5554 to the dollar by October 2006.
Despite the opening in 2005 of a new road connecting Guinea and Mali, most major roadways remain in poor repair, slowing the delivery of goods to local markets. Electricity and water shortages are frequent and sustained, and many businesses are forced to use expensive power generators and fuel to stay open.
Even though there are many problems plaguing Guinea's economy, not all foreign investors are reluctant to come to Guinea. Global Alumina's proposed alumina refinery has a price tag above $2 billion. Alcoa and Alcan are proposing a slightly smaller refinery worth about $1.5 billion. Taken together, they represent the largest private investment in sub-Saharan Africa since the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline. Also, Hyperdynamics Corporation, an American oil company, signed an agreement in 2006 to develop Guinea's offshore Senegal Basin oil deposits in a concession of 31,000 square miles (80,000 km2); it is pursuing seismic exploration.
On 13 October 2009, Guinean Mines Minister Mahmoud Thiam announced that the Chinese International Fund would invest more than $7bn (£4.5bn) in infrastructure. In return, he said the firm would be a "strategic partner" in all mining projects in the mineral-rich nation. He said the firm would help build ports, railway lines, power plants, low-cost housing and even a new administrative centre in the capital, Conakry. However, analysts say that the timing of the deal is likely to stir controversy, as the legitimacy of Guinea's government is under question.
Youth unemployment, however, remains a large problem. Guinea needs an adequate policy to address the concerns of the urban youth. The problem is the disparity between their life and what they see on television. As the youth cannot find jobs, seeing the economically stable and consumerism of richer countries only serves to frustrate them further.
Northwest Africa's coast has now assessed and is ready for oil development, and Guinea is actively being courted in this endeavor. Guinea signed a Production sharing agreement with Hyperdynamics Corporation (Houston, TX) in 2006 to explore a large offshore tract, recently in partnership with Dana Petroleum PLC (Aberdeen, United Kingdom).
The railway which operated from Conakry to Kankan ceased operating in the mid-1980s. Domestic air services are intermittent. Most vehicles in Guinea are 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. There is some river traffic on the Niger and Milo rivers. Horses and donkeys pull carts, primarily to transport construction materials.
Iron mining at Simandou (South) in the southeast beginning in 2007 and at Kalia in the east is likely to result in the construction of a new heavy-duty standard gauge railway and deepwater port. Iron mining at Simandou North will load to a new port near Buchanan in Liberia, in exchange for which, rehabilitation of the Conakry to Kankan line will occur.
Conakry International Airport is the largest airport in the country, with flights to other cities in Africa as well as to Europe.
The population of Guinea is estimated at 10.2 million. Conakry, the capital and largest city, is the hub of Guinea's economy, commerce, education, and culture.
The official language of Guinea is French. Other significant languages spoken are Maninka (Malinke), Susu, Pular (Fulfulde or Fulani), Kissi, Kpelle, and Loma.
The population of Guinea comprises about 24 ethnic groups. The Fulani, also known as Fula or Peul or Peuhl, comprise 40% of the population and are mostly found in the Futa Jallon region. The Mandinka, also known as Mandingo or Malinké, comprise 30% of the population and are mostly found in eastern Guinea concentrated around the Kankan and Kissidougou prefectures. The Soussou, comprising 20%, are predominantly in western areas around the capital Conakry, Forécariah, and Kindia. Smaller ethnic groups make up the remaining 10% of the population, including Kpelle, Kissi, Zialo, Toma and others. Non-Africans total about 10,000 (mostly Lebanese, French, and other Europeans).
Islam is the majority religion. Approximately 85% of the population is Muslim, while 10% is Christian, and 5% holds traditional animist beliefs. Muslims are generally Sunni and Sufi; there are relatively few Shi'a. Christian groups include Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and other Evangelical groups. Jehovah's Witnesses are active in the country and recognized by the Government. There is a small Baha'i community. There are small numbers of Hindus, Buddhists, and traditional Chinese religious groups among the expatriate community.
The Guinean armed forces are divided into four branches. By far the largest branch of the armed forces, with about 15,000 personnel, the army 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. The force's equipment includes several Russian-supplied fighter planes and transports. The navy has about 900 personnel and operates several small patrol craft and barges. A branch of the Guinean Armed Forces is responsible for internal security. Its members are not police officers.
Guinea has been reorganizing its health system since the Bamako Initiative of 1987 formally promoted community-based methods of increasing accessibility of drugs and health care services to the population, in part by implementing user fees. The new strategy dramatically increased accessibility through community-based healthcare (including community ownership and local budgeting), resulting in more efficient and equitable provision of services. A comprehensive strategy was extended to all areas of health care, with subsequent improvement in health indicators and improvement in health care efficiency and cost. Guinea's public health code is defined by Law No. L/97/021/AN of 19 June 1997 promulgating the Public Health Code. The law provides for the protection and promotion of health and for the rights and duties of the individual, the family, and community throughout the territory of the Republic of Guinea.
HIV/AIDS in Guinea
The first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in 1986. Though levels of AIDS are significantly lower than in a number of other African countries, as of 2005, Guinea was considered by the World Health Organization to face a generalized epidemic.
An estimated 170,000 adults and children were infected at the end of 2004. The spread of the epidemic was attributed to factors such as proximity to high-prevalence countries, a large refugee population, internal displacement and subregional instability.
According to the World Health Organization in 2005 an estimated 95.6% of Guinea's girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation.
Like other West African countries, Guinea has a rich musical tradition. The group Bembeya Jazz became popular in the 1960s after Guinean independence.
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3. ^ See, for example, Univ. of Iowa map, Music Videos of Guinea Conakry – Clips Guineens, The Anglican Diocese of Guinea – Conakry, Canal France International's English-language page for Guinea Conakry
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8. ^ Suleiman, Rashid (6 October 2008). "African Dictators – Ahmed Sékou Touré: The ‘Father of Coups’". PoliticalArticles.Net. http://www.politicalarticles.net/blog/2008/10/06/african-dictators-ahmed-sekou-toure-the-father-of-coups/. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
9. ^ Walker, Peter (23 December 2008). "Q&A: Guinea". guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/23/guinea-ahmed-sekou-conte-lansana-toure. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
10. ^ McGreal, Chris (23 December 2008). "Lansana Conté profile: Death of an African 'Big Man'". guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/23/lansana-conte-profile. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
11. ^ Walker, Peter (23 December 2008). "Army steps in after Guinea president Lansana Conté dies". guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/23/guinea-dictator-lansana-conte-dies. Retrieved 23 December 2009.
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15. ^ Guinea's presidential guard explains assassination motive. Xinhua. December 16, 2009.
16. ^ Brahima Ouedraogo, "Guinea leader arrives in Burkina Faso", Associated Press/Yahoo News (Jan 12 2009)[dead link]
17. ^ celine says:. ""In Full: Declaration Made in Burkina Faso Between Dadis Camara and Sekouba Konate", ''Newstime Africa'' (January 16, 2010)". Newstimeafrica.com. http://www.newstimeafrica.com/archives/10414. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
18. ^ "Guinea junta officially names Dore prime minister", Reuters, 21 January 2010.
19. ^ http://www.afrol.com/articles/35415
20. ^ http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2010-01/16/content_12820272.htm
21. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10499343
22. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-10920366
23. ^ Saliou Samb, "Guinea election body proposes October 10 run-off", Reuters (Sept 20 2010)
24. ^ "Joint Venture Opportunity Offshore the West Coast of Africa". http://www.hyperdynamics.com/media/HDY-JV-Partner-Opportunity-Brochure-082208.pdf. Hyperdynamics Corporation (2008)
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27. ^ 
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34. ^ http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/fgm/prevalence/en/index.html