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Guinea

GUINEA

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS GUINEANS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Republic of Guinea

République de Guinée

CAPITAL: Conakry

FLAG: The national flag is a tricolor of red, yellow, and green vertical stripes.

ANTHEM: Liberté (Liberty).

MONETARY UNIT: The syli (s), of 100 cauris, was introduced in October 1972, replacing the Guinea franc (GFr); s1 = 10 old Guinea francs. In January 1986 the Guinea franc (GFr) of 100 centimes was restored on a one-to-one basis with the syli. There are notes of 25, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, and 5,000 GFr. GFr1 = $0.00036 (or $1 = GFr2,810) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Anniversary of Women's Revolt, 27 August; Referendum Day, 28 September; Independence Day, 2 October; Armed Forces Day, 1 November; Day of 1970 Invasion, 22 November; Christmas, 25 December. Movable religious holidays include 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-'Adha', and Easter Monday.

TIME: GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

Guinea, on the west coast of Africa, has an area of 245,857 sq km (94,926 sq mi), extending 831 km (516 mi) senw and 493 km (306 mi) nesw. Comparatively, the area occupied by Guinea is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. Bordered on the n by Senegal, on the n and ne by Mali, on the e by Côte d'Ivoire, on the s by Liberia and Sierra Leone, on the w by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the nw by Guinea-Bissau, Guinea has a total boundary length of 3,719 km (2,311 mi), of which 320 km (199 mi) is coastline.

Guinea's capital city, Conakry, is located on the country's Atlantic coast.

TOPOGRAPHY

Guinea owes its frontiers mainly to the accidents of the late 19th-century partition of Africa and has no geographic unity. The country can be divided into four regions: Lower Guinea (Guinée Maritime), the alluvial coastal plain; Middle Guinea, the plateau region of the Futa Jallon (Fouta Djalon), deeply cut in many places by narrow valleys; Upper Guinea (Haute Guinée), a gently undulating plain with an average elevation of about 300 m (1,000 ft), savanna country broken by occasional rocky outcrops; and the forested Guinea Highlands (Guinée Forestière), composed of granites, schists, and quartzites, including Mt. Nimba (1,752 m/5,747 ft), the highest peak in the country, at the juncture of Guinea, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire. The Niger River and its important tributary the Milo have their source in the Guinea Highlands; the Gambia River and Senegal River (whose upper course is called the Bafing in Guinea) rise in the Futa Jallon.

CLIMATE

The coastal region and much of the inland area have a tropical climate with a long rainy season of six months, a relatively high and uniform annual temperature, and high humidity. Conakry's year-round average high is 29°c (84°f), and the low is 23°c (73°f); its average rainfall is 430 cm (169 in) per year. April is the hottest month; July and August are the wettest. Rainfall in the Futa Jallon is much less (about 150200 cm/6080 in) and more irregular, and temperatures are lower; moreover, the daily temperature range is much greater, especially during the dry season. In Upper Guinea, rainfall is lower than in the Futa Jallon. Rainfall in the highlands averages about 280 cm (110 in) annually; temperatures are relatively equable owing to the altitude.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Dense mangrove forests grow along the river mouths. Farther inland, the typical vegetation of Lower Guinea is woodland dominated by parinari, with many woody climbers and bushes below. Gum copal is common near streams. The Futa Jallon has been subject to excessive burning, and the lower slopes are characterized by secondary woodland, much sedge (catagyna pilosa), and expanses of laterite; the higher plateaus and peaks have dense forest, and some plants found nowhere else in the world have been reported on them. Savanna woodland characterizes Upper Guinea, with only tall grass in large areas; trees include the shea nut, tamarind, and locust bean. There is rain forest along the border with Liberia.

The elephant, hippopotamus, buffalo, lion, leopard, and many kinds of antelope and monkey are to be found in Guinea, as well as crocodiles and several species of venomous snakes. Birds are plentiful and diverse. As of 2002, there were at least 190 species of mammals, 109 species of birds, and over 3,000 species of plants throughout the country.

ENVIRONMENT

Centuries of slash-and-burn agriculture have caused forested areas to be replaced by savanna woodland, grassland, or brush. During 198185, some 36,000 ha (89,000 acres) of land were deforested each year. Between 1990-1995, Guinea lost an average of 1.14% of its forest and woodland area each year. Mining, the expansion of hydroelectric facilities, and pollution contribute to the erosion of the country's soils and desertification.

Water pollution and improper waste disposal are also significant environmental problems in Guinea. In 1994, water-borne diseases contributed to an infant mortality rate of 145 per 1,000 live births. The nation has 226 cu km of renewable water resources with 87% used in farming activity. Only about 35% of the people living in rural areas do not have pure water.

In 2003, less than 1% of the total land area was protected by the state. Human encroachment and hunting have reduced Guinea's wildlife, especially its large mammals, and overfishing represents a threat to the nation's marine life. A nature reserve has been established on Mt. Nimba as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are also 12 Ramsar wetland sites. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 18 types of mammals, 10 species of birds, 1 type of reptile, 5 species of amphibians, 8 species of fish, 3 species of invertebrates, and 22 species of plants. Threatened species included the African elephant, Diana monkey, and Nimba otter-shrew.

POPULATION

The population of Guinea in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 9,453,000, which placed it at number 83 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 3% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 44% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 105 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 20052010 was expected to be 2.7%, a rate the government viewed as too high. Fertility was six births per woman in 2005. The projected population for the year 2025 was 15,806,000. The population density was 39 per sq km (100 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 33% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 4.59%. The capital city, Conakry, had a population of 1,366,000 in that year. Other large towns include Kankan (100,192), Labé, Nzérékoré, Boké, and Siguiri.

MIGRATION

After independence from France in 1958, Guineans left the country in increasing numbers, mostly for Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire. In the early and mid-1980s, probably two million Guineans were living abroad, perhaps half of them in Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire. Many of them returned after the end of the Sékou Touré regime in 1984.

In 1997, Guinea had the highest number of refugees of any West African nation. There were around 420,000 Liberians and around 250,000 from Sierra Leone in Guinea. These refugees escaped from the fighting in their respective countries. The voluntary repatriation program begun for Liberians in March 1998 was suspended at the resumption of fighting. Out of the 120,000 who opted for repatriation, some 80,000 were returned before the Guinean-Liberian border was closed. In 2000, conditions in Sierra Leone were not yet conducive to repatriation and 150,000 refugees from that nation remained in Guinea. The total number of refugees remaining in Guinea in 2000 was 427,200. By the end of 2004, this number decreased to 139,252 refugees, mainly from Liberia and Sierra Leone, and 6,310 asylum seekers from Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, and Sierra Leone. However, 4,700 Guineans applied for asylum, mainly to France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. In that same year 22,473 Liberians were voluntarily repatriated from Guinea. However, a population of 145,569 people, more than half living in camps, remained of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as -2.99 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.

ETHNIC GROUPS

Of Guinea's two dozen ethnic groups, three predominate: the Fulani, Malinké, and Soussou. The Fulani (sometimes called Peul), perhaps the largest single group (40% of the population), live mainly in the Futa Jallon. The Malinké, referred to in other parts of West Africa as Mandingo, and related peoples of the so-called Nuclear Mandé group (30%), live in eastern Guinea and are concentrated around Kankan, Beyla, and Kouroussa. The Soussou (20%), with related groups, are centered farther west and along the coast in the areas around Conakry, Forécariah, and Kindia. Related to them are the Dialonké, living farther east in Middle Guinea and western Upper Guinea. Smaller tribes make up the remaining 10% of the population. Toward the southeast, in the Guinea Highlands near the borders of Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, are various Kru or peripheral Mandé groups; among them are the Kissi around Quéckédou, the Toma around Macenta, and the Koranko near Kissidougou. Notable among the 3,500 or so non-Africans are Lebanese and Syrians.

LANGUAGES

French is the official language and the language of administration. In 1967, a cultural revolution was announced for the purpose of "de-Westernizing" Guinean education. A literacy program begun in 1968 sought eventually to teach all citizens to speak and write one of the eight principal local languages: Malinké (Maninkakan), Fulani (Poular), Soussou, Kpelle (Guerzé), Loma (Toma), Kissi, Coniagui, and Bassari, all of which belong to the Niger-Congo language group. After the fall of the Touré regime in 1984, French was again emphasized; however, the tribal languages are still spoken.

RELIGIONS

About 85% of all Guineans, particularly the Fulani and Malinké, are Muslims; about 10% follow various Christian faiths; and most of the remaining 5% practice traditional African religions. Most Muslims belong to the Sunni sect, and practices, particularly public prayers and the prescribed fasts, are often combined with animist beliefs and ceremonies. Christian missions were established in the 19th century, but converts have been few. About 10% of the population are Christian. Among Christian groups are Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and various other evangelical churches. There are a small number of Baha'is, Hindus, Buddhists, and observers of traditional Chinese religions. About 5% of the population follow traditional indigenous practices and beliefs.

The constitution provides for freedom of religion and this right is generally respected in practice. Though there is no state religion, some have claimed that Islam is generally favored by the government. Certain holidays of both Islam and Christianity are recognized as public holidays. The government has met with the Interreligious Council, a group of Anglican, Catholic, and Protestant leaders, to open a dialogue on electoral and governmental reform issues.

TRANSPORTATION

Lack of an adequate transportation network has hindered the country's development. As of 2004, Guinea's railroad system totaled 837 km (675 mi) of standard and narrow gauge lines, of which the largest part consisted of a 662 km (412 mi) long, single track narrow gauge (1.000-m) line. Owned by the state, the line runs from Conakry to Kankan and was built between 1900 and 1914. There is also a 175 km (109 mi) standard gauge line. Of 30,500 km (18,953 mi) of roads, some 5,033 km (3,128 mi) were tarred in 2002. There were 23,155 automobiles and 13,000 commercial vehicles in 1995.

Conakry has a natural deepwater harbor that handles foreign cargo (mostly bauxite and alumina). Port modernization is scheduled with aid from the IDA, the African Development Bank, and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). A deepwater port at Kamsar, completed in 1973, handles the output of the Boké bauxite mine, as much as nine million tons a year. There are lesser ports at Kassa, Benty, and Kakande. Most rivers are of little value for navigation. A national shipping line is jointly owned with a Norwegian company. As of 2003, Guinea had 1,295 km (805 mi) of navigable inland waterways accessible by shallow draft native boats.

In 2004, there were an estimated 16 airports in Guinea, only 5 of which had paved runways as of 2005. Conakry's airport, Gbeesia, handles international jet traffic. Gbeesia, three smaller air-fields at Labé, Kankan, and Faranah, and a number of airstrips are served by the national carrier, Air Guinée, which also flies to other West African cities and carried 36,000 passengers on domestic and international flights in 1997 (the latest year for which data was available).

HISTORY

Archaeological evidence indicates that at least some stone tools found in Guinea had been made by peoples who had moved there from the Sahara, pushed perhaps by the desiccation that had occurred in the Saharan region by 2000 bc. Agriculture had been practiced along the coast of Guinea by ad 1000, with rice the staple crop.

Most of Upper Guinea fell within the area influenced by the Ghana empire at the height of its power, but none of present-day Guinea was actually within the empire. The northern half of present-day Guinea was, however, within the later Mali and Songhai empires.

The Malinké did not begin arriving in Guinea until the 13th century; nor did the Fulani come in considerable numbers until the 17th century. In 1725, a holy war (jihad) was declared in Futa Jallon by Muslim Fulani. The onslaught was directed against the non-Muslim Malinké and Fulani; and it led ultimately to the independence of the Fulani of Futa Jallon. It also gave effect to their unity within a theocratic kingdom under Almamy Karamoka Alfa of Timbo.

Meanwhile, European exploration of the Guinea coast had begun by the middle of the 15th century; it was led by the Portuguese. By the 17th century, French, British, and Portuguese traders and slavers were competing with one another. When the slave trade was prohibited during the first half of the 19th century, Guinean creeks became hiding places for slavers harried by the ships of the British Royal Navy. French rights along the coast were expressly preserved by the Peace of Paris (1814), and Frenchas well as British and Portuguesetrading activities expanded in the middle years of the 19th century, when trade in peanuts, palm oil, hides, and rubber replaced that in slaves. The French established a protectorate over Boké in 1849 and consolidated their rule over the coastal areas in the 1860s. This inevitably led to attempts to secure a more satisfactory arrangement with the Fulani chiefs of Futa Jallon. A protectorate was established over the region in 1881, but effective sovereignty was not secured for another 15 years.

Resistance to the French advance up the Senegal and the Niger, toward Lake Chad, came from Samory Touré, a Malinké born in Upper Guinea. He had seized Kankan in 1879 and established his authority in the area southeast of Siguiri; but his attacks had spurred the inhabitants of the area to seek aid from French troops already established at Kita in the French Sudan (Soudan Français, now Mali) in 1882. Samory had signed treaties with the French first in 1886, and also in 1890. But on various pretexts both he and the French later renounced the treaties; so hostilities resumed. His capture in 1898 marked the end of concerted local resistance to the French occupation of Guinea, Ivory Coast (now Côte d'Ivoire), and southern Mali.

In 1891, Guinea was reconstituted as a French territory separate from Senegal, of which it had hitherto been a part. Four years later, the French territories in West Africa became a federation under a governor-general. The federation remained substantially unchanged until Guinea attained independence. In 1946, Africans in Guinea became French citizens, but the franchise was at first restricted to the Europeanized évoulés; it was not replaced by universal adult suffrage until 1957.

The End of Colonial Rule

In September 1958, Guinea participated in the referendum on the new French constitution. On acceptance of the new constitution, French overseas territories had the option of choosing to continue their existing status, to move toward full integration into metropolitan France, or to acquire the status of an autonomous republic in the new quasi-federal French Community. If, however, they rejected the new constitution, they would become independent forthwith. French president, Charles de Gaulle, had made it clear that a country pursuing the independent course would no longer receive French economic and financial aid or retain French technical and administrative officers. Anyway, the electorate of Guinea rejected the new constitution overwhelmingly. Guinea accordingly became an independent state on 2 October 1958, with Ahmed Sékou Touré, then the leader of Guinea's strongest labor union, as president.

During its first three decades of independence, Guinea evolved to become a slightly militant socialist state. The functions and membership of the ruling Parti Démocratique de Guinée (PDG) were merged with the various institutions of government, including the state bureaucracy. Thus, the unified party-state had nearly complete control over the country's economic and political life. Guinea expelled the US Peace Corps in 1966 because of alleged involvement in a plot to overthrow President Touré. Similar charges were directed against France, with which diplomatic relations were severed in 1965 and not resumed until 1975. An ongoing source of contention between Guinea and its French-speaking neighbors was the estimated half-million expatriates in Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire. Some of these were active dissidents who, in 1966, had formed the National Liberation Front of Guinea (Front de Libération Nationale de GuinéeFLNG).

International tension rose again in 1970 when some 350 men, including FLNG partisans and Africans in the Portuguese army, invaded Guinea under the leadership of white Portuguese officers from Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau). The invasion was repulsed after one day, but this was followed by waves of arrests, detentions, and some executions. Between 1969 and 1976, according to Amnesty International, 4,000 persons were detained for political reasons, with the fate of 2,900 unknown. After an alleged Fulani plot to assassinate Touré was disclosed in May 1976, Diallo Telli, a cabinet minister and formerly the first secretary-general of the OAU, was arrested and sent to prison, where he died without trial in November.

In 1977, protests against the regime's economic policy, which dealt harshly with unauthorized trading, led to riots in which three regional governors were killed. Touré responded by relaxing restrictions, offering amnesty to exiles (thousands of whom returned), and releasing hundreds of political prisoners. Ties with the Soviet bloc were relaxed as Touré sought increased Western aid and private investment in Guinea's sagging economy.

Single-list elections for an expanded National Assembly were held in 1980. Touré was elected unopposed to a fourth seven-year term as president on 9 May 1982. According to the government radio, he received 100% of the vote. A new constitution was adopted that month, and during the summer Touré visited the United States as part of an economic policy reversal that saw Guinea seeking Western investment to develop its huge mineral reserves. New measures announced in 1983 brought further economic liberalization; private traders were even allowed to engage in produce marketing.

Touré died on 26 March 1984 while undergoing cardiac treatment at the Cleveland Clinic; he had been rushed to the United States after being stricken in Saudi Arabia the previous day. Prime Minister Louis Lansana Béavogui then became acting president, pending elections that were to be held within 45 days. On 3 April, however, just as the Political Bureau of the ruling Guinea Democratic Party (PDG) was about to name its choice as Touré's successor, the armed forces seized power, denouncing the last years of Touré's rule as a "bloody and ruthless dictatorship." The constitution was suspended, the National Assembly dissolved, and the PDG abolished. The leader of the coup, Col. Lansana Conté, assumed the presidency on 5 April, heading the Military Committee for National Recovery (Comité Militaire de Redressement NationalCMRN). About 1,000 political prisoners were freed.

Conté suppressed an attempted military coup led by Col. Diarra Traoré on 4 July 1985. Almost two years later, it was announced that 58 persons, including both coup leaders and members of Touré's government, had been sentenced to death. However, it is believed that many of them, as well as Traoré, had actually been shot days after the coup attempt. All were identified with the Malinké, who were closely identified with the Touré regime. The military regime adopted free-market policies in an effort to revive the economy.

Multiparty Democracy Initiated

Under pressure locally and abroad, Guinea embarked on a transition to multiparty democracy, albeit with considerable reluctance from the military-dominated government. Government legalized parties in April 1992, but it did not really allow them to function freely. It postponed presidential elections for over a year (until 19 December 1993) and then annulled the results from two Malinké strongholds, claiming victory with 51.7% of the vote. The Supreme Court upheld the Ministry of the Interior's decision despite official protest from the opposition. Though international opinion on the elections was divided, it was generally conceded that the elections administration had been widely manipulated in favor of the PUP candidate, and in several instances the voting process was fraudulent.

The legislative elections were delayed until 11 June 1995. These elections were supposed to have preceded the presidential elections, but the regime switched the order in 1993. The opposition felt that scheduling the presidential election first gave the incumbent an unfair advantage in both elections. International observers found significant flaws in these elections as well, and afterwards, the opposition vowed to boycott the Assembly. Factionalism within the opposition alliance, CODEM, shattered this resolve, and by the time the Assembly was convened, 71 PUP representatives and 43 members representing 8 other parties assumed their seats.

The greatest threat to Conté's power came in February 1996, when mutineers commanded tanks, fired upon the presidential palace, and seized the president. The palace was all but destroyed, and some 30 to 50 people were killed, many of them civilians by stray bullets. Conté did strike a deal with the mutineers, agreeing to establish a multiparty grievance committee; but the committee was disbanded before it could issue its final report. No one received a death sentence, though 38 soldiers received sentences, 34 of them colonels, majors, captains, and lieutenants. Only six were Susu, and four of them received the lightest sentences. Conté gave in to the mutineers' demands by doubling soldiers' pay and taking over the defense department himself.

In December 1998, Guinea held its second round of multiparty elections. Though it was technically more acceptable than previous polling, the PUP marshaled the resources of the state and the public bureaucracy to conduct its campaign up-country. The opposition submitted a report detailing fraudulent and illegal election and campaign practices by the ruling party. Further, the Guinean Human Rights Organization and Amnesty International accused the government of routine torturestripping, tying up, and beating opposition militants.

Before the international borders were reopened, the government seized Malinké RPG leader Alpha Condé for allegedly attempting to cross into Côte d'Ivoire. He and four RPG parliamentarians, and some 70 RPG militants were jailed. The Condé trial was repeatedly delayed, and the charges were changed to "recruitment of mercenaries with intent to overthrow the government." It was suspended shortly after it began in April 2000 when Condé's lawyers and the Court failed to agree on the legality of the arrest and the charges. Condé was being tried along with 48 others in the Cour de Sûreté de l'Etat (State Security Court).

The political climate in May 2000 was uneasy with fear that the Alpha Condé affair would drag on unresolved. Legislative and local elections were scheduled for later in the year, but the opposition renewed its calls to boycott them. Despite this adversity, municipal elections were held in June 2000 accompanied by violence in at least seven cities leading to several civilian deaths. Reports of arrests, beatings, rapes, and torture of protesters followed. The opposition indicated that it would boycott the legislative elections unless a neutral arbiter, such as an independent electoral commission, was established.

In mid-September 2000, the State Security Court convicted Condé of sedition and sentenced him to five years hard labor in prison, though later he was granted clemency. Seven of his 47 coaccused received lighter sentences, while the others were acquitted. The international community overwhelmingly condemned the trial as a mockery of justice. Condé's five-year sentence would eliminate him from running in the presidential elections slated for 2003.

What amounted to a constitutional coup took place in November 2001. In one fell swoop, Conté and the PUP-dominated National Assembly amended the constitution to increase the length of a presidential term from five years to seven, and to remove term limits. The amendment also allowed the president to nominate local government officials. In June 2002 flawed parliamentary elections resulted in the ruling party's gain of a two-third's majority in the Assembly.

Conté's declining health once fueled speculation that that he might not stand for reelection in 2003. Guinea, it was also argued, risked political chaos if Conté failed to run. The army, which is deeply divided by age, ethnicity and other factors, was thought likely to intervene. Conté did run in elections held on 21 December however; and official results indicated that he won a massive 95.3% of the vote. In turn, Mamadou Boye Barry of the UPR captured 4.6%. Since then the Conté administration continued on as it were. As of 2005, soldiers had yet to oust the elected régime. In April 2004, former Prime Minister Sidya Toure and Ba Mamadou of the Union of Democratic Forces (UFDG) were barred from traveling to neighboring Senegal. Both claimed they were on a private mission. In January 2005, Conté survived an apparent assassination attempt, when shots were fired on his motorcade in the capital. Six months later in July 2005, Alpha Condé, head of the opposition Guinean People's Rally (or RPG), returned from exile and was welcomed by thousands of supporters. The next presidential election was due in December 2010.

GOVERNMENT

Guinea is a multiparty republic with a semi-authoritarian executive. Guinea's first constitution took effect on 12 November 1958 and was substantially amended in 1963 and 1974. Under the new constitution promulgated in May 1982 (but suspended in the military coup of April 1984), sovereignty was declared to rest with the people and to be exercised by their representatives in the Guinea Democratic Party (PDG), the only legal political party. Party and state were declared to be one and indivisible. The head of state was the president, elected for a seven-year term by universal adult suffrage (at age 18). A national assembly of 210 members was elected in 1980 from a single national list presented by the PDG; the announced term was five years, although the 1982 constitution and its precursors stipulated a term of seven (the assembly was dissolved after four years, in 1984). The constitution gave Assembly members control of the budget and, with the president, the responsibility to initiate and formulate laws.

Under the Touré regime there was no separation of functions or powers. The legislature, the cabinet, and the national administration were subordinate to the PDG in the direction and control of the nation. The assembly served mainly to ratify the decisions of the PDG's Political Bureau, headed by Touré, who was also president of the republic and secretary-general of the PDG. The assembly and the cabinet (appointed by Touré) implemented the decisions and orders of the party arrived at by the party congress, national conference, and the Political Bureau. Locally, PDG and government authority were synonymous.

The armed forces leaders who seized power after Touré's death ruled Guinea through the Military Committee for National Recovery (CMRN). Following the adoption by referendum of a new constitution on 21 December 1990, the CMRN was dissolved and a Transitional Committee of National Recovery (CTRN) was set up in February 1991 as the country's legislative body.

In 1993, the government created a 114-member national assembly. The assembly members are elected for a term of four years, 38 members in single-district constituencies, and 76 members by proportional representation. In July 1996, Lansana Conté created the post of prime minister; he also appointed his confidante, former Supreme Court chief justice Lamine Sidimé to the post. In December 2002, Conté reshuffled his cabinet. On 4 December 2004, Cellou Dalein Diallo became prime minister following the resignation of Lounseny Fall. Fall had resigned while on a visit to the United States.

POLITICAL PARTIES

From 1945, when political activity began in Guinea, until about 1953, the political scene was one of loose electoral alliances that relied more on the support of traditional chiefs and of the French administration than on political programs or organized memberships. After 1953, however, these alliances rapidly lost ground to the Guinea section of the African Democratic Rally (Rassemblement Démocratique AfricainRDA), an inter-territorial organization founded in 1946. This section, known as the Guinea Democratic Party (Parti Démocratique de GuinéePDG), was formed by Marxists determined to develop an organized mass political movement that cut across ethnic differences and had a strongly nationalist outlook. Their leader was Ahmed Sékou Touré, a prominent trade union leader in French West Africa. Regarded as the great-grandson of the warrior-chief Samory who had fought the French in the late 19th century, Touré had much support in areas where Samory had fought his last battles. But his strongest backers were the Susu in Lower Guinea. In 1957, the PDG won 57 of 60 seats in Territorial Assembly elections.

Convinced that the French Community proposed by De Gaulle would not result in real independence for the people of French West Africa, Touré called for a vote against joining the Community in the referendum of 28 September 1958. Some 95% of those voting in Guinea supported Touré in opting for Guinea's complete independence. In December 1958, the opposition parties fused with Touré's PDG, making it the only political party in the country. The precipitous withdrawal of the French bureaucracy in 1958 led, almost of necessity, to the PDG's inheritance of much of the structure of government.

During the 1960s, the PDG's party machinery was organized down to the grassroots level, with local committees replacing tribal authorities, and sectional, regional, and national conferences ensuring coordination and control. In 1968, a new local unit within the PDG, the Local Revolutionary Command (Pouvoir Révolutionnaire LocalPRL) was organized. By 1973, the PRL had assumed complete responsibility for local economic, social, and political affairs. There were 2,441 PRLs in 1981, each directed by a committee of seven members and headed by a mayor. Each of the 35 regions had a party decision-making body called a Federal Congress, headed by a secretary. A 13-member Federal Committee, headed by the regional governor, was the executive body. The 170 districts had similar bodies, called sections, congresses, and committees.

The Political Bureau, nominally responsible to a Central Committee, was the PDG's chief executive body. Until the military coup that abolished the PDG in April 1984, the Political Bureau was the focus of party and national power, and its members were the most important government ministers and officials, with Touré as chairman. The PDG and its mass organizations were outlawed after the 1984 coup.

Political parties were legalized in April 1992. Within a month, more than 30 parties had been formed, a number by government ministers who helped themselves to state funds and used the state agencies to promote their campaigns. The use of government vehicles for partisan activities and the disbursement of state monies to supporters were commonplace.

By July 1992, government had banned all political demonstrations. This hampered opposition parties preparing for National Assembly elections then scheduled for late 1992 and presidential elections scheduled for early 1993. Elections were delayed. By October 1993, 43 political parties were legally registered. At least a dozen were allied with the government Party for Unity and Progress (PUP) while nearly thirty belonged to a loose coalition, the Democratic Forum, whose objective was to present a common candidate to run against Conté. The Forum dissolved when two of its members admitted they had already made their campaign deposit, which legally entitled them to enter the race. At that point, the field of candidates widened pitting seven opposition leaders against Conté. In December 1993, despite official protests by the opposition, Lansana Conté officially won 51.7% of the vote. International observers noted isolated incidents of violence and destruction of ballot boxes, and further declared the campaigning and balloting unsatisfactory.

In 1993, the most significant national opposition parties were the Rally for the Guinean People (RPG), the Union for a New Republic (UNR), and the Party for Renewal and Progress (PRP). The PRP and the UNR later merged to form the UPR, which presented Mamadou Ba as its candidate in the December 1998 elections. In these elections, Ba took second place with 24.6% of the vote, Alpha Condé (RPG) received 16.9%, Jean-Marie Doré received 1.7% (UPG), and Charles Pascal Tolno (PPG) claimed 1.0%. Again, under protest from the opposition, Conté won on the first round with 54.1% officially. In the elections of December 2003, Conté's share rose to a massive 95%. The next presidential election was due in 2010.

In the National Assembly, 38 seats are elected by single-member district, and 76 are assigned by proportional voting. In elections held in June 2002, all 114 members of the national assembly were elected directly for five-year terms. The PUP won 61.6% of the vote and controlled 85 seats; the UPR captured 26.6% of the votes and 20 seats; while other parties shared 11.8% of the vote and 9 seats between them. The next legislative elections were expected in 2007.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Under the Touré regime, the local units of the PDG, the local revolutionary commands (PRLs), were responsible for the political and economic administration of rural areas. In principle, the PRLs regulated all commerce, farming, distribution of land, public works, and communications, as well as civil life and the people's courts in communities under their authority. Each PRL had a company of militia of 101 members, subdivided into 4 platoons and 12 groups.

In the early 1990s, Guinea embarked upon an ambitious decentralization program. Three hundred and three rural development communities (CRDs) were created each comprising several districts (groupings of villages). The 303 CRDs were divided proportionately among the existing 33 prefectures, and four natural regions. In 1994, the number of regions was increased to seven headed by governors appointed by the president. The prefectures are under the tutelage of appointed prefects, who in turn supervise sub-prefects. A sub-prefecture is the location for public services within a CRD.

CRDs and the districts within them represent the most decentralized political and financial public authority. Elections for CRD councils were last held in 1991, and little investment has made in them. However, through training and other investments, some CRDs have begun collecting hut, market, truck-stop, gravel pit, forestry, and other taxes. They have also begun to establish local development plans for schools, clinics, and mosques.

On 25 June 2000, the government organized municipal elections, which had been postponed from 29 June 1999 to December 1999, and then to June 2000 reportedly for budgetary reasons. The PUP ruling party claimed victory in 31 of Guinea's 38 communes, the Union for Progress and Renewal (UPR) won five local councils, the Assembly of Guinean People (RPG) one, and the Fight for Common Cause (LCC)allied with the PUPtook one. Voter turnout was only 54%, or less than one-third of the adult population.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The judicial system is based on French civil law, customary law, and decree; legal codes are under revision, and Guinea has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. In 1958 and 1965, the government introduced some customary law, but retained French law as the basic framework for the court system.

The system is composed of courts of first instance, two Courts of Appeal (in Kankan and in Conakry) and the Supreme Court. There is also a State Security Court (Cour de Sûreté de l'Etat), which tried the 1985 coup plotters, and conducted the Alpha Condé trial in 1999/2000. The legality of this court was debated in the February 1996 putsch. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of its validity since it predated the 1990 constitution, and the constitution failed to specifically address its existence. A military tribunal exists to handle criminal cases involving military personnel.

A traditional system of dispute resolution exists at the village and neighborhood level. Cases unresolved at this level may be referred to the courts for further consideration. The traditional system has been found to discriminate against women.

Although the 1990 constitution guarantees the independence of the judiciary, magistrates have no tenure and are susceptible to influence by the executive branch. The penal code provides for the presumption of innocence, the equality of citizens before the law, the right to counsel, and the right to appeal a judicial decision. This code is supported by the constitution, which provides for the inviolability of the home; judicial search warrants are required by law. In reality, police and paramilitary personnel often ignore these legal protections.

In September 1996, the government announced the creation of a discipline council for dealing with civil servants who abuse their positions in the government. In June 1998, a special arbitration court was established to resolve business disputes.

ARMED FORCES

The armed forces numbered about 9,700 active personnel in 2005, including 8,500 in the Army, 400 in the Navy, and 800 in the Air Force. The Army had 12 battalions with 38 T-34 and T-54 main battle tanks among its predominantly Soviet-made equipment. The Navy had 2 patrol/coastal craft, and the Air Force 8 combat capable aircraft, including 4 Soviet-made MiG-21 and MiG-17 fighters. There was a People's Militia of 7,000 and a combined 2,600 in the gendarmerie and Republican Guard. The defense budget in 2005 totaled $72 million.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Guinea was admitted to the United Nations on 12 December 1958 and is a member of ECA and several nonregional specialized agencies. It is a member of the WTO. Guinea also belongs to the African Development Bank, the ACP Group, ECOWAS, G-77, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and the African Union. Guinea became a partner with Sierra Leone and Liberia in the Mano River Union in 1980, when it also joined Gambia and Senegal as a member of the Gambia River Development Organization. The government is participating in efforts to establish a West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) that would include The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. In addition, Guinea belongs to the Niger Basin Authority and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The International Bauxite Association was established in Conakry in 1974 with Guinea as a charter member. Guinea is part of the Nonaligned Movement.

In environmental cooperation, the country is part of the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Whaling, Ramsar, CITES, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.

ECONOMY

Guinea has extensive mineral deposits, primarily bauxite, and hydroelectric resources, along with soils and climate favorable for producing a diverse array of food and export crops. The country has wide expanses of both natural and cultivated forests, and it has begun to exploit its potential as a producer of timber. Guinea is rich in fishery resources, and has an as-yet untapped potential to increase industrial fishing. Still, Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world.

For two decades after French withdrawal in 1958 the country was governed according to socialist-style economic management. Agriculture was collectivized and private commerce and industry repressed. In 1984, a major reform movement gained political power and reforms were instituted aimed at developing a modern market economy. The collective farms were abolished, state-owned enterprises were liquidated, compulsory marketing through state agencies was abolished, food prices were decontrolled, and the government began actively to seek foreign investment for sectors other than mining and energy. Although the reforms were largely successful, the economy has been restrained by an underdeveloped infrastructure, including poor transportation and communications systems. High levels of debt, unemployment, and underemployment also hamper economic progress.

As of 2000, 80% of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture. The mining sector accounted for about 75% of exports. Real growth in the GDP was 3.3% in 2001 and was expected to reach 6.5% in 2004. Despite a rise in the world price for bauxite, Guinea's primary export, earnings in the mining sector have been weak. In 2000, Guinea qualified for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative established by the World Bank and the IMF, and it was to use the savings for improvements in education, health, rural roads and rural water access. Fighting in Liberia and Sierra Leone has spilled over into Guinea and disrupted its economy.

The economy expanded by 2.7% in 2004, up from 1.2% in 2003, but down from 4.2% in 2002; in 2005, the GDP growth rate was estimated at 2.0%. The inflation has been on the rise since 2002 (when it hovered around 3.0%), and in 2005 it was estimated to have reached 35%. This development was triggered by panic buying after the Liberian and Sierra Leonian conflicts, and it posed serious problems to the economy. In addition, Guinea is not receiving any multilateral aid after the World Bank and the IMF cut off most of the assistance in 2003.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Guinea's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $20.7 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $2,200. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 2%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 35%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 23.7% of GDP, industry 36.2%, and services 40.1%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $111 million or about $14 per capita and accounted for approximately 3.1% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $238 million or about $30 per capita and accounted for approximately 6.6% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Guinea totaled $3.09 billion or about $391 per capita based on a GDP of $3.6 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 3.7%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 29% of household consumption was spent on food, 5% on fuel, 2% on health care, and 9% on education. It was estimated that in 2003 about 40% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.

LABOR

In the latest year for which data was available, over 80% of Guinea's labor force of about three million in 2000 were engaged in agriculture. Services and industry accounted for the remaining 20% of the workforce, that same year. Most of the population relies on subsistence farming. Most of the wage and salary earners work in the public sector; mining is the other major source of salaried employment. Unemployment data was unavailable.

Guinea's Labor Code permits all workers (except military and paramilitary) to create and participate in labor organizations. The General Workers Union of Guinea (UGTG) and the Free Union of Teachers and Researchers of Guinea (SLECG) have emerged since the code ended the previously existing trade union monopoly system. However, the National Confederation of Guinean Workers (CNTG) remains the largest labor organization. Collective bargaining is protected by law. Salaried workers, including public sector civilian employees, have the right to strike, provided that they have given 10 days' notice of an intent to strike and that they are not engaged in an essential service. About 5% of the workforce is unionized.

The minimum working age is 16, and is enforced for large firms working in the formal economy. However, most children work, either in the informal economy or in agriculture. The workweek is technically 48 hours, but most people work longer hours. The labor code has provisions for a minimum wage but the government has yet to establish one, and most workers do not earn a living wage.

AGRICULTURE

Only 2.6% of Guinea's arable land area is cultivated. Agriculture accounts for 22% of GDP and engages 84% of the active population. The agricultural sector of the economy has stagnated since independence. The precipitate withdrawal of the French planters and removal of French tariff preference hurt Guinean agriculture, and drought conditions during the 1970s also hindered production. Since 1985, however, the free market policies of the Second Republic have encouraged growth in agricultural production, with slow but steady increases in output. Guinea is a net food importer, however, importing some 30% of its food needs.

Price controls have also had a dampening effect on output. In theory, until the reforms of the early 1980s, the state controlled the marketing of farm produce. However, even during the late 1970s, when all private trade in agricultural commodities was illegal, only a small amount of agricultural production actually passed through the state distribution system; some 500,000 private smallholders reportedly achieved yields twice as high as government collectives, despite having little or no access to government credit or research and extension facilities. During the 1970s and early 1980s, agricultural exports fell markedly, and food production decreased, necessitating rice imports of at least 70,000 tons a year. (In 1984, a drought year, 186,000 tons of cereal had to be imported.) However, some restrictions on marketing were removed in 1979 and 1981; more recently, prices were decontrolled and many state farms and plantations dissolved. These steps appeared to bring improvements.

The principal subsistence crops (with estimated 2004 production) are manioc, 1,350,000 tons; rice, 900,000 tons; sweet potatoes, 60,000 tons; yams, 40,000 tons; and corn, 90,000 tons. Cash crops are peanuts, palm kernels, bananas, pineapples, coffee, coconuts, sugarcane, and citrus fruits. In 2004, an estimated 430,000 tons of plantains, 280,000 tons of sugarcane, 210,000 tons of citrus fruits, 150,000 tons of bananas, 300,000 tons of peanuts, 53,000 tons of palm kernels, and 22,500 tons of coconuts were produced. That same year, coffee production was estimated at 20,500 tons, compared to 14,000 tons on average annually from 1979 to 1981. Prior to the reforms, a large portion of the coffee crop was smuggled out of the country. Guinea's trade deficit in agricultural products was $164.3 million in 2004.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

In 2005, there were an estimated 3,400,000 head of cattle, 1,140,000 sheep, 1,361,000 goats, 67,500 hogs, and 15,000,000 chickens. Almost all the cattle are the small humpless Ndama variety kept by the Fulani in Futa Jallon and Upper Guinea, where sheep and goats also are herded. The Ndama cattle are not susceptible to animal trypanosomiasis and, although very small, their yield in meat is good. Total meat production in 2005 was 58,435 tons.

FISHING

Guinea's annual ocean fisheries potential exceeds 200,000 tons, according to World Bank estimates. The total catch in 2003 was 118,845 tons, 97% from marine fishing. Domestic artisanal fisherman only catch about 13% of the estimated annual yield. Tuna is the most important catch. Many species found in Guinean waters are among the richest in West Africa and command high value. Exports of fish products in 2003 were valued at $2.3 million. A 1990 agreement with the European Union reflected a growing investment interest in the fishing sector. Since then, several small scale fishing ventures have been established, including a shrimp farming project financed by the African Development Bank, and development of private cold storage facilities in 14 different prefectures.

FORESTRY

Forests and woodland make up about 28% of Guinea's land area. The nation's forest resources offer great promise, the major constraint on development being lack of adequate transportation. Logging and sawmill facilities have been built in the Nzérékoré area. Removal of roundwood was estimated at 12.2 million cu m (431 million cu ft) in 2004; about 95% of the harvest was used for fuel. Exports of forestry products totaled $6.0 million in 2004, while imports amounted to $4.5 million.

MINING

Guinea's mineral production in 2004 consisted primarily of bauxite, cement, diamonds, gold, and salt. The country also had deposits of graphite, iron, limestone, uranium, nickel and manganese. However, these deposits remained undeveloped. In 2004, Guinea was one of the world's top five bauxite producers and a major source of foreign currency.

The government has claimed that Guinea had 20 billion tons of bauxite reserves, with proven reserves of 18 billion tons. In 2004, Guinea's mine output of bauxite totaled an estimated 17.0 million metric tons wet-basis bauxite (metallurgical plus calcinable ore estimated to be 13% water), and 15.0 million metric tons dry-basis bauxite (wet-basis ore reduced to dry-basis, estimated to be 3% water). There was no recorded production from 2002 through 2004 of calcined bauxite.

In 2004, Guinea produced an estimated 10,700 kg of gold, including artisanal production, down from 16,622 kg in 2003. Artisanal production of gold was sold either directly to the Central Bank of Guinea, or to collectors. Diamond production, including artisanal, in 2004 totaled 740,000 carats, of which 7080% were of gem quality. Artisanal production of diamonds that year accounted for about 700,000 carats. Hydrate alumina production in 2004 was estimated at 9,000 metric tons, with calcined alumina production estimated at 770,000 metric tons. The country also produced cement, clays, salt, sand and gravel, and stone.

Iron ore was mined at Kaloum until 1967. Larger, richer deposits have been found in the Mount Nimba and Simandou mountain areas, along the Liberian border. In 1974, the Mifergui-Simandou and Mifergui-Nimba mining companies were formed to exploit the deposits, with the government retaining half interest in the firms. Reserves were estimated at 300600 million tons. There was no iron ore production recorded in 2004.

The less-than-expected foreign investment was attributed to the country's perceived political and economic risks and decreased availability of financing for junior mining companies, as well as civil disturbances in neighboring countries Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

ENERGY AND POWER

Guinea has no known proven reserves of oil or natural gas (as of 1 January 2003), coal, or any oil refining capacity. As a result the country must import whatever refined petroleum products or fossil fuels it consumes. In 2002, consumption and imports of refined petroleum products each averaged 8,730 barrels per day. There were no imports or consumption of natural gas or coal in that year.

Guinea's electric power sector relies on hydropower and conventional thermal fuel to generate power. In 2002, electric power generating capacity stood at 0.284 million kW, of which almost 49% was hydroelectric, with the remainder, based on conventional thermal fuels. In that same year, electric power output totaled 0.773 billion kWh, of which hydroelectric generation supplied 0.443 billion kWh and fossil fueled sources 0.340 billion kWh. Total electric power consumption in 2002 came to 0.719 billion kWh.

INDUSTRY

Industry accounted for 38% of GDP in 2000, 9% of which consisted of manufacturing. The manufacturing growth rate for 2000 was 4.3%. During the socialist years, a sizeable parastatal industrial sector emerged. Guinea had 234 state-run enterprises in 1985, but fewer than 60 remained in the government's portfolio a decade later. Manufacturing in Guinea consists of three elements: public enterprises with large staffs, producing below capacity; small private businesses, mostly engaged in producing beverages, bread, bricks, carpentry, and boilers/metalwork; and small nonindustrial units informally employing persons in a wide variety of occupations.

The alumina smelter at Fria operated at over 90% capacity, producing 660,000 tons in 1994. Among Guinea's other plants are agro-food processors, including a fruit cannery at Mamou, a fruit juice factory at Kankan, a tea factory at Macenta, a palm oil works at Kassa, a small tobacco factor at Beyla, two peanut oil works, at Dabola and at Agola, rice mills, a sugar complex consisting of two dams, a plantation, and a refinery. A textile complex at Sanoyah, a cement and plastics factories at Conakry, and a number of construction material plants are in operation. There is potential to develop a pharmaceuticals industry in Guinea.

Industry accounted for 36.2% of the GDP in 2005, and was bested by services with a 40.1% share; agriculture was the smallest economic sector (23.7%) and by far the largest employer, with an 80% share in the labor force. Global Alumina, a US based mining company is planning to open a $2.5 billion alumina refinery in Sangaredi. By 2008, the refinery was expected to reach full production and produce 2.8 million tons of alumina per year.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The National Directorate for Scientific and Technical Research is in Conakry. The Center for Rice Research is in Kankan. The Pasteur Institute for Animalculture Research and the Institute for Fruit Research are in Kindia. Five colleges and universities, including the University Gamal Abdel Nasser in Conakry, offer degrees in basic and applied sciences. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 34% of college and university enrollments.

In 2000, there were 286 researchers and 104 technicians per million people, engaged in research and development (R&D).

DOMESTIC TRADE

Commerce was severely controlled through state trading enterprises until the end of the socialist era in 1984. Private Guinean traders can now import freely, the government having ended in 1992 its monopoly on imports of petroleum and pharmaceuticals. Prices for all goods other than imported rice and petroleum products were deregulated in 1986 and the private sector was permitted to engage in all levels of internal and external marketing. However, internal corruption and political conflicts have dissuaded foreign investment which is sorely needed to jump start commercial activity.

Business hours are 7:30 am to 3 pm, Monday through Thursday, 7:30 am to 1 pm on Friday, and 7:30 am to 1 pm on Saturday. Banks are normally open from 8 am to 12:30 pm, Monday through Saturday. French is the official language of businesses.

FOREIGN TRADE

Export figures for 2000 show that the mining industry accounted for 70% in export earnings, including mostly bauxite and alumina, but also gold. Unused postage, stamp-impressed papers, and checkbooks made up 12% of Guinea's total exports, and aluminum hydroxide exports represented another 11%.

Petroleum products, machinery and equipment, and food top the list of imports at 25%, 19%, and 18%, respectively, while vehicles (8.7%), and chemicals (8.4%) also contributed to total imports, worth approximately $612 million in 2000.

Technically, the government no longer permits counter-trade or barter in international trade. Guinea retains its postcolonial ties with France, importing the large portion of goods from that country (following Côte d'Ivoire as leading provider), and exports the majority of its minerals to France, other European countries, and the United States.

In 2005, exports totaled $612 million (FOBfree on board), while imports grew to $680 million. In 2004, most of the exports went to France (17.7%), Belgium (14.7%), the United Kingdom (14.7%), Switzerland (12.8%), and the Ukraine (4.2%). Imports primarily came from Côte d'Ivoire (15.5%), France (9%), Belgium (6.1%), China (6%), and South Africa (4.8%).

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

At the beginning of 1999, external debt totaled $3.4 billion, representing 74% of GDP. The country relies on mining exports for

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 525.4 666.5 -141.1
France-Monaco 127.9 107.7 20.2
Ireland 53.5 53.5
Spain 53.4 12.6 40.8
United States 46.3 55.3 -9.0
Germany 42.1 21.7 20.4
Russia 33.8 33.8
Switzerland-Liechtenstein 30.9 8.9 22.0
United Kingdom 29.1 15.7 13.4
Canada 21.6 1.5 20.1
Belgium 20.5 42.6 -22.1
() data not available or not significant.

revenue. Significant debt relief programs are working towards alleviating debt servicing commitments.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2000 the purchasing power parity of Guinea's exports was $694.5 million while imports totaled $555.2 million resulting in a trade surplus of $139.3 million.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001 Guinea had exports of goods totaling $731 million and imports totaling $562 million. The services credit totaled $103 million and debit $319 million.

Exports of goods totaled an estimated $725 million in 2004, up from $609 million in 2003. Imports grew from $644 million in 2003, to an estimated $688 million in 2004. The resource balance was consequently negative in 2003 (-$35 million), and positive in 2004 ($37 million). The current account balance improved from -$187 million in 2003, to -$174 million in 2004. Foreign exchange reserves (excluding gold) increased to $3.5 billion in 2003.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

At independence, central banking functions were carried out by the Central Bank of the West African States (Banque Centrale des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest-BCEAO), and commercial banking by branches of five French banks. On 1 March 1960, Guinea withdrew from the franc zone. The Guinean branch of the BCEAO was abolished, and the Central Bank of Guinea was established. Later that year, four of the five private banks were closed down, and the fifth was nationalized in 1961. All banking activities were taken over by the Central Bank, but by 1962 its functions were decentralized and three new state-owned banks were added.

The National Credit Bank for Commerce, Industry, and Housing, with branches throughout Guinea, handled all commercial banking and made loans to finance commerce, industry, and housing. The Guinean Foreign Trade Bank performed functions related to foreign trade. The National Agricultural Development Bank granted medium and long-term loans for agricultural development. There was also a National Savings Bank. All these institutions except the Central Bank were abolished in late 1985 and were replaced by commercial banks.

There are six commercial banks in Guinea, including the Banque Internationale pour le commerce et l'industrie de la Guinée (BICIGUI); the Societe Generale des Banques en Guinee (SGBG); the Banque Islamique de Guinee (BIG); the Unione Internationale des Banques en Guinee (UIBG); and the International Commercial Bank de Guinée (ICBG), which was launched in Conakry in early November 1996. All involve French or US participation. The government has offered for sale to the general public shares in the BICIGUI. The bank controls roughly 45% of the country's banking resources, supplying one-third of all credits to the private sector and up to 60% of those awarded for international trade. BICIGUI has 12 branches (3 in Conakry).

In 1997, due to financial instability and lack of capital, the government was considering making obligatory the direct transfer of public-sector wages and salaries to designated accounts within the commercial banks. New regulations were created to stabilize the banking system by 2000, but those reforms have been delayed, leaving the banking system in the same state.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $287.1 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $353.6 million. The discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 16.25%.

Local currency may not be exported or imported. There are no securities exchanges in Guinea.

INSURANCE

All insurance companies were nationalized in January 1962. There is a national insurance company, the National Society of Insurance

Current Account -187.5
     Balance on goods -35.0
         Imports -644.3
         Exports 609.3
     Balance on services -173.6
     Balance on income -111.7
     Current transfers 132.9
Capital Account 57.6
Financial Account 58.6
     Direct investment abroad
     Direct investment in Guinea 79.0
     Portfolio investment assets -4.6
     Portfolio investment liabilities
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets -4.4
     Other investment liabilities -11.4
Net Errors and Omissions -157.1
Reserves and Related Items 228.5
() data not available or not significant.

and Reinsurance, and at least five other major companies based in Conakry.

PUBLIC FINANCE

Guinea did not have a formal government budget until 1989. Since then, overly optimistic revenue projections, increasing civil service salaries and military expenditures, and diversion of public funds have resulted in deficits. The government took control of the problematic electricity and water utilities in 2001, giving itself one year to fix the structural shortfalls and then find new partners to operate them.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Guinea's central government took in revenues of approximately $305.6 million and had expenditures of $590.4 million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$284.8 million. Total external debt was $3.46 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 1999, the most recent year for which it had data, budgetary central government revenues were GFr895,400 million and expenditures were GFr1,010 million. The value of revenues US dollars was us$645 million, based on a official exchange rate for 1999 of us$1 = GFr1,387.4 as reported by the IMF.

TAXATION

Personal income and capital gains are taxed at 35%, which is also the corporate tax rate. A 15% withholding tax is levied on dividends. Both employees (5%) and employers (18%) contribute to Social Security. In 1996, the government introduced a value-added tax (VAT). In 2003, the standard rate was set at 18%. Exports, international transportation, and basic food items are exempted.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Since 1994, import taxes have steadily increased. Import licenses are required for all imports regardless of country of origin and import duties are levied uniformly. Prohibited imports included

Revenue and Grants 895,400 100.0%
     Tax revenue 534,450 59.7%
     Social contributions 5,260 0.6%
     Grants 320,500 35.8%
     Other revenue 35,190 3.9%
Expenditures 1,010,060 100.0%
     General public services
     Defense
     Public order and safety
     Economic affairs
     Environmental protection
     Housing and community amenities
     Health
     Recreational, culture, and religion
     Education
     Social protection
() data not available or not significant. f = forecasted or projected data.

arms, military equipment, and narcotics. There was also an 18% VAT on all imported products. With the exception of gold and diamonds, no export taxes were levied.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Guinea's national identity rests on its proud refusal to enter the French community in 1958 and its offers of economic assistance in exchange for political independence. Even though the country has gone through substantial political and economic liberalization since the passing of independence hero, Sékou Touré, in 1984, the legacy still inhibits the embrace of foreign investment. The only sectors of the economy in which private foreign investment were originally allowed after independence were mining and energy, but in the early 1980s agricultural investment was also being sought. During 198385, direct foreign investment amounted to $2.2 million.

An investment code following the 1984 coup indicated a new emphasis on private investment and incentives. It was replaced by the currently applicable investment code of 1987, as amended in 1995, which pledged national treatment, free repatriation of capital, special incentives for small and medium-size enterprises, nonmining exports, enterprises using over 70% local inputs, and those locating outside of Conakry. In 1989, under donor pressure, the government leased the operation of Conakry's water supply in a 10-year contract to a consortium led by the SARU and Vivendi companies of France operating as the management company SEEG (Société de Exploitation des Eaux de Guinée). After initial gains in efficiency, SEEG could not make further headway against nepotism and corruption and could not devise a way to get the government to pay its bills. Although the contract was renewed in June 2001, the private companies left in frustration. In 2003, under drought conditions, repeated riots in Conakry have protested the scarcity of water and electricity.

In 1992, investment policies were liberalized to permit private ventures in most sectors, including mining and telecommunications, and the Office of Private Investment Promotion (OPIP) was established as a one-stop shop to facilitate the process. By the revised mining code of 1995, foreigners could own up to 85% of mining ventures. The main bauxite mining company in Guinea, CBG (Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée), is owned 49% by the government and 51% by Halco, which is a consortium of foreign companies made up of Alcan (Canada, 33%); Alcoa and its subsidiary, Reynolds (United States, 13%); Pechiney (France, 10%); VAW (Germany, 10%); and Comalco (Australia, 4%). In 2003, the smaller state-owned SBK (Société des Bauxites de Kindia-Debelé) mine, built in the 1970s as part of a barter agreement with the USSR to pay off loans by providing bauxite to a smelter in the Ukraine, was being managed by Russian Aluminum (RusAl). In 2003, RusAl also planned to acquire the Friguia mine, site of the first aluminum smelter in Africa and now badly in need of privatization and modernizing.

In 1992, the postal service was separated from telecommunications to allow outside participation in the latter. In December 1995 Telekom Malaysia Berhad acquired a 60% stake in SOTELGUI, the state telecommunications company. In the mobile sector, SOTELGUI competes against Spacetel (Israel) and Telecel (US-based).

Diamond mining in Guinea has recently attracted explorations by De Beers (South Africa), Hymex and Trivalence Mining Corporations (Canadian), and Aredor Holding Company (Australia). Aredor has a reputation for nontransparent operations in gold mining in Guinea, leaving a few government officials wealthy and the local population with only a degraded and polluted environment. Gold mining in Guinea, like diamond mining, has until recently been mainly traditional and informal (illegal), but the Ghanaian company, Ashanti Goldfields, has operations in Guinea.

In 1995, revisions to the investment code divided the country into four administrative zones to better service foreign investment projects. Significant foreign direct investment projects for 1997 to 1998 included a $200 million railway repair by Slovak Railways, a $45 million gold exploration by Ashanti Goldfields, a $24 million diamond exploration by Société Aurifere de Guinée and Hymex Diamant, a $20 million expansion and modernization project by the government of Iran, and an $8 million diamond operation by De Beers. Foreign direct investment (FDI) averaged $17.55 million in 199798. In May 1999, the government, with the support of OPIP and UNIDO, hosted an investors' forum to which 500 potential investors were invited and over 100 potential investment projects were presented. In 1999, FDI peaked at $63.4 million, whereas for 2000 and 2001, the average was $35.5 million

In 2004, Societe de Miniere de Dinguiraye and Societe Aurifere de Guinee (two expatriate gold-mining companies) made major investments in the mining sector. Global Alumina, a US based company, is planning to open a $2.5 billion alumina refinery in Sangaredi, while Alcoa and Alcan are looking into starting a jointly owned alumina refinery of similar magnitude. Some of the main concerns of foreign investors are the need for a stable judicial and economic framework, and increased stability along Guinea's southern borders.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

After independence, French-held financial, commercial, industrial, and distributive organizations were expropriated, and the national economy was divided into three sectors: a state sector, a mixed sector, and a sector for guaranteed private investment. By the mid-1970s, the private sector had become insignificant, and government policy increasingly leaned toward greater government control of the mixed enterprises and the state-sector companies. The 198791 recovery program called for $670 million in spending through 1989, with 42% for infrastructure and 24% for rural development. A major aim was to diversify the economy and reduce the heavy reliance on bauxite.

By 1990, the government had privatized the majority of its 180 public enterprises and closed over 300 state farms. From 1990 to 2000, the pace of structural reform slowed and debts increased as the economy failed to diversify. The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) granted two new loans to Guinea in 1997, and the Paris Club rescheduled a large portion of Guinea's bilateral debt, forgiving 50% of debt to France, and Russia forgave 70% of bilateral debt.

The government in recent years has taken steps to stimulate investment, encourage private-sector commercial activity, reduce the role of the state in the economy, and improve administrative and judicial frameworks. The government has also increased spending on education, health, infrastructure, banking, and justice sectors, and cut the government bureaucracy. Corruption and nepotism hamper economic development.

In 2000, Guinea was granted $800 million in debt relief under the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. In 2001, Guinea negotiated a three-year $81.3 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement with the IMF, geared to support the country's efforts to stabilize the economy, promote growth, improve social services, and reduce poverty.

In 2003, the World Bank and the IMF cut off most of the financial assistance, and currently Guinea is not receiving any multilateral aid. The modest growth registered in 2005 was primarily caused by an increase in global demand and commodity prices on world markets. Although the inflation rate rose rapidly in 2004 and 2005 (to 35%), it was expected to taper off starting 2006. Mining was expected to continue to be the primer growth engine, with most of the other sectors expected to stagnate in the short term period.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

There was a regression of social services during the Touré years. Although government sought to establish extensive social programs, they were badly organized and managed and, in the end, the treasury was empty. In 1994, social security legislation was updated, providing pensions at age 55 and cash sickness benefits for employed persons. Work injury laws, initiated in 1932, covers employed persons including agricultural salaried workers, domestic workers, apprentices, interns, and students at technical school. Officially, free medical treatment is available, as well as free care for pregnant women and for infants. In reality, health service is poor, and life expectancy is among the lowest in the world.

Women traditionally play a subordinate role in family and public life. The law prohibits discrimination based on gender, but is not effectively enforced. Violence against women is common, but the courts rarely intervene in domestic disputes. Inheritance customs favor male children over female children. Divorce laws favor men in awarding property and custody of children. Female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that is both painful and often lifethreatening, continues to be practiced in all parts of the country. In 2004 there was an increase in adherence to conservative Islamic beliefs, which further threatened the rights of women.

Human rights abuses include police abuse of prisoners, arbitrary detention, and torture. The government exercises its power to restrict unwanted political gatherings.

HEALTH

As of 2004, there were an estimated 9 physicians, 43 nurses, and 18 dentists per 100,000 people. Approximately 80% of the population had access to health care services.

The Republic of Guinea lies along the "goiter belt" of the Atlantic coast from west to central Africa. Low iodine intake has led to goiter in predominantly rural areas. Malaria, yaws, leprosy (3,580 cases in 1995), and sleeping sickness (in the forest areas in the Guinea Highlands) have been the major tropical diseases; tuberculosis and venereal diseases are also prevalent. There were 255 cases of tuberculosis in 1999 per 100,000 people. Yellow fever and smallpox have been brought under control, but schistosomiasis remains widespread. In 2000, 48% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 58% had adequate sanitation. The most common diseases for children under five years old in 1994 were diarrhea, respiratory infections, helminthiasis, and malaria. Children up to one year old were vaccinated against tuberculosis, 69%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 53%; polio, 53%; and measles, 56%. Total health care expenditures were 3.8% of GDP.

In 2002 Guinea had an estimated birthrate of 39.5 per 1,000 people. In 2000 the total fertility rate was 5.2 births per woman. Only 2% of Guinean women used some form of contraception. Malnutrition affected 26% of all children under five years old as of 1999. Goiter was found in 62.6% of school-age children in 1996. Infant mortality in 2005 was 91.45 per 1,000 live births and the overall mortality rate was estimated at 17 per 1,000 people in 2002. Average estimated life expectancy was 49.36 years in 2005.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 3.20 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 140,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 9,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

Since 1986, Guinea has been revamping its health care system. Using the Bamako Initiative previously used by other sub-Saharan African nations, Guinea has set up several smaller health centers that offer immunization services, AIDS prevention and control, family planning, and tuberculosis control.

HOUSING

The most common rural dwelling is round, windowless, and made of wattle and daub or sun-dried mud bricks, with a floor of packed earth and a conical thatched roof. Urban dwellings are usually one-story rectangular frame or mud-brick buildings, generally without electricity or indoor plumbing. Conakry has a serious housing shortage. According to the latest available information (198088), the housing stock numbered over one million units, with 5.4 people per dwelling. In 2000, 72% of urban and 36% of rural households had access to improved water sources. About 94% of urban and 41% of rural households had access to improved sanitation systems.

EDUCATION

Before Guinea became independent, its educational system was patterned on that of France and French was the primary language of instruction. All schools were nationalized in 1961. In 1968, a "cultural revolution," aimed at de-Westernizing Guinean life, was inaugurated; since then, eight vernaculars have been added to the school curriculum, and village-level programs have been set up to assist in the implementation of the plan. Although the French educational structure and its traditional degrees have been retained, African history and geography are now stressed. Education is free and compulsory between the ages of 7 and 13. Children go through six years of primary and seven years of secondary school. After this, students may choose to attend a three-year vocational school to complete their education. The academic year runs from October to June.

Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 65% of age-eligible students; 73% for boys and 58% for girls. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 21% of age-eligible students; 28% for boys and 13% for girls. It is estimated that about 41% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 44:1 in 2000; the ratio for secondary school was about 30:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 20% of primary school enrollment and 12% of secondary enrollment.

The Gamal Abdel Nasser Polytechnic Institute was established at Conakry in 1963. The Valéry Giscard d'Estaing Institute of Agro-Zootechnical Sciences was founded in 1978 at Faranah. The University of Conakry was founded in 1984. The adult literacy rate for 1995 was estimated at about 35.9%, with 49.9% for men and 21.9% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 1.8% of GDP, or 25.6% of total government expenditures.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

The chief book collection and main exhibition center are in the National Institute of Research and Documentation (67,000 volumes) at Conakry. The National Library (40,000 volumes) and the National Archives are also located in Conakry. There are also small university libraries in Kankan and Conakry.

The National Museum, at Conakry, has displays of the ethnography and prehistory of Guinea, as well as a collection of art, fetishes, and masks of the Sacred Forest. The capital also has two natural history museums, covering botany and geology. There are regional museums in Kissidougou, Nzérékoré, Youkounkoun, Beyla, and Boké.

MEDIA

Telephone, telegraph, and postal services are government-owned. Submarine cables connect Conakry with Dakar, Freetown, and Monrovia; telecommunication links by satellite are also available. In 2003, there were an estimated 3 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 1,400 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 14 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Radiodiffusion-Télévision Guinéenne broadcasts in French, English, Portuguese, Arabic, Creole, and local languages, as does TV-Nationale, the one television station in Guinea. In 2001, there were 4 AM and 1 FM radio stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 52 radios and 47 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 5.5 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 5 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.

The government-owned Horoya is the only daily paper, with an estimated circulation of 20,000 in 2002. There are also a number of private press weeklies, including La Lance, L'Oeil, Le Democrat, L'Independant, La Nouvelle Tribune, L'Observateur, and the satirical newspaper Le Lynx.

The constitution provides freedom of the press, though in practice the government imposes broad control and censorship. All media are owned or controlled by the government.

ORGANIZATIONS

Regional farm organizations are leagued in a national union of planters' cooperatives. Mass organizations associated with the RDA include the Youth of the Democratic African Revolution and the Revolutionary Union of Guinean Women. The Guinea Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture has 70 affiliates.

National women's organizations include the Association Guinéenne des Femmes Diplômées des Universitiés and Commission Nationale des Femmes Travailleuses de Guinée. Scouting organizations are active for youth. Volunteer service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs International, are present. There is a national chapter of the Red Cross Society.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

Visitors to Guinea must have a valid passport, visa, and international vaccination record (World Health Organization card). A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is also required. Malaria precautions are recommended. An annual cultural festival that includes theatrical and dance groups is held in October. In 2003, there were 3,634 tourist arrivals. Tourist receipts totaled $8.1 million in 2001, and in 2002 there were 3,774 hotel rooms with 4,518 beds and a 70% occupancy rate. The average length of stay that same year was three nights.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the average daily expenses to stay in Conakry at $143.

FAMOUS GUINEANS

A revered figure of the 19th century is Samory Touré (1830?1900), a Malinké born in Upper Guinea, who conquered large areas and resisted French military forces until 1898. The founder of modern Guinea was his alleged great-grandson Ahmed Sékou Touré (192284), a prominent labor leader and political figure who became Guinea's first president in 1958. Guinea's best-known writer, Camara Laye (192880), wrote the novel The Dark Child (1953). Col. Lansana Conté (b.1934) became president in 1984. In 2004, he appointed Cellou Dalein Diallo (b.1953?) prime minister.

DEPENDENCIES

Guinea has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arulpragasam, Jehan. Economic Transition in Guinea: Implications for Growth and Poverty. New York: Cornell University Food and Nutrition Press, 1997.

D and B's Export Guide to Guinea. Parsippany, N.J.: Dun and Bradstreet, 1999.

Dhada, Mustafah. Warriors at Work: How Guinea was Really Set Free. Niwot, Colo.: University Press of Colorado, 1993.

Nkrumah, Kwame. Kwame Nkrumah: The Conakry Years, His Life and Letters. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: PANAF, 1990.

O'Toole, Thomas. Historical Dictionary of Guinea. 4th ed. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2005.

Zeilig, Leo and David Seddon. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.

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Guinea

GUINEA

Republic of Guinea
République de Guinée

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

Guinea lies on the West African coast, bordered by Sierra Leone and Liberia to the south, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal to the north, and Mali and Côte d'Ivoire inland to the east. It has 320 kilometers (199 miles) of coastline, and a land area of 245,857 square kilometers (94,925 miles). Comparatively, the country is slightly smaller than Oregon. The capital of Conakry is on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and has the only international airport.

POPULATION.

The population was estimated to be 7,613,870 in July of 2001, a figure which includes up to half a million refugees from the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau. According to the United Nations, Guinea is the largest provider of shelter for refugees in the region, with an estimated 650,000 refugees in 2000, and the pattern has been for refugees to drift to the capital, putting pressure on municipal services. The population growth rate in 2001 was estimated at 1.96 percent. The majority of the population is rural, with just 29.6 percent of the population living in urban areas. The capital is home to 1.1 million people, and a further 9 towns have populations of between 25,000 and 100,000.

The population is composed primarily of 3 indigenous ethnic groups: the Peuhl (40 percent), Malinke (30 percent), and Soussou (20 percent). Fully 85 percent of the population are Muslim, while 5 percent are Roman Catholic and the rest follow traditional beliefs. The population is quite young, with 43 percent between the ages of 0 and 14, and 54 percent between the ages of 15 and 64. The life expectancy in the country is 45.91 years (43.49 for men and 48.42 for women).

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

Guinea is a small economy in terms of the total value of its output. The population is small, at around 7.6 million, and not very productive: the amount of output produced per person is very low at US$540 a year (by way of comparison the U.S. figure is US$29,340 per person, per year). This low output level, combined with poor educational prospects and inadequate access to health care and other human services, has earned Guinea a place near the bottom of the United Nations (UN) Human Development Index, with a ranking of 162 out of 174 countries. The population is growing fairly rapidly, at 1.96 percent a year, with the average woman giving birth to 5.5 children during her lifetime, and this rate adds to the problems of generating higher incomes. Most people 80 percentdepend on agriculture for their livelihoods, mainly on small family farms. Despite these limitations, in the last several decades Guinea's economic output has increased more rapidly than its population, and average living standards have improved. The agriculture and services sectors have performed better, with industry doing less well.

Following independence from France in 1958 all opposition was ruthlessly crushed, and Guinea pursued a Marxist development strategy, which continued until 1984. Inefficient public companies controlled all economic activity, discouraging all private enterprise, and the economy was centrally planned. Vestiges of the old system remain, despite 15 years of support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for economic reforms. Only the mining sector remained productive over this entire period, as it operated mainly in enclaves isolated from the rest of the economy.

Some liberal policies were brought in towards the end of President Ahmed Sékou Touré's First Republic, but his death in March 1984 brought a fundamental change in policy. The new government embarked on an economic and financial reform program with IMF support and foreign creditor banking. Phase One of the program concentrated on removing the worst distortions in the economy. This task involved a massive devaluation of the Guinean franc; the privatization or liquidation of government-owned enterprises; trade liberalization and the removal of price controls ; the abolition of state marketing boards; the creation of a commercial banking system; and the review of civil service employment. The initial success of the program won Guinea partial debt rescheduling in 1986 and further IMF funding in 1987.

A second phase of reforms was designed to change attitudes in the public and private sectors . It included reorganizing the Customs Service, widening the tax net, and introducing stricter budgetary controls. Guinea failed to secure an extension to the 1987 loan, however, because of budgetary overspending, inadequate revenue generation, privatization delays, and a failure to cut public sector employment. Some of the more serious structural problems were addressed in the early 1990s on the signing of a new loan agreement which brought further support and debt relief from the donor community.

In 1992 the IMF had again to address the government's inability to reach targets, and in 1994 it extended its lending for 12 months while it constructed a new package. Performance was good in early 1995 but fell again later in the year. An army mutiny in February 1996 compromised donor aid and business confidence and caused the government to be unable to balance the budget after it gave in to the mutineers' demands for pay increases.

When Sidya Touré, an economist by profession, became prime minister in mid-1996, he led a sustained attempt to stick to IMF targets, especially in the field of budgetary shortfalls, public expenditures, and revenue collection. Thus, the structural adjustment loan was renewed in 1997, and lenders rescheduled Guinea's debts on exceptionally generous terms. However, the appointment of a new prime minister, Lamine Sidime, in 1999 led to further IMF and donor problems because, despite allowances being made for the exceptional circumstances of the period, the reform program had drifted off-track and had been suspended. By late 1999 the donor community felt that the situation had improved enough to release further funds to Guinea, under tight conditions. By the turn of the century, however, Guinea had labored for twenty years to improve the structure of its economy and had little to show for its efforts. Despite millions of dollars of foreign aid and loans, the government is still unable to stick to budgetary schemes, unemployment remains high, and the country remains overly dependent on the mining sector.

Agriculture accounted for 22 percent of the GDP in 1998, but it offered employment to 80 percent of the population. Most people involved in the agricultural sector are engaged in some form of subsistence agriculture, which means that they are producing goods for their own consumption or for barter . Mining provides the largest source of foreign exchange earnings and government revenue, but its share in the economy is declining due to under-investment and falling world prices. Due to the poor state of the government-owned industries, there has been little interest in the government's privatization program, and only 4 percent of the GDP is generated by formal manufacturing. Altogether, industry provided 35.3 percent of the GDP in 1998. There has, however, been large growth in services, with banking reforms stimulating the financial services sector and external financing bringing a boom in trading and utilities. Services contributed 42.4 percent to the GDP in 1998. Together, industry and services employed 20 percent of the workforce in 2000. The informal sector , comprising small-scale manufacturing and services operating from no permanent premises, is also thriving.

Consumer inflation has run in single figures since 1992, after hitting a high of 72 percent in 1986. This rate is mainly due to low price rises for local goods and necessities, a fall in the price of imported rice, and the tight monetary policy of the government.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

European traders settled on the coast of Guinea in the 1600s, and the French military laid claim to Guinea in the 19th century after defeating tribal chieftains in the region. Guinea became a colony in 1891, though French forces took until 1898 to consolidate the interior of the country.

Ahmed Sékou Touré led Guinea to independence at the head of the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG), which he founded in 1947. In 1958 Guinea rejected joining the French African community, and on being granted independence in October 1958, it severed all links with France. Touré set up a Marxist state with a 1-party dictatorship; it is known as the First Republic. Touré's regime quickly became oppressive and totalitarian, and by the time of his death in 1984, about 1 million Guineans lived abroad, while the ruling party enjoyed no popular support. On Sékou Touré's death in 1984, the military seized power, led by Lansana Conté.

Lansana Conté has dominated the political scene in Guinea since 1984. He directed the economy away from socialism . Under Conté, the military government sought to decrease the size of the public sector and increase private ownership and investment in a program of sweeping economic changes. Conté invited prominent exiles back into government. However, Conté's early years retained the pattern of eliminating opponents and engaging in frequent coups, along with regularly changing the cabinet.

In 1989, Conté paved the way for democratic political institutions. The Third Republic began in 1991 with the adoption of a new constitution, under which the president is elected to a 5-year term by popular vote. Conté and the PUP have dominated the New Republic, winning all elections by large majorities. However, questions about how the elections were conducted led to controversy. In February 1996 a group of officers opposed to Conté's regime tried to seize power. Conté was held for some hours until he agreed to certain concessions, including doubling army salaries and conferring amnesty on those involved in the mutiny. In 1998 the presidential election was marred by the arrest of the main opposition party leader, Alpha Condé, on charges of trying to overthrow the government. Local elections in 2000 brought a landslide victory for the PUP and widespread condemnation of how the elections were held.

Cabinet reshuffles have followed every election and the 1996 mutiny. The 1996 mutiny also led to budgetary problems and the cessation of IMF support. Following the mutiny political appointees were replaced with technocrats , and the prime minister became head of government. Prime Minister Sidya Touré, who had restored donor relations, was replaced by Lamine Sidime in March 1999.

Guinea has 40 registered political parties, with 9 being represented in parliament. The PUP has its stronghold in the Soussou-speaking coastal areas, although through patronage, it holds influence in most towns as well. Most other parties have strong regional support, but little else. The main opposition to PUP comes from its own reformers and the traditional political elite.

The 1982 constitution, which was suspended in 1984, was replaced in 1991 by the "Loi Fondamentale." The president is elected by universal suffrage and serves a renewable 5-year term. The president appoints the Council of Ministers to share executive power. Their decisions are subject to approval by the Legislative Assembly, though opposition from the Legislative Assembly may be overruled by decree.

The 114-member People's National Assembly is elected in a complicated way. One-third of the parliament is elected by a simple majority, and two-thirds by proportional representation . The legal system in Guinea is based on French civil law, but with local additions, and may be modified by decree. Guinea was originally supported by the Soviet bloc, but in 1975 Guinea's attitudes changed with the signing of the Lomé Convention (a European Union aid scheme), joining the Economic Union of West African States (ECOWAS), and repairing strained relations with the West, particularly France. Conté has politically realigned the state and has now fully restored Western ties. He is active regionally, and his troops often skirmish with neighbors, as political unrest in Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have created refugees and rebel groups that operate across Guinea's borders.

Mining revenue accounts for 20 percent of government income (including taxes, royalties, and export duties ), but this figure has fallen with falling world prices since 1987. Guinea has also significantly widened its tax net on incomes and profits, goods and services, and trade; in fact, this source of revenue has multiplied tenfold from 1989 to 1999, though this amount has not been enough to offset the reductions in mining revenue and the increased state wage bill. Overall government expenditures have been reduced since 1991, though not enough to consistently balance the budget.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

There has been a great improvement since the mid-1980s to Guinea's transport infrastructure . The road network has quadrupled in size and several projects are under way to further expand it. In 1996, about 16.5 percent of the country's 30,500 kilometers (18,953 miles) of main routes were paved. Most routes link urban areas to mining areas, and access to the remainder of Guinea is difficult. Half of the 80,000 vehicles on Guinean roads provide public transport.

The only functioning railway links the ports to the mines and carries no passengers. The Kamsar to Kankan railway line no longer operates. Renovation of the railway system is under consideration.

Conakry port is operating at near saturation levels, handling 94 percent of imports. Plans are afoot to build an inland container terminal and reactivate Benty port. The country has 1 international airport, with Air Guinea operating an erratic regional schedule and internal flights to a dozen airstrips around the country.

Telecoms are handled by Sotelgui, which has been managed by Telekom Malaysia since 1995. The number of telephones increased to 25,000 by 1998, up from 19,000 in 1996. Sotelgui was scheduled to introduce a mobile cellular network in late 1997. The number of telephones

Communications
Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Guinea N/A 47 41 0.0 3 0.4 2.6 0.00 5
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Nigeria 24 223 66 N/A 0 N/A 5.7 0.00 100
Guinea-Bissau 5 44 N/A N/A 0 0.4 N/A 0.13 2
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium (http://www.isc.org) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

is set to double by the end of 2000, although most are still only used in the capital. However, the system is still inadequate, and most companies continue to rely on their own communication services.

A vigorous independent press competes with a state-run newspaper. However, the broadcast media, especially influential in rural areas, are controlled largely by the state.

Guinea has no proven fossil fuel reserves but enormous hydro-electric potential. Nevertheless, firewood accounts for 85 percent of domestic energy needs, and petroleum products are imported. Of the 320 megawatts of installed energy production capacity, 40 percent is privately owned. Only 6 percent of the population receive grid electricity, and this group is mainly in the capital. Several projects are underway to increase electricity production.

ECONOMIC SECTORS

Agriculture generated 22.3 percent of the GDP in 1998, and the major products are rice, coffee, pineapples, and palm kernels. Industry provided 35.3 percent of the GDP. The most important part of the industrial sector is mining, providing approximately 20 percent of GDP. Guinea has major mineral resources and is the world's second largest bauxite producer (bauxite is used to produce aluminum). Services were estimated to provide 42.4 percent of the GDP in 1998.

AGRICULTURE

Agriculture provided 22.3 percent of GDP in 1998, and 80 percent of the employment of the economically active population. Guinea has a climate that allows for a range of activities, but only 15 percent of cultivable land

is farmed, and most production is for subsistence. After independence in 1958, agricultural production stagnated, and growth in production did not meet growth in population as many cash crop plantations were abandoned. Self-sufficiency in food production is still elusive, despite the end of Marxist economic policies in 1984.

There are projects in hand to improve rice production, which is the main staple and covers 50 percent of cultivable land. However, around 40 percent of the national consumption of rice is still imported. The country is self-sufficient in most other foodstuffs and is even able to export some vegetables and fruit to Europe. Oil palm, rubber, and cotton plantations have received foreign investment.

Approximately 30 percent of rural families own livestock, mainly in the Kankan and Labe regions. The UN estimates that there are 2.4 million cattle, 1.5 million sheep, 54,000 pigs, and 9 million chickens in Guinea. Guinea imports 1,500 tons of meat and 10,000 tons of dairy products for urban use every year, though several projects designed to increase production in these items are under way.

Fishing provides less than 1 percent of the GDP, but 6 percent of exports. Industrial fishing provides half of the 120,000 ton catch, and 65 percent of the industrial catch is caught by foreign-registered boats. A lack of infrastructure reduces the domestic market for fish.

INDUSTRY

MINING.

Mining is the most important sector in the economy, providing approximately 20 percent of GDP, 90 percent of recorded exports, and 70 percent of government revenue, though world commodity price declines in the 1990s have hurt the industry. A new mining code has been an incentive to investors, and foreign companies are now responsible for 85 percent of new developments.

Guinea has 30 percent of the world's known reserves of bauxite and is the world's second largest producer of the ore. The biggest company in the sector is owned by the U.S. company, Alcoa, and produces 12.5 million tons per year, and through further investment this figure should rise to 13 million. A Soviet-backed company has had erratic production since the downfall of the Soviet system and produced only 1.5 million tons in 1998, though its capacity is 5 million tons per year. There is also a joint venture with Iran, though production has yet to start, as it is still waiting for improvements of the rail links with the capital to make the venture viable.

The parastatal Frigvia has the capacity to produce 700,000 tons per year of alumina (the processed form of bauxite), though heavy losses in the years 1991-96 and internal disputes have caused the French advisers to pull out. The privatization sale of Frigvia to a U.S. company is well advanced, and other nations have also shown interest in other smelting ventures elsewhere in the country.

Small-scale gold-mining takes place throughout the country, and several large ventures are planned or have recently come into production. Gold generates about 13 percent of export revenues according to the official figures, but the amount of small-scale mining and smuggling means that much gold production goes unrecorded, and the importance of gold to the economy is significantly greater than the statistics indicate.

The 1985 ban on small-scale diamond mining, which was designed to encourage large-scale foreign investors, was lifted in 1992, and small-scale operators are now responsible for the bulk of the national production of an estimated 80,000 to 125,000 carats per year. Official diamond exports are about US$40 million a year, but because only 15 percent of diamond mining goes through official channels, the real benefit to the economy is closer to US$250 million. The new mining code has sparked considerable international interest.

Guinea has 6 percent of the world's iron-ore, though plans to exploit the deposits have been held back due to their location near Liberia during a period of regional tension. Other reserves include chrome, cobalt, copper, lead, zinc, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, platinum, titanium, uranium, chalk, graphite, and granite. Guinea almost certainly has undiscovered deposits of commercial minerals as only one-third of the country has been surveyed.

MANUFACTURING.

Formal manufacturing is small and has fallen from 4.3 percent of the GDP in 1993 to 3.9 percent of the GDP in 2000. The majority of production is in the agro-industry sector, although manufacturing in Guinea also includes brewing, soft drinks, cement, and metal manufacture. The cigarette producer, Entag, closed following a fire in 1999, and most state-run enterprises have closed, and no major enterprise opened in the 1990s. Most manufacturing is concentrated around the capital.

Publicly-funded construction accounts for one-half of total construction, and most of it was concentrated on improving the infrastructure. However, recently the private sector has become more active.

SERVICES

Guinea's financial sector includes the Central Bank, 7 deposit-taking banks, 4 insurance companies, a social security institution, 2 small co-operative banks, and 50 bureau de change (currency exchanges). Most banking is in the capital, and the banking system is slowly gaining in public confidence, and more people are prepared to hold their money in the form of bank deposits.

Interest rate controls were lifted as part of monetary reforms in 1993, which also reinforced banking supervision. Banks may set lending and deposit rates, subject to a maximum spread about the Treasury bill rate. Short-term loans accounted for 83 percent of the US$170 million credit distribution to the private-sector in 1998, with 55 percent going to trading activities. The increasing funding needs of mines and the increase in deposits have led to an increase in medium-term lending.

Guinea's small tourism industry collapsed after independence and is unlikely to be rejuvenated in the near future. Despite government efforts, only 17,000 people visited in 1998, and most of those were for business. Tourism is mainly limited to wealthy locals and expatriates. A new ministry has been set up to deal with hotels and tourism. The capital has 4 international standard hotels.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Guinea's trade balance varies, depending on the output of the mining sector and prices in the international commodity markets. Guinea enjoyed a trade surplus in 1998 of US$135 million, on exports of US$695 million and imports of US$560 million. That surplus jumped to US$186 million on exports of US$820 million and imports of US$634 million in 2000. Bauxite and alumina have contributed approximately 70 percent of official export earnings in recent years, with diamonds and gold contributing 20-25 percent. All other exports come from agriculture and fishing. The main destinations for exports in 1999 were the United States, the Benelux countries (comprised of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg), Ukraine, and Ireland; major importers were France, Belgium, the United States, and Côte d'Ivoire.

The lack of oil deposits and significant manufacturing means that imports are largely fuels, heavy machinery, transport equipment, and consumer manufactures. The increase in mining is reflected in the increase in machinery imports since 1995. Semi-finished goods have also increased, due to the boost in the construction industry.

Developing countries now provide one-third of Guinea's imports, whereas before industrialized countries supplied more than 80 percent. This change is mainly due to the forging of new links and a shift towards new inexpensive suppliers, predominantly the Côte d'Ivoire and China.

MONEY

Guinea is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Unusual for a former French colony, Guinea did not join the Franc Zone at independence. The exchange rate remained virtually unchanged from independence in 1958 until 1985 at around GF20-25:US$1 but had depreciated substantially to GF1,940:US$1 in 2001.

Since 1985, economic liberalization measures and a tight monetary policy have been undertaken, as advocated by the IMF and World Bank, and by the late 1990s Guinea had succeeded in reducing the rate of inflation, increasing foreign exchange reserves , and raising private investment. Fiscal reform and the elimination of administrative inefficiency and corruption are ongoing concerns.

Consumer inflation has run in single figures since 1992 (but stood at 72 percent in 1986) and this fact is mainly due to low price rises for local goods and necessities, a fall in the price of imported rice, and the tight monetary policy of the government. The inflation rate was estimated to be 4.5 percent in 1999.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

Guinea is a poor country by any measure. The GDP per capita (according to the purchasing power parity conversion, which allows for the low price of many basic

Exchange rates: Guinea
Guinean francs per US$1
Oct 2000 1,855.0
2000 1,572.0
1999 1,387.4
1998 1,236.8
1997 1,095.3
1996 1,004.0
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].
GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Guinea N/A N/A N/A 532 594
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Nigeria 301 314 230 258 256
Guinea-Bissau 226 168 206 223 173
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

commodities in Guinea) stood at US$1,300 in 2000. A 1994 survey indicated that 40 percent of the population was below the US$1 per day poverty line. About 80 percent of the labor force is employed in agriculture, most of which is subsistence farming , and the greatest incidence of poverty is in the rural areas.

Education was severely disrupted after independence in 1958, with teachers being one of the first groups to seek exile. The change of government in 1984 brought a greater emphasis on primary education, which, although it is universally compulsory, achieved only 48 percent enrollment in 1996. Secondary education enrollment stood at 12 percent in 1996. Guinea devotes 25 percent of its budget to education and is backed by the IMF and World Bank, with the aim of achieving 60 percent primary enrollment by the end of 2000. Male literacy stands at 50 percent, but the female figure is much lower at 22 percent, according to a 1995 estimate.

Guinea's health statistics are amongst the worst in sub-Saharan Africa. Life-expectancy in 2000 at birth was 46 years. This estimate is an increase from the 1965 figure of 35, although it is far below the sub-Saharan average of 51 years. Moreover, 1 in 6 live births die before the age of one year, and 12 percent die in infancy (between the ages of 1 and 5). Only 45 percent of the population has access to medical care.

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Guinea
Lowest 10% 2.6
Lowest 20% 6.4
Second 20% 10.4
Third 20% 14.8
Fourth 20% 21.2
Highest 20% 47.2
Highest 10% 32.0
Survey year: 1994
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Guinea 29 18 5 2 9 16 21
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Nigeria 51 5 31 2 8 2 2
Guinea-Bissau N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

WORKING CONDITIONS

Wages are fixed according to the Government Labor Code. The official maximum working week for industrial workers is 48 hours, but there is little enforcement.

Guinea has a total labor force of some 3 million workers, and according to official 1995 statistics, some 50 percent of the workers had no formal employment. However, estimates that include participation in the informal economy and subsistence agriculture indicate an unemployment rate of between 8 and 11 percent. Unemployment figures have little significance in Guinea. There are very few with no work at all.

The civil service is the largest formal employer, engaging 3.6 percent of the population. An estimated 16.4 percent of the population earns wages from industry, commerce, and services, with 80 percent of the population employed in agriculture, of which most are engaged in subsistence farming. There is no unemployment benefit, and those who do not work rely on support from charities or their families. Many people would like a modern sector job but eke out an existence on family farms or in casual informal sector activities (such as hawking , portering, scavenging) in the urban areas.

The Confederation des Travailleurs de Guinée (Confederation of Guinea Workers, CTG) is the main trade union in Guinea. However, it has done little to improve working conditions and has generally lacked the ability to confront the government or large employers.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1600. European traders settle on the West African coast.

1891. Guinea becomes a French colony.

1898. French troops consolidate the Guinean interior.

1947. Sékou Touré forms the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) party.

1958. Guinea rejects joining the French African community and becomes independent, with Sékou Touré as the first president.

1984. Sékou Touré dies. Colonel Lansana Conté leads a military takeover of the government.

1984. The constitution is suspended.

1991. The constitution is replaced by the Loi Fondamentale. Multi-party politics are introduced.

1993. Conté is elected as head of state in presidential elections.

1996. A group of officers attempt a military coup but are unsuccessful.

1998. Conté is re-elected as president.

FUTURE TRENDS

It is very difficult to have economic progress without a platform of political stability, as both domestic and foreign investors are unwilling to risk resources which may not be secure. Conté has improved the domestic environment for business, but conflict with rebels on Guinea's borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia continues to dominate the political scene, though most regional leaders are expected to work together to try to restore stability. Rebel groups from Liberia have destroyed several towns in Guinea. Refugee transfer has started, with the aid agencies struggling to cope with the numbers. ECOWAS troop deployment in the region is attempting to restore order.

Most of the population of Guinea will continue to depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and progress in this sector is expected to be slow. Guinea's undoubted mineral wealth has created income for only a small section of the community and does little to improve living standards or reduce poverty.

The IMF has pledged further support, and as a highly indebted poor country Guinea is expecting further debt relief. Aluminum companies are showing renewed interest in the country, but realization of investment plans will depend on improving regional stability. The United Nations has asked for stricter diamond controls to keep gems out of the hands of rebel groups in Sierra Leone who are looking for sources of income.

DEPENDENCIES

Guinea has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Guinea. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

"Guinea and the IMF." International Monetary Fund. <http://www.imf.org/external/country/GIN/index.htm>. Accessed October 2001.

La Guinée. <http://www.guinee.gov.gn>. Accessed October 2001.

Hodd, Michael. "Guinea." The Economies of Africa. Aldershot:Dartmouth, 1991.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Guinea, December 1999. <http://www.state.gov/www/background_notes/guinea_ 9912_bgn.html>. Accessed October 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Guinea. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/2001/africa/index.html>. Accessed October 2001.

Jack Hodd

CAPITAL:

Conakry.

MONETARY UNIT:

Guinea franc (GF). One franc equals 100 centimes. There are notes of 25, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, and 5,000 francs.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Bauxite, alumina, diamonds, gold, coffee, fish, agricultural products.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Petroleum products, metals, machinery, transport equipment, textiles, grain and other foodstuffs.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$10 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$820 million (f.o.b., 2000). Imports: US$634 million (f.o.b., 2000).

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Guinea

GUINEA

Republic of Guinea

Major City:
Conakry

Other Cities:
Boké, Fria, Kankan, Kindia, Labé, Macenta

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated July 1993. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

Most of what is now the Republic of GUINEA was included in the rich and powerful Kingdom of Mali from the 11th through the 16th centuries. From 1810 to 1840, a large section of the country was nominally subject to the Islamic Foulah Empire, which was centered in the Fouta Djallon Mountains.

French penetration along the Atlantic coast began during the 1860s, and most of the country was occupied by the French between 1890 and 1910. The Los Islands (Îles de Loos), a few miles off the coast, were British-controlled from 1815 until 1904. Under France, the country formed the Territory of French Guinea within French West Africa.

Status as a separate entity had been realized in 1946, but a majority vote for total independence came abruptly and dramatically September 28, 1958 when membership in a community of French overseas territories was rejected. Guinea proclaimed itself a sovereign republic four days later.

MAJOR CITY

Conakry

Conakry, with a population of approximately 1.9 million, is the capital of the Republic of Guinea. It lies on the bulge of Africa, some 450 miles southeast of Dakar (Senegal) and 600 miles north of the equator. The central part of the city, Conakry I, is on Tumbo, formerly an island but now connected to the mainland residential Kaloum Peninsula (Conakry II).

French settlement of Conakry (also written Konakri or Konakry) began in 1855, when it was a tiny fishing village. The present form of the city was laid out in 1905 in rectangular blocks. The broad main streets are lined with magnificent mango and kapok (fromager ) trees, and fine botanical gardens grace the landscape. A few of the buildings were constructed shortly before independence, but most of the architecture is either old French colonial or African.

In the residential suburbs of Kaloum, modern houses occupied by foreigners or Guinean government officials are on or near the sea, interspersed among traditional African structures. The main streets of the city and suburbs are paved, although poorly maintained. Some residences can be reached only by dirt roads.

Education

The International School of Conakry, a small English-language school with a capacity of 50 students, includes kindergarten through grade eight and follows an American curriculum. The school operates a preschool program for three-and four-year olds. French is taught as a foreign language. Extracurricular activities include art and computer instruction. Owing to a small number of students, instruction is highly individualized.

Some resident Americans prefer to enroll their children in the city's French-language school. Following the French system, it comprises kindergarten through high school, and awards the equivalent of an American high school diploma.

The public schools in the capital conduct classes from first grade through high school, and follow the French system of education. Classes are seriously overcrowded; standards of teaching are low, and equipment is old and in short supply. Tuition and supplies (when available) are free. There are no private schools.

No facilities are available for handicapped students.

Recreation

Opportunities in various individual, group, and spectator sports are limited. Soccer and basketball are the most popular among Guineans, and the international community enjoys volleyball during the dry season (October to May). The nearest golf course is in Freetown, Sierra Leone. There are no golf courses, sports clubs, or health spas in Guinea. Outdoor and indoor games such as badminton, ping-pong, darts, horseshoes, croquet, volleyball, softball, and organized events are popular among expatriates. A farm is located outside Conakry where horses can be rented.

Americans do not swim in the ocean around Conakry, as the waters are badly polluted and are filled with large rocks. No sand beaches are located in Conakry proper. However, during the dry season, swimming is possible at undeveloped beaches located on the Island of Los, just offshore from Conakry. Local boats can be rented for day trips to the islands, although some American expatriates have purchased their own boats.

Except during the height of the rainy season, which extends from May to October, trips are possible to most interior regions of Guinea. The loveliest area for such travel is the Fouta Djallon, where the mountain scenery is magnificent and the climate cooler and less humid than in Conakry. Waterfalls are found near the towns of Kindia (a two-hour drive from Conakry) and Labé(a seven-hour drive). It is possible to camp in these areas, and many Americans do so, but any camping gear must be shipped from home. Another town of interest is Dalaba, which offers a modest hotel and beautiful physical surroundings.

The truly adventurous may travel into the savanna and forest regions, but roads are poor and require four-wheel-drive vehicles, such as Land Rovers. Accommodations are very rustic and must be arranged far in advance of any trip.

The closest major city outside Guinea is Freetown, Sierra Leone, which provides a distinct change of scenery and has shopping facilities superior to those found in Conakry. The six-hour road trip is possible in the dry season, and sometimes during the rainy interval.

Many Westerners in Guinea take advantage of its geographic location to visit Monrovia (Liberia), Dakar (Senegal), Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire), Accra (Ghana), Algiers (Algeria), Bamako (Mali), Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, or the cities of Morocco. All of these are easily reached by air and, although the trips are costly, shopping facilities and excellent hotel accommodations provide a pleasant break from routine.

Entertainment

Almost all entertainment among expatriates in Conakry is in private homes, usually in the form of dinner, bridge, or cocktail parties. Many local theaters feature French and French-dubbed American, Chinese, Indian, and East European movies. Two are air-conditioned and patronized by expatriates.

Expatriates patronize several of the discotheques and nightclubs where modern African and European music is played. Several restaurants in the city specialize in French, Chinese, Lebanese, and Vietnamese cuisine. Some are excellent and range in price from moderate to expensive.

Many international contacts in Guinea are with Western Europeans; most are French-speaking, but often have a limited command of the English language. It is useful to speak German as well as French, since there is a sizable German community in the capital.

It should be noted that Guineans, although friendly and courteous, seldom accept private social invitations. Invitations to official functions should be cleared by the Guinean Ministry of External Affairs, but this is done promptly. Americans are rarely guests in Guinean homes.

OTHER CITIES

BOKÉ is a port town in western Guinea. Located 110 miles northwest of Conakry, Boké is a market center where fish, cattle, rice, oranges, and palm oil are traded. The Boké area is home to various ethnic groups, including the Landuma, Nalu, Fulani, Mikifore, and Baga peoples.

The western town of FRIA is 55 miles south of Conakry and the center of Guinea's bauxite mining region. Guinea's largest industrial enterprise and one of Africa's first alumina-processing plants, the Fria Company, is located near here.

KANKAN is the terminus of a rail center from Conakry, a port on the Milo River (tributary of the Niger), and a highway junction in the eastern part of the country. Situated about 300 miles east of Conakry, Kankan is Guinea's second largest town and the commercial center for the surrounding farming region. It is also the chief trading center of the Malinke and Diula peoples. Crops grown in the area include pineapples, oranges, mangoes, tomatoes, rice, maize, and sesame. There is light industry in Kankan; bricks and fruit juices are made there and there is also a sawmill and a tomato canning factory. Diamonds are mined in the area and Kankan is the site of Guinea's national diamond exchange. It is believed that the city dates back to the 18th century when it was a trade center linking the Atlantic coast and forest belt with the Sudan region. The Muslim religious leader Samory (1835-1900) initiated his military activities in the Kankan area and took the city in 1873. In 1891, Kankan was occupied by the French. Today, Kankan has a polytechnic institute, a national police school, a research center for rice cultivation, and an estimated population of 70,000.

KINDIA is on the rail line, 60 miles northeast of the capital. With an estimated population of 56,000, Kindia is a trade center in a farming region where fruits, vegetables, manioc, and rice are grown; bauxite is also mined in the area. In Kindia, soap is manufactured and tonic water is bottled. Wood is processed there for use in Conakry's furniture factories. The National School of Agriculture is also located in Kindia. The area surrounding Kindia has a large population of Fulani and Susu peoples.

LABÉ is in the west-central area, about 170 miles northeast of Conakry. It is a market center for the surrounding farm region. Cattle is raised, and citrus fruit, bananas, vegetables, and rice are grown. The city became part of the Mali empire early in the 13th century. Following the decline of Mali, Labé became politically and commercially important, serving as a center of Islam from the 16th to 18th centuries. When the Fulani settled there late in the 18th century, the original inhabitants were displaced. Today, Labé is a major collecting point for oranges, which are trucked to Dakar, Senegal. Lemons and jas-mine oil, which is used for making perfume and soap, are also exported from Labé. Labé is Guinea's chief town of Islam and has a population of approximately 273,000.

The town of MACENTA , located in a forested region of southeastern Guinea, is home to the Loma and Malinke peoples. Macenta is in the midst of a rich agricultural area and trading center for coffee, rice, tea, cassava, kola nuts, and palm oil.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

The Republic of Guinea, with an area of 95,000 square miles, is about the size of Oregon. Roughly kidney-shaped, the country is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, the Côte d'Ivorie, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. It is divided into four distinct geographical regions: the lower Guinea coastal strip, about 50 miles wide; the Fouta Djallon mountain region, averaging 1,000 feet above sea level, but with some 6,000-foot peaks; the upper Guinea savanna country; and the tropical rain forest of the southeast.

The climate in Conakry is tropical, with dry and rainy seasons. The long dry interval (October to May) is warm, sunny, and humid; when the rains arrive in the months between May and October, the weather is slightly cooler. During the changes of seasons, sunny weather alternates with violent thunderstorms. Temperatures are fairly uniform, rarely rising above 90°F or falling below the mid-70s. March is the hottest month; August, the coolest. Humidity ranges from 70 to 100 percent, and the annual rainfall averages 160-180 inches.

Americans living in Guinea generally find the climate pleasant, but the prolonged downpours during the rainy season can be monotonous and enervating. Cockroaches, termites, mosquitoes, and a variety of other insects are nuisances in most buildings. Because of the high humidity, mildew is a year-round problem. Take precautions to protect clothing, books, food supplies, and other articles.

Population

Guinea's estimated population of 7.6 million consists of four major ethnic groupsthe Soussous along the coast, the Peuls (Fulani) in the Fouta Djallon mountains, the Malinke (Mandingo) in the savanna region, and the forestial tribes located in the woodland areas and on the coast. An estimated 85 percent of the population is Muslim; 8 percent, Christian; and 7 percent, animist.

French is used for all government business and in the schools. It is also spoken by all officials in larger towns. In ordinary conversation, people use the language of their ethnic groups. Those working or residing in Guinea should have a working knowledge of French.

Guinea's international community is small, but has been growing rapidly since the change of government in 1984. Among the diplomatic missions currently maintained are those of France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, India, the former U.S.S.R., Switzerland, the United States, the United Nations, and several international organizations. Most Eastern European nations also are represented, as well as China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Cuba. Additionally, many African and Middle Eastern nations have missions in the country. Other members of the foreign community include a few Christian missionaries and experts of many nationalities working on bilateral and multilateral assistance programs.

Some Americans and Canadians are employed by Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG), an international mining consortium at Kamsar, a self-sufficient community a day's drive from Conakry. Many French nationals work at Fria, another bauxite mining camp, about a half-day's drive from the capital. There are also British and other Europeans at a diamond mine in Gbenko. Few Americans have contacts with personnel at these places because of the distances involved.

Government

From 1958 until April 3, 1984, Guinea was a one-party socialist state with a single president. During that time, every aspect of life in the country was state-controlled.

When the Military Committee for National Redressment (CMRN) seized power in a bloodless coup April 3, 1984, it abolished the ruling political body, the Parti démocratique de Guinée (PDG), suspended the constitution, and established the second republic. Control was assumed three days after the funeral of longtime President Ahmed Sékou Touré, who had died in Cleveland, Ohio, following heart surgery. Gen. Lansana Contéwas named as the country's new president.

Conté's early months in power were marked by tremendous upheaval and instability. In July 1985, elements of the Guinean military launched a coup against the government while Contéwas out of the country. The coup attempt was quickly defeated by troops loyal to Conté.

In October 1989, Conté announced that his government was prepared to institute a truly democratic government and embarked on a transition to multiparty democracy. A new constitution, calling for a democratically elected president and an elected unicameral parliament was drafted and approved by referendum on December 23, 1990. In January 1991, the Military Committee for National Recovery (CMRN), which had governed Guinea since the April 1984 coup, dissolved itself and was replaced by the Transitional Committee for National Regeneration (CTRN). Political parties were legalized in 1992, and legislative elections were held in June 1995. In 1999, President Contéwas reelected for another 5 year term.

Guinea is divided into four geographic sections: Maritime, Middle, Upper, and Forest Guinea. These sections are subdivided into 29 administrative regions.

The flag of Guinea consists of three vertical bands of red, yellow, and green.

Arts, Science, Education

A small collection of traditional African arts and sculpture is available for public viewing at the National Museum in the capital. Cultural attractions from other countries appear in Conakry occasionally. Guinea's excellent national dance troupes tour foreign countries, including the U.S., and also perform frequently in Conakry.

Local crafts include delicate leather work such as belts, sandals, coasters, and handbags. Woven and coil-type baskets and other decorative pieces also are available. Tie-dyeing is a Guinean specialty, and lovely pieces of such fabrics can be purchased, as can pottery and handcrafted musical instruments. Small wood sculptures, primarily from up-country sculptors, are often well done.

A scientific research institute is located in Kindia, a small city near Conakry. There, human and animal vaccines are produced, and snake venom is milked for export to European laboratories for conversion into serum. A horticultural research operation and university campus are located nearby at Foulayah. Prominent on the northern horizon of the capital, in Rogbane, is the Oceanographic and Heliophysical Institute (CERESCOR), constructed by the former U.S.S.R., which engages in oceanographic and atmospheric studies there.

Several secondary schools are located in Conakry, the two largest of which are the Lycée Technique and L'École National des Arts et Metièrs. The National University, also in the capital, has programs of study which include humanities, agronomy, agriculture, engineering, basic sciences, architecture, and medicine. Other major university campuses are at Kankan, also the seat of a national vocational secondary school, and at Foulayah and Faranah. Public school education is compulsory at the elementary level, with French the language of instruction. Education at every level is provided at government expense. Guinea's literacy rate is very low. Only 36 percent of the population age 15 and over could read and write.

Commerce and Industry

Although possessing many natural resources and considerable potential for agricultural development, Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world with a per capita income of $1300 in 2000. Following a change in government, sweeping economic reforms were launched in 1985, as Guinea left behind 26 years of state control and attempted to establish a system of private enterprise. Collective farms were abolished, state-owned enterprises were liquidated, food prices were decontrolled, and foreign investment was sought in a variety of economic sectors.

In spite of the substantial success of these programs, Guinea's infrastructure remains underdeveloped, hampering further economic progress.

Subsistence agriculture employs roughly 80 percent of the population. Currently, only three percent of Guinea's land is arable. The main food crops are rice, corn, vegetables, and cassava. Bananas, coffee, pineapples, cotton, and palm kernels are grown for export. Guinea's agricultural output has been hampered by poor transport facilities and lack of mechanization.

Guinea has a small industrial sector, accounting for approximately 35 percent of GDP. Aluminum smelting, food processing, textiles, and plywood manufacturing are the main industries. Shortages of skilled labor has prevented Guinean industries from reaching their full potential.

Minerals and mining represent the economy's most dynamic sector, providing 25 percent of GDP. Guinea possesses over 30 percent of the world's bauxite reserves. American firms have interests in two joint venture bauxite mines, Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG) and Friguia, which processes bauxite into alumina. Diamonds are the only minerals being mined and exported on a large scale. Australian, British, and Swiss firms are joint venture partners with the government in AREDOR, a large scale diamond mining company. AREDOR began production in mid-1984 and is mining diamonds that are 90 percent gem quality. Small-scale gold mining is also pursued by the joint venture gold mine Aurifere de Guinee, which is run by the Union Miniere of Belgium. Deposits of copper, manganese, titanium, and uranium have been found but have not been exploited.

Guinea's exports consist mainly of alumina, bauxite, diamonds, coffee, bananas, pineapples, and palm kernels. These exports are sent to the United States, European Community (EC) countries, the former U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe, and Canada. Petroleum products, transport equipment, machinery, food, and textiles are Guinea's principal imports. These products are provided by the United States, France, and Brazil.

The address of Guinea's Chamber of Commerce is B.P. 609, Conakry.

Transportation

Air Guinée offers domestic flights to several up-country towns. It also operates international routes with Boeing 737 planes. All aircraft are occasionally used for official government trips, which may temporarily disrupt Air Guinée flight schedules. Several other international airlines also fly into Conakry's airport.

The Guinean national railway, Chemin de Fer de Guinée, no longer operates in the interior. Up-country journeys are made by road or by scheduled Air Guinée service to regional centers. Travel by road sometimes requires a four-by-four vehicle, particularly during the rainy season, but major up-country centers are usually accessible with regular cars having a high clearance. Other points in Africa can be reached by air and, occasionally, by freighter.

Conakry has a modern municipal bus system, but it is overcrowded. Point-to-point taxis are available, but not recommended. Jitney-like taxis that follow regular routes are overcrowded and mechanically unreliable.

Drivers' licenses are issued without tests to those having valid U.S. or other foreign licenses. Driving is on the left-hand side in Guinea.

Communications

The telephone system in Conakry and throughout Guinea is being improved, but is still antiquated and overloaded. Telephone service is limited to offices, embassies, and some businesses. Direct-dial service exists between the U.S. and Europe, but is very expensive. Telegraph service is available through the Post and Telegraph Office (PTT). However, telegraph service is costly and often delayed. Guinea is five time zones ahead of eastern standard time.

Airmail from the U.S. is delivered within two weeks, but surface mail usually is two to four months in transit.

Guinea has one radio and television service, state-operated Radiodiffusion-Télévision Guinée. It broadcasts on FM and medium-and shortwave bands in French, English, Portuguese, Arabic and the three major national languages. English-language programming is limited to about forty-five minutes per week. Mediumwave radios also can pick up broadcasts in English from Sierra Leone, in French from Dakar, and in Spanish from Las Palmas. Most Americans in Conakry have shortwave radios that receive Voice of America (VOA), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and other foreign stations. Short-wave radios should be of good quality, battery-powered, tropicalized, and multiband. VCRs (VHS) are widely used among expatriates.

Guinean television programming is limited. No programming is available in English. Occasionally, it is possible to receive programs from Freetown. Sets brought from home must be adjusted for use in Africa.

Few local publications are available. French-language newspapers and magazines sometimes can be found at the major hotels.

Apart from the government-owned, occasionally printed newspaper Horoya, few publications are available locally. French-language publications and occasional copies of the International Herald Tribune and Newsweek are available at various outlets. The U.S. Embassy in Conakry maintains a paperback library of donated books for its personnel. Expensive books brought from home must be carefully protected against high humidity and insect damage.

Health

Government hospitals in the capital are staffed by Guineans and some foreign (largely East European and Chinese) doctors. Lack of equipment, inadequate nursing care, and poor sanitation make these hospitals unsuitable for Americans. Although a few dentists maintain private practices in the city, Westerners needing dental care usually go to Dakar, or Europe. Guinea has no optical testing facilities but these, although expensive, can be found in Dakar.

Guinean public health controls are limited to elementary sanitation and to vaccinations against yellow fever.

City water is treated, but tap water is unsafe to drink. Conakry has an underground sewage system; streets are cleaned and garbage is collected in the city, but not regularly in the suburbs.

Malaria, schistosomiasis, tuberculosis, yaws, leprosy, venereal diseases, and intestinal parasites are all endemic among the Guinean population. With proper precautions, these diseases pose minimal risks to Americans.

Malaria suppressants must be taken regularly, beginning two weeks before arrival in the country and continuing for six weeks after departure. Water for both drinking and cooking must be boiled and filtered, and it is also necessary to soak fruits and vegetables in an iodine solution before consumption. Because of the lack of proper health facilities, it is imperative that anyone planning to live in Guinea have thorough prior medical, dental, and optical examinations, and that all corrective treatment be completed before arrival.

Rabies is prevalent throughout the country; pets should be given a reliable vaccine, preferably the three-day live virus type. Revacci-nations are available through a local veterinarian.

Clothing and Services

Casual clothing is usually the dress mode in Conakry, even for office wear and social functions. The occasional formal event calls for dark wash-and-wear business suits or long, cruise-type dresses. Men's daily wear consists primarily of safari suits (with a high percentage of cotton content), or open-necked, short-sleeved shirts, and slacks. Women wear casual dresses or skirts and sandals. Cotton is the preferred fabric because it is cool and easy to maintain. It is important to have an adequate wardrobe, as daily washing is hard on clothes; there are no dry cleaning facilities. Slacks and shorts are acceptable for house wear, the beach, and other outdoor activities.

Conakry is built on old volcanic outpourings. Thus, the ground is rough and shoes wear out quickly. It is advisable to have a supply of sandals for daytime wear, and rubber thongs for the beach or for use during the rainy season. Leather shoes and bags must be carefully protected from mildew.

Swimsuits and beachwear are essential. Bikinis are acceptable, and swimsuit cover-ups are useful.

Most people find raincoats too hot in this tropical climate; however, some people use rubberized ponchos during the rainy season. Heavy-duty umbrellas are required as the rain is heavy. Heavy clothing is rarely needed in Conakry, but it can get cool up-country. A sweater or jacket should be included in one's wardrobe.

Children's clothing should be simple in style and easy to care for. The most common apparel consists of short pants with colored short-sleeved shirts for boys, and sleeveless shifts (or blouses with shorts or slacks) for girls. Children wear leather or composition sandals or tennis shoes to school.

Almost no equipment, supplies, or repair facilities are available in Conakry. Repairmen are scarce and poorly trained. Cobblers make only simple repairs, using recycled materials; the results are often unsatisfactory. Local tailors make virtually all types of clothing, but quality is erratic. A wide selection of fabrics is available but expensive. Any electrical or mechanical equipment brought to Guinea should be simple, durable, and accompanied by spare parts, as there are no radio or household repairs available. Plumbers, electricians, and radio repairmen are scarce and poorly trained. Some basic services are provided at the U.S. Embassy for its own personnel.

There are barber and beauty shops of varying quality. A good supply of beauty and hair needs, such as permanent kits, cream rinses, tints and colors, hair spray, and cosmetics, should be brought from home.

Domestic Help

Domestic help, a necessity (and nearly always male), is usually hired on the recommendation of other Americans or Europeans. Most are trained in French housekeeping methods and are unfamiliar with American foods or elaborate household equipment. Well-trained servants are not easily found, and all require supervision. The majority speak only a little French and are illiterate. English-speaking servants are rare.

Ordinarily, a houseperson/domestic is employed to do the cleaning, laundry, and shopping. Guards are hired to watch the house at night. Some houses, with large gardens, require the services of a gardener.

Servants rarely live in, and are expected to provide their own food. Uniforms, if desired, are furnished by the employer and must be tailored locally. Most servants expect their employers to provide them with raincoats.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Conakry is served by several international airlines. These include flights from Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Rome, Casablanca, Dakar, Abidjan, Freetown, Bissau, Banjul, Accra, Bamako, and Lagos, with connecting flights to other locations. The most reliable flights are KLM from Amsterdam, SABENA from Brussels, and UTA from Paris. Passenger ships generally do not stop at Conakry ports.

A valid passport and visa (exit and reentry) are required. Travelers stopping overnight in other African cities (such as Dakar, Abidjan, or Freetown) should also obtain visas for those countries. Health records must include documentation of vaccination against smallpox, yellow fever, and cholera, and of other appropriate inoculations (see Health section).

No quarantine is imposed on pets. Generally, they can be cleared through customs without difficulty. Rabies vaccinations and certificates of general health (dated within two months of arrival) must be presented. Dogs and cats are easily obtainable in Conakry.

The following denominations maintain places of worship in Conakry: Roman Catholic (services in French and English), Anglican (services in French, English, and one local language), French Reformed (French and English), and Muslim. There are four American-sponsored Protestant missions: Baptist, Evangelical, Bible Way, and Assemblies of God.

The time in Guinea is Greenwich Mean Time.

The country's currency is the Guinean franc. Those departing from Guinea are allowed to have no more than 5,000 Guinean francs in their possession. Guinean currency is generally not convertible on the world market. All payments within Guinea must be made in Guinean francs. All money or money instruments brought into the country must be declared at the airport upon arrival. Currency can only be exchanged at government-approved sites, generally banks or the international hotels.

The metric system of weights and measures is used.

Special Note: Care should be exercised in taking photographs in Guinea, as officials and other individuals sometimes object even when a permit is presented. Nevertheless, it is wise to have a camera on hand for those infrequent occasions, such as public ceremonies and celebrations, when taking photos is no problem.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Apr. 3 Declaration 2nd Republic

May 1Labor Day

Aug. 15Assumption Day

Aug. 27Anniversary of Women's Revolt

Sept. 28 Referendum Day

Oct. 2 Independence Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Id al-Adah*

Ramadan*

Id al-Fitr*

Mawlid an Nabi*

*Variable

RECOMMENDED READING

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Africa South of the Sahara 1992. London: Europa Publications, 1991.

O'Toole, Thomas E. Historical Dictionary of Guinea (Republic of Guinea/Conakry). 2nd ed. African Historical Dictionaries Series, no. 16. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1988.

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Guinea

Guinea

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Guinea
Region: Africa
Population: 7,466,200
Language(s): French
Literacy Rate: 35.9%
Academic Year: October-July
Number of Primary Schools: 3,723
Compulsory Schooling: 6 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 1.9%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 45
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 674,732
  Secondary: 143,243
  Higher: 8,151
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 54%
  Secondary: 14%
  Higher: 1%
Teachers: Primary: 13,883
  Secondary: 4,958
  Higher: 947
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 49:1
  Secondary: 29:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 41%
  Secondary: 7%
  Higher: 0.3%



History & Background

The Republic of Guinea lies on the western coast of Africa. With an area of 94,900 square miles, it is bordered by Senegal and Mali on the north, Côte d'Ivoire on the east, and Liberia and Sierra Leone on the south. The population of 7,600,000 people (January 2001 estimate) is composed of four major tribal groups: 35 percent Peuls (Fulani), 30 percent Malinke, 20 percent Susu, and 14 percent Kissi. French is the official language, but several tribal languages and dialects are also in use. Guinea is 85 percent Muslim, 8 percent Christian, and 7 percent Animist. With a per capita Gross Domestic Product of $1,180 (in 2000), it is one of the poorest nations of Western Africa.

For more than 100 years, Guinea was part of the former French Colonial Empire. It became a protectorate in 1849, a colony in 1898, and a constituent territory of French West Africa in 1904. When France granted independence to its former African colonies in 1958, it also offered a continuing economic, political, and educational relationship with the newly created Communauté, the French equivalent of the British Commonwealth. Guinea was the only former colony that refused such a partnership. After a nationwide referendum, it severed all ties with France and proclaimed its independence as the republic of Guinea on 2 October 1958. Its first president-for-life, Achmed Sékou-Touré, established a single party state, where neither political diversity nor any form of opposition were tolerated. To disengage the country from its former colonial past, Sékou-Touré adopted a radical africanization program that rejected Western values. Guinea soon became an isolated, struggling nation that turned to the former Soviet Union for technical aid. In a sense, the history of the educational system of Guinea is closely tied to its political history and efforts to separate itself from its former colonial occupant. But even after 1960, France still loomed large over the economy and cultural life of its former West African colonies. Efforts to abolish French as the official language of instruction to the benefit of local dialects proved to be a failure, as French remained throughout West Africa the language of diplomacy, commerce, and education. Severing ties with Western Europe also had a catastrophic impact on Guinea's economy, and the promotion of a brutally repressive regime controlled by Sékou-Touré did little to foster a climate in which new educational policies and reforms could flourish. Sékou-Touré died in 1984 after 26 years of unopposed dictatorship, having finally restored closer ties with France in 1975. Colonel (later general) Lansana Conté then seized power and has been Guinea's unopposed leader for the past 17 years. The political climate has improved since diplomatic and economic ties were restored with France and Western Europe. Opposition parties were permitted, and free elections were held in the early 1990s. A 114-member National Assembly was democratically installed in June 1995, representing 21 political parties. Though the nation is still poor, Guinea's economy has shown dramatic improvement after French corporations undertook the rehabilitation of the country's infrastructure, and the Paris Club of Creditor Nations agreed to significant debt relief in the late 1990s.


Constitutional & Legal Foundations


The constitution of 1958 guarantees free, compulsory, and equal education to every citizen until the age of 15. However, the legal and constitutional foundations of the educational system have been undermined by an early Socialist-inspired plan that often resulted in decrees being directly handed down from the executive branch of the government without any consultation or debate with qualified experts.

Educational SystemOverview

Guinea set a precedent when it became the only former French colony of West Africa to sever ties completely with its past colonial framework. Everything it did, from its economy to its revolutionary educational system, was closely watched as a new African experiment in the making. The French educational system, which had been in place for more than 100 years was dismantled. Western teachers in the primary and secondary schools (including most Catholic missionaries) and French faculty members in higher education were summarily dismissed. French as an official language of instruction was replaced by native dialects, and the new curriculum reflected the president's predilection for socialist educational philosophy. Only the Koranic schools in this mostly Muslim nation were exempted from this radical restructuring of curriculum and objectives. New pedagogical directives were handed down directly by government officials, such as the 1959 decree (number 49) from the Ministère de l'Education Nationale (National Ministry for Education) that spelled out the new ethnocentric policy of radical africanization.

Ultimately, the results proved to be a disaster, and, 20 years later, Guinea lagged behind every other franco-phone African state that had retained the French pedagogical model. By 1985, a national educational conference held in Conakry, the capital, made public these findings:

  • The use of vernacular languages in Guinean education was a failure, mostly because of the lack of standardized syntax and appropriate textbooks.
  • The majority of teachers in the primary and secondary schools were poorly trained or unqualified.
  • Budgetary restrictions compelled secondary schools to remain open without proper sanitation, equipment, or educational materials.
  • Educational planning was ineffective, and the current administration was often unqualified.

Guinea gradually restored its economic and political ties with France in the late 1970s. After Sékou-Touré's death in 1984, most of his socialist educational philosophy and plans for africanization of the curriculum were abruptly abandoned. Though his successor, General Conté, still rules by decree, decisions affecting educational reforms are delegated to qualified professionals. Conté's government has launched two major educational reforms:

Le Plan d'Action Intermédiaire (Intermediate Plan) of 1984 stipulated the following directives:

  • A national program of teacher training and in-service training would be immediately implemented.
  • Major government funding would be allocated to build new schools and to provide much-needed equipment.
  • French was restored as the official language of instruction at all educational levels.

The National Educational Policy Document of 1989 assessed the progress made during the intermediary period between 1984 and 1989 and recommended the implementation of the following steps to meet Guinea's needs: budgetary allocations for education must be increased to represent at least 20 percent of the national budget and, in order to combat illiteracy more effectively, the admission rate for the first year in primary school must be brought up to represent at least 50 percent of the eligible population. Also, by the year 2000, the national education budget was supposed to designate at least 40 percent of its resources for primary education, according to the Policy Document. These reforms were adapted and incorporated in the PASE, or Programme d'Ajustement Sectoriel de l'Education (National Education Adjustment Program), which became the reference policy document for the educational reform of Guinea through the year 2000.


Preprimary & Primary Education


The primary and secondary educational systems are basically carried over from the French national system, which had been implemented in all former colonies of French West Africa. The school year runs from September to July. Officially, primary education begins at the age of seven and lasts for six years. Children from urban areas typically enter primary school around age six, while their counterparts from rural areas may wait until they are almost nine years old.

In 2000, there were 790,497 students enrolled in 4,289 primary schools. Of these, only 39.8 percent were girls. (The disproportionately low percentage of girls and women is an anomaly that is found at every level of public education in Guinea, from primary school to graduate and professional education. The same trend is evidenced among primary and secondary school teachers. It worsens considerably in higher education where the percentage of women shrinks below 5 percent of the faculty. Traditional societal roles, exacerbated by the fact that 85 percent of the population is Muslim, are the most frequently cited explanations for this discrepancy.) These pupils were taught by 17,340 teachers, with 1 teacher for every 45 students. At the primary level, teaching is focused on preparing the majority of students to enter the workforce as quickly as possible. At the end of the sixth grade, the test for the Certificat d'Etudes Primaires (Elementary School Certificate) is administered to all students. Only those who pass the CEP are allowed to continue into the secondary school system (in 2000, the passing rate was 53.2 percent). This elitist system is directly inherited from the French public school system. It creates an early division and orientation between students continuing on to an academic program and those going to technical or vocational schools.

Secondary Education


The secondary school cycle is divided into 2 parts. The first (grades 7-9) leads to the Brevet d'Etudes du Premier Cycle or BEPC (Junior High School Certificate). Those who pass this exam are allowed into the next cycle of secondary education (grades 10-13) leading to the Baccalauréat (High School Diploma). Those students who fail the BEPC or the Baccalauréat are directed into the workforce or to vocational and technical schools. In 2000, there were 129,987 students enrolled in the first part of the secondary school cycle (37.5 percent of them female), taught by 3,782 teachers, with a teacher/student ratio of 1:34 (20 percent female). In the second part of the secondary school cycle (post BEPC), there were 66,665 students enrolled, taught by 1,741 teachers in 399 lycées (academic-track high schools) and colleges (secondary schools with a more technical orientation for students who will not continue at the university level). At that stage, 21,900 students had left the academic track and were enrolled in 64 vocational schools with a teaching staff of 1,510, including adjunct faculty.

After 12 years of compulsory education, the number of Guinean students eventually accepted into a university represents only 1.8 percent of the total population of primary school students. The secondary school curriculum is diversified. Though it retains a central core of subjects common to both the pre- and post-BEPC cycle (French, geography, history, sciences, mathematics, and principles of economics), it incorporates technical and vocational subjects in grades 7 through 9. This provides an applied source of knowledge and skills that can be utilized by those who do not continue their studies beyond the BEPC. In grades 10 through 13, the curriculum shifts to more academic subjects and incorporates social studies, political science, and philosophy.


Higher Education


Higher education in Guinea closely follows the French national system. The names of the two universities and research institutes in Guinea reflect its political past since the country chose its independence from France in 1958. The largest university, l'Université Gamal Abdel Nasser in Conakry, was founded in 1962 and named after the former Egyptian dictator to whom Sékou-Touré had turned for help during the first republic. In 2001, this university enrolled 8,360 students and employed 401 full-time faculty members (including 24 women). It is composed of the School of Arts and Humanities, the School of Law, the School of Medicine and Pharmacy, the School of Science, and the Polytechnic Institute. It also includes two attached research centers: the Center for Environment Study and Research and the Computer Center. The main diplomas awarded are Licence (B.A. or B.S.), Diplôme d'Etudes Supérieures (DES) (M.A. or M.S.), and the Doctorat (Ph.D., or M.D.). The Licence usually takes three years of study, the DES one or two additional years, while the Doctorat requires three to four more years beyond the DES. The M.D. degree is a six-year curriculum that begins after the Baccalauréat. Admission to the programs of study offered by the university is granted upon successful completion of the Baccalauréat and a selective application process.

The University of Kankan is Guinea's second institution of higher education. Initially founded in 1963 as a research institute, it was elevated to university status in 1987. Kankan offers degrees mostly in arts and sciences. In 2001, it enrolled 2,304 students and employed 93 faculty members (including only one woman). At the instructor and assistant professor levels, the teaching staff is mostly comprised of Guinean nationals, while the higher echelon of the faculty is made up of foreigners from France and other French-speaking countries.

There are three main research institutes. One institute is the Institut Supérieur Agronomique et Vétérinaire "Valéry Giscard d'Estaing," (the School of Agricultural Sciences, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine), founded in 1978 and located in Faranah. In 2001, it enrolled 2,222 students and employed a faculty of 116 (without any women). The Institute was named after the former French president who was instrumental in restoring ties with Guinea. The second is the Advanced Institute of Education at Maneah with 501 students and 71 faculty members (including 4 women). The third institute is the School of Mines, located in Boké, with 769 students and 19 faculty members (no women). Guinea also has eight research institutes, including the Institut de Recherches en Animaculture Pastoria (the former Pasteur Institute, founded in 1923 and nationalized in 1965), a National Museum, the National Archives, and a National Library known for its special collection on slavery. All are located in Conakry.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The government of Guinea considers education one of the most important issues facing the nation. In March 1998, the 16-member cabinet of Prime Minister Sidya Touré included cabinet-level posts for national education and scientific research, pre-university teaching, communication and culture, and technical education and training. Supervision of secondary education is carried out by the Ministère de l'Enseignement Pré-Universitaire et de la Formation Professionelle (MEPU-FP), which is the National Headquarters for Secondary Education and Vocational Training. It oversees curriculum decisions, administrative and financial affairs, personnel, and the administration of national tests and examinations. Primary schools are inspected by local school inspectors, while secondary schools are inspected by officials from the National Education Institute. There are 5 regional school districts, 33 prefectoral divisions, and 310 subprefectoral units. The Comité National d'Education de Base (CONEBAT), which is the National Committee on Basic Education, is empowered with the supervision of educational reforms and their implementation until the year 2000. In 1996, the Guinean national budget was $947 million, of which 27.5 percent was allocated for education, with half that amount going to teachers' salaries (68 percent for primary schools, 13 percent for secondary schools, 13 percent for vocational and technical schools, and 6 percent for teacher training.) Of the other half of the educational budget, 25 percent is spent on higher education and 25 percent on administrative costs.


Nonformal Education

Illiteracy is an ongoing problem that the Guinean government addresses through regular nationwide campaigns. While progress has been made, the percentage of illiterates among the adult population is still among the highest in West Africa. In 2000, adult literacy rates were 36 percent for males and 22 percent for females. There has been an effort to promote literacy in the national and tribal dialects, but that rate still does not exceed 50 percent.


Teaching Profession

Recruitment and training for primary school teachers is carried out at the five normal schools located in each of the five major school districts. Candidates who have successfully passed the BEPC follow a 2- to 3-year curriculum. Vocational school teachers are trained in the Centres de Formation Professionelle (Vocational Training Centers), where they enroll in a curriculum preparing them for technical, industrial, or health-related fields. Secondary school teachers are recruited selectively by the National Education Institute located in Goyah and Manarah. In-service training courses for primary school teachers are routinely conducted by local school districts and are planned at the regional level. The number of qualified primary school teachers has increased from 7,165 in 1980; to 11,352 in 1996; and to 17,340 in 2000.


Summary

The educational system of Guinea has experienced many difficulties since the country declared its independence in 1958, with the majority of these being related to ideological and political interferences. With the adoption of more democratic policies, the situation has improved. Now back to an educational system that is largely copied from the French national model, Guinea has accomplished much in the area of research and higher education. However, the top priorities for the next decade remain the improvement of the literacy rate for the adult population, an increase in primary and secondary school enrollments, the adequate training of qualified teachers, proper funding of the educational budget to represent at least 40 percent of the national budget, and an increase in the participation of women at all levels of the educational system, including staff and faculty.

Bibliography

Annuaire Statistique, 1999-2000. Conakry, Guinée: Service de Statistiques et de Planification. Ministère de l'Enseignement Pré-Universitaire et de l'Education Civique, 2000.

Binns, Margaret. Guinea. Santa Barbara: Clio Press, 1996.

Développement de l'Education, 1994-1996: Rapport National de la République de Guinée. Conakry: Ministère de l'Education Nationale, 1996.

Genre et Fréquentation Scolaire au Primaire en Guinée. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies, 1997.

Livre de Référence sur l'Education en Matière de Population en Guinée. Conakry: Institut Pédagogique National, 1992.


Eric H. du Plessis

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Guinea

Guinea

Official name : Republic of Guinea

Area: 245,857 square kilometers (94,926 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Nimba (1,752 meters/5,748 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Western

Time zone: Noon = noon GMT

Longest distances: 831 kilometers (516 miles) from southeast to northwest; 493 kilometers (306 miles) from northeast to southwest

Land boundaries: 3,399 kilometers (2,112 miles) total boundary length; Senegal 330 kilometers (205 miles); Mali 858 kilometers (533 miles); Cote d'Ivoire 610 kilometers (379 miles); Liberia 563 kilometers (350 miles); Sierra Leone 652 kilometers (405 miles); Guinea-Bissau 386 kilometers (240 miles)

Coastline: 320 kilometers (199 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Guinea is located on the coast of the great western bulge of Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean. The country shares borders with Senegal, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau. With an area of about 245,857 square kilometers (94,926 square miles), the country is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. Guinea is divided into thirty-three prefectures and one special zone.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Guinea has no outside dependencies or territories.

3 CLIMATE

The temperature in Guinea varies according to region and season. Conakry is humid nearly all year-round, with fairly uniform temperatures from 23°C (73°F) to 29°C (84°F). Temperatures in the Fouta Djallon and Forest Highlands are more moderate, and in the dry season they may vary daily by 14°C (25°F).

Conakry and the maritime region receive as much as 430 centimeters (169 inches) of monsoon rains annually, with half of the rainfall in July and August. The Fouta receives about 150 to 200 centimeters (60 to 80 inches), while the Forest Highlands receive 280 centimeters (110 inches) annually.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Guinea has four main geographic regions. Lower Guinea, or Maritime Guinea, consists mainly of a coastal plain that rises steeply to high central plateaus known as the Fouta Djallon, or "The Fouta," in Middle Guinea. To the northeast are broad savannahs in Upper Guinea. To the southeast are a combination of mountains and uplands in the Forest Highlands.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Seacoast and Undersea Features

Guinea's irregular coast is broken up by a number of bays and estuaries facing the Atlantic Ocean.

Islands and Archipelagoes

The Îles de Los, a cluster of small volcanic islands off Conakry, are inhabited and draw tourists during the dry season when seas are calm.

Coastal Features

Mangroves line much of Guinea's coast. The coast is broken at only two points, where spurs of resistant rock formations jut into the ocean. One is found at Cape Verga in the north, and the other is the Camayenne (or Kaloum) Peninsula on which Conakry is situated. Tides are high along the entire coast, reaching fifteen or more feet, which results in brackish water in estuaries many miles inland. Behind the coastal swamps lies an alluvial plain which averages about 48 kilometers (30 miles) wide but is considerably narrower in its central section.

6 INLAND LAKES

There are no major lakes in Guinea.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

Guinea is the "water tower" of West Africa. Over one-half of West Africa's principal rivers rise either in the Fouta Djallon or the Forest Highlands. The longest river in Guinea is the Niger River, at 4,100 kilometers (2,460 miles). It rises in the Fouta Djallon and flows northward into Mali. A little more than halfway through Mali, the river curves to the south and flows through the countries of Niger and Nigeria before reaching the Gulf of Guinea. The Niger River system in Guinea drains more than one-third of the country's total area. During the rainy season flooding occurs frequently along the sluggish rivers in the Niger River basin, including parts of the Niger itself.

Many short rivers, originating either in the Fouta Djallon or in its foothills, cascade through the coastal plain to estuaries along the Atlantic Ocean. Among the most important for navigation purposes are the Rio Nunez and the Fatala River. The Konkouré River, north of Conakry, provides hydro-electric power for the capital.

Tidal marshes and swampy flats surround Atlantic coast estuaries.

8 DESERTS

There are no significant desert regions in Guinea.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

Tall grasses, interspersed with lightly wooded savannah, dominate Upper Guinea. Grasses also have colonized deforested areas of the Forest Highlands.

Dense rainforest, now largely secondary growth, characterizes the Forest Highlands in areas below 609 meters (2,000 feet). Higher areas are more lightly forested. The area around Beyla and Nzérékoré consists of rolling plains that were at one time probably covered by rainforest.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

The Guinea Highlands in the Forest Region have general elevations ranging from about 457 meters (1,500 feet) above sea level in the west to over 914 meters (3,000 feet) in the east. Peaks at several points attain 1,219 meters (4,000 feet) and higher. Southeast of Nzérékoré are the Nimba Mountains on the Liberian and Côte d'Ivoire frontiers. Located in this range is Mount Nimba, Guinea's highest point at 1,752 meters (5,748 feet).

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

There are no major caves or canyons in Guinea.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

The Fouta Djallon occupies most of Middle Guinea and consists of a complex, elevated, relatively level plateau. About 12,950 square kilometers (5,000 square miles) of this area reach elevations over 914 meters (3,000 feet). The plateaus are deeply cut in many places by narrow valleys, many of which run at roughly right angles, giving the region a checkerboard appearance. A number of major valleys extend for long distances, providing important lines of communication; the railroad from Conakry to Kankan runs in part through one of these valleys. In the south, foothills occur in steep steps having escarpments well over 304 meters (1,000 feet) high.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

The Garifiri hydroelectric dam on the Konkouré River features a 75-megawatt power plant, a reservoir of 2 billion cubic meters (7.51 billion cubic feet), and a spillway that evacuates 2,000 cubic meters (70,580 cubic feet) of water per second.

DID YOU KNOW?

Guinea is the second-largest bauxite producer in the world, possessing more than 30 percent of the world's bauxite reserves. Bauxite is a main ingredient in the production of aluminum. Major bauxite deposits are found across western and central Guinea. Since these deposits are generally close to the surface, open pit mining operations are typical.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Laye, Camara. The Dark Child. Trans. Eva Thoby-Marcelin. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1954.

Nelson, Harold D., et al, eds. Area Handbook for Guinea. Foreign Area Studies. Washington, D.C.: American University, 1975.

Niane, Djibril Tamsir. Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali. Trans. G.D. Pickett. Essex: Longman, 1965.

O'Toole, Thomas. Historical Dictionary of Guinea. Third Edition. Lanham, MD, and London: Scarecrow Press, 1994.

Web Sites

Wild World: Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World. National Geographic Society. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/wildworld/terrestrial.html (accessed May, 2003).

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Guinea

Guinea

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Guinea
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 7,466,200
Language(s): French
Literacy rate: 35.9%

Background & General Characteristics

The government essentially runs the news media in the Republic of Guinea (Républic de Guinée), a coastal West African country where the United Nations projects a 2002 population of 7,860,000, including refugees who fled in 2001 from Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Patterns of language and literacy, population distribution, and historical modes of government have all combined against the presence of a strong press. The predominantly Muslim population, about twenty-nine percent urban, inhabits a diverse terrain. A history of colonialism followed by Marxism underlies the weak but improving economy, which is heavily agricultural. The official language is French, but natives also use tribal languages including Malinké (Mandingo). Only some thirty-six percent of Guineans are literate. Conakry, Guinea's coastal capital and communications center, has a population approaching 2,000,000.

Though the Constitution of 1991 is in force, government censorship applies, and critics charge that presidential and parliamentary elections in the 1990s were not open.

Media Activity

The daily newspaper, Fonike, which had a circulation in the twenty thousands in the late 1990s, is state-owned. Horoya (Liberty) is published in French and the local languages. Journal Officiel de Guinée is a fortnightly government organ. A federation of Guinean workers has published Le Travailleur de Guinée, a monthly. L'Indépendant is an independent weekly.

The official news agency since 1986 has been theAgence Guinéenne de Presse (AGP), an offshoot of the UNESCO-supported West African News Agencies Development (WANAD) project. Xinhua, APN, and TASS have representations in Conakry.

The state-controlled Radiodiffusion Télévision Guinéenne broadcasts over eight radio stations in French, English, Portuguese, Arabic, and native dialects; in 1998 citizens owned about 390,000 radios. Interactive instruction by radio has been tried in Guinean classrooms.

State television broadcasts, which started in 1977, were reaching about 87,000 TV sets in the late 1990s. Six TV stations operated in 1997. The Société des Télécommunications de Guinée is forty percent state-owned.

Computer use is growing. In 1995, Guineans owned an estimated one hundred personal computers, but by the year 2000, Internet users numbered about five thousand. In mid-2002 the university at Kankan, isolated in the interior, was getting its own campus computer system and high-speed Internet connection.

Significant Dates

  • 1977: State-sponsored television broadcasts begin.
  • 2002: A college in the interior is wired for the Internet.

Bibliography

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). World Factbook 2002. Directorate of Intelligence, 7 May 2002. Available from http://www.cia.gov/.

Banks, Arthur S. and Thomas C. Muller, eds. Political Handbook of the World, 1999. Binghamton, NY: CSA Publications, 1999.

Turner, Barry, ed. The Statesman's Yearbook: The Politics, Cultures, and Economies of the World, 2000. 136th ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

USAID, 7 May 2002. Available from http://www.usaid.gov/.

World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2002. New York: World Almanac Books, 2002.

Roy Neil Graves

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Guinea

Guinea

Culture Name

Guinean

Alternate Name

Guinea-Conakry

Orientation

Identification. The origin of the word "Guinea" is unclear. The name came into use among European shippers and map makers in the seventeenth century to refer to the coast of West Africa from Guinea to Benin. Some Guineans claim that the word arose from an early episode in the European-African encounter. In Susu, the language spoken by the coastal Susu ethnic group, the word guinè means "woman." When a group of Europeans arrived on the coast they met some women washing clothes in an estuary. The women indicated to the men that they were women. The Europeans misunderstood and thought the women were referring to a geographic area; the subsequently used the word "Guinea" to describe coastal West Africa.

The French claimed the coast of present-day Guinea in 1890 and named it French Guinea (Guinée française ) in 1895. Neighboring colonies also bore the name "Guinea." The British colony of Sierra Leone to the south was sometimes identified as British Guinea, and to the north, Portugal's colony was named Portuguese Guinea.

After Guinea gained independence, the first president, Sekou Touré, named the country the People's Revolutionary Republic of Guinea. The second president, Lansana Conté, changed the official name to the Republic of Guinea. The capital city is Conakry, and the country often is referred to as Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from other nation-states with the same name.

Location and Geography. Guinea is located on the west coast of Africa, and is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. Its area is 94,930 square miles (245,857 square kilometers). There are four geographic zones. The coastal maritime region is filled with mangrove swamps and alluvial plains that support palm trees. Lower Guinea receives heavy rains, and Conakry is one of the wettest cities in the world. The coastal belt is home to one of the country's dominant ethnic groups, the Susu, and to many smaller groups, such as the Baga, Landoma, Lele, and Mikiforé. Other important towns include the bauxite mining centers of Fria and Kamsar.

In the interior is the Futa Jallon. This mountainous region has cool temperatures, allowing for the cultivation of potatoes. The Niger, Senegal, and Gambia rivers originate in the Futa Jallon. Many other streams and waterfalls run through this area's rocky escarpments and narrow valleys. The Fulbe ethnic group, also referred to as Peul, is the major population group. Smaller ethnic groups include the Jallonke and the Jahanke. Labé is the largest city, and the town of Timbo was the region's capital in the precolonial era.

To the east of the Futa Jallon is Upper Guinea, a savanna region with plains and river valleys. The Milo and Niger rivers are important for fishing, irrigation, and transportation. Most of the population consists of members of the Maninka ethnic group. Siguiri and Kankan are the major cities, and there are many smaller agricultural settlements in the countryside. Kankan sometimes is referred to as the nation's second capital, although in recent years it has been dwarfed in size by cities in southern Guinea.

The southernmost region is Forest Region. Rainfall is heavy, and the area is dense with rain forests with mahogany, teak, and ebony trees. Agricultural exploitation and the demand for tropical hardwoods have increased the rate of deforestation. Many valuable resources are found, including gold, diamonds, and iron ore. Larger ethnic groups include the Guerzé, Toma, and Kissi. Since the early 1990s, the Forest Region has had a substantial rise in population as refugees from wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone have flooded over the border and doubled the size of the towns of Gueckedou, Macenta, and N'Zerekoré.

Demography. The population is approximately 7.5 million, according to 2000 estimates. The Susu ethnic group accounts for 20 percent of the population; the Peul, 34 percent; and the Maninka, 33 percent. Smaller groups, mostly from the Forest Region, such as the Bassari, Coniagui, Guerze, Kissi, Kono, and Toma, make up the remaining 19 percent. There are about five hundred thousand refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia, although in the year 2000, some started to leave.

Almost half of the population is under the age of fifteen. This generation has known only the rule of the second president, Conté, who came to power in 1984 and is still in office. Fifteen percent of the country was born while the first president, Touré, ruled from 1958 to 1984; only 12 percent of the population witnessed colonial rule.

Many Senegalese merchants, artisans, and tailors live in the country, and they are joined by foreign nationals from other African countries. Some of these are refugees, others come seeking opportunities in Guinea. A substantial number of Europeans and Americans reside in Conakry, most of whom work for embassies and development organizations. Expatriates also live in the mining towns of Fria and Kamsar (bauxite) and Siguiri (gold). An economically influential Lebanese population conducts commerce in the cities. A tiny group of Korean immigrants operates photo development shops in Conakry.

Linguistic Affiliation. More than thirty languages are spoken, and eight are designated as official national languages: Bassari, Guerzé, Kissi, Koniagui, Maninka, Peul, Susu, and Toma. In the 1960s, President Touré wanted to promote African cultures and languages and abolished the use of French. Schoolchildren started to be taught in local languages. President Conté reversed this policy and resuscitated French as the official language in 1985.

Many people, especially men, speak more than one language. In Conakry, Susu is most commonly spoken on the streets and in the marketplaces, although in certain sectors Peul is more common. Elsewhere, Maninka is the preferred language of commerce. French is used in schools and in high governmental and business circles.

Symbolism. Official national symbols include the flag and the coat of arms. The flag has bands of red, yellow, and green and was first flown during Touré's regime. The coat of arms displays the slogan "Work, Justice, Solidarity." The nimba, a wooden headdress that represents fertility among the Bagas in the coastal region, has gained currency as a national symbol. It is found on the Guinean franc and is used as a logo by governmental agencies, businesses, and private organizations. Wood carvers, artisans, and artists reproduce nimbas in various forms and media. Important national sites include the grand mosque in Conakry and the tombs of Alfa Yaya and Samori Touré, two African leaders who confronted the French during the colonial period. The mosque of Dinguiraye in the Futa Jallon is an important monument. Al Hajj Umar Tall, a Muslim state builder in the mid-nineteenth century, constructed the mosque.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Guinea's complex history reflects the diversity of its geographic zones. In the early eighteenth century, Islamic Peul migrants arrived in the Futa Jallon, displacing the ancestors of the Susu, who pushed westward to the coast and encroached on the lands and settlements of coastal peoples, including the Baga and the Landoma. Over the next two centuries, the Susu gained control of the coast by building a series of small states based on clan and town affiliation. The Susu supported themselves by fishing and trading with Europeans. They traded locally produced goods such as beeswax and hides as well as slaves for European cloth, arms, and other manufactured goods. The region participated in but was not a major contributor to the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

In the Futa Jallon, the Peuls constructed a centralized theocratic Muslim state. Two families, the Soriyas and the Alfayas, headed the government of the Futa Jallon. Male members of those families occupied the position of Almamy, or leader, for alternating terms of two years. The Futa Jallon was divided into nine diwals, or provinces, and people supported themselves through cattle herding, farming, and trade. Slaves lived in small hamlets and did most of the heavy labor.

The savanna of West Africa has been the site of great Maninka kingdoms since the eighth century. The exploits of Sundiata, the builder of the Mali Empire in the thirteenth century, are still recounted by griots, or bards, throughout Upper Guinea. Islam also has played an important role in Upper Guinea's history. In the seventeenth century, Muslim migrants came to the banks of the Milo River and formed the small city-state of Baté, with the town of Kankan as its capital. Baté emerged as an enclave of Islam and became a magnet for Muslim traders and scholars. Slaves supported agricultural and commercial activities. Animist Maninka populations tended to have fewer slaves, whom they incorporated into the household. Slaves owned by Maninka Muslims often resided in separate farming villages.

In the Forest Region, political and social affiliations functioned on a small scale because of the density and fragility of the rain forest. Because the ecosystem could not support large population centers, the forest's populations lived in dispersed villages of about one hundred to two hundred people. These villages, often situated on the top of a high hill, could be moved or replaced easily in response to environmental challenges or warfare. The forest stimulated isolated independence. Islam did not make significant inroads in this area.

In the nineteenth century, warfare intensified in several geographic regions. In the 1870s, a Maninka warrior, Samori Turé, created a vast empire through Upper Guinea and present-day Mali. Samori provisioned his armies and administration by trading cattle and slaves for European arms. The French, who were moving eastward to the interior from Senegal, clashed with Samori in the 1880s. They drove him out of Upper Guinea in 1891 and captured him in northern Côte d'Ivoire in 1898. Samori is remembered as a great colonial resistor. In the Futa Jallon, civil war in the 1890s arose over French annexation of Middle Guinea. The French built alliances with disaffected elites and incorporated the area to French Guinea by treaty in 1896. In 1900, the French fixed the borders of the colony.

The French set up a bureaucracy to administer the colony and collected taxes and requisitioned forced labor. The tried to capitalize on the area's natural resources, such as gold, but were largely unsuccessful. The French built schools, courts, and medical clinics. While they brutalized some sectors of the population, colonialism was ameliorated by the lack of French personnel. The French depended on local chiefs and institutions for the day-to-day administration of the colony; as a result, colonial policies were often implemented incompletely.

Sekou Touré led the nation to independence in the 1950s. A postal clerk and union activist, Touré was head of the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG), which drew support from market women and low-level African bureaucrats. Declaring, "We prefer poverty in freedom to riches in chains," Touré conducted a campaign against the proposed French Union, which would have kept French colonies in a federation.

In September 1958, France's president, granted the nation's independence and ordered a swift withdrawal. All French personnel were deployed back to France, public works in progress were demolished, and the medicines, textbooks, and records used in colonial hospitals, schools, and offices were removed or destroyed. Taking office as the country's first president in 1958, Touré faced immense challenges. Only a handful of doctors, lawyers, engineers, and accountants were left, and the country had only two high schools and no university. Having created an enemy in a powerful Western nation at the height of the Cold War, Guinea was thrust into international isolation.

Touré turned to the Soviet Union and later to the People's Republic of China for help. Those countries provided financial support and expertise and opened their universities to Guinean students. Touré embarked on a socialist program, which he termed African communalism. Advocating unity, egalitarianism, parity between the sexes, and Guinean cultural production, Touré attempted to blend indigenous African institutions with a Marxist agenda. Touré used his presidency to strengthen ties to other African leaders and was hailed internationally as a spokesperson for pan-Africanism. The country's situation varied under those programs of economic centralization, improving with the export of bauxite starting in 1960 but suffering as schemes to collectivize markets and agricultural production foundered in the 1970s. In implementing his programs, Touré tolerated no dissent. He outlawed other political parties and punished his critics severely. Some dissidents lived in exile, and others were interred in detention camps. Economic and political repression prompted many people to flee to neighboring countries.

When he died in 1984, Touré was remembered internationally for his firm stance against colonial rule. But in Guinea, some members of the population celebrated his death. After a brief period of political disarray, Conté, a military general, seized power. After constitutional reform in 1990, Conté instituted civilian rule. Under the auspices of the Party for Unity and Progress, he advocated economic liberalization and privatization, which brought Western donors and aid agencies to the country.

National Identity. At the time of Touré's death, the standard of living was one of the worst in the world, but some people contend that they owe their identity as citizens of a common country to Touré. His legacy is tangible. Buildings, roads, and schools, as well as professionals who speak Chinese, Russian, and Romanian, testify to the assistance he extracted from Eastern bloc nations. Guineans born during Touré's regime who are able to read and write in their own language are proof of Touré's commitment to the use of African languages.

Ethnic Relations. Despite Touré's attempts to minimize ethnic divisions, poverty, a feeble economy, a weak infrastructure, and limited educational and medical resources have exacerbated ethnic tensions. President Conté's has been accused of favoring his own ethnic group, the Susu.

Ethnic and national tensions have coalesced around the issue of refugees. Conté initially welcomed the victims of the Sierra Leonean and Liberian wars in the early and middle 1990s. However, when the country's border towns were attacked in 2000, Conté made a radio address in which he accused the refugee population of harboring rebels and ordered the refugees to leave the country. In the days after that speech, Sierra Leoneans and Liberians were attacked and robbed, and many tried to leave the country.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Colonial rule left an imprint on cities and towns, as did the assistance given by the Soviet bloc. The older sections of Conakry are built in a grid pattern interspersed with boulevards and round points. Newer buildings, such as Palace of the People, built by the Chinese, reflect the architecture of the Eastern bloc countries. Conakry radiates fifteen miles outward from the narrow downtown peninsula. Most residential structures there are low buildings with one to four rooms, although some families live in government-owned and privately-owned apartment buildings. Wealthier residents reside in modern, luxurious homes.

Older forms of African and French architecture are better preserved in the interior cities. French-built sections of Kankan, Dalaba, and Siguiri reveal the colonial concern with plotting buildings, houses, and market centers along straight lines. Quarters of towns that were not subject to French intervention reflect the priorities of Africans in arranging their physical space. In Kankan, many people live in small mud huts with thatched roofs, structures that are cool and easy to maintain. Members of the same household often sleep in separate dwellings, but their doors open onto a communal space where cooking and social interaction take place. These family compounds accommodate the large extended families and polygamous marriages that are common among the Maninka ethnic group. This arrangement is repeated in other cities and towns.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. An array of taboos and customs affect food consumption. It is impolite to eat while walking. A visitor who arrives in a compound while a meal is in progress will be invited to join in the meal. Food often is served in large communal bowls and eaten with spoons. In large families, the men will eat from one bowl and the women from another.

The main meal typically is served in the middle of the day and consists of a sauce placed over a staple carbohydrate such as rice or millet. The sauce and staples differ according to region, season, and the wealth of the household. Rice, sorghum, millet, and cassava are common foods. Sauces are made with groundnuts, okra, and tomatoes. They may contain fresh or smoked fish, meat, or poultry. Many people can afford to eat only once a day. Their meals are frequently low in protein, and many children and adults suffer from malnutrition.

Little pork is eaten except in the Forest Region, where there are fewer Muslims and bush pig is favored. Variations in region, ethnicity, and wealth also affect milk and bread consumption. In Middle Guinea, milk is made into a yogurt like sauce that is sweetened and served alone or over sorghum or millet. Wealthier families often eat bread as a morning meal, accompanied by instant coffee or tea with sweetened condensed milk or sugar and powdered milk.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Meals often are served at weddings, baptisms, and funerals. Among the wealthier people in large cities, meals on special occasions may include expensive imported goods such as canned peas and costly locally-produced staples such as potatoes. Ramadan is observed, and Tabaski is celebrated with the slaughtering of a sheep, goat, or chicken. Alcohol usually is not served at family celebrations, except for in the Forest Region, where palm wine is frequently consumed.

Basic Economy. Guinea is one of the world's poorest countries. Despite its natural resources and abundant rainfall, Guinea has low life expectancy, a low doctor-patient ratio, and a high rate of infant mortality. The country remains largely rural, and 80 percent of the population is involved in agricultural production. The farming and cattle-herding sectors of the Futa Jallon support 40 percent of the population, while 11 percent of the people are employed in industry and commerce, 5 percent in the service industry, and 4 percent in the civil service. These statistics mask the strategies that people use to support themselves. Many civil servants own livestock or a small store, and some agriculturalists migrate to urban centers to work as day laborers or trade in the dry season.

Land Tenure and Property. A ruralurban divide affects land access and ownership. In rural areas, land is abundant and ownership usually is dictated by local custom. These traditional laws are often highly complex, and in the Futa Jallon, efforts by nongovernmental agencies and the government to streamline property rights have had little success. In urban areas, especially Conakry, demand for land is greater than supply and residents rely on the civic code and legal titles to determine land ownership. Conflict over land rights caused a devastating confrontation in Conakry in 1997, when the government clashed with residents over the building of a road.

Commercial Activities. Most people are not employed in the formal sector, and those who do not engage in agriculture earn a living in an array of occupations. These occupations include auto and motorcycle repair, iron and leather working, marketing, and selling prepared meals.

Major Industries. Guinea has the second largest known deposits of bauxite and produces 25 percent of the bauxite used in the world. The mine in Kamsar was opened in 1960; in the 1990s, bauxite constituted 75 percent of the country's exports. There are also reserves of iron ore, gold, and diamonds. British interests have built a gold mine in Siguiri, but the depressed price of gold has damaged its prospects. Guinean interests have kept careful control over the country's diamond mines, but intermediaries sell to international diamond buyers. Beer, cigarettes, and soft drinks are manufactured in Conakry for local consumption. Tourism is minimal.

Trade. The major export is bauxite. Aluminum, coffee, diamonds, fish, and fruits and vegetables also are exported. Manufactured goods are imported from China, Europe, and the United States. Regional trade networks deal in locally produced agricultural goods, such as potatoes, rice, shea butter, and kola nuts. China supplies bedding, bicycles, buckets, kerosene lamps, motorcycles, and pots, but the abysmal transportation system hinders commerce. The rainy season, aging bridges and roads, and interregional conflicts slow and sometimes stop the movement of goods and people through the country. As a result, the price of goods imported by sea increases dramatically from Lower Guinea to Upper Guinea and the Forest Region. In rural areas, people depend largely on what they can produce or accumulate to support themselves.

Division of Labor. Labor traditionally is divided along lines of class, level of education, gender, and age. Literacy and formal schooling tend to separate manual laborers and petty traders from bureaucrats and professionals, although many successful businesspeople are neither literate nor highly educated. In agricultural settings, boys usually herd livestock, men plow, and women and girls weed and plant gardens for petty trade. The division of labor within a household often is complicated by marital hierarchies and the needs and contributions of elderly parents and grandparents.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. While Western education and employment in the formal sector have limited the strength of traditional social orderings, the legacies of caste groupings and domestic slavery continue to shape social relations. In Middle and Upper Guinea, professional artisans such as blacksmiths, leatherworkers, and bards form a social caste. Precolonial social categories are also evident in areas where the descendents of slaves live in the farming villages that were inhabited by their bonded ancestors. In most of the country, marriage between noble women and men of lower status is frowned upon. These traditional rankings have weakened as education, employment, and monetary wealth have created new social hierarchies.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Under the regime of Touré, most people were poor and corruption and embezzlement were forbidden and punished. With the opening of the country under President Conté, the gap between rich people and poor people has increased. A small but significant segment of the population has benefitted from the investment programs that have been started since the mid-1980s. Automobiles and large houses, sometimes equipped with electric generators and swimming pools, symbolize the wealth of the elite sector. Expatriate professionals form a significant part of this sector. The affluence of the wealthy contrasts sharply with the lifestyle of the rest of the people, many of whom do not have access to electricity, running water, and sanitary services.

Outside of Conakry, symbols of success vary according to region and relative means. In small villages, a wealthy household may invest in a concrete house with a corrugated aluminum roof. In this setting, acquiring a bicycle or a motorcycle can demonstrate prosperity while fulfilling practical needs. Sometimes villages or neighborhoods pool their resources to build mosques or schools. In both urban and rural areas, men may use their wealth to take another wife.

Political Life

Government. The constitution, the Loi Fundamental, was ratified in 1990. The government is based on the French Napoleonic civil law system and traditional law. The president is democratically elected to five-year terms, and the holder of this office appoints the prime minister and the other ministers. Representatives to the People's National Assembly, the unicameral parliament, are elected by popular vote.

Leadership and Political Officials. Postcolonial Guinea has had only two presidents: Touré (19581984) and Conté (1984present). Under the leadership of Conté, the country went from a one-party state to a multiparty democracy with constitutional reform in 1990. A bill legalized political parties in 1992. Some have questioned whether these reforms have been put into effect, in light of the alleged fraud that marred the presidential elections of 1993 and the parliamentary elections of 1996. Government corruption has increased during Conté's regime, and well-paid contacts are needed to get results from the lethargic and inefficient bureaucracy.

Social Problems and Control. Theft is a problem, and fraud ranges from the banal to the brutal. The regional flood of arms has increased the incidence of armed robbery and other forms of violence. Government officials, particularly soldiers, customs officials, and low-level police officers, sometimes extort money and goods from people. Many Guineans believe that payoffs and embezzlement characterize the country's governance at higher levels. When people have disputes, some seek redress through governmental authorities; others try to settle their differences by resorting to the practices and rules common to their ethnic group or region.

Military Activity. The government is heavily militarized. Conté came to power through the army, and the armed forces continue to be an important source of his support. Soldiering offers a viable, if low-paying, form of employment for many young men, and regional hostilities have reinforced the nation's investment in training and arming its forces. Guinean troops have served in peacekeeping operations in Sierra Leone and with the United Nations.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Aid from Western donors has increased significantly during Conté's presidency. Projects initiated by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the European Union have privatized utilities, such as water and electricity, and improved the infrastructure. Local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have set up programs that target health, education, and women's and business issues.

The dispersal of donor money and governmental assistance programs varies by region. Historically, Lower and Middle Guinea have received more assistance, and the Forest Region and Upper Guinea have received less. This pattern shifted in the Forest Region in the 1990s as international relief organizations such as the United Nations High Commission of Refugees arrived to contend with the refugee crisis.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

While aid organizations and international donor agencies play a large role in the economy, other types of associations thrive. Many ethnic groups practice initiation rights that ritualize the passage to adulthood. Churches and mosques mobilize their members for projects such as the construction of new buildings and schools. A driver's union negotiates the fares charged for long-distance transportation. Veterans clubs testify to the high number of men who served as soldiers in the French army in World War II. Women's trade associations lend money and advocate for demands involving access to and rental of market stalls in major marketing centers.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Divisions of Labor by Gender. Women are on average less educated and less financially secure than men. A woman often spends part of her life in a polygamous marriage and has only a 22 percent likelihood of being literate. She will live on average forty-eight years and have five children, one of whom will die in infancy. In rural areas, women contribute to the household by weeding the fields, planting garden plots, doing the cooking and cleaning, and looking after the children. In urban areas, women constitute a major component of the informal marketing sector.

President Touré recognized the importance of women to cultural, social, and economic production, and instituted programs to promote the education and prosperity of women. Some of Touré's strongest supporters were market women, who, however, successfully led a strike against his marketing reforms in 1972. Touré promoted equal access to education and the enrollment of females in primary, secondary, and professional schools climbed to nearly half in some regions. Touré was the first postindependence leader in Africa to appoint women to key ministerial positions. During the regime of President Conté, these strides have slowed. Women are much less prominent in government, and the rate of female education has declined significantly. Currently, only about 10 percent of students at the university level are women.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. There is a persistent bias in the social hierarchy toward males, and boys are more likely to be educated and as adults are more likely to have a range of economic and employment options. Household heads are almost always men and custom allows them to exercise absolute authority over their wives, sisters, and daughters. These patriarchal structures conceal the power that many women wield on a day-to-day level in family compounds and market stalls, in raising children, earning an income, and allocating household resources.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Marriage is considered a union of two families, not the choice of two individuals. Family approval and ritual gifts are considered very important in laying a firm marital foundation. The groom typically pays bridewealth to the family of the bride in some combination of cash, cloth, and livestock.

Marriage customs vary widely by region, ethnicity, and social status. In the Futa Jallon, a marriage may be arranged while the wife is still an infant. The couple does not take up residence together until the wife has reached puberty. It is not unusual for a wedding ceremony to take place in the absence of the groom, especially if he lives in a different region than his betrothed. After the ceremony, the bride is sent to her husband. In urban areas, some couples go to the mayor's office to sign official documents, but most couples do not seek civil recognition of their unions. Divorce is not uncommon, and local custom typically prevails over the civil courts.

Domestic Unit. The domestic unit is frequently large and composed of many generations. Polygamy is common and can both complicate and strengthen a household. Custom dictates that the first, or senior, wife mediates conflicts and oversees the division of labor within the household. In rural areas in particular, harmonious polygamous households help ensure sufficient allocations for child care, cooking, marketing, and working in the fields. These large households function less well in urban settings, where space is limited and more challenges exist in dividing scarce material and monetary resources. Tensions, favoritism, and jealousy in either setting can jeopardize a household's viability. Some women, as well as men, reject polygamy. Monogamous unions are most common among Christians and western-educated men and women.

Inheritance. Titles and property typically pass through the male members of a family, from father to son or from brother to brother. Specific patterns and customs of inheritance vary by ethnic group. According to Islamic law, which is sometimes followed, a man inherits the wife or wives of his deceased brother. This rule of inheritance is not always implemented, but this practice can produce results that range from the disastrous to the beneficial for a widow and her children.

Kin Groups. Different types of kin groupings affect social relations. Many people have the same last name and share a common ancestor in the lineage's founder. Family names often inspire jokes and camaraderie; they also can serve as the basis for assumptions about the status and class of their bearers.

Terms such as "cousin" and "sister" frequently are applied to people who are not blood relations. These terms convey respect and affection or indicate certain commonalties. Distance often expands kin relationships: Two acquaintances from the same village in Upper Guinea may refer to each other as "cousin" in the streets of Conakry, and a Guinean studying in France may introduce a neighbor from Conakry as a sister. To distinguish fictive kin from blood ties, people frequently explain their exact relationship to their "real" brothers or sisters. A man may describe his blood brother as having the "same mother, same father" or his half sister as having the "same father, different mother."

Socialization

Infant Care. The mother is typically the primary caretaker of a child, although it is not unusual for a grandmother, aunt, or sister to take charge of the child of one of her relations. Children usually breast-feed until two years of age, a practice that helps them remain healthy while promoting birth spacing. According to custom, a man is not supposed to have intercourse with a woman who is breast-feeding.

At birth, children are given charms to wear around the wrist and waist to protect them from evil spirits. Infants spend most of their waking and sleeping hours with their primary caretaker, usually the mother. A mother typically ties her baby on to her back in a wrapper and carries the child as she goes about her daily tasks.

Child Rearing and Education. Many children, particularly girls, do not have the opportunity to attend school because families cannot afford school fees and uniforms, and because the family needs the child's labor in the fields or the family compound. Girls are more likely than boys to stay home. Children who cannot attend a governmental school may be sent to an Islamic school to learn the Koran. Regardless of whether they are enrolled in school, children tend to work very hard at a young age. Children carry water and firewood, help with food preparation, and go to the market to buy and sell.

Children are brought up by their elders, not just their parents, and are supposed to show respect to their elders at all times. This means that it is culturally acceptable for relatives, friends, and acquaintances to reprimand a child who misbehaves. It is rare for a child to openly confront or contradict an adult.

Higher Education. There are universities in Conakry and Kankan. Students are awarded university scholarships on a competitive basis, but lack of funding severely constrains the universities. Library and computer resources are scarce, and strikes by dissatisfied students and underpaid professors are common. These limitations on higher education mean that students often spend many years completing their university degrees.

Etiquette

Greetings are very important, and it is rude to ask a question or make a request without first inquiring about someone's health and the well-being of his or her family. These questions are formulaic and may be repeated several times. These questions and responses are accompanied by a firm handshake or, among the upper classes, by brief kisses on the cheeks. People still sometimes refer to each other as "comrade," a legacy of Touré's efforts to promote equality and eliminate social hierarchies. It is impolite to use the left hand in any social interaction, whether to shake hands, point, pay, or hand an item to someone.

Rules of etiquette also dictate intergenerational communication. It is not proper for young people to look straight into the eyes of a respected elder; they should instead cast their eyes downward. Under certain circumstances, elders must be approached through an intermediary. A son-in-law is always supposed to approach his mother-in-law with great respect and never treat her with familiarity. It is considered unlucky to compliment the beauty of an infant, and people may instead tell a mother that her child is ugly.

Religion

Religious Beliefs. The vast majority of the population (85 percent) identifies itself as Muslim, while 8 percent of the people are Christians and 7 percent practice traditional religions. Most of the Christians are Roman Catholics. Friday afternoon prayers are widely attended and Muslim holidays are observed. With very rare exceptions, Muslim women do not live in seclusion (purdah ) or wear the full covering worn by women in other Islamic countries. Most Christians are either from the Forest Region or the Coastal Region, where Catholic missions were more successful. While few people adhere exclusively to animist beliefs, many traditional beliefs are widely practiced and combined with other forms of religious worship. It is not uncommon for a Muslim or a Catholic to wear an amulet or charm.

Medicine and Health Care

There are both traditional and Western practitioners of medicine. Medically-trained doctors and nurses staff government clinics and a few private clinics throughout the country. Every district has a medical dispensary, although many lack supplies and medicine. In recent years, "pay as you go" reforms have placed Western medical care out of the reach of many members of the population. Traditional health practitioners may use a combination of herbal treatments, magic, and counseling to treat patients. Many people are not reluctant to use both traditional and Western methods of care in healing themselves, and some are forced to for financial reasons.

Secular Celebrations

Independence Day is celebrated on 2 October.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Poverty and scarce material resources compel the vast majority of artists and craftspeople to produce goods that serve a practical purpose.

Literature. Traditional literature, particularly among the Maninka, is preserved in a body of oral traditions that are remembered and passed down by bards. Radio broadcasts and recordings of epic tales and local histories told by leading griots have helped transport this literature into the twenty-first century. Authors and academics use the printed word to convey their message, such as Camara Laye, the author of Dark Child, a novel about a boy growing up in the colonial era.

Graphic Arts. Woodworkers build and carve furniture such as stools, cabinets, and chairs. Metal workers collect and melt old aluminum cans to make utensils and pots. Villagers weave mats and baskets and dry out and decorate gourds that they use for household tasks. Weavers and dyers sell their cloth to men and women, who take it to tailors to make it into clothing. Most of the graphic arts are thus born of necessity and are evident in daily life.

Performance Arts. A thriving music industry supports a wide range of music. Some artists specialize in traditional music, accompanied by stringed instruments. Others combine the musical forms of their ethnic group or region with influences from Europe or the Middle East. Cassette tapes are cheaper in Guinea than in the rest of West Africa and most of the world, making Guinea a mecca for buyers of recorded music. Festivals and celebrations, whether public or private, usually feature dancing and music. In the 1960s, Touré founded Les Ballet Africains to highlight Guinea's rich cultural tradition. This dance troupe continues to tour nationally and internationally.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The physical and social sciences are not strong as a consequence of a weak and impoverished educational system. The government has developed a program at Conakry's university to train engineers and geologists to work in bauxite, diamond, and gold mines. But many of the Guinea's best students and scholars in all fields seek education and employment outside the country. Those who are able to often move to France, other European countries, the United States, or to the Middle East or Asia.

Bibliography

Amnesty International. Annual Report, Guinea, 1973 present.

Barry, Boubacar. Senegambia and the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1998.

Barry, Ismaël. Le Fuuta-Jaloo Face à la Colonisation: Conquête et Mise en Place de l'Administration en Guinée, 1997.

Derman, William. Serfs, Peasants, and Socialists: A Former Serf Village in the Republic of Guinea, 1968.

Dunn, John, ed. West African States: Failure and Promise, 1978.

Fairhead, James, and Melissa Leach. Misreading the African Landscape: Society and Ecology in a Forest-Savanna Mosaic, 1996.

Kaba, Lansine. La Guinee Dit "Non" à de Gaulle, 1989.

Kake, Ibrahima Baba. Sekou Touré: Le Heros et le Tyran, 1987.

Lamp, Frederick. Art of the Baga: A Drama of Cultural Reinvention, 1996.

Laye, Camara. The Dark Child, 1955.

Morgenthau, Ruth Schachter. "French Guinea's RDA Folk Songs." West African Review, 1958.

. "Trade Unionists and Chiefs in Guinea." In Political Parties in French-Speaking West Africa, 1967.

Niane, Djibril Tamsir. Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali, 1965.

Person, Yves. Samori, 19681975.

Rivière, Claude. Guinea: The Mobilization of a People, Viriginia Thompson and Richard Adloff, trans, 1973.

Robinson, David. The Holy War of Umar Tal, 1985.

Suret-Canale, Jean. French Colonialism in Tropical Africa (19001945), 1971.

Web Sites

CIA World Factbook http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/

Camp Boiro http://guinee.net/camp-boiro/

WebGuinee http://guinee.net/

Emily Lynn Osborn

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guinea

guinea a former British gold coin that was first minted in 1663 from gold imported from West Africa, with a value that was later fixed at 21 shillings. It was replaced by the sovereign from 1817.

It was named after Guinea in West Africa as being intended for the Guinea trade and made with gold from that source; the first coins were minted ‘in the name and for the use of the Company of Royal Adventurers of England trading with Africa’; these pieces were to bear for distinction the figure of a little elephant.

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Guinea (archaic term for Africa's west coast)

Guinea (gĬn´ē), an archaic term for the west coast of Africa. In its widest sense it has been applied to the region from Angola to Senegal. Parts of the region bore names originating in early colonial trade, notably Grain Coast, Ivory Coast (see Côte d'Ivoire), Gold Coast (see Ghana, country), and Slave Coast. Characteristic of the coast are dense tropical forests, heavy rainfall, and a hot, humid climate. Today the term refers to the Republic of Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea.

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guinea

guinea name of a portion of the west coast of Africa, applied to things derived thence (or, with vague reference, from some other distant country) as Guinea fowl (XVIII), guinea hen (XVI), Guinea pig (XVII), Guinea worm (XVII). The gold coin named guinea was first struck in 1663 ‘in the name and for the use of the Company of Royal Adventurers trading with Africa’, being intended for the Guinea trade and made of gold from Guinea.

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guinea

guin·ea / ˈginē/ (abbr.: gn.) • n. Brit. the sum of £1.05 (21 shillings in predecimal currency), now used mainly for determining professional fees and auction prices. ∎ hist. a former British gold coin that was first minted in 1663 from gold imported from West Africa, with a value that was later fixed at 21 shillings. It was replaced by the sovereign from 1817.

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Guinea

Guinea

GUINEANS 39
FULANI 46

The people of Guinea are called Guineans. There are about twenty-four ethnic groups. The three largest are the Fulani (profiled here), the Malinké, and the Susu. For more information on the Malinké, see the chapter on Liberia in Volume 5.

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guinea

guineablini, cine, Finney, finny, Ginny, guinea, hinny, mini, Minnie, ninny, pinny, Pliny, shinny, skinny, spinney, tinny, whinny •kidney, Sidney, Sydney •chimney •jitney, Whitney •Disney •aborigine, polygeny, polygyny •androgyny, homogeny, misogyny, progeny •Gemininiminy-piminy, Rimini •dominie, hominy, Melpomene •ignominy • Panini • larceny • telecine •satiny • destiny • mountainy •mutiny, scrutiny •briny, Heine, liny, piny, shiny, spiny, tiny, whiny •sunshiny •Bonnie, bonny, Connie, johnny, Lonnie, Ronnie, Suwannee •Rodney •Cockney, Procne •Romney • Novotný • Grozny •brawny, corny, horny, lawny, mulligatawny, scrawny, tawny, thorny •Orkney • Courtney •brownie, browny, downy, townie

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Guinea

Guinea

Country statistics

area:

245,860sq km (94,927sq mi) 7,830,000

capital (population):

Conakry (1,508,000)

government:

Multi-party republic

ethnic groups:

Fulani (Peul) 40%,

Malinke 26%, Susu 11%, Kissi 7%, Kpelle 5%

languages:

French (official)

religions:

Muslim (mainly Sunni) 80%, Christian 10%, African traditional beliefs 5%

currency:

Guinean franc = 100 cauris

Republic in West Africa. The Republic of Guinea, which faces the Atlantic Ocean in West Africa, can be divided into four regions: an alluvial coastal plain, which includes the capital, Conakry; the highland region of the Fouta Djallon, the source of one of Africa's longest rivers, the Niger; the ne savanna; and the se Guinea Highlands, which rise to 1752m (5748ft) at Mount Nimba.

Climate and Vegetation

Guinea has a tropical climate. Conakry has heavy rains between May and November. During the dry season, hot, harmattan winds blow from the Sahara. Mangrove swamps grow along parts of the coast. Inland, the Fouta Djallon is largely open grassland. Northeastern Guinea is tropical savanna, with acacia and shea scattered across the grassland. Rainforests of ebony, mahogany, and teak grow in the Guinea Highlands.

History and Politics

The ne Guinea plains formed part of the medieval Empire of Ghana. The Malinke formed the Mali Empire, which dominated the region in the 12th century. The Songhai Empire supplanted the Malinke in the 15th century. Portuguese explorers arrived in the mid-15th century, and the slave trade began. From the 17th century, other European slave traders became active in Guinea. In the early 18th century, the Fulani embarked on a jihad (holy war) and gained control of the Fouta Djallon. Following a series of wars, France won control and made Guinea the colony of French Guinea (1891). France exploited its bauxite deposits and mining unions developed.

In 1958, Guinea voted to become an independent republic and France severed all aid. Its first president, Sékou Touré (1958–84), adopted a Marxist programme of reform and embraced Pan-Africanism. Opposition parties were banned, and dissent brutally suppressed. In 1970, Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau) invaded Guinea. Conakry later acted as the headquarters for independence movements in Guinea-Bissau. A military coup followed Touré's death in 1984, and Colonel Lansana Conté established the Military Committee for National Recovery (CMRN). Conté improved relations with the West and introduced free enterprise policies. Civil unrest forced the introduction of a multi-party system in 1992. Elections in 1993 confirmed Conté as president, amid claims of voting fraud. In February 1996, Conté foiled an attempted military coup. He was re-elected in 1998. By 2000, Guinea was home to c.500,000 refugees from the wars in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia. In 2000, rebel incursions from these countries killed more than 1000 people, caused massive population displacement, and threatened to destablilize Guinea. In 2003, Conté was re-elected.

Economy

Guinea is a low-income developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$1300). It is the world's second-largest producer of bauxite which accounts for 90% of its exports. Guinea has 25% of the world's known reserves of bauxite. Other natural resources include diamonds, gold, iron ore and uranium. Due to the mining industry, the rail and road infrastructure is improving. Agriculture (mainly at subsistence level) employs 78% of the workforce. Major crops include bananas, cassava, coffee, palm kernels, pineapples, rice and sweet potatoes. Cattle and other livestock are raised in highland areas.

Political map

Physical map

Websites

http://www.africa-ata.org/guinea_intro.htm; http://www.afrika.no/index/Countries/Guinea/index.html

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Guinea

Guinea

PROFILE
GEOGRAPHY
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
DEFENSE
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-GUINEAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the October 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of Guinea (République de Guinée)

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 245,860 sq. km. (95,000 sq. mi.), about the size of Oregon.

Cities: Capital—Conakry. Other cities—Guéckédou, Boké, Kindia, N'Zérékoré, Macenta, Mamou, Kan-kan, Faranah, Siguiri, Dalaba, Labe, Pita, Kamsar.

Terrain: Generally flat along the coast and mountainous in the interior. The country's four geographic regions include a narrow coastal belt; pastoral highlands (the source of West Africa's major rivers); the northern savanna; and the southeastern rain forest. Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Guinean(s).

Population: (2002 census) 8,444,559, including refugees and foreign residents. Refugee population (2006 est.) 60,000 Liberians and Ivoiriens. Population of Conakry: 2 million. Population of largest prefectures—Gueckedou (487,017), Boké (366,915), Kindia (361,117), N'Zérékoré (328,347), Macenta (365,559).

Annual growth rate: (2002 census) 3.5%.

Ethnic groups: Peuhl 40%, Malinke 30%, Soussou 20%, other ethnic groups 10%.

Religions: Muslim 85%, Christian 8%, traditional beliefs 7%.

Languages: French (official), national languages.

Education: Years compulsory—8. Enrollment—primary school, 64.32% (male 78.71%, female 69.03%); secoondary, 15%; and post secondary, 3%. Literacy (total population over age 15 that can read and write)—44.2% (male 58.74%, female 26.38%).

Health: (2002) Life expectancy—total population 54 years. Infant mortality rate (2002)—98/1000.

Work force: (2002, 4.5 million) Agriculture—76%; industry and commerce—18%; services—6%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: 1990; amended 2001.

Independence: October 2, 1958. Anniversary of the Second Republic, April 3, 1984.

Government branches: Executive—elected president (chief of state); prime minister (head of government); cabinet of civilian ministers. Legislative—elected National Assembly (114 seats). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Political subdivisions: Region, prefecture, subprefecture, rural district.

Political parties: Pro-government—Party for Unity and Progres (PUP). Opposition—Rally for the Guinean People (RPG), Union for Progress and Renewal (UPR), Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), Union for Progress of Guinea (UPG), Union of Republican Forces (UFR).

Suffrage: Universal over age 18.

Budget: (2006) $642 million.

Economy

GDP: (2005 est.) $3.38 billion.

Annual economic growth rate: (2005 est.) 3.3%.

Per capita GDP: (2005 est.) $363.40.

Avg. inflation rate: (2005) 30.9%.

Natural resources: Bauxite, iron ore, diamonds, gold, water power, uranium, fisheries.

Industry: (30.9% of GDP) Types—mining, light manufacturing, construction.

Agriculture: (19.5% of GDP) Products—rice, cassava, fonio, millet, corn, coffee, cocoa, bananas, palm products, pineapples, livestock, forestry. Arable land—35%. Cultivated land-4.5%.

Trade: (45.1% of GDP) Exports (2005)—$806.6 million: bauxite, alumina, diamonds, gold, coffee, pineapples, bananas, palm products, coffee. Major markets—European Union, U.S., Commonwealth of Independent States, China, Eastern Europe, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco.

Exchange rate: (May 2006) Approximately 4833 Guinean francs=U.S. $1.

Fiscal year: January 1-December 31.

GEOGRAPHY

Guinea is located on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa and is bordered by Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The country is divided into four geographic regions: A narrow coastal belt (Lower Guinea); the pastoral Fouta Djallon highlands (Middle Guinea); the northern savannah (Upper Guinea); and a southeastern rain-forest region (Forest Guinea). The Niger, Gambia, and Senegal Rivers are among the 22 West African rivers that have their origins in Guinea. The coastal region of Guinea and most of the inland have a tropical climate, with a rainy season lasting from April to November, relatively high and uniform temperatures, and high humidity. Conakry's year-round average high is 29°C (85°F), and the low is 23°C (74°F); its average annual rainfall is 430 centimeters (169 inches). Sahelian Upper Guinea has a shorter rainy season and greater daily temperature variations.

PEOPLE

Guinea has four main ethnic groups:

  • Peuhl (Foula or Foulani), who inhabit the mountainous Fouta Djallon;
  • Malinke (or Mandingo), in the savannah and forest regions;
  • Soussous in the coastal areas; and
  • Several small groups (Gerzé, Toma, etc.) in the forest region.

West Africans make up the largest non-Guinean population. Non-Africans total about 10,000 (mostly Lebanese, French, and other Europeans). Seven national languages are used extensively; major written languages are French, Peuhl, and Arabic.

HISTORY

The area occupied by Guinea today was included in several large West African political groupings, including the Ghana, Mali, and Songhai empires, at various times from the 10th to the 15th century, when the region came into contact with European commerce. 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 Almamy Samory Touré, warlord and leader of Malinke 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 the 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.

Led by Ahmed Sékou Touré, head of the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG), which won 56 of 60 seats in 1957 territorial elections, the people of Guinea in a September 1958 plebiscite overwhelmingly rejected membership in the proposed French Community. The French withdrew quickly, and on October 2, 1958, Guinea proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent republic, with Sékou Touré as President.

Under Touré, Guinea became a one-party dictatorship, with a closed, socialized economy and no tolerance for human rights, free expression, or political opposition, which was ruthlessly suppressed. Originally credited for his advocacy of cross-ethnic nationalism, Touré gradually came to rely on his own Malinke ethnic group to fill positions in the party and government. Alleging plots and conspiracies against him at home and abroad, Touré regime targeted real and imagined opponents, imprisoning many thousands in Soviet-style prison gulags, where hundreds perished. The regime's repression drove more than a million Guineans into exile, and Touré paranoia ruined relations with foreign nations, including neighboring African states, increasing Guinea's isolation and further devastating its economy.

Sékou Touré and the PDG remained in power until his death on April 3, 1984. A military junta—the Military Committee of National Recovery (CMRN)—headed by then-Lt. Col. Lansana Conte, seized power just one week after the death of Sékou Touré. The CMRN immediately abolished the constitution, the sole political party (PDG) and its mass youth and women's organizations, and announced the establishment of the Second Republic. In lieu of a constitution, the government was initially based on ordinances, decrees, and decisions issued by the president and various ministers.

Political parties were proscribed. The new government also released all prisoners and declared the protection of human rights as one of its primary objectives. It reorganized the judicial system and decentralized the administration. The CMRN also announced its intention to liberalize the economy, promote private enterprise, and encourage foreign investment in order to develop the country's rich natural resources.

The CMRN formed a transitional parliament, the “Transitional Council for National Recovery” (CTRN), which created a new constitution (La Loi Fundamental) and Supreme Court in 1990. The country's first multi-party presidential election took place in 1993. These elections were marred by irregularities and lack of transparency on the part of the government. Legislative and municipal elections were held in 1995. Conte's ruling Party for Unity and Progress (PUP) won 76 of 114 seats in the National Assembly, amid opposition claims of irregularities and government tampering. The new National Assembly held its first session in October 1995.

Several thousand malcontent troops mutinied in Conakry in February 1996, destroying the presidential offices and killing several dozen civilians. Mid-level officers attempted, unsuccessfully, to turn the rebellion into a coup d’etat. The Government of Guinea made hundreds of arrests in connection to the mutiny, and put 98 soldiers and civilians on trial in 1998.

In mid-1996, in response to the coup attempt and a faltering economy, President Conté appointed a new government as part of a flurry of reform activity. He selected Sidya Touré, former chief of staff for the Prime Minster of the Cote d’Ivoire, as Prime Minister, and appointed other technically minded ministers. Touré was charged with coordinating all government action, taking charge of leadership and management, as well as economic planning and finance functions. In early 1997, Conté shifted many of the financial responsibilities to a newly named Minister of Budget and Finance.

In December 1998, Conté was reelected to another 5-year term in a flawed election that was, nevertheless, an improvement over 1993. Following his reelection and the improvement of economic conditions through 1999, Conté reversed direction, making wholesale and regressive changes to his cabinet. He replaced many technocrats and members of the Guinean Diaspora that had previously held important positions with “homegrown” ministers, particularly from his own Soussou ethnic group. These changes led to increased cronyism, corruption, and a retrenchment on economic and political reforms.

Beginning in September 2000, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel army, backed by Liberian President Charles Taylor, commenced large-scale attacks into Guinea from Sierra Leone and Liberia. The RUF, known for their brutal tactics in the near decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, operated with financial and material support from the Liberian Government and its allies. These attacks destroyed the town of Gueckedou as well as a number of villages, causing large-scale damage and the displacement of tens of thousands of Guineans from their homes. The attacks also forced the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to relocate many of the 200,000 Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees residing in Guinea. As a result of the attacks, legislative elections scheduled for 2000 were postponed.

After the initial attacks in September 2000, President Conté, in a radio address, accused Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees living in the country of fomenting war against the government. Soldiers, police, and civilian militia groups rounded up thousands of refugees, some of whom they beat and raped. Approximately 3,000 refugees were detained, although most were released by year's end.

In November 2001, a nationwide referendum, which some observers believe was flawed, amended the constitution to permit the president to run for an unlimited number of terms, and to extend the presidential term from 5 to 7 years. The country's second legislative election, originally scheduled for 2000, was held in June 2002. President Conté Party of Unity and Progress (PUP) and associated parties won 91 of the 114 seats. Most major opposition parties boycotted the legislative elections, objecting to inequities in the existing electoral system.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Guinea is a constitutional republic in which effective power is concentrated in a strong presidency. Government administration is carried out at several levels; in descending order, they are: 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. The president governs Guinea with the assistance of an appointed council of civilian ministers typically led by a prime minister.

The failing health of President Conté has been a cause of continuing concern. In late 2003, Conté fell ill during a trip to Japan and had to receive medical treatment in Morocco. However, in December 2003 Conté easily won a third presidential term against a single, relatively unknown candidate after the opposition parties boycotted the elections. On January 19, 2005, President Conte's motorcade was fired upon by unknown assailants. Two bodyguards were wounded but the President was not harmed. President Conté was medically evacuated twice in 2006 to receive emergency treatment in Geneva, Switzerland. However, in a late 2006 interview Conté stated that despite his health he would remain in office until his term ended in 2010.

Throughout 2005, the government maintained an open dialogue with the opposition parties, 16 of which participated in the December 2005 nation-wide elections for local and rural councils. Opposition leaders were allowed to campaign freely, and were allowed equal access to government-run media. The ruling PUP won 31 of 38 municipalities and 241 of 303 local councils. Though the elections were viewed as flawed, they were still much improved over previous elections due to the use of transparent ballot boxes and other reforms.

In late February and early March 2006, Guinea's main labor union alliance launched a historic general strike demanding wage increases and union participation in Guinea's economic and social policy. Though the unions only won a modest salary increases, the strike established them as a credible, unified, and powerful force in Guinea. After firing Prime Minister Cellou Dallein Diallo in April 2006, Conté reorganized the government on May 29, 2006 under six “Ministers of State,” each of whom would oversee several of the ministries. Rather than appointing a new prime minister, the new government was led by Minister for Presidential Affairs Fodé Bangoura.

Due in part to the government's inability to control Guinea's rising inflation, the trade unions launched a second general strike in June 2006. The second general strike was marked by more intense and widespread violence, which resulted in the deaths of several protesters at the hands of security forces. In December 2006, President Conté personally released from prison two of his close associates, Mamadou Sylla and Fodé Soumah, who had been under investigation for embezzling funds from Guinea's Central Bank. Later that month, Conté—just days after dismissing Ibrahima Keira, the Minister of Transportation, who was allegedly connected to the central bank controversy—reversed the decision and reinstated Keira. These actions by President Conté highlighted his autocratic style and disregard for the separation of powers, and prompted the labor unions to halt ongoing dialogue and to recommence the general strike on January 10, 2007.

Whereas the unions’ demands during the March and June 2006 strikes were primarily economic, the January 2007 strike began with a political tone. In addition to their economic agenda for improved wages and retirement benefits, the unions demanded that the two prisoners be returned to jail and that Conté rescind his decision to reinstate the Minister of Transportation. The unions gave President Conté their list of written demands and called for his retirement on January 16. The next day, protesters began barricading roads, throwing rocks, burning tires, and skirmishing with police, following President Conté's dismissal of the unions’ political demands for change. The violence throughout Guinea peaked on January 22 when several thousand ordinary Guineans poured into the streets calling for change. Guinean security forces and the military's “red beret” presidential guard reacted by opening fire on the peaceful crowds and killing dozens in Conakry and throughout Guinea.

On January 27, 2007, unions, employers associations, and the government entered a tripartite agreement to suspend the strike. President Conté agreed to name a new “consensus” prime minister, with delegated executive powers. For the first time, the new prime minister of Guinea would carry the title of “hhead of government” and exercise certain powers previously held by the president of the republic. The government also agreed to new price controls for rice and fuel, as well a one-year ban on the exportation of food and fuel. However, President Conté's February 9 appointment of a longtime associate, Eugéne Camara, as Guinea's new prime minister sparked another wave of violence and protests. In an attempt to quell the violence, on February 12 President Conté's declared a “state of siege,” which conferred broad powers on the military, and implemented a strict curfew. According to media reports, the following days saw military and police forces scour Conakry and towns in the hinterlands where they committed serious human rights abuses.

On February 23, 2007 for the first time in Guinea's history the National Assembly rejected a Conté initiative and refused to extend the “state of siege” declaration. That rebuke by the National Assembly clarified that the popular protests had widespread support, even among leaders of the PUP, Conté's own majority party. Concurrently, an ECOWAS delegation led by former Nigerian President Ibrahima Babangida and ECOWAS Secretariat President Ibn Chambas arrived to mediate. Two days later, ECOWAS special envoy and former Nigerian President Babangida announced that President Conté had agreed to name a new consensus prime minister from lists of acceptable candidates submitted by the unions and civil society. Lansana Kouyaté arrived in Conakry on February 27, just hours after being announced as the new Prime Minister and head of the government. After a month of wide-ranging consultations with Guinea's civil society, political parties, and religious communities, the new cabinet of ministers was announced on March 28 following a nationally televised address by Prime Minister Kouyate.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Lansana CONTE, Gen.

Prime Min.: Lansana KOUYATE

Min. of Agriculture, Livestock, Environment, & Forestry Affairs: Mamadou CAMARA

Min. of Commerce, Industry, Tourism, & Artisinal Industries: Mamady TRAORE

Min. of Communication & New Information Technologies: Justin Morel JUNIOR

Min. of Defense: Baillo DIALLO, Gen.

Min. of Economic & Financial Oversight, Ethics, & Transparency: Saidou DIALLO

Min. of Economy, Finance, & Planning:Ousmane DORE

Min. of Education & Scientific Research: Ousmane SOUARE

Min. of Energy & Water: Goumou Gnanga KOMATA

Min. of Fishing & Aquaculture: Mohammed YOULA

Min. of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation, African Integration, & Guineans Abroad: Kabele CAMARA

Min. of Interior & Security: Mamadou Beau KEITA

Min. of Justice & Human Rights & Keeper of the Seals: Paulette KOUROUMA

Min. of Labor, Civil Service, & Admin. Reform: Amadou DIALLO

Min. of Mines & Geology: Ahmad KANTE

Min. of Public Health: Maimouna BAH

Min. of Public Works, Urban Planning, & Housing: Thierno Oumar BAH

Min. of Social, Women's, & Children's Affairs: Tete NABE

Min. of Transportation: Boubacar SOW

Min. of Youth, Sports, & Culture: Baidy ARIBOT

Sec. Gen. of the Govt.: Oury Bailo BAH

Sec. Gen. of the Presidency: Mamady SOUMAH

Sec. Gen. of Religious Affairs: Mahmoud Cherif NABANIOU

Governor, Central Bank: Daouda BANGOURA

Charge d’Affaires:

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Alpha Ibrahima SOW

Guinea maintains an embassy in the United States at 2112 Leroy Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-483-9420) and a mission to the United Nations at 140 E. 39th St., New York, NY 10016 (tel. 212-687-8115/16/17).

ECONOMY

Richly endowed with minerals, Guinea possesses over 25 billion metric tons (MT) of bauxite—and perhaps up to one half of the world's reserves. In addition, Guinea's mineral wealth includes more than 4 billion tons of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits, and undetermined quantities of uranium. 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. 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, in which 49% of the shares are owned by the Guinean Government and 51% by an international consortium led by Alcoa and Alcan. CBG exports about 14 million metric tons of high-grade bauxite every year. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), a joint venture between the Government of Guinea and Russki Alumina, produces some 2.5 million MT 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 million MT 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 tons of bauxite in 2004, which is used as raw material for its alumina refinery. The refinery supplies about 750,000 MT of alumina for export to world markets. 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 MT 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. By far, most 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 are still awaiting preliminary exploration and financing results.

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 privatizations, and shifted governmental expenditures and internal reforms to the education, health, infrastructure, banking, and justice sectors. Cabinet changes in 1999 as well increasing 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.

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 provides 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 benefits. A national investment commission has been formed to review all investment proposals. The United States and Guinea have signed 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.

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, both 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 slowed down inflation, which hit 27% in 2004 and 30% in 2005. 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 connecting the country's trade centers 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’ 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-Cam-eroun oil pipeline.

DEFENSE

Guinea's armed forces are divided into four branches—army, navy, air force, and gendarmerie—whose chiefs report to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The 10,000-member army is the largest of the four services. The navy has about 900 personnel and operates several small patrol craft and barges. Air force personnel total about 700; its equipment includes several Russian-supplied fighter planes and transport planes. Several thousand gendarmes are responsible for internal security.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Guinea's relations with other countries, including with her West African neighbors, have improved steadily since 1985. Guinea reestablished relations with France and Germany in 1975, and with neighboring Côte d′Ivoire and Senegal in 1978. Guinea has been active in efforts toward regional integration and cooperation, especially regarding the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) and the Economic Organization of West African States (ECO-WAS). Guinea takes its role in a variety of international organizations seriously and participates actively in their deliberations and decisions. Guinea has participated in both diplomatic and military efforts to resolve conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau, and contributed contingents of troops to peacekeeping operations in all three countries as part of ECOMOG, the Military Observer Group of ECOWAS. Guinea has offered asylum to more than 700,000 Liberian, Sierra Leonean, and Bissauan refugees since 1990, despite the economic and environmental costs involved.

The civil wars that engulfed Liberia and then Sierra Leone during the 1990s negatively affected relations between Guinea and these two fellow Mano River Union member countries. Guinea and Liberia accused each other of supporting opposition dissidents, and in late 2000 and early 2001, Guinean dissidents backed by the Liberian government and RUF rebels from Sierra Leone brutally attacked Guinea. These attacks caused over 1,000 Guinean deaths and displaced more than 100,000 Guineans. The attacks led to Guinea's support for the LURD (Liberians United For Reconciliation and Democracy) rebels in their attacks against the Liberian government of Charles Taylor. Taylor's departure for exile in August 2003 and the establishment of a new government in Liberia have led to a much improved relationship between the two countries.

Guinea belongs to the UN and most of its specialized related agencies, the African Union, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), African Development Bank (AFDB), Niger River Basin (NRB), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Mano River Union (MRU), Gambia River Basin Organization (OMVG), and the Nonaligned Movement (NAM).

U.S.-GUINEAN RELATIONS

The United States maintains close relations with Guinea. U.S. policy seeks to encourage Guinea's democratic reforms, its positive contribution to regional stability, and sustainable economic and social development. The U.S. also seeks to promote increased U.S. private investment in Guinea's emerging economy.

The U.S. Mission in Guinea is composed of five agencies—Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Peace Corps, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Defense. In addition to providing the full range of diplomatic functions, the U.S. Mission also manages a military assistance program that provided nearly $331,000 for military education, professionalization, and language training programs.

USAID Guinea is now one of only five sustainable development missions in West Africa, with current core program areas in primary education, family health, democracy and governance, and natural resources management.

After a temporary suspension due to nationwide political unrest in early 2007, the Peace Corps program in Guinea resumed operations at the end of July. Prior to the suspension, Peace Corps had more than 100 volunteers throughout the country, and the program is gradually increasing its numbers again. Volunteers work in four project areas: secondary education, environment/agro-forestry, public health and HIV/AIDS prevention, and small enterprise development. Guinea has also had a strong Crisis Corps program through the last few years.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

CONAKRY (E) Transversale No. 2, Ratoma, +224-30-42-08-61 through 68, Fax +224-30-42-08-73, Workweek: M-Th, 7:30-16:30; F, 7:30-13:30, Website: http://usembassy.state.gov/conakry.

DCM OMS:Donna L. Smith
AMB OMS:Timothy W. Markley
ECO:Kim H. Jordan
FM:Philip C. Steinhauser
MGT:Jason A. Brenden
POL ECO:Shannon N. Cazeau
AMB:Phillip Carter III
CON:Thomas Scott Brown(Acting)
DCM:Kent C. Brokenshire
PAO:Andrew J. Mclean
COM:Vacant
GSO:Robin S. Clune
RSO:Brian K. Wood
AFSA:Vacant
AID:Clifford Brown
CLO:Denee R. Smith
DAO:MAJ Jason M. Hatch
EEO:Kim C. Crawford
FMO:Kevin D. Lewis
ICASS:Chair Andrew J. Mclean
IMO:Miller I. Vinson
IRS:Kathy Beck—Resident In Paris
ISSO:Mike L. Bostick

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

August 28, 2007

Country Description: Guinea is a developing country in western Africa, with minimal facilities for tourism. Travelers who plan to stay in Conakry, the capital, should make reservations well in advance. French is the official language; Pular, Malinké and Soussou are also widely spoken.

Entry Requirements: A passport, visa, international vaccination record (WHO card), and current yellow fever vaccination are required. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea, 2112 Leroy Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 986-4300, fax (202) 478-3010. The Guinean embassy does not maintain a current website. Overseas, inquiries should be made to the nearest Guinean embassy or consulate. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Guinean embassy or consulate.

Safety and Security: Guinea has experienced sporadic civil unrest and a series of general strikes in Conakry and throughout the country during the last 18 months since February 2006. While U.S. citizens have not been targeted in this unrest, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be very dangerous. During periods of civil unrest, public services such as transportation and medical care, as well as availability of goods and services, can be affected. During many demonstrations, crowds of people gather and burn tires, create roadblocks, and damage vehicles by throwing rocks and bricks. The military has also been known to demonstrate and incite unrest due to their grievances with the government. Because of the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations. They should also avoid sensitive government installations, including the Presidential Palace, official government buildings, and military bases. U.S. citizens should maintain security awareness at all times. There are no known terrorist groups officially operating in the country.

Most border crossings are controlled jointly by Guinean armed forces, Gendarmes, Police and Immigration officials. A long land frontier and the military's lack of physical and monetary resources, however, mean that borders are lightly-patrolled. U.S. citizens considering travel to the border regions with Liberia, Sierra Leone or Côte d′Ivoire should consult the latest Travel Warnings and Country Specific Information for those countries (available at the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Web site at http://travel.state.gov) and contact the U.S. Embassy in Conakry for the latest travel and security information. Crossing borders requires visas and complete paperwork, and can be difficult.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site where the current Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: In Conakry, as in many large cities, crime is a fact of daily life. Residential and street crime is very common. Sentiments toward Americans in Guinea are generally positive, but criminals regularly target foreigners, including Americans, because they are perceived as lucrative targets. Nonviolent and violent crimes are a problem. The majority of nonviolent crime involves acts of pick pocketing and purse snatching, while armed robbery, muggings, and assaults are the most common violent crimes. In spite of good intentions, the police have been unable to prevent the rapid escalation of crime. There have also been cases of direct and indirect requests for bribes from the police and military officials.

Criminals particularly target visitors at the airport, in the traditional markets, and near hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners. Visitors should avoid unsolicited offers of assistance at the airport and hotels because such offers often mask an intention to steal luggage, purses, or wallets. Travelers should arrange for hotel personnel, family members, or business contacts to meet them at the airport to reduce their vulnerability to these crimes of opportunity.

Commercial scams and disputes with local business partners can create legal difficulties for U.S. citizens because corruption is widespread in Guinea. Business routinely turns on bribes rather than the law, and enforcement of the law is irregular and inefficient. The U.S. Embassy has extremely limited recourse in assisting Americans who are victims of illegal business deals.

Business fraud is rampant and the targets are usually foreigners, including Americans. Schemes previously associated exclusively with Nigeria are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Guinea, and pose a danger of severe financial loss. Typically these scams begin with the receipt of an unsolicited communication (usually e-mails) from strangers who promise quick financial gain, often by transferring large sums of money or valuables out of the country, but then require a series of “advance fees” to be paid—such as fees for legal documents or taxes—to finalize the release of the transferred funds. Of course, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. A common variation is the scammer's claim to be a refugee or émigré of a prominent West African family, or a relative of a present or former political leader who needs assistance in transferring large sums of cash. Still other variations appear to be legitimate business deals that require advance payments on contracts. Sometimes victims are convinced to provide bank account and credit card information and financial authorization that drains their accounts, incurs large debts against their credit, and takes their life savings.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of advance-fee fraud is common sense—if a proposition looks too good to be true, it probably is. You should carefully check and research any unsolicited business proposal before committing any funds, providing any goods or services, and undertaking any travel. A good clue to a scam is the phone number given to the victim; legitimate businesses and offices provide fixed line numbers, while scams typically use only cell phones. It is virtually impossible to recover money lost through these scams.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities are poorly equipped and extremely limited both in the capital city and throughout Guinea. Medicines are in short supply, sterility of equipment should not be assumed, and treatment is frequently unreliable. Some private medical facilities provide a better range of treatment options than public facilities but are still well below global standards. There are no ambulance or emergency rescue services in Guinea and trauma care is extremely limited. Water in Guinea is presumed contaminated, so you should use only bottled or distilled water for drinking. Malaria is a serious risk to travelers in Guinea. For additional information on malaria, including protective measures, see the CDC travelers’ health web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Guinea is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Drivers in Guinea tend to be poorly trained and routinely ignore road safety rules. Guinea's road network, paved and unpaved, is underdeveloped and unsafe. Roads and vehicles are poorly maintained, road signs are insufficient, and roads and vehicles are frequently unlit. Livestock and pedestrians create constant road hazards and make nighttime travel inadvisable. Guinea has many roadblocks set up by the police or the military, making inter-and intra-city travel difficult from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. During the rainy season (July through September), flash floods make some roads temporarily impassable. There is also a notable increase in banditry along the roadways between towns and upcountry during the rainy season in the hours of darkness. Roadside assistance is not available in Guinea.

Guinea has no public transportation. Taxis, including small cars and larger vans, are often poorly maintained and over-crowded. Taxis frequently stop and start without regard to other vehicles, making driving hazardous. Rental vehicles, with drivers, are available from agencies at major hotels in Conakry.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Guinea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Guinea's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Guinean customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary import or export of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, and ivory. You should contact the Embassy of Guinea in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements. The local currency is the Guinean franc (FG). Travelers may not have more than 100,000 FG (currently about $23.00 or more than $5,000 when they depart Guinea. Guinea has a cash economy. ATMs are not available, and traveler's checks are accepted only at some banks and hotels. Credit cards are accepted at some larger hotels in Conakry, but should be used only at reputable hotels and banks. Cash advances on Visa credit cards are available at various branches of BICIGUI, a local bank. Inter-bank fund transfers are possible at BICIGUI branches but can be difficult and expensive. Money transfers from the U.S. have worked successfully in the past. Western Union has several offices in Conakry, and Mon-eygram has an office downtown.

Visitors should restrict photography to private gatherings and should obtain explicit permission from the Guinean government before photographing military and transportation facilities, government buildings, or public works. Photographing without permission in any public area may provoke a response from security personnel or a dangerous confrontation with people who find being photographed offensive.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Guinean laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Guinea are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Guinea are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Guinea. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located on the Transversale No. 2, Centre Administratif de Koloma opposite the New Radio Station in Ratoma, Conakry, Guinea; telephone +224-30-42-08-61 through 68 or fax +224-30-42-08-71; web site: http://conakry.usembassy.gov.

International Adoption

January 2008

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

General: The following is a guide for U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting a child in Guinea and applying for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. This process involves complex Guinean and U.S. legal requirements. U.S. consular officers give each petition careful consideration on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of both countries have been met, for the protection of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the biological parents(s) and the child. Interested U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Dakar, Senegal before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed which will make it possible for the Embassy to issue a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.

Availability of Children for Adoption: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect that four immigrant visas have been issued to Guinean orphans in the last five fiscal years.

Adoption Authority: Adoption petitions are submitted to a Tribunal of First Instance or a Justice of the Peace. The Court of Appeals is the second resort. The Ministry of Justice grants their authority.

Adoption Procedures: Those seeking to adopt should retain an attorney who is a member of the Guinean bar association. There are two types of adoptions in Guinea—perfect adoption and simple adoption. Both are open to Guineans and non-Guineans. A perfect adoption is irrevocable and should be advantageous to the child. In perfect adoptions, the adoptive relationship takes precedence over any biological relationship. In a simple adoption, the child may continue to have ties to his/her biological family and it is revocable. In both kinds of adoption, if the parents are alive, their consent is required. If both parents are dead, consent needs to be granted by the remaining family members (le Conseil famille). The initial request is made to the Tribunal of First Instance or a Justice of the Peace. The judgement is given after inquiry and debate in court chambers.

Age and Civil Status Requirements: Anyone at least 35 years old may adopt another person if the difference in age between the two is at least 15 years. A couple may seek to adopt a minor child if one of the adopters is at least 35 years old and without children. Those seeking to adopt should not have a serious medical condition.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are no adoption agencies or groups that specialize in adoption in Guinea. The Embassy maintains a list of numerous attorneys practicing in Guinea.

Doctors: The U.S. Embassy in Conakry maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Guinea

Documentary Requirements: The final request for adoption should include a copy of the child's birth certificate, identification for the prospective parents and the child, written justification for the adoption and a “certificate of domicile” verifying the potential prospective parent's place of residence.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: A Guinea child, even if adopted by an American citizen, must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Guinea Embassy 2112 Leroy Place NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: 202-483-9420
Fax: 202-483-8688.

U.S. Embassy
Street address
2nd Blvd and 9th Ave Kaloum, Conakry
Mailing Address
American Embassy
BP603
Conakry, Guinea
Tel: (224) 41-15-20/1/3
Fax: (224) 41-15-22

Questions: Specific questions regarding adoption in Guinea may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Conakry. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, telephone 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.

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Guinea

GUINEA

Compiled from the January 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Guinea (République de Guinée)


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

245,860 sq. km. (95,000 sq. mi.), about the size of Oregon.

Cities:

Capital—Conakry. Other cities—Guéckédou, Boké, Kindia, N'Zérékoré, Macenta, Mamou, Kankan, Faranah, Siguiri, Dalaba, Labe, Pita, Kamsar.

Terrain:

Generally flat along the coast and mountainous in the interior. The country's four geographic regions include a narrow coastal belt; pastoral highlands (the source of West Africa's major rivers); the northern savanna; and the southeastern rain forest.

Climate:

Tropical.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Guinean(s).

Population (2002 census):

8,444,559, including refugees and foreign residents. Refugee population (June 2002 est.): 180,000-200,000 Liberians and Sierra Leoneans. Population of Conakry: 2 million. Population of largest prefectures—Guéckédou (487,017), Boké (366,915), Kindia (361,117), N'Zérékoré (328,347), Macenta (365,559).

Annual growth rate (2002 census):

3.5%.

Ethnic groups:

Peuhl 40%, Malinke 30%, Soussou 20%, other ethnic groups 10%.

Religion:

Muslim 85%, Christian 8%, traditional beliefs 7%.

Language:

French (official), national languages.

Education:

Years compulsory—8. Enrollment—primary school, 64.32% (male 78.71%, female 69.03%); secondary, 15%; and post secondary, 3%. Literacy (total population over age 15 that can read and write)—44.2% (male 58.74%, female 26.38%).

Health (2002):

Life expectancy—total population 54 years. Infant mortality rate (2002)—98/1000.

Work force (2002, 4.5 million):

Agriculture—76%; industry and commerce—18%; services—6%.

Government

Type:

Republic.

Constitution:

1990; amended 2001.

Independence:

October 2, 1958. Anniversary of the Second Republic, April 3, 1984.

Branches:

Executive—elected president (chief of state); 25 appointed civilian ministers. Legislative—elected National Assembly (114 seats). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Administrative subdivisions:

Region, prefecture, subprefecture, rural district.

Political parties:

Legalized on 1 April 1992. Seven parties, of the more than 40 with legal status, won seats in the June 1995 legislative elections. Pro-government—Party for Unity and Progress (PUP). Opposition—Rally for the Guinean People (RPG), Union for Renewal and Progress (UPR), Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), Union for Progress of Guinea (UPG), Union of Republican Forces (UFR).

Suffrage:

Universal over age 18.

Central government budget (2002):

$394.76 million.

Economy

GDP (2003 est.):

$4.72 billion.

Annual economic growth rate (2003):

2.1%.

Per capita GDP (2003 est.):

$376.3.

Avg. inflation rate (2003):

15.4%.

Natural resources:

Bauxite, iron ore, diamonds, gold, water power, uranium, fisheries.

Industry (31.12% of GDP):

Types—mining, light manufacturing, construction.

Agriculture (18.43% of GDP):

Products—rice, cassava, fonio, millet, corn, coffee, cocoa, bananas, palm products, pineapples, livestock, forestry. Arable land—35%. Cultivated land—4.5%.

Trade (45.4% of GDP):

Exports (2002)—$835 million: bauxite, alumina, diamonds, gold, coffee, pineapples, bananas, palm products, coffee. Major markets—European Union, U.S., Commonwealth of Independent States, China, Eastern Europe, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco.

Official exchange rate (2003):

Approximately 2000 Guinean francs=U.S.$1.

Fiscal year:

January 1-December 31.


GEOGRAPHY

Guinea is located on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa and is bordered by Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The country is divided into four geographic regions: A narrow coastal belt (Lower Guinea); the pastoral Fouta Djallon highlands (Middle Guinea); the northern savannah (Upper Guinea); and a southeastern rain-forest region (Forest Guinea). The Niger, Gambia, and Senegal Rivers are among the 22 West African rivers that have their origins in Guinea.

The coastal region of Guinea and most of the inland have a tropical climate, with a rainy season lasting from April to November, relatively high and uniform temperatures, and high humidity. Conakry's year-round average high is 29oC (85oF), and the low is 23oC (74oF); its average annual rainfall is 430 centimeters (169 inches). Sahelian Upper Guinea has a shorter rainy season and greater daily temperature variations.


PEOPLE

Guinea has four main ethnic groups:

  • Peuhl (Foula or Foulani), who inhabit the mountainous Fouta Djallon;
  • Malinke (or Mandingo), in the savannah and forest regions;
  • Soussous in the coastal areas; and
  • Several small groups (Gerzé, Toma, etc.) in the forest region.

West Africans make up the largest non-Guinean population. Non-Africans total about 10,000 (mostly Lebanese, French, and other Europeans). Seven national languages are used extensively; major written languages are French, Peuhl, and Arabic.


HISTORY

The area occupied by Guinea today was included in several large West African political groupings, including the Ghana, Mali, and Songhai empires, at various times from the 10th to the 15th century, when the region came into contact with European commerce. 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 Almamy Samory Touré, warlord and leader of Malinke 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 the 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.

Led by Ahmed Sékou Touré, head of the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG), which won 56 of 60 seats in 1957 territorial elections, the people of Guinea in a September 1958 plebiscite overwhelmingly rejected membership in the proposed French Community. The French withdrew quickly, and on October 2, 1958, Guinea proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent republic, with Sékou Touré as President.

Under Touré, Guinea became a one-party dictatorship, with a closed, socialized economy and no tolerance for human rights, free expression, or political opposition, which was ruthlessly suppressed. Originally credited for his advocacy of crossethnic nationalism, Touré gradually came to rely on his own Malinke ethnic group to fill positions in the party and government. Alleging plots and conspiracies against him at home and abroad, Touré's regime targeted real and imagined opponents, imprisoning many thousands in Soviet-style prison gulags, where hundreds perished. The regime's repression drove more than a million Guineans into exile, and Touré's paranoia ruined relations with foreign nations, including neighboring African states, increasing Guinea's isolation and further devastating its economy.

Sékou Touré and the PDG remained in power until his death on April 3, 1984. A military junta—the Military Committee of National Recovery (CMRN)—headed by then-Lt. Col. Lansana Conte, seized power just one week after the death of Sékou Touré. The CMRN immediately abolished the constitution, the sole political party (PDG) and its mass youth and women's organizations, and announced the establishment of the Second Republic. In lieu of a constitution, the government was initially based on ordinances, decrees, and decisions issued by the president and various ministers.

Political parties were proscribed. The new government also released all prisoners and declared the protection of human rights as one of its primary objectives. It reorganized the judicial system and decentralized the administration. The CMRN also announced its intention to liberalize the economy, promote private enterprise, and encourage foreign investment in order to develop the country's rich natural resources.

The CMRN formed a transitional parliament, the "Transitional Council for National Recovery" (CTRN), which created a new constitution (La Loi Fundamental) and Supreme Court in 1990. The country's first multi-party presidential election took place in 1993. These elections were marred by irregularities and lack of transparency on the part of the government. Legislative and municipal elections were held in 1995. Conte's ruling Party for Unity and Progress (PUP) won 76 of 114 seats in the

National Assembly, amid opposition claims of irregularities and government tampering. The new National Assembly held its first session in October 1995.

Several thousand malcontent troops mutinied in Conakry in February 1996, destroying the presidential offices and killing several dozen civilians. Mid-level officers attempted, unsuccessfully, to turn the rebellion into a coup d'etat. The Government of Guinea made hundreds of arrests in connection to the mutiny, and put 98 soldiers and civilians on trial in 1998.

In mid-1996, in response to the coup attempt and a faltering economy, President Conté appointed a new government as part of a flurry of reform activity. He selected Sidya Touré, former chief of staff for the Prime Minster of the Cote d'Ivoire, as Prime Minister, and appointed other technically minded ministers. Touré was charged with coordinating all government action, taking charge of leadership and management, as well as economic planning and finance functions. In early 1997, Conté shifted many of the financial responsibilities to a newly named Minister of Budget and Finance.

In December 1998, Conté was reelected to another 5-year term in a flawed election that was, nevertheless, an improvement over 1993. Following his reelection and the improvement of economic conditions through 1999, Conté reversed direction, making wholesale and regressive changes to his cabinet. He replaced many technocrats and members of the Guinean Diaspora that had previously held important positions with "homegrown" ministers, particularly from his own Soussou ethnic group. These changes led to increased cronyism, corruption, and a retrenchment on economic and political reforms. Beginning in September 2000, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel army, backed by Liberian President Charles Taylor, commenced large-scale attacks into Guinea from Sierra Leone and Liberia. The RUF, known for their brutal tactics in the near decadelong civil war in Sierra Leone, operated with financial and material support from the Liberian Government and its allies. These attacks destroyed the town of Gueckedou as well as a number of villages, causing large-scale damage and the displacement of tens of thousands of Guineans from their homes. The attacks also forced the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to relocate many of the 200,000 Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees residing in Guinea. As a result of the attacks, legislative elections scheduled for 2000 were postponed.

After the initial attacks in September 2000, President Conté, in a radio address, accused Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees living in the country of fomenting war against the government. Soldiers, police, and civilian militia groups rounded up thousands of refugees, some of whom they beat and raped. Approximately 3,000 refugees were detained, although most were released by year's end.

In November 2001, a nationwide referendum, which some observers believe was flawed, amended the constitution to permit the president to run for an unlimited number of terms, and to extend the presidential term from 5 to 7 years. The country's second legislative election, originally scheduled for 2000, was held in June 2002. President Conté's Party of Unity and Progress (PUP) and associated parties won 91 of the 114 seats. Most major opposition parties boycotted the legislative elections, objecting to inequities in the existing electoral system.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Guinea is a constitutional republic in which effective power is concentrated in a strong presidency. The president governs Guinea assisted by his appointed council of civilian ministers. Government administration is carried out at several levels; in descending order, they are: 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.

Opposition political parties are severely hampered by their lack of access to the electronic media. The independent print media reports on both sides of issues, but since Guinea's literacy rate is only 35%, a large majority of the population hears only the official government side.

During a trip to Japan in late 2003, President Conté fell ill and returned to Guinea after medical treatment in Morocco. Despite his illness, Conté ran for president a third time in elections held in December 2003. Opposition parties boycotted the election, and Conté easily won a third term against a single, relatively unknown candidate. In February 2004, President Conté made changes to his government by firing unpopular ministers and appointing more technocrats. On January 19, 2005, President Conte's motorcade was fired upon by unknown assailants. Two bodyguards were wounded but the President was not harmed. Comparatively peaceful and orderly local elections were held on December 18, 2005, with the ruling PUP winning 31 of 38 municipalities and 241 of 303 local councils.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 12/30/2005

President: Lansana CONTE, Gen.
Prime Minister: Cellou Dalein DIALLO
Min. of Agriculture & Animal Husbandry: Jean-Paul SARR
Min. of Commerce, Industry, Small &Medium-Scale Enterprise: Adama BALDE
Min. of Communication: Mamadi CONDE
Min. of Defense:
Min. of Economy & Finance: Sheik Amadou CAMARA
Min. of Employment & PublicAdministration: Lamine KAMARA
Min. of Fishing & Aquaculture: Oumare KOUYATE
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Fatoumata Kaba SIDEBE
Min. of Higher Education & ScientificResearch: Eugene CAMARA
Min. of Justice & Keeper of the Seals: Mamadou SYLLA
Min. of Mining, Geology, & Environment: Alpha Mady SOUMAH, Dr.
Min. of Planning: Fassou Niankoye SAGNO
Min. of Pre-University & Civic Education: Germain DOUALAMOU
Min. of Public Health: Mamadou Saliou DIALLO, Dr.
Min. of Public Works & Transport:
Min. of Security: Moussa SAMPIL
Min. of Social Affairs, Promotion of Women, & Children: Mariama ARIBOT
Min. of Technical Teaching & Professional Training: Ibrahima SOUMA
Min. of Territorial Administration &Decentralization: Moussa SOLANO
Min. of Tourism, Hotels, & Handicrafts: Sylla Koumba DIAKITE
Min. of Urban Planning & Housing: Blaise FOROMO
Min. of Water Power & Energy: Mory KABA
Min. of Youth, Sports, & Culture: Abdel Kadr SANGARE
Sec. Gen. of the Government: Ousmane SANOKO
Sec. Gen. of the Presidency: Fode BANGOURA
Governor, Central Bank: Ibrahim Cherif BAH
Ambassador to the US: Mohamed THIAM
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Alpha Ibrahima SOW

Guinea maintains an embassy in the United States at 2112 Leroy Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-483-9420) and a mission to the United Nations at 140 E. 39th St., New York, NY 10016 (tel. 212-687-8115/16/17).


ECONOMY

Richly endowed with minerals, Guinea possesses over 25 billion metric tons (MT) of bauxite—and perhaps up to one half of the world's reserves. In addition, Guinea's mineral wealth includes more than 4 billion tons of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits, and undetermined quantities of uranium. 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. 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, in which 49% of the shares are owned by the Guinean Government and 51% by an international consortium led by Alcoa and Alcan. CBG exports about 14 million metric tons of high-grade bauxite every year. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), a joint venture between the Government of Guinea and Russki Alumina, produces some 2.5 million MT 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 million MT 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 tons of bauxite in 2003, which is used as raw material for its alumina refinery. The refinery supplies about one million MT of alumina for export to world markets. Currently, there are two proposed refinery projects under development that would boost Guinea's alumina production substantially.

Diamonds and gold also are mined and exported on a large scale. AREDOR, a joint diamondmining 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 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 are still awaiting preliminary exploration and financing results.

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 privatizations, and shifted governmental expenditures and internal reforms to the education, health, infrastructure, banking, and justice sectors. Cabinet changes in 1999 as well increasing 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.

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 provides 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 benefits. A national investment commission has been formed to review all investment proposals. The United States and Guinea have signed 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.

Until June 2001, private operators managed the production, distribution, and feecollection operations of water and electricity under performance-based contracts with the Government of Guinea. However, both 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, like increased money generation, have created severe economic imbalances including rampant inflation.

Starting in December 2004, the government has pursued a rigorous reform agenda 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 slowed down inflation, which hit 27% in 2004 and maintained that rate in 2005. In addition, the Guinea franc has depreciated about 50% to the dollar since the beginning of 2005.

Despite the opening in 2005 of a new road connecting Guinea and Mali, most major roadways connecting the country's trade centers 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 has proposed construction of an alumina refinery with a price tag above $2 billion. Alcoa and Alcan are proposing a slightly smaller refinery at about $1.5 billion. Taken together, they represent the largest private investment in sub-Saharan Africa since the Chad-Cameroun oil pipeline.


DEFENSE

Guinea's armed forces are divided into four branches—army, navy, air force, and gendarmerie—whose chiefs report to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Col. Kerfalla Camara. The Chairman reports directly to the President, who took responsibility for the Ministry of Defense in early 2000. The 10,000-member army is the largest of the four services. The navy has about 900 personnel and operates several small patrol craft and barges. Air force personnel total about 700; its equipment includes several Russian-supplied fighter planes and transport planes. Several thousand gendarmes are responsible for internal security.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Guinea's relations with other countries, including with her West African neighbors, have improved steadily since 1985. Guinea reestablished relations with France and Germany in 1975, and with neighboring Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal in 1978. Guinea has been active in efforts toward regional integration and cooperation, especially regarding the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) and the Economic Organization of West African States (ECOWAS). Guinea takes its role in a variety of international organizations seriously and participates actively in their deliberations and decisions. Guinea has participated in both diplomatic and military efforts to resolve conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau, and contributed contingents of troops to peacekeeping operations in all three countries as part of ECOMOG, the Military Observer Group of ECOWAS. Guinea has offered asylum to more than 700,000 Liberian, Sierra Leonean, and Bissauan refugees since 1990, despite the economic and environmental costs involved.

The civil wars that engulfed Liberia and then Sierra Leone during the 1990s have negatively affected relations between Guinea and these two fellow Mano River Union member countries. Guinea and Liberia accused each other of supporting opposition dissidents, and in late 2000 and early 2001, Guinean dissidents backed by the Liberian government and RUF rebels from Sierra Leone brutally attacked Guinea. These attacks caused over 1,000 Guinean deaths and displaced more than 100,000 Guineans. The attacks led to Guinea's support for the LURD (Liberians United For Reconciliation and Democracy) rebels in their attacks against the Liberian government of Charles Taylor. Taylor's departure for exile in August 2003 and the establishment of an interim government has led to friendlier relations between the two countries and lower tension on Guinea's southern border.

Guinea belongs to the UN and most of its specialized related agencies; Organization of African Unity (OAU—now the African Union); International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD); African Development Bank (AFDB); Niger River Basin (NRB); Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC); Mano River Union (MRU); Gambia River Basin Organization (OMVG); and Nonaligned Movement (NAM). Guinea relinquished a seat on the UN Security Council after serving a 2-year term beginning October 2001.


U.S.-GUINEAN RELATIONS

The United States maintains close relations with Guinea. U.S. policy seeks to encourage Guinea's sustainable economic and social development, and its full integration into regional cooperative institutions, to achieve economic, social, political, and environmental objectives. The U.S. also seeks to promote increased U.S. private investment in Guinea's emerging economy.

The U.S. Mission in Guinea is composed of five agencies—Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Peace Corps, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Defense. In addition to providing the full range of diplomatic functions, the Embassy obligated in FY 2004 $57,100 for Self-Help projects and $75,000 for Democracy and Human Rights projects. The U.S. Mission also manages a military assistance program that provided nearly $627,000 for military education, language training, and humanitarian assistance programs.

USAID Guinea is now one of only five sustainable development missions in West Africa, with current core program areas in primary education, family health, democracy and governance, and natural resources management.

The Peace Corps has more than 100 volunteers throughout the country. Volunteers teach English and mathematics in high schools, assist in village development and health education, and collaborate with USAID on a natural resources management project. Guinea was the first country to inaugurate a full-fledged Crisis Corps program, a new Peace Corps initiative developed to address natural and manmade disasters.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

CONAKRY (E) Address: Rua Ka -38 - Conakry; Phone: 224-41-15-20/21/23; Fax: 224-41-15-22; Workweek: MTh, 7:30-16:30; F, 7:30-13:30; Website:www.usembassy.state.gov/conakry

AMB:Jackson C. McDonald
AMB OMS:Judyann H. Dye
DCM:Julie Winn
DCM OMS:Rosemary Motisi
POL:Jessica Davis Ba
CON:Yolanda Kerney
MGT:Christopher D. Dye
AFSA:Theresa Kraft
AID:Jack Winn
CLO:Maria Rodriguez-Aybar
DAO:Christian Ramthun
ECO:Eric Turner
EEO:Louise Bedichek
FMO:Sharon Yang
GSO:Jennifer McAlpine
ICASS Chair:Stephen Peterson
IPO:Dwayne Taylor
ISSO:Dwayne Taylor
PAO:Louise Bedichek
RAMC:FSC Charleston
RSO:John Aybar
State ICASS:Yolanda Kerney
Last Updated: 12/22/2005

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

January 4, 2006

Country Description:

Guinea is a developing country in western Africa, with minimal facilities for tourism. Travelers who plan to stay in Conakry, the capital, should make reservations well in advance. French is the official language but Pular and Malinké are also widely spoken.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A passport, visa, international vaccination record (WHO card), and current yellow fever vaccination are required. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea, 2112 Leroy Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 986-4300, fax (202) 478-3010. The Guinean embassy does not maintain a current web site. Overseas, inquiries should be made to the nearest Guinean embassy or consulate.

Safety and Security:

Guinea has experienced occasional civil unrest in Conakry and larger towns throughout the country. While U.S. citizens have not been targeted in any demonstration-related unrest, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be very dangerous. During many demonstrations, crowds of people gather and burn tires, create roadblocks, and damage vehicles by throwing rocks and bricks. Because of the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations. They should also avoid sensitive government installations, including the Presidential Palace, official government buildings, and military bases. U.S. citizens should maintain security awareness at all times.

Despite the Guinean military's attempts to maintain strict control of the country's borders, instability in neighboring countries has created tense situations along Guinea's perimeters. Hostilities along the borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia escalate from time to time, resulting in border incursions and kidnappings by various armed factions. Major incursions occurred from September 2000 through March 2001; skirmishes also occurred along the Guinean-Liberian border in October 2002. The current civil unrest in neighboring Côte d'Ivoire has also increased tensions along Guinea's southeastern border. As a result of the periodic tenuous situation in some of Guinea's neighboring countries (Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire), the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to take precautions when traveling south of Kissidougou, including the prefectures of Gueckedou, Macenta, N'Zerekore, Yomou, Lolo, and Beyla. The road connecting Conakry, Coyah, and Kissidougou is not restricted and there are several border crossings between Guinea and Sierra Leone. U.S. citizens considering travel to the border regions with Liberia, Sierra Leone or Côte d'Ivoire should consult the latest Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets for those countries (available at the Bureau of Consular Affairs' web site at http://travel.state.gov) and should contact the U.S. Embassy in Conakry for the latest travel and security information. Crossing borders requires visas and complete paperwork, and can be difficult.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

In Conakry, as in many large cities, crime is a fact of daily life. Residential and street crime is very common. Sentiments toward Americans in Guinea are generally positive, but criminals regularly target U.S. and other foreigners because they are perceived as lucrative targets. Nonviolent and violent crimes are a problem. The majority of nonviolent crime involves acts of pick pocketing and purse snatching, while armed robbery, muggings, and assaults are the most common violent crimes. There have been reports of armed and unarmed banditry near the borders with Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia. In spite of good intentions, the police have been unable to prevent the rapid escalation of crime. There have also been cases of direct and indirect requests for bribes from the police and military officials.

Criminals particularly target visitors at the airport, in the traditional markets, and near hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners. Visitors should avoid unsolicited offers of assistance at the airport and hotels because such offers often mask an intention to steal luggage, purses, or wallets. Travelers should arrange for hotel personnel, family members, or business contacts to meet them at the airport to reduce their vulnerability to these crimes of opportunity.

Commercial scams and disputes with local business partners can create legal difficulties for U.S. citizens because corruption is widespread in Guinea. Business routinely turns on bribes rather than the law, and enforcement of the law is irregular and inefficient. The U.S. Embassy has extremely limited recourse in assisting Americans who are victims of illegal business deals.

Business fraud is rampant and the targets are usually foreigners, including Americans. Schemes previously associated with Nigeria are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Guinea, and can result in severe financial loss. Typically these scams begin with an unsolicited communication (usually e-mails) from strangers who promise quick financial gain, often by transferring money or valuables out of the country, but then require a series of "advance fees" to be paid – such as fees for legal documents or taxes – to release the transferred funds. Of course, the final payoff does not exist; the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. A common variation is a claim to be a refugee or émigré of a prominent West African family, or a relative of a present or former political leader who needs assistance in transferring cash. Still others appear to be legitimate business deals that require advance payments on contracts. Some victims provide bank account and credit card information and financial authorization that drains their accounts, incurs large debts against their credit, and takes their life savings.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of such fraud is common sense – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. You should carefully check and research any unsolicited business proposal before committing any funds, providing any goods or services, and undertaking any travel. A good clue is the phone number provided; legitimate businesses and offices provide fixed line numbers, while scams typically use only cell phones. It is virtually impossible to recover money lost through these scams.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical facilities are poorly equipped and extremely limited both in the capital city and throughout Guinea. Medicines are in short supply, sterility of equipment should not be assumed, and treatment is frequently unreliable. Some private medical facilities provide a better range of treatment options than public facilities but are still well below global standards. There are no ambulance or emergency rescue services in Guinea and trauma care is extremely limited. Water in Guinea is presumed contaminated, so you should use only bottled or distilled water for drinking. Malaria is a serious risk to travelers in Guinea. For additional information on malaria, including protective measures, see the CDC Travelers' Health web site at http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Guinea is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance. Drivers in Guinea tend to be poorly trained, and routinely ignore road safety rules. Guinea's road network, paved and unpaved, is underdeveloped and unsafe. Roads and vehicles are poorly maintained, road signs are insufficient, and roads and vehicles are frequently unlit. Livestock and pedestrians create constant road hazards and make nighttime travel inadvisable. Guinea has many roadblocks set up by the police or the military, making inter- and intra-city travel difficult from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. During the rainy season (July through September), flash floods make some roads temporarily impassable. Roadside assistance is not available in Guinea.

Guinea has no public transportation. Taxis, including small cars and larger vans, are often poorly maintained and over-crowded. Taxis frequently stop and start without regard to other vehicles, making driving hazardous. Rental vehicles, with drivers, are available from agencies at major hotels in Conakry.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Guinea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Guinea's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

SN Brussels, Air France, and Royal Air Morocco operate flights from Brussels, Paris and Casablanca to Guinea's Gbessia International Airport. Other regional airlines service the airport, but are not always reliable.

Special Circumstances:

Guinean customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary import or export of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, and ivory. You should contact the Embassy of Guinea in Washington, DC for specific information regarding customs requirements.

The local currency is the Guinean franc (FG). Travelers may not have more than 100,000 FG (currently about $23) or more than $5,000 when they depart Guinea. Guinea has a cash economy. ATMs are not available and traveler's checks are accepted only at some banks and hotels. Credit cards are accepted at some larger hotels in Conakry, but should be used only at reputable hotels and banks. Cash advances on Visa credit cards are available at various branches of Bicigui, a local bank. Inter-bank fund transfers are possible at Bicigui branches but can be difficult and expensive. Money transfers from the U.S. have worked successfully in the past. Western Union has several offices in Conakry, and Moneygram has an office downtown.

Visitors should restrict photography to private gatherings and should obtain explicit permission from the Guinean government before photo-graphing military and transportation facilities, government buildings, or public works. Photographing without permission in any public area may provoke a response from security personnel or a dangerous confrontation with people who find being photographed offensive.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Guinean laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Guinea are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues web site at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in Guinea are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Guinea. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 2nd Blvd. and 9th Ave. in Conakry. The mailing address is B.P. 603, Conakry, Guinea; tel. (224) 41-15-20/21/23; fax: (224) 41-15-22; web site: http://usembassy.state.gov/conakry/.

International Adoption

January 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family

Disclaimer:

The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Availability of Children for Adoption:

Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect that in the last four years only one Guinean child was adopted by a U.S. citizen.

Guinean Adoption Authority:

Adoption petitions are submitted to a Tribunal of First Instance or a Justice of the Peace. The Court of Appeals is the second resort. The Ministry of Justice grants their authority.

Guinean Adoption Procedures:

Those seeking to adopt should retain an attorney who is a member of the Guinean bar association. There are two types of adoptions in Guinea -perfect adoption and simple adoption. Both are open to Guineans and non-Guineans. A perfect adoption is irrevocable and should be advantageous to the child. In perfect adoptions, the adoptive relationship takes precedence over any biological relationship. In a simple adoption, the child may continue to have ties to his/her biological family and it is revocable. In both kinds of adoption, if the parents are alive, their consent is required. If both parents are dead, consent needs to be granted by the remaining family members (le Conseil famille). The initial request is made to the Tribunal of First Instance or a Justice of the Peace. The judgement is given after inquiry and debate in court chambers.

Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family

Age and Civil Status Requirements:

Anyone at least 35 years old may adopt another person if the difference in age between the two is at least 15 years. A couple may seek to adopt a minor child if one of the adopters is at least 35 years old and without children. Those seeking to adopt should not have a serious medical condition.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys:

There are no adoption agencies or groups that specialize in adoption in Guinea. The Embassy maintains a list of numerous attorneys practicing in Guinea.

Doctors:

The U.S. Embassy in Conakry maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Guinea

Guinean Documentary Requirements:

The final request for adoption should include a copy of the child's birth certificate, identification for the prospective parents and the child, written justification for the adoption and a "certificate of domicile" verifying the potential prospective parent's place of residence.

U.S. Immigration Requirements:

A Guinea child, even if adopted by an American citizen, must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Guinean Embassy in the United States:

Guinea Embassy
2112 Leroy Place NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: 202-483-9420
Fax: 202-483-8688.

U.S. Embassy in Guinean:

The Consular Section is located at:
Street address
2nd Blvd and 9th Ave
Kaloum, Conakry

Mailing Address
American Embassy
BP 603
Conakry, Guinea
Tel: (224) 41-15-20/1/3
Fax: (224) 41-15-22

Additional Information:

Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult BCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions.

Questions:

Specific questions regarding adoption in Guinea may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Conakry. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, telephone 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.

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Guinea

Guinea

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Guineans

35 Bibliography

Republic of Guinea
République de Guinée

CAPITAL: Conakry

FLAG: The national flag is a tricolor of red, yellow, and green vertical stripes.

ANTHEM: Liberté (Liberty).

MONETARY UNIT: The syli (S), of 100 cauris, was introduced in October 1972, replacing the Guinea franc (GFr); S1 = 10 old Guinea francs. In January 1986 the Guinea franc (GFr) of 100 centimes was restored on a one-to-one basis with the syli. There are notes of 25, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, and 5,000 GFr. GFr1 = $0.00036 (or $1 = GFr2,810) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year’s Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1

May; Anniversary of Women’s Revolt, 27 August; Referendum Day, 28 September; Independence Day, 2 October; Armed Forces Day, 1 November; Day of 1970 Invasion, 22 November; Christmas, 25 December. Movable religious holidays include ‘Id al-Fitr, ‘Id al-’Adha’, and Easter Monday.

TIME: GMT.

1 Location and Size

Guinea, on the west coast of Africa, has an area of 245,857 square kilometers (94,925 square miles). Comparatively, the area occupied by Guinea is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. Bordered by Senegal, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau, Guinea has a total land boundary length of 3,399 kilometers (2,112 miles) and a coastline (Atlantic Ocean) of 352 kilometers (219 miles).

Guinea’s capital city, Conakry, is located on the country’s Atlantic coast.

2 Topography

The country can be divided into four regions: Lower Guinea is the coastal plain, Middle Guinea is a plateau region deeply cut by narrow valleys, Upper Guinea is a gently rolling plain, and the Guinea Highlands are forested. Mont Nimba, at 1,752 meters (5,747 feet), is the highest peak in the country. It is located at the southern border with Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. The lowest point is at sea level (Atlantic Ocean).

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 245,857 sq km (94,925 sq mi)

Size ranking: 75 of 194

Highest elevation: 1,752 meters (5,747 feet) at Mont Nimba

Lowest elevation: Sea level at the Atlantic Ocean

Land Use*

Arable land: 4%

Permanent crops: 3%

Other: 93%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: (Conakry): 430 centimeters (169 inches). Rainfall in the central plateau region averages only 150–200 centimeters (60–80 inches) per year, while in the highlands it averages 280 centimeters (110 inches).

Average temperature in January: (Conakry): 22–31°c (72–88°f)

Average temperature in July: (Conakry): 23–30°c (73–86°f)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

The Niger River and its important tributary the Milo have their source in the Guinea Highlands. The Niger is the longest river, with a length of 4,100 kilometers (2,460 miles). The Gambia River and Senegal River (whose upper course is called the Bafing in Guinea) rise in the Futa Jallon.

3 Climate

The coastal region and much of the inland area have a tropical climate with a long rainy season of six months, a relatively high and uniform annual temperature, and high humidity. Conakry’s year-round average high is 29°c (84°f), and the low is 23°c (73°f). The average rainfall is 430 centimeters (169 inches) per year. April is the hottest month. July and August are the wettest. Rainfall in the central plateau region averages only 150–200 centimeters (60–80 inches) per year, while in the highlands it averages 280 centimeters (110 inches).

4 Plants and Animals

Dense mangrove forests grow along the river mouths. Farther inland, the typical vegetation of Lower Guinea is woodland dominated by parinari, with many woody climbers and bushes below. Gum copal is common near streams. The Futa Jallon has been subject to excessive burning, and the lower slopes are characterized by secondary woodland. The higher plateaus and peaks have dense forest, and some plants found nowhere else in the world have been reported on them. Savanna woodland characterizes Upper Guinea, with only tall grass in large areas. Trees include the shea nut, tamarind, and locust

bean. There is rain forest along the border with Liberia.

The elephant, hippopotamus, buffalo, lion, leopard, and many kinds of antelope and monkey are to be found in Guinea, as well as crocodiles and several species of venomous snakes. Birds are plentiful and diverse.

5 Environment

Centuries of slash-and-burn agriculture have caused forested areas to be replaced by savanna woodland, grassland, or brush. Between 1990 and 1995, Guinea lost an average of 1.14% of its forest and woodland area each year. Mining,

the expansion of hydroelectric facilities, and pollution contribute to the erosion of the country’s soils and desertification. Water pollution and improper waste disposal are also significant environmental problems in Guinea. In 1994, water-borne diseases contributed to a high infant mortality rate.

According to a 2006 report, the number of threatened species included 18 mammal species, 10 species of birds, 1 type of reptile, 5 amphibian species, and 22 plant species. Human encroachment and hunting have reduced Guinea’s wildlife, especially its large mammals, and overfishing represents a threat to the nation’s marine life.

While a nature reserve has been established on Mont Nimba, as of 2003, less than 1% of the country’s total land area was protected by the state. Threatened species include the African elephant, Diana monkey, and Nimba otter-shrew.

6 Population

The estimated population was 9.45 million in 2005. The projected population for the year 2025 was 15.8 million. Conakry, the capital and largest city, had an estimated population of 1.36 million in 2005.

7 Migration

After independence, Guineans left the country in increasing numbers, mostly for Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. In the early and mid-1980s, probably two million Guineans were living abroad, perhaps half of them in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire. Many of them returned after the end of the Sékou Touré government in 1984. As of 1997 Guinea was accommodating 420,000 refugees from Liberia and 250,000 refugees from Sierra Leone. The total number of refugees remaining in Guinea in 2000 was 427,200. By the end of 2004, that number had fallen to 139,252 refugees, primarily from Sierra Leone and Liberia. In 2003 the net migration rate was estimated -2.99 migrants per 1,000 population.

8 Ethnic Groups

Of about two dozen ethnic groups in Guinea, there are three that predominate: the Fulani, Malinké, and Soussou. The Fulani (sometimes called Peul) is the largest single group (40% of the population), with most living in the Futa Jallon. The Malinké (referred to in other parts of West Africa as Mandingo) and related peoples of the so-called Nuclear Mandé group (30%) live in eastern Guinea. The Soussou (20%), with related groups, are centered farther west and along the coast. Related to them are the Dialonké, living farther east in Middle Guinea and western Upper Guinea. Smaller tribes make up the remaining 10% of the population. Toward the southeast, in the Guinea Highlands near the borders of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, are various Kru or Mandé-related groups; among them are the Kissi, the Toma, and the Koranko. Notable among the 3,500 or so non-Africans are Lebanese and Syrians.

9 Languages

French is the official language and of government business. A literacy program begun in 1968 sought eventually to teach all citizens to speak and write one of the eight main local languages: Malinké (Maninkakan), Fulani (Poular), Susu, Kpelle (Guerzé), Loma (Toma), Kissi, Coniagui, and Bassari, all of which belong to the Niger-Congo language group. After the fall of the Touré regime in 1984, French was again emphasized; however, the tribal languages are still spoken.

10 Religions

About 85% of all Guineans, particularly the Fulani and Malinké, are Muslims. About 10% are Christians, and most of the remaining 5% practice traditional African religions. Most Muslims belong to the Sunni sect; however, their practices are often combined with animist beliefs and ceremonies. Among Christian groups are Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, and various other evangelical churches. There are a small number of Baha’is, Hindus, Buddhists, and observers of traditional Chinese religions.

Certain holidays of both Islam and Christianity are recognized as public holidays.

11 Transportation

Lack of an adequate transportation network has slowed the country’s development. As of 2004, the country’s railroad system totaled 837 kilometers (675 miles) of standard and narrow gauge track. Of 30,500 kilometers (18,953 miles) of roads, some 5,033 kilometers (3,128 miles) were tarred in 2002. There were 23,155 automobiles and 13,000 commercial vehicles in 1995 (the latest year for which data was available). Conakry has a natural deepwater harbor that handles foreign cargo (mostly bauxite and alumina). Conakry’s airport handles international jet traffic.

12 History

The Malinké people did not begin arriving in Guinea until the 13th century, nor did the Fulani come in considerable numbers until the 17th century. In 1725, a holy war (jihad) was declared in the northwest by Muslim Fulani. The onslaught, directed against the Malinké, was ultimately successful in establishing the independence of the Fulani of the northwest and uniting them under the Almany (or head chief) Alfa of Timbo.

Meanwhile, European exploration of the Guinea coast was begun by the Portuguese in the middle of the 15th century. By the 17th century, French, British, and Portuguese traders and slavers were competing with one another. When the slave trade was prohibited during the first half of the 19th century, Guinea’s creeks provided secluded hiding places for slavers pursued by the ships of the British Royal Navy. French rights along the coast were expressly preserved by the Peace of Paris (1814), and French—as well as British and Portuguese—trading activities expanded in the middle years of the 19th century, when trade in peanuts, palm oil, hides, and rubber replaced that in slaves. A French protectorate was established over the region in 1881, but France did not gain a secure hold on the area for another 15 years. The capture in 1898 of Samory Touré, a Malinké who had led resistance to the French, marked the end of local resistance to France’s occupation of Guinea, Ivory Coast (now Côte d’Ivoire), and southern Mali.

In 1891, Guinea was declared a French territory separate from Senegal, of which it had been a part. Four years later, the French territories in West Africa were united under a governor-general, an arrangement that remained substantially unchanged until Guinea attained independence. In 1946, Africans in Guinea became French citizens, but citizenship was at first restricted to certain groups and was not replaced by universal adult voting rights until 1957.

The End of Colonial Rule Guinea became an independent state on 2 October 1958, with Ahmed Sékou Touré, leader of Guinea’s strongest labor union, as president. During its first three decades of independence, Guinea developed into a militantly Socialist state, with nearly complete government control over the country’s economic and political life. Guinea expelled the U.S. Peace Corps in 1966 because of supposed involvement in a plot to overthrow President Touré. Similar charges were directed against France. Diplomatic relations were ended in 1965 and did not resume until 1975. An ongoing source of tension between Guinea and its French-speaking neighbors was the estimated half-million Guineans in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire, some of them active dissidents who, in 1966, formed the National Liberation Front of Guinea (Front de Libération Nationale de Guinée-FLNG). Between 1969 and 1976, according to Amnesty International, Guinea detained 4,000 persons for political reasons, with the fate of 2,900 unknown.

In 1977, protests against the government’s economic policy led to riots in which three regional governors were killed. Touré responded by relaxing restrictions, offering amnesty to exiles (thousands of whom returned), and releasing hundreds of political prisoners. Ties were loosened with the Soviet bloc, as Touré sought increased Western aid and private investment for Guinea’s sagging economy. Touré was elected unopposed to a fourth seven-year term as president on 9 May 1982. According to the government radio, he received 100% of the vote. A new constitution was adopted that month, and during the summer Touré visited the United States as part of an economic policy reversal that found Guinea seeking Western investment to develop its huge mineral reserves. Measures announced in 1983 brought further economic liberalization.

Military Takes Over Touré died on 26 March 1984 while undergoing cardiac treatment at the Cleveland Clinic, where he had been rushed after being stricken in Saudi Arabia the previous day. On 3 April, however, just as the Political Bureau of the ruling Guinea Democratic Party (PDG) was about to name its choice as Touré’s successor, the armed forces seized power, denouncing the last years of Touré’s rule as a “bloody and ruthless dictatorship.” The constitution was suspended, the National Assembly dissolved, and the PDG abolished. The leader of the takeover, Colonel Lansana Conté, assumed the presidency on 5 April, heading the Military Committee for National Recovery (Comité Militaire de Redressement National-CMRN). About 1,000 political prisoners were freed.

Conté suppressed an attempted military takeover led by Colonel Diarra Traoré on 4 July 1985. Almost two years later, it was announced that 58 persons, including both takeover leaders and members of Touré’s government, had been sentenced to death. However, it was believed that many of them, as well as Traoré, had actually been shot days after the takeover attempt. All were identified with the Malinké, who were closely identified with the Touré regime. The military government adopted free-market policies in an effort to revive the economy. Under pressure locally and from abroad, Guinea embarked on a transition to multiparty democracy. The military-dominated government has not been entirely supportive of the process. It legalized parties in April 1992, but did not really allow them to function freely. It postponed presidential elections for more than a year (until 19 December 1993) and then verified the results (Conté was elected by a narrow margin) after international monitors had rejected them as fraudulent. The legislative elections were delayed until 11 June 1995. In February 1996 a minor coup was staged against Conté to raise soldiers’ pay and to remove the acting defense minister. Conté gave into the mutineers’ demands by doubling soldiers’ pay and taking over the defense department himself. He was reelected president in the 1999 elections.

In November 2001, in what amounted to a constitutional coup, Conté and the National Assembly amended the constitution to increase the number of years in a presidential term from five to seven and to remove term limits. The amendment also allowed the president to nominate local government officials. In June 2002 flawed parliamentary elections resulted in the ruling party’s gain of a two-third’s majority in the Assembly.

Conté’s declining health fueled speculation that he might not run again in 2003. However, in the elections held on 21 December 2003, President Conté won 95.3% of the vote. As of 2007 Conté remained in office, surviving an attempted assassination in January of 2005 that year. The next presidential election was to be held in December 2010.

13 Government

In practice, under the Touré regime, the legislature, the cabinet, and the national administration were subordinate to the PDG (the ruling party) in the direction and control of the nation. The Assembly and the cabinet (appointed by Touré) carried out the decisions and orders of the party arrived at by the party congress, national conference, and the Political Bureau.

The armed forces leaders who seized power after Touré’s death ruled Guinea through the Military Committee for National Recovery (CMRN), followed by a transitional Committee of National Recovery (CTRN) set up in February 1991. In 1993, the government created a 114-member National Assembly; members serve

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Lansana Conté

Position: President of a republic

Took Office: 5 April 1984, reelected in 2003 (election boycotted by the opposition)

Birthplace: Dubreka, Guinea

Birthdate: 1934

Religion: Muslim

Education: Central State University, Cincinnati, Ohio, honorary doctorate degree

Spouse: Two wives (one of whom is a former Miss Guinea)

Of interest: Conte’s chain-smoking habit and diabetes have raised concerns about his health. He prefers to spend his time out of the public spotlight and on his farm near Dubreka.

four-year terms. In 1996, the position of prime minister was created.

In the early 1990s the country adopted a decentralization program for local government. Three hundred and three rural development communities (CRDs) were created, each being made up of several districts (groupings of villages). The 303 CRDs were divided among the 33 prefectures, and 4 natural regions. In 1994 the number of regions was increased to seven.

14 Political Parties

Political parties were legalized in April 1992. By late 1993 more than 30 political parties were legally registered. Some were allied with the military government (such as the Party for Unity and Progress-PUP) and others were identifiably ethnic-based. The most significant national opposition parties are the Rally for the Guinean People (RPG), the Union for a New Republic (UNR), and the Party for Renewal and Progress (PRP). Following the elections of June 1995, the PUP held a majority, with 71 seats. The elections were denounced as unfair, and the opposition briefly held a boycott of the assembly afterwards.

The PRP and the UNR later merged to form the Union for Progress and Renewal (UPR). Elections held on 30 June 2002 saw the PUP take 61.6%, the UPR 26.6%, and others 11.8%. The number of seats by party was PUP with 85, the UPR with 20, and the others with 9. The opposition denounced the contest as fraudulent. The next legislative elections were expected to be held in 2007.

15 Judicial System

There are district courts, two Courts of Appeal (in Kankan and in Conakry), and a Supreme Court. There also is a State Security Court and a military tribunal, which handles criminal cases involving military personnel. A traditional system of dispute resolution exists alongside the court system at the village and neighborhood level. Although the 1990 constitution created an independent judiciary, judges are susceptible to influence by the executive branch. In 1996, the government created the Discipline Council for dealing with civil servants who abuse their positions in the government. In June 1998, a special arbitration court was established to settle business disputes.

16 Armed Forces

The armed forces numbered about 9,700 active personnel in 2005, including 8,500 in the army, 400 in the navy, and 800 in the air force. There was also a 7,000-member People’s Militia. The defense budget in 2005 totaled $72 million.

17 Economy

After two decades of socialist-style economic management, a major reform movement gained political power in 1984. Of the more than 100 state enterprises, most were closed. Food prices were decontrolled, private trade reestablished, and the government began actively to seek foreign investment for sectors other than mining and energy. Monetary reform was enacted in early 1986, with a 93% currency devaluation. Although the reforms were successful, the economy has been restrained by poor transportation and communication systems.

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

As of 2000, 80% of the population engaged in subsistence agriculture. Mining accounted for 75% of exports. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 2% in 2005. Despite a rise in the world price for bauxite, Guinea’s primary export, earnings from mining have been weak.

Inflation has been increasing since 2002. In 2005, inflation was estimated to have reached 35%.

18 Income

In 2005, Guinea’s gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $20.7 billion, or $2,200 per person. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 2% in 2005.

19 Industry

Manufacturing in Guinea consists of three elements: public enterprises with large staffs; small private businesses; and small nonindustrial units employing persons in a wide variety of occupations. Guinea has an alumina smelter at Fria. Among Guinea’s other plants are a fruit cannery at Mamou, a fruit juice factory at Kankan, a tea factory at Macenta, and a palm oil works at Kassa. During the socialist years, a sizeable state-owned industrial sector emerged. Guinea had 234 state-run industries in 1985. Fewer than 60 remained in the government’s control by 1995. A new $2.5 billion alumina refinery in Sangaredi is expected to reach full production in 2008, producing 2.8 million tons of alumina annually.

In 2005, industry accounted for 36% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). The service sector accounted for 40% of GDP, with agriculture at 24%, although it employs 80% of the labor force.

20 Labor

As of 2000, more than 80% of Guinea’s labor force of about three million were engaged in agriculture. Most of the wage and salary earners work for the government, while mining is the other major source of salaried employment. The workweek for industry is 48 hours. Salaried workers, including public sector civilian employees, have the right to strike. About 5% of the workforce is unionized.

The minimum working age is 16 years and is enforced mainly for large firms. However, most children work, either informally or in agriculture. Although the labor code contains provisions for a minimum wage, the government has yet to establish one.

21 Agriculture

Only about 4% of Guinea’s arable land area is cultivated. Agriculture accounts for 24% of gross domestic product and employs around 80% of the working population.

The principal subsistence crops (with estimated 2004 production) are manioc (1.35 million tons), rice (900,000 tons), sweet potatoes (60,000 tons), yams (40,000 tons), and corn (90,000 tons). Cash crops are peanuts, palm kernels, bananas, pineapples, coffee, coconuts, sugarcane, and citrus fruits. In 2004 an estimated 4309,000 tons of plantains, 280,000 tons of sugarcane, 210,000 tons of citrus fruits, 150,000 tons of bananas, 300,000 tons of peanuts, 53,000 tons of palm kernels, and 22,500 tons of coconuts were produced. That same year, coffee production was estimated at 20,500 tons.

22 Domesticated Animals

In 2005, there were an estimated 3.4 million head of cattle, 1.14 million sheep, 1.36 million goats, 67,500 hogs, and 15 million chickens. Almost all the cattle are the small humpless Ndama variety kept by the Fulani in Futa Jallon and Upper Guinea, where sheep and goats also are herded. The Ndama cattle are not susceptible to animal trypanosomiasis (pronounced TRI-pa-no-so-MY-a-sis; sleeping sickness), and their yield in meat is good. Total meat production in 2005 was 58,435 tons.

23 Fishing

Guinea’s annual ocean fisheries potential exceeds 200,000 tons, according to World Bank estimates. The total catch in 2003 was 118,845 tons, with 97% from marine fishing. Traditional fisherman only catch about 13% of the estimated annual yield. Tuna is the most important catch. Many species found in Guinean waters are among the richest in West Africa and command high value. Exports of fish products in 2003 were valued at $2.3 million. Since 1990, several small scale fishing ventures have been established, including a shrimp farming project financed by the African Development Bank, and the development of private cold storage facilities in 14 different prefectures.

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

24 Forestry

Forests and woodland make up about 28% of Guinea’s land area. The nation’s forest resources offer great promise, the major constraint on development being lack of adequate transportation. Logging and sawmill facilities have been built in the Nzérékoré area. In 2004, removal of roundwood (unsawed timber as in poles), was estimated at 12.2 million cubic meters (431 million cubic feet), with about 95% of the harvest used for fuel. Exports of forestry products totaled $6 million, while imports amounted to $4.5 million in 2004.

25 Mining

In 2004, Guinea’s mineral output consisted mostly of bauxite, cement, diamonds, gold, and salt. In that same year, the country was one of the world’s top five producers of bauxite, which was a major source of foreign currency for the nation. In 2004, Guinea’s bauxite mine output included an estimated 17 million metric tons of wet-basis bauxite, and 15 million metric tons

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

of dry-basis bauxite. In that same year, Guinea produced 10,700 kilograms (23,589 pounds) of gold, 740,000 carats of diamond, and an estimated 9,000 metric tons of hydrate alumina. Guinea also has deposits of graphite, iron, limestone, uranium, nickel and manganese. However, these deposits remain undeveloped.

26 Foreign Trade

Export estimates for 2000 show that the mining industry accounted for 70% of total export earnings, which consisted mostly of bauxite, alumina and gold. Diamonds and gold, coffee, unused postage, stamp-impressed papers, and checkbooks are other exports. Imports include petroleum products, machinery and equipment, food, vehicles, and chemicals.

In 2005, exports were valued at $612 million, with imports valued at $680 million.

Principal trading partners in 2004 included France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Switzerland, Côte d’Ivoire, China and South Africa.

27 Energy and Power

In 2002 a total of about 773 million kilowatt hours was produced, much of it consumed by the Fria-Boké bauxite-processing complex. Of that total, 443 million kilowatt hours was produced by hydropower As of 1 January 2003, Guinea had no known proven reserves of oil, natural gas, or coal, nor any oil refining capacity. As a result, all fossil fuels and refined petroleum products must be imported.

28 Social Development

Social security provides pensions at age 55 and cash sickness benefits for employed persons. Officially, free medical treatment is available, as well as free care for pregnant women and for infants. In reality, health service is poor, and life expectancy is among the lowest in the world.

Violence against women is common, but courts rarely intervene in domestic disputes. Female genital mutilation, a practice that is both painful and often life-threatening, continues to be practiced in all parts of the country.

29 Health

As of 2005, there was an estimated 0.1 physicians per 1,000 people. It is estimated that 80% of the population had access to health care services.

Malaria, yaws, leprosy, and sleeping sickness have been the major tropical diseases. Goiter,

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorGuinea Low-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$2,160 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate2.8% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land37 803032
Life expectancy in years: male54 587675
female54 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people0.1 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)45 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)29.5% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people47 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people5 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)n.a. 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)0.17 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

tuberculosis, and venereal diseases are also common problems. Yellow fever and smallpox have been brought under control, but schistosomiasis (pronounced SHIS-toe-so-MY-a-sis) remains widespread.

Malnutrition affected 26% of all children under five years old as of 1999. Average estimated life expectancy was 54 years in 2005.

As of 2004, the number of people living with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) was estimated at 140,000. Deaths from AIDS in 2003 were estimated at 9,000.

Since 1986 Guinea has been revamping its health care system. Using the Bamako Initiative previously used by other sub-Saharan African nations, Guinea has set up several smaller health centers that offer immunization services, AIDS prevention and control, family planning, and tuberculosis control.

The most common rural dwelling is round, windowless, and made of wattle and daub or sundried mud bricks, with a floor of packed earth and a cone-shaped thatched roof. Urban dwellings are usually one-story rectangular frame or mud-brick buildings.

In 2000, a total of 72% of urban and 36% of rural households had access to improved water sources. About 94% of urban and 41% of rural households had access to improved sanitation systems.

31 Education

Education is free and compulsory between the ages of 7 and 13. Children go through 6 years of primary and 7 years of secondary school. In practice, however, only an estimated 41% of all students complete their schooling. In 2003 primary-school enrollment was estimated at about 65% of all age-eligible students, while in the same year, secondary school enrollment was around 21% of age-eligible students. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level in 2000 was at around 45 to 1.

The Gamal Abdel Nasser Polytechnic Institute was established at Conakry in 1963. The Valéry Giscard d’Estaing Institute of Agro-Zootechnical Sciences was founded in 1978 at Faranah. The University of Conakry was founded in 1984.

The adult literacy rate for the year 2005 was estimated at 29.5%.

32 Media

Telephone, telegraph, and postal services are government-owned. As of 2003, there were an estimated 3 mainline telephones, about 14 mobile phones and 5.5 personal computers for every 1,000 people. In that same year, 5 out of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.

Radiodiffusion-Télévision Guinéenne broadcasts in French, English, Portuguese, and several other languages, as does TV-Nationale, the one television station in Guinea. In 2001 there were four AM and one FM radio stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 52 radios and 47 television sets for every 1,000 people.

The government-owned newspaper, Horoya, is published weekly, with an estimated daily circulation of 20,000 in 2002.

The constitution provides freedom of the press, though in practice the government imposes broad control and censorship. All media are owned or controlled by the government.

33 Tourism and Recreation

In 2003, there were 3,634 tourist arrivals. Tourism receipts totaled $8.1 million in 2001. An annual cultural festival that includes theatrical and dance groups is held in October.

34 Famous Guineans

Samory Touré (1830?–1900), a Malinké born in Upper Guinea, conquered large areas and resisted French military forces until 1898. The founder of modern Guinea was his alleged great-grandson Ahmed Sékou Touré (1922–1984), a prominent labor leader and political figure who became Guinea’s first president in 1958. Guinea’s best-known writer, Camara Laye (1928–1980), wrote the novel The Dark Child. Col. Lansana Conté (b.1934) became president in 1984, a post he continued to hold as of 2007.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Jenkins, Mark. To Timbuktu. New York: W. Morrow, 1997.

O’Toole, Thomas. Historical Dictionary of Guinea. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1995.

WEB SITES

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/af/ci/gv/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

World Heritage List. whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/gn. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

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Guinea

Guinea

Compiled from the January 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Guinea (République de Guinée)

PROFILE

GEOGRAPHY

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

DEFENSE

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-GUINEAN RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 245,860 sq. km. (95,000 sq. mi.), about the size of Oregon.

Cities: Capital—Conakry. Other cities—Guéckédou, Boké, Kindia, N’Zérékoré, Macenta, Mamou, Kankan, Faranah, Siguiri, Dalaba, Labe, Pita, Kamsar.

Terrain: Generally flat along the coast and mountainous in the interior. The country’s four geographic regions include a narrow coastal belt; pastoral highlands (the source of West Africa’s major rivers); the northern savanna; and the southeastern rain forest.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Guinean(s).

Population: (2002 census) 8,444,559, including refugees and foreign residents. Refugee population: (2006 est.) 60,000 Liberians and Ivoiriens. Population of Conakry: 2 million. Population of largest prefectures—Guéckédou (487,017), Boké (366,915), Kindia (361,117), N’Zérékoré (328,347), Macenta (365,559).

Annual growth rate: (2002 census) 3.5%.

Ethnic groups: Peuhl 40%, Malinke 30%, Soussou 20%, other ethnic groups 10%.

Religions: Muslim 85%, Christian 8%, traditional beliefs 7%.

Languages: French (official), national languages.

Education: Years compulsory—8. Enrollment—primary school, 64.32% (male 78.71%, female 69.03%); secondary, 15%; and post secondary, 3%. Literacy (total population over age 15 that can read and write)—44.2% (male 58.74%, female 26.38%).

Health: (2002) Life expectancy—total population 54 years. Infant mortality rate (2002)—98/1000.

Work force: (2002, 4.5 million) Agriculture—76%; industry and commerce—18%; services—6%.

Governemnt

Type: Republic.

Constitution: 1990; amended 2001.

Independence: October 2, 1958. Anniversary of the Second Republic, April 3, 1984.

Government branches: Executive—elected president (chief of state); 25 appointed civilian ministers. Legislative—elected National Assembly (114 seats). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Political subdivisions: Region, prefecture, subprefecture, rural district.

Political parties: Legalized on 1 April 1992. Seven parties, of the more than 40 with legal status, won seats in the June 1995 legislative elections. Pro-government—Party for Unity and Progress (PUP). Opposition—Rally for the Guinean People (RPG), Union for Renewal and Progress (UPR), Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), Union for Progress of Guinea (UPG), Union of Republican Forces (UFR).

Suffrage: Universal over age 18.

Budget: (2006) $642 million.

Economy

GDP: (2005 est.) $3.38 billion.

Annual economic growth rate: (2005 est.) 3.3%.

Per capita GDP: (2005 est.) $363.40.

Inflation rate: (2005) 30.9%.

Natural resources: Bauxite, iron ore, diamonds, gold, water power, uranium, fisheries.

Industry: (30.9% of GDP) Types—mining, light manufacturing, construction.

Agriculture: (19.5% of GDP) Products—rice, cassava, fonio, millet, corn, coffee, cocoa, bananas, palm products, pineapples, livestock, forestry. Arable land—35%. Cultivated land—4.5%.

Trade: (45.1% of GDP) Exports (2005)—$806.6 million: bauxite, alumina, diamonds, gold, coffee, pineapples, bananas, palm products, coffee. Major markets—European Union, U.S., Commonwealth of Independent States, China, Eastern Europe, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco.

Exchange rate: (May 2006) Approximately 4833 Guinean francs=U.S. $1.

Fiscal year: January 1-December 31.

GEOGRAPHY

Guinea is located on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa and is bordered by Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The country is divided into four geographic regions: A narrow coastal belt (Lower Guinea); the pastoral Fouta Djallon highlands (Middle Guinea); the northern savannah (Upper Guinea); and a southeastern rain-forest region (Forest Guinea). The Niger, Gambia, and Senegal Rivers are among the 22 West African rivers that have their origins in Guinea.

The coastal region of Guinea and most of the inland have a tropical climate, with a rainy season lasting from April to November, relatively high and uniform temperatures, and high humidity. Conakry’s year-round average high is 29°C (85°F), and the low is 23°C (74°F); its average annual rainfall is 430 centimeters (169 inches). Sahelian Upper Guinea has a shorter rainy season and greater daily temperature variations.

PEOPLE

Guinea has four main ethnic groups:

  • Peuhl (Foula or Foulani), who inhabit the mountainous Fouta Djallon;
  • Malinke (or Mandingo), in the savannah and forest regions;
  • Soussous in the coastal areas; and
  • Several small groups (Gerzé, Toma, etc.) in the forest region.

West Africans make up the largest non-Guinean population. Non-Africans total about 10,000 (mostly Lebanese, French, and other Europeans). Seven national languages are used extensively; major written languages are French, Peuhl, and Arabic.

HISTORY

The area occupied by Guinea today was included in several large West African political groupings, including the Ghana, Mali, and Songhai empires, at various times from the 10th to the 15th century, when the region came into contact with European commerce. 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 Almamy Samory Touré, warlord and leader of Malinke 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 the 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.

Led by Ahmed Sékou Touré, head of the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG), which won 56 of 60 seats in 1957 territorial elections, the people of Guinea in a September 1958 plebiscite overwhelmingly rejected membership in the proposed French Community. The French withdrew quickly, and on October 2, 1958, Guinea proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent republic, with Sékou Touré as President.

Under Touré, Guinea became a one-party dictatorship, with a closed, socialized economy and no tolerance for human rights, free expression, or political opposition, which was ruthlessly suppressed. Originally credited for his advocacy of cross-ethnic nationalism, Touré gradually came to rely on his own Malinke ethnic group to fill positions in the party and government. Alleging plots and conspiracies against him at home and abroad, Touré’s regime targeted real and imagined opponents, imprisoning many thousands in Soviet-style prison gulags, where hundreds perished. The regime’s repression drove more than a million Guineans into exile, and Touré’s paranoia ruined relations with foreign nations, including neighboring African states, increasing Guinea’s isolation and further devastating its economy.

Sékou Touré and the PDG remained in power until his death on April 3, 1984. A military junta—the Military Committee of National Recovery (CMRN)—headed by then-Lt. Col. Lansana Conte, seized power just one week after the death of Sékou Touré. The CMRN immediately abolished the constitution, the sole political party (PDG) and its mass youth and women’s organizations, and announced the establishment of the Second Republic. In lieu of a constitution, the government was initially based on ordinances, decrees, and decisions issued by the president and various ministers.

Political parties were proscribed. The new government also released all prisoners and declared the protection of human rights as one of its primary objectives. It reorganized the judicial system and decentralized the administration. The CMRN also announced its intention to liberalize the economy, promote private enterprise, and encourage foreign investment in order to develop the country’s rich natural resources.

The CMRN formed a transitional parliament, the “Transitional Council for National Recovery” (CTRN), which created a new constitution (La Loi Fundamental) and Supreme Court in 1990. The country’s first multi-party presidential election took place in 1993. These elections were marred by irregularities and lack of transparency on the part of the government. Legislative and municipal elections were held in 1995. Conte’s ruling Party for Unity and Progress (PUP) won 76 of 114 seats in the

National Assembly, amid opposition claims of irregularities and government tampering. The new National Assembly held its first session in October 1995.

Several thousand malcontent troops mutinied in Conakry in February 1996, destroying the presidential offices and killing several dozen civilians. Mid-level officers attempted, unsuccessfully, to turn the rebellion into a coup d’etat. The Government of Guinea made hundreds of arrests in connection to the mutiny, and put 98 soldiers and civilians on trial in 1998. In mid-1996, in response to the coup attempt and a faltering economy, President Conté appointed a new government as part of a flurry of reform activity. He selected Sidya Touré, former chief of staff for the Prime Minster of the Cote d’Ivoire, as Prime Minister, and appointed other technically minded ministers. Touré was charged with coordinating all government action, taking charge of leadership and management, as well as economic planning and finance functions. In early 1997, Conté shifted many of the financial responsibilities to a newly named Minister of Budget and Finance.

In December 1998, Conté was reelected to another 5-year term in a flawed election that was, nevertheless, an improvement over 1993. Following his reelection and the improvement of economic conditions through 1999, Conté reversed direction, making wholesale and regressive changes to his cabinet. He replaced many technocrats and members of the Guinean Diaspora that had previously held important positions with “homegrown” ministers, particularly from his own Soussou ethnic group. These changes led to increased cronyism, corruption, and a retrenchment on economic and political reforms.

Beginning in September 2000, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel army, backed by Liberian President Charles Taylor, commenced large-scale attacks into Guinea from Sierra Leone and Liberia. The RUF, known for their brutal tactics in the near decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, operated with financial and material support from the Liberian Government and its allies. These attacks destroyed the town of Gueckedou as well as a number of villages, causing large-scale damage and the displacement of tens of thousands of Guineans from their homes. The attacks also forced the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to relocate many of the 200,000 Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees residing in Guinea. As a result of the attacks, legislative elections scheduled for 2000 were postponed.

After the initial attacks in September 2000, President Conté, in a radio address, accused Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees living in the country of fomenting war against the government. Soldiers, police, and civilian militia groups rounded up thousands of refugees, some of whom they beat and raped. Approximately 3,000 refugees were detained, although most were released by year’s end.

In November 2001, a nationwide referendum, which some observers believe was flawed, amended the constitution to permit the president to run for an unlimited number of terms, and to extend the presidential term from 5 to 7 years. The country’s second legislative election, originally scheduled for 2000, was held in June 2002. President Conté’s Party of Unity and Progress (PUP) and associated parties won 91 of the 114 seats. Most major opposition parties boycotted the legislative elections, objecting to inequities in the existing electoral system.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Guinea is a constitutional republic in which effective power is concentrated in a strong presidency. The president governs Guinea assisted by an appointed council of civilian ministers. In April 2006, President Conté fired Prime Minister Cellou Dallein Diallo, following a tumultuous 24-hour period involving the announcement of a new slate of ministers that was later rescinded. Though Conte has yet to appoint a new prime minister, on May 29, 2006, he issued a decree which reorganized the government under six “Ministers of State,” each of whom oversees several of the ministries.

The failing health of President Conté has been a cause of continuing concern. In late 2003, Conté fell ill during a trip to Japan and had to receive medical treatment in Morocco. However, in December 2003 Conté easily won a third presidential term against a single, relatively unknown candidate after the opposition parties boycotted the elections.

On January 19, 2005, President Conte’s motorcade was fired upon by unknown assailants. Two bodyguards were wounded but the President was not harmed. President Conté was medically evacuated twice in 2006 to receive emergency treatment in Geneva, Switzerland. However, in a late 2006 interview Conté stated that despite his health he would remain in office until his term ended in 2010.

Throughout 2005, the government maintained an open dialogue with the opposition parties, 16 of which participated in the December 2005 nation-wide elections for local and rural councils. Opposition leaders were allowed to campaign freely, and were allowed equal access to government-run media. The ruling PUP won 31 of 38 municipalities and 241 of 303 local councils. Though the elections were viewed as flawed, they were still much improved over previous elections due to the use of transparent ballot boxes and other reforms. Legislative elections are scheduled for June 2007. Government administration is carried out at several levels; in descending order, they are: 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.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 1/24/2007

Pres.: Lansana CONTE, Gen.

Prime Min.: Min. of Agriculture & Animal Husbandry: Jean-Paul SARR

Min. of Commerce, Industry, Small & Medium-Scale Enterprise: Kazaliou BALDE

Min. of Communication: Boubacar Yacine DIALLO

Min. of Defense:

Min. of Economy & Finance: Madikaba CAMARA

Min. of Employment & Public Admin.: Pierrette TOLNO

Min. of Environment: Mamadou KEITA

Min. of Fishing & Aquaculture: Ibrahima Sory TOURE

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Mamady CONDE

Min. of Higher Education & Scientific Research: Ahmed Tidiane SOUARE

Min. of Intl. Cooperation: Fatoumata Kaba SIDIBE

Min. of Justice & Keeper of the Seals: Alseny Rene GOMEZ

Min. of Mining, Geology, & Environment: Ousmane SYLLA

Min. of Planning:

Min. of Posts & Telecommunications: Camara Aminatou BARRY

Min. of Pre-University & Civic Education: Mamadou Bhoye BARRY, Dr.

Min. of Public Health: Amara CISSEE

Min. of Public Works: Banha SIDIBE

Min. of Security: Fode Shapo TOURE

Min. of Social Affairs & Promotion of Women & Children: Fatou Sike CAMARA

Min. of Technical Teaching & Professional Training: Yazora SOROPOGUI, Dr.

Min. of Territorial Admin. & Decentralization: El Hadj Moussa SOLANO

Min. of Tourism, Hotels, & Handicrafts: Eric Benjamin COLLE

Min. of Transportation: Alpha Ibrahim KIERA

Min. of Urban Planning & Housing: Blaise Ouo FOROMOU

Min. of Water Power & Energy: Thierno Habib DIALLO

Min. of Youth, Sports, & Culture: Kiridi BANGOURA

Min. at the Presidency for Economic & Financial Control: Mamadou DOUMBOUYA

Sec. Gen. of the Govt.: Oury Bailo BAH

Sec. Gen. of the Presidency: Eugene CAMARA

Governor, Central Bank: Mohamed Alkhaly DAFFE

Charge d’Affaires:

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Alpha Ibrahima SOW

Guinea maintains an embassy in the United States at 2112 Leroy Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-483-9420) and a mission to the United Nations at 140 E. 39th St., New York, NY 10016 (tel. 212-687-8115/16/17).

ECONOMY

Richly endowed with minerals, Guinea possesses over 25 billion metric tons (MT) of bauxite—and perhaps up to one half of the world’s reserves. In addition, Guinea’s mineral wealth includes more than 4 billion tons of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits, and undetermined quantities of uranium. 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. 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, in which 49% of the shares are owned by the Guinean Government and 51% by an international consortium led by Alcoa and Alcan. CBG exports about 14 million metric tons of high-grade bauxite every year. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), a joint venture between the Government of Guinea and Russki Alumina, produces some 2.5 million MT 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 million MT 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 tons of bauxite in 2004, which is used as raw material for its alumina refinery. The refinery supplies about 750,000 MT of alumina for export to world markets. 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 MT 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. By far, most 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 are still awaiting preliminary exploration and financing results.

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 privatizations, and shifted governmental expenditures and internal reforms to the education, health, infrastructure, banking, and justice sectors. Cabinet changes in 1999 as well increasing 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.

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 provides 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 benefits. A national investment commission has been formed to review all investment proposals. The United States and Guinea have signed 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.

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, both 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 slowed down inflation, which hit 27% in 2004 and 30% in 2005. 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 connecting the country’s trade centers 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-Cameroun oil pipeline.

DEFENSE

Guinea’s armed forces are divided into four branches—army, navy, air force, and gendarmerie—whose chiefs report to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Kerfalla Camara. The Chairman reports directly to the President, who took responsibility for the Ministry of Defense in early 2000. The 10,000-member army is the largest of the four services. The navy has about 900 personnel and operates several small patrol craft and barges. Air force personnel total about 700; its equipment includes several Russian-supplied fighter planes and transport planes. Several thousand gendarmes are responsible for internal security.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Guinea’s relations with other countries, including with her West African neighbors, have improved steadily since 1985. Guinea reestablished relations with France and Germany in 1975, and with neighboring Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal in 1978. Guinea has been active in efforts toward regional integration and cooperation, especially regarding the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) and the Economic Organization of West African States (ECOWAS). Guinea takes its role in a variety of international organizations seriously and participates actively in their deliberations and decisions. Guinea has participated in both diplomatic and military efforts to resolve conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau, and contributed contingents of troops to peacekeeping operations in all three countries as part of ECOMOG, the Military Observer Group of ECOWAS. Guinea has offered asylum to more than 700,000 Liberian, Sierra Leonean, and Bissauan refugees since 1990, despite the economic and environmental costs involved.

The civil wars that engulfed Liberia and then Sierra Leone during the 1990s negatively affected relations between Guinea and these two fellow Mano River Union member countries. Guinea and Liberia accused each other of supporting opposition dissidents, and in late 2000 and early 2001, Guinean dissidents backed by the Liberian government and RUF rebels from Sierra Leone brutally attacked Guinea. These attacks caused over 1,000 Guinean deaths and displaced more than 100,000 Guineans. The attacks led to Guinea’s support for the LURD (Liberians United For Reconciliation and Democracy) rebels in their attacks against the Liberian government of Charles Taylor. Taylor’s departure for exile in August 2003 and the establishment of a new government in Liberia have led to a much improved relationship between the two countries.

Guinea belongs to the UN and most of its specialized related agencies, the African Union, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), African Development Bank (AFDB), Niger River Basin (NRB), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Mano River Union (MRU), Gambia River Basin Organization (OMVG), and the Nonaligned Movement (NAM).

U.S.-GUINEAN RELATIONS

The United States maintains close relations with Guinea. U.S. policy seeks to encourage Guinea’s democratic reforms, its positive contribution to regional stability, and sustainable economic and social development. The U.S. also seeks to promote increased U.S. private investment in Guinea’s emerging economy. The U.S. Mission in Guinea is composed of five agencies—Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Peace Corps, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Defense. In addition to providing the full range of diplomatic functions, the Embassy obligated in FY 2004 $57,100 for Self-Help projects and $75,000 for Democracy and Human Rights projects. The U.S. Mission also manages a military assistance program that provided nearly $627,000 for military education, language training, and humanitarian assistance programs.

USAID Guinea is now one of only five sustainable development missions in West Africa, with current core program areas in primary education, family health, democracy and governance, and natural resources management. The Peace Corps has more than 100 volunteers throughout the country. Volunteers teach English and mathematics in high schools, assist in village development and health education, and collaborate with USAID on a natural resources management project. Guinea was the first country to inaugurate a full-fledged Crisis Corps program, a new Peace Corps initiative developed to address natural and manmade disasters.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

CONAKRY (E) Address: Transversale No. 2, Ratoma; Phone: 224-30-42-08-61/68; Fax: 224-30-42-08-73; Workweek: M-Th, 7:30-16:30; F, 7:30-13:30; Website: www.usembassy.state.gov/conakry

AMB:Jackson C. McDonald
AMB OMS:Judyann H. Dye
DCM:Julie Winn
DCM OMS:Rosemary Motisi
POL/ECO:Jessica Davis Ba
COM:Chad Keller
CON:Ronita Macklin
MGT:Christopher D. Dye
AFSA:Ronita Macklin
AID:Jack Winn
CLO:Sonia Vinson
DAO:Christian Ramthun
ECO:Yolonda Kerney
EEO:Kim Crawford
FMO:Kevin Lewis
GSO:Jennifer McAlpine
ICASS Chair:Andrew McLean
IMO:Miller Vinson
IRS:Kathy Beck–Resident in Paris
ISSO:Danny Malone
PAO:Andrew McLean
RSO:Brian Wood
State ICASS:Andrew McLean

Last Updated: 1/23/2007

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : February 21, 2007

Country Description: Guinea is a developing country in western Africa, with minimal facilities for tourism. Travelers who plan to stay in Conakry, the capital, should make reservations well in advance. French is the official language; Pular, Malinké and Soussou are also widely spoken.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport, visa, international vaccination record (WHO card), and current yellow fever vaccination are required. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea, 2112 Leroy Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 986-4300, fax (202) 478-3010. The Guinean embassy does not maintain a current website. Overseas, inquiries should be made to the nearest Guinean embassy or consulate. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Guinean embassy or consulate.

Safety and Security: Guinea has experienced civil unrest and a series of general strikes in Conakry and throughout the country during the last year, and into 2007. While U.S. citizens have not been targeted in any demonstration-related unrest, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be very dangerous. During many demonstrations, crowds of people gather and burn tires, create roadblocks, and damage vehicles by throwing rocks and bricks. Because of the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations. They should also avoid sensitive government installations, including the Presidential Palace, official government buildings, and military bases. U.S. citizens should maintain security awareness at all times. There are no known terrorist groups officially operating in the country.

Due to the absence of immigration officials, Guinean armed forces control the border, especially along the frontier with Cote d’Ivoire, and make all decisions regarding the flow of people and goods. A long land frontier and the military’s lack of physical and monetary resources, however, mean that borders are lightly-patrolled. U.S. citizens considering travel to the border regions with Liberia, Sierra Leone or Côte d’Ivoire should consult the latest Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets for those countries (available at the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Web site at http://travel.state.gov) and contact the U.S. Embassy in Conakry for the latest travel and security information. Crossing borders requires visas and complete paperwork, and can be difficult.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.

Crime: In Conakry, as in many large cities, crime is a fact of daily life. Residential and street crime is very common. Sentiments toward Americans in Guinea are generally positive, but criminals regularly target foreigners, including Americans, because they are perceived as lucrative targets. Nonviolent and violent crimes are a problem. The majority of nonviolent crime involves acts of pick pocketing and purse snatching, while armed robbery, muggings, and assaults are the most common violent crimes. In spite of good intentions, the police have been unable to prevent the rapid escalation of crime. There have also been cases of direct and indirect requests for bribes from the police and military officials.

Criminals particularly target visitors at the airport, in the traditional markets, and near hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners. Visitors should avoid unsolicited offers of assistance at the airport and hotels because such offers often mask an intention to steal luggage, purses, or wallets. Travelers should arrange for hotel personnel, family members, or business contacts to meet them at the airport to reduce their vulnerability to these crimes of opportunity.

Commercial scams and disputes with local business partners can create legal difficulties for U.S. citizens because corruption is widespread in Guinea. Business routinely turns on bribes rather than the law, and enforcement of the law is irregular and inefficient. The U.S. Embassy has extremely limited recourse in assisting Americans who are victims of illegal business deals.

Business fraud is rampant and the targets are usually foreigners, including Americans. Schemes previously associated exclusively with Nigeria are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Guinea, and pose a danger of severe financial loss. Typically these scams begin with the receipt of an unsolicited communication (usually emails) from strangers who promise quick financial gain, often by transferring large sums of money or valuables out of the country, but then require a series of “advance fees” to be paid—such as fees for legal documents or taxes—to finalize the release of the transferred funds. Of course, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. A common variation is the scammer’s claim to be a refugee or émigré of a prominent West African family, or a relative of a present or former political leader who needs assistance in transferring large sums of cash. Still other variations appear to be legitimate business deals that require advance payments on contracts. Sometimes victims are convinced to provide bank account and credit card information and financial authorization that drains their accounts, incurs large debts against their credit, and takes their life savings.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of advance-fee fraud is common sense—if a proposition looks too good to be true, it probably is. You should carefully check and research any unsolicited business proposal before committing any funds, providing any goods or services, and undertaking any travel. A good clue to a scam is the phone number given to the victim; legitimate businesses and offices provide fixed line numbers, while scams typically use only cell phones. It is virtually impossible to recover money lost through these scams.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities are poorly equipped and extremely limited both in the capital city and throughout Guinea. Medicines are in short supply, sterility of equipment should not be assumed, and treatment is frequently unreliable. Some private medical facilities provide a better range of treatment options than public facilities but are still well below global standards. There are no ambulance or emergency rescue services in Guinea and trauma care is extremely limited. Water in Guinea is presumed contaminated, so you should use only bottled or distilled water for drinking. Malaria is a serious risk to travelers in Guinea. For additional information on malaria, including protective measures, see the CDC Travelers’ Health web site at http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Guinea is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Drivers in Guinea tend to be poorly trained and routinely ignore road safety rules. Guinea’s road network, paved and unpaved, is underdeveloped and unsafe. Roads and vehicles are poorly maintained, road signs are insufficient, and roads and vehicles are frequently unlit. Livestock and pedestrians create constant road hazards and make nighttime travel inadvisable. Guinea has many roadblocks set up by the police or the military, making inter- and intra-city travel difficult from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. During the rainy season (July through September), flash floods make some roads temporarily impassable. Roadside assistance is not available in Guinea.

Guinea has no public transportation. Taxis, including small cars and larger vans, are often poorly maintained and over-crowded. Taxis frequently stop and start without regard to other vehicles, making driving hazardous. Rental vehicles, with drivers, are available from agencies at major hotels in Conakry.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Guinea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Guinea’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Guinean customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning the temporary import or export of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, and ivory. You should contact the Embassy of Guinea in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements. The local currency is the Guinean franc (FG). Travelers may not have more than 100,000 FG (currently about $23.00 or more than $5,000 when they depart Guinea). Guinea has a cash economy. ATMs are not available, and traveler’s checks are accepted only at some banks and hotels. Credit cards are accepted at some larger hotels in Conakry, but should be used only at reputable hotels and banks. Cash advances on Visa credit cards are available at various branches of BICIGUI, a local bank. Inter-bank fund transfers are possible at BICIGUI branches but can be difficult and expensive. Money transfers from the U.S. have worked successfully in the past. Western Union has several offices in Conakry, and Moneygram has an office downtown.

Visitors should restrict photography to private gatherings and should obtain explicit permission from the Guinean government before photographing military and transportation facilities, government buildings, or public works. Photographing without permission in any public area may provoke a response from security personnel or a dangerous confrontation with people who find being photographed offensive.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.

Persons violating Guinean laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Guinea are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Guinea are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Guinea. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located on the Transversale No. 2, Centre Administratif de Koloma opposite the New Radio Station in Ratoma, Conakry, Guinea; telephone +224-30-42-08-61 through 68 or fax +224-30-42-08-71; website: http://usembassy.state.gov/conakry/.

International Adoption : January 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Availability of Children for Adoption: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect that in the last four years only one Guinean child was adopted by a U.S. citizen.

Guinean Adoption Authority: Adoption petitions are submitted to a Tribunal of First Instance or a Justice of the Peace. The Court of Appeals is the second resort. The Ministry of Justice grants their authority.

Guinean Adoption Procedures: Those seeking to adopt should retain an attorney who is a member of the Guinean bar association. There are two types of adoptions in Guinea -perfect adoption and simple adoption. Both are open to Guineans and non-Guineans.

A perfect adoption is irrevocable and should be advantageous to the child. In perfect adoptions, the adoptive relationship takes precedence over any biological relationship. In a simple adoption, the child may continue to have ties to his/her biological family and it is revocable. In both kinds of adoption, if the parents are alive, their consent is required. If both parents are dead, consent needs to be granted by the remaining family members (le Conseil famille). The initial request is made to the Tribunal of First Instance or a Justice of the Peace. The judgement is given after inquiry and debate in court chambers. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Age and Civil Status Requirements: Anyone at least 35 years old may adopt another person if the difference in age between the two is at least 15 years. A couple may seek to adopt a minor child if one of the adopters is at least 35 years old and without children. Those seeking to adopt should not have a serious medical condition.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are no adoption agencies or groups that specialize in adoption in Guinea. The Embassy maintains a list of numerous attorneys practicing in Guinea.

Doctors: The U.S. Embassy in Conakry maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Guinea

Guinean Documentary Requirements: The final request for adoption should include a copy of the child’s birth certificate, identification for the prospective parents and the child, written justification for the adoption and a “certificate of domicile” verifying the potential prospective parent’s place of residence.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: A Guinea child, even if adopted by an American citizen, must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Guinea Embassy:
2112 Leroy Place NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: 202-483-9420
Fax: 202-483-8688.

U.S. Embassy in Guinean: The Consular Section is located at:
Street address
2nd Blvd and 9th Ave
Kaloum, Conakry
Mailing Address
American Embassy
BP 603
Conakry, Guinea
Tel: (224) 41-15-20/1/3
Fax: (224) 41-15-22

Additional Information: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult BCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Specific questions regarding adoption in Guinea may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Conakry. You may also contact the Office of Children’s Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, telephone 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.

Travel Warning : February 12, 2007

This Travel Warning is being updated to strongly urge Americans to defer all travel to Guinea until the situation stabilizes. The Department of State has ordered the departure of all eligible family members of U.S. mission employees. There has been violent unrest in Conakry and in towns throughout Guinea over the last three days, and the security climate shows no sign of stabilizing. At least 23 people died February 10-11. This supersedes the Travel Warning dated January 26, 2007.

Violent disturbances and destruction have occurred throughout Guinea. Looting has been widespread as protesters and vandals targeted government buildings and property owned by government officials. While foreigners, including Americans, are not specifically targeted, they are increasingly targets of opportunity if caught in the open. Local security forces are unable to guarantee the safety of foreigners.

Because of the continued instability, the Department of State has ordered the departure of U.S. Mission eligible family members. American citizens are strongly urged to defer all travel to Guinea until the situation stabilizes; American citizens in Guinea are urged to depart. The U.S. Embassy will remain open for emergency services with a limited staff. The airport remains open at this time though most airlines have cancelled international flights to Guinea. Those who wish to depart Guinea should do so as flights become available, and should contact the U.S. Embassy’s Consular section for further information and assistance.

U.S. citizens who must travel to Guinea despite this Travel Warning should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings, and other Public Announcements can be found. Up to date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Americans living or traveling in Guinea are urged to register with the U.S. Embassy, where they may obtain updated information on travel and security within Guinea. Security updates are emailed to all registered

Americans with an email address. Registration is done online and can be done in advance of travel at http://travelregistration.state.gov. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Conakry. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy is located on the Transversale No. 2, Centre Administratif de Koloma opposite the New Radio Station in Ratoma, Conakry, Guinea; telephone +224-30-42-08-62 through 68 or fax +224-30-42-08-71; email [email protected] The U.S. embassy website is http://conakry.usembassy.gov/index.html. The Embassy’s workweek is Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The American Citizens Services (ACS) unit is open to the public each Tuesday and Friday, except for American and most local holidays.

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Guinea

Guinea

Type of Government

The West African nation of Guinea is nominally a constitutional republic. In practice, however, it is an increasingly authoritarian presidential regime with stringent limits on opposition parties and the press.

Background

Not to be confused with the nearby nations of Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, Guinea is roughly the size of Wyoming, with a rapidly growing population of roughly just under ten million as of 2007. No less than three of its immediate neighbors—Liberia and Sierra Leone to the south, and the Ivory Coast to the southeast—have been plagued in recent years by violent unrest and civil war. Conditions in Liberia and the Ivory Coast seem to have stabilized, but large areas of Sierra Leone remain lawless. Guinea also shares borders with Guinea-Bissau and Senegal to the northwest, and Mali to the northeast. To the west is the Atlantic Ocean.

Guinea falls within a broad region called francophone (French speaking) West Africa, and French is the official language. Three events mark the period of French colonization. In 1891, after roughly a century as a vaguely defined French protectorate, Guinea was reorganized as a distinct colony. Then, in 1946, the French tried to dissipate growing demands for independence by allowing Guinea’s educated elite to send elected representatives to the National Assembly in Paris. The unintended result was the creation of a small framework of experienced, politically savvy leaders determined to break all ties with France. The most prominent of these was a union leader named Sékou Touré (1922–1984), whose Democratic Party of Guinea urged voters in a 1958 referendum to reject continued ties with France. They did so overwhelmingly, and on October 2 of that year, Guinea became the first independent nation in francophone West Africa, with Touré as president. The French, for their part, immediately withdrew their resources and personnel, in many cases destroying files and other needed materials. The chronic mismanagement evident throughout the current government is still traceable in part to the chaotic, often angry atmosphere of 1958.

Government Structure

The Fundamental Law of 1990 serves as Guinea’s constitution and provides for the separation of legislative, judicial, and executive powers. The president, who serves as head of state and commander in chief of the military, is elected by direct, popular vote for a seven-year term. If no candidate wins a majority, a new election is scheduled. Both the prime minister, who serves as head of government, and the other members of the cabinet are presidential appointees.

The original version of the Fundamental Law mandated a two-term limit for the president. In 2001, however, President Lansana Conté (1934–) demanded a referendum on a proposed amendment that would remove this limit, thereby enabling him to remain in office. In protest, opposition groups boycotted the referendum, and voter turnout was extremely low as a result. Of the votes that were cast, however, ninety-eight percent approved the change.

Legislative powers are vested in a unicameral body known as the People’s National Assembly. Its 114 members are directly elected for five-year terms, with one third representing single-seat constituencies and the remainder chosen from national lists drawn up by each party. As in presidential elections, voting in parliamentary elections is open to all citizens aged eighteen and over.

The judicial system consists of a three-tiered hierarchy. At the bottom are the Courts of First Instance, followed by the Courts of Appeal. At the top is the Supreme Court, with very limited powers to review legislation and government policy. Guinean law is a rapidly evolving mixture of French codes, tribal codes, local tradition, and presidential decree. In 1997, for example, the government announced the establishment of a State Security Court to oversee the trials of nearly one hundred soldiers involved in a mutiny the previous year. Opposition groups argued in vain that the Fundamental Law made no provisions for such a court.

Political Parties and Factions

Deep tribal divisions split the nation, though Guinea has not yet seen the level of violence such rifts have caused elsewhere in West Africa. There are three major tribal groups, each with its own language: the Puehl (the largest), the Malinke, and the Soussou. Former President Touré systematically favored his own group, the Malinke; current President Conté quickly reversed the situation when he seized power, initiating discriminatory policies against the Malinke while favoring his own tribe, the Soussou. Though many Malinke are prominent members of the opposition, there are as yet few political parties formed exclusively along tribal lines. The largest of the opposition parties in the Assembly is the Union for Progress and Renewal (UPR), which won twenty seats in the 2002 elections. President Conté’s Party for Unity and Progress (PUP), meanwhile, holds eighty-five seats. As in other recent elections, however, two of the most popular opposition groups, the Rally for the Guinean People (known by its French acronym of RPG) and the Union for Republican Power (UFR) declined to participate.

Major Events

The time of Guinea’s independence in 1958 was fraught with chaos. In retrospect, Touré’s refusal to incur any obligation to France or its allies was a serious mistake, because it deprived the new nation of desperately needed funds and expertise. Grandiose, ill-advised development schemes and widespread corruption soon aroused deep resentment, but Touré’s authoritarian tactics prevented organized opposition and he remained in sole control for more than twenty-five years. When he died in 1984, a military coup to oust his associates enjoyed broad support. Among the coup’s leaders was Conté, who soon eliminated potential rivals by turning ruthlessly against his fellow conspirators. International pressure eventually forced Conté to allow popular, multiparty elections, and he remains in power as of 2007 not as a military strongman but as a thrice-elected president. Many domestic and international observers have questioned the legitimacy of his victories, however, as all three (in 1993, 1998, and 2003) came after elections compromised by systematic fraud. In addition, the 2003 elections took place without the participation of several major opposition parties, who urged their supporters to boycott the vote as a sham. Conté reportedly received 95 percent of the votes cast, but low voter turnout suggests that the opposition’s boycott, not the president’s popularity, was primarily responsible.

The Guinea government was accused of more wrongdoings when in October 2002 the international press reported the discovery of several mass graves, each containing hundreds of bodies, near the Guinea town of Kindia. The victims are believed to have died on a single night in October 1971 at the hands of forces loyal to Touré, who was then moving ruthlessly against dissidents and critics. Guineans today often allude to Touré’s campaigns of repression with a reference to Boiro Camp, a National Guard installation where many of the worst incidents took place. After the Kindia graves were discovered, a group called the Children of the Victims of Boiro Camp announced their intention to bring a suit for wrongful death before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Dutch city of The Hague. Guinea has accepted ICJ jurisdiction “with reservations,” so such a suit is theoretically possible. Given the group’s announced desire to subpoena President Conté, however, there is little chance of securing the current administration’s cooperation.

Civil unrest has been a constant feature of Guinean life since independence. In some respects, however, the situation has worsened over the last decade. The fighting that began to engulf Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, and Liberia in the late 1990s, for example, drove hundreds of thousands of refugees into Guinea; some estimates put the number as high as half a million. Many—perhaps most—have since returned home, but a chaotic atmosphere still prevails in many areas, particularly near the Liberian border. Rebel forces from Liberia almost certainly entered Guinea with the refugees, and most of the considerable violence reported on Guinea’s side of the border is probably attributable to those rebels. The actual situation remains unclear, however, in part because of the Guinean government’s restrictions on journalists. Particularly unclear is the extent, or even the existence, of a purely Guinean rebel movement.

Twenty-First Century

Guinea faces a number of severe problems. Less than 36 percent of adults can read, and the life expectancy for both men and women is only about fifty year of age. The crumbling infrastructure is already inadequate, but the population continues to grow at one of the fastest rates in the world. Environmental degradation, particularly deforestation, is severe, and recent inflation has put a variety of basic necessities out of the reach of most families. Such challenges would test even the most open, compassionate, and farsighted leader. President Conté, unfortunately, has not often displayed those qualities. His response to a series of nationwide strikes in February 2007, for example, was to declare martial law, thereby granting his security forces the ability to detain anyone indefinitely. Similarly, he has reacted to the publication of unfavorable news by ordering the arrests of the journalists involved. This kind of repression may restore order temporarily, but it will likely not strengthen his position. Widespread, well-documented human rights abuses have brought international condemnation and the imposition of severe economic penalties; in 2003, for example, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) canceled a comprehensive debt-relief package that has helped other poor nations dramatically improve living conditions. Guinea, meanwhile, continues to slip backwards.

Fung, Karen, and Stanford University Libraries. “Africa South of the Sahara: Guinea.” (accessed June 1, 2007).

International Crisis Group. “Stopping Guinea’s Slide.” (accessed June 1, 2007).

Norwegian Council for Africa. “The Index on Africa: Guinea.” (accessed June 1, 2007).

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Guinea

Guinea

  • Area: 94,926 sq mi (245,857 sq km) / World Rank: 77
  • Location: Northern and Western Hemispheres, on coastal West Africa, south of Senegal, southwest of Mali, west of Côte d'Ivoire, north of Liberia, north of Sierra Leone, and east of Guinea-Bissau.
  • Coordinates: 11°00′N, 10°00′W
  • Borders: 2,112 mi (3,399 km) / Senegal, 205 mi (330 km); Mali, 533 mi (858 km); Cote d'Ivoire, 379 mi (610 km); Liberia, 350 mi (563 km); Sierra Leone, 405 mi (652 km); Guinea-Bissau, 240 mi (386 km)
  • Coastline: 199 mi (320 km)
  • Territorial Seas: 12 NM
  • Highest Point: Mount Nimba, 5,748 ft (1,752 m)
  • Lowest Point: Sea level
  • Longest Distances: 516 mi (831 km) SE-NW; 306 mi (493 km) NE-SW
  • Longest River: Niger River, 2,460 mi (4,100 km)
  • Natural Hazards: Flooding, harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season
  • Population: 7,613,870 (July 2001 est.) / World Rank: 88
  • Capital City: Conakry, built upon a peninsula facing the Atlantic Ocean
  • Largest City: Conakry, population 1,896,000 (2000 est.)

OVERVIEW

Guinea is slightly smaller than Oregon and is situated on the southwestern edge of the great bulge of West Africa, between roughly 7° and 12.5° north of the equator. It has four geographic regions, each with its own morphological features. Lower Guinea, or Maritime Guinea, consists mainly of a coastal plain that rises steeply to high central plateaus known as the Fouta Djallon, or 'The Fouta' in Middle Guinea. To the northeast are broad savannas in Upper Guinea, and to the southeast a combination of mountains and uplands in the Forest Region.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS

Mountains and Uplands

The Guinea Highlands in the Forest Region have general elevations ranging from about 1,500 ft (457 m) above sea level in the west to over 3,000 ft (914 m) in the east; peaks at several points attain 4,000 ft (1,219 m) and higher. Southeast of Nzérékoré are the Nimba Mountains on the Liberian and Ivory Coast frontiers. Located in this range is Mount Nimba, Guinea's highest point at 5,748 ft (1,752 m).

Plateaus

The Fouta Djallon occupies most of Middle Guinea and consists of a complex, elevated, relatively level plateau. About 5,000 sq mi (12,950 sq km) of this area are over 3,000 ft (914 m) above sea level. The plateaus are deeply cut in many places by narrow valleys, many of which run at roughly right angles, giving the region a checkerboard appearance. A number of major valleys extend for long distances, providing important lines of communication; the railroad from Conakry to Kankan runs in part through one of these valleys. In the south, foothills occur in steep steps having escarpments from several hundred to well over 1,000 ft (304 m) high.

INLAND WATERWAYS

Rivers

Guinea is the "water tower" of West Africa. Over one-half of West Africa's principal rivers rise either in the Fouta Djallon or the Guinea Highlands of the Forest Region. These highlands divide the upper Niger River basin from rivers flowing westward through Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia to the Atlantic Ocean, and from those flowing northward into the Gambia and Sénégal river watersheds.

The Niger River system drains more than one-third of the country's total area, while many short rivers originating either in the Fouta Djallon or in its foothills cascade onto, and then wind through, the coastal plain to estuaries along the Atlantic. Among the more important for navigation purposes are the Rio Nunez and the Fatala. The Konkouré River, north of Conakry, provides hydroelectric power for the capital.

Wetlands

Flooding occurs during the rainy season along the banks of sluggish rivers in the Niger River basin, including stretches of the Niger. Tidal marshes and swampy flats surround Atlantic coast estuaries.

THE COAST, ISLANDS, AND THE OCEAN

Oceans and Seas

Guinea's irregular coast is broken up by a number of bays and estuaries facing the Atlantic Ocean.

Major Islands

The Îles de Los, a cluster of small volcanic islands off Conakry, are inhabited and draw tourists during the dry season when seas are calm.

The Coast and Beaches

Mangroves line Guinea's coast through which oxbow rivers open onto the sea. The coast is broken at only two points where spurs of resistant rock formations jut into the ocean; one is found at Cape Verga in the north, and the other is the Camayenne (or Kaloum) Peninsula on which Conakry is situated. Tides are high along the entire coast, reaching fifteen or more feet, which results in brackish water in estuaries many miles inland. Behind the coastal swamps lies an alluvial plain averaging about thirty miles wide but considerably narrower in its central section.

CLIMATE AND VEGETATION

Temperature

Temperature varies according to region and season in Guinea. Conakry is humid nearly all year round with fairly uniform temperatures from 73°F (23°C) to 84°F (29°C). Temperatures in the Fouta Djallon and Forest highlands are more moderate, and in the dry season may vary daily by 25°F (14°C).

Rainfall

Conakry and the maritime region receive as much as 169 in (430 cm) of monsoon rains annually with half of the rainfall in July-August. The Fouta receives about 60 to 80 in (150 to 200 cm), while the Forest highlands receive 110 in (280 cm) annually.

Grasslands

Tall grasses interspersed with lightly wooded savanna is the principal feature of Upper Guinea; grasses also have colonized deforested areas of the Forest Region plains and highlands.

Forests and Jungles

Dense rain forest—now largely secondary growth—characterizes the Forest Region in areas below 2,000 ft (609 m). Higher areas are more lightly forested. The area around Beyla and Nzérékoré consists of rolling plains at one time probably covered by rain forest.

HUMAN POPULATION

Much of Guinea's population is highly concentrated in one area—roughly a quarter of the people live in the captial city. Other than Kankan, none of the other cities boasts more than 100,000 inhabitants. The other cities and towns, however, are well distributed across the country. Unlike many African nations, with so many rivers Guinea can support settlement throughout its land. The overall population density for the country is just over 79.4 people per sq mi (30 per sq km). The Peuhl constitute 35 percent of the population, the Malinke 26 percent, the Soussou 20 percent, and the Foresters 15 percent, with smaller groups making up the remainder. French is the official language along with eight Guinean languages. Until recently Guinea hosted almost half a million refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia, although many had returned home by 2002.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Guinea is rich in iron ore, diamonds, gold, and uranium. Located on the Atlantic Ocean as well as having numerous rivers, it is has a near endless supply of fish. Its rivers also afford Guinea the resource of hydropower. Additionally, the country possesses more than 30 percent of the world's bauxite reserves; Guinea is the second largest bauxite producer in the world.

FURTHER READINGS

Boubah.com. http://www.boubah.com/English.htm (Accessed May 2002).

Laye, Camara. The Dark Child. Trans. Eva Thoby-Marcelin. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1954.

Nelson, Harold D., et al, eds. "Area Handbook for Guinea." Foreign Area Studies. Washington, D.C.: American University, 1975.

Niane, Djibril Tamsir. Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali. Trans. G.D. Pickett. Essex: Longman, 1965.

O'Toole, Thomas. Historical Dictionary of Guinea. Third Edition. Lanham, Md., and London: The Scarecrow Press, 1994.

GEO-FACT

T he Garifiri hydroelectric dam on the Konkouré River, inaugurated by French President Jacques Chirac, opened ahead of schedule in 1999. It features a 75-megawatt power plant, a reservoir of 7.51 billion cubic feet (2 billion m3), and a spill-way that evacuates 70,580 cubic feet (2,000 m3) per second.

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Guinea

Guinea

At a Glance

Official Name: Republic of Guinea

Continent: Africa

Area: 94,927 square miles (245,860 sq km)

Population: 7,613,870

Capital City: Conakry

Largest City: Conakry (654,000)

Unit of Money: Guinean franc

Major Languages: French (official)

Literacy: 36%

Land Use: 2% arable, 22% meadow, 59% forest, 17% other

Natural Resources: Bauxite, iron ore, diamonds, gold

Government: Republic

Defense: 43 million

The Place

Located on the west coast of Africa, Guinea has a 200-mile-(320 km-) coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.

There are four main land areas. Lower Guinea is a coastal strip on land in the west. This swampy area receives about 110 inches (279 cm) of rain annually. Temperatures in Lower Guinea average 75° F to 85° F (23° C to 30° C).

Fouta Djallon is a high plateau in central Guinea. This area is cooler than the coastal regions and receives between 60 and 100 inches (150 to 254 cm) of rain each year.

Upper Guinea is in the north and is mostly savanna, or grassland. This area is the driest part of the country, and receives about 60 inches (152 cm) of rain annually.

The Forest Region is in the southeast. This hilly area includes Mount Nimba, Guinea's highest point. It measures 5,748 feet (1,752 m) above sea level. The region is cool but humid. This area receives approximately 75 to 100 inches (190 to 254 cm) of rainfall each year. There are many rivers in Guinea, including the Gambia, Bafing, Dion, and Sankarani. Mangrove trees frequently grow along the mouths of the rivers.

The People

Most of the Guinea population are black Africans. Approximately 75% of the population belongs to one of the country's three main ethnic groups. The Fula make up the largest group and generally live in the Fouta Djallon region. The Malinke are slightly smaller in population, and inhabit most of northeastern Guinea. The Sosso make up about one-fifth of the Guinea population, and live along the Pacific coast.

About three-quarters of the population lives in rural areas. Most rural dwellers are farmers. They grow their own food, and sell what is left over for profit. Many live in mud houses with thatched roofs. In cities, people mostly work in business, service, and manufacturing.

Guinea's health care system is inadequate, and the infant mortality rate is high. Malaria, tuberculosis, and respiratory diseases are common. There is 1 doctor for every 11,650 people. The average life expectancy is 45 years of age.

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Guinea

GUINEA

Compiled from the October 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Guinea (République de Guinée)

PROFILE
GEOGRAPHY
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
DEFENSE
FOREIGN RELATIONS
U.S.-GUINEAN RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 245,860 sq. km. (95,000 sq. mi.), about the size of Oregon.

Cities: Capital—Conakry. Other cities—Gu écké dou, Boké, Kindia, N'Zérékoré, Macenta, Mamou, Kankan, Faranah, Siguiri, Dalaba, Labe, Pita, Kamsar.

Terrain: Generally flat along the coast and mountainous in the interior. The country's four geographic regions include a narrow coastal belt; pastoral highlands (the source of West Africa's major rivers); the northern savanna; and the southeastern rain forest.

Climate: Tropical.


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Guinean(s).

Population: (2002 census) 8,444,559, including refugees and foreign residents. Refugee population (June 2002 est.) 180, 000-200,000 Liberians and Sierra Leoneans.

Cities: Conakry (pop. 2 million). Population of largest prefect ures—Guéckédou (487,017), Boké (366,915), Kindia (361,117), N'Zérékoré (328,347), Macenta (365,559).

Annual growth rate: (2002 census) 3.5%.

Ethnic groups: Peuhl 40%, Malinke 30%, Soussou 20%, other ethnic groups 10%.

Religions: Muslim 85%, Christian 8%, traditional beliefs 7%.
Languages: French (official), national languages.

Education: Years compulsory—8. Enrollment—primary school, 53.5% (male 67%, female 40%); secondary, 15%; and post secondary, 3%. Literacy (Total population over age 15 that can read and write, 1996 est.)—36% (male 50%, female 22%).

Health: (2002 World Bank) Life expectancy —total population 54 years. Infant mortality rate (2002 World Bank)—90/1000.

Work force: (2002 Minister of Plan—4.5 million) Agriculture—76%; industry and commerce—1 8%; services—6%.


Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: October 2, 1958. Anniversary of the Second Republic, April 3, 1984. Government based on ordinances, decrees, and decisions issued by a president and his ministers or through legislation produced by the National Assembly and approved by the President.

Branches: Executive—Elected President (chief of state); 25 appointed civilian ministers. Legislative—Elected National Assembly (114 seats). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Administrative subdivisions: Region, prefecture, subprefecture, rural district.

Political parties: Legalized on 1 April 1992. Seven parties, of the more than 40 with legal status, won seats in the June 1995 legislative elections. Pro-government—Party for Unity and Progress (PUP) and DJAMA. Opposition—Rally for the Guinean People (RPG), Union for a New Republic (UNR), Party for Renewal and Progress (PRP), Union for Progress of Guinea (UPG), Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG), Union of Republican Forces (UFR).

Suffrage: Universal over age 18.

Central government budget: (2002) $394.76 million.


Economy

GDP: (2002 est.) $5.3 billion.

Annual economic growth rate: (2002) (4.2%)

Per capita GDP: (2002 est.) ($340).

Avg. inflation rate: (2002) (8.9%)

Natural resources: Bauxite, iron ore, diamonds, gold, water power, uranium, fisheries.

Industry: (28.4% of GDP) Types—mining, light manufacturing, construction.

Trade: (of GDP 25.4%) Exports—$981.30 million: bauxite, alumina, diamonds, gold, coffee, pineapples, bananas, palm products, coffee.

Agriculture: (11.8% of GDP) Products—rice, cassava, fonio, millet, corn, coffee, cocoa, bananas, palm products, pineapples, livestock, forestry. Arable land—35%. Cultivated land—4.5%. Major markets—European Union, U.S., Commonwealth of Independent States, China, eastern Europe, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco.

Official exchange rate: (2002) Approximately 1995 Guinean francs=U.S.$1. Fiscal Year: January 1-December 31.


GEOGRAPHY

Guinea is located on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa and is bordered by Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The country is divided into four geographic regions: A narrow coastal belt (Lower Guinea); the pastoral Fouta Djallon highlands (Middle Guinea); the northern savannah (Upper Guinea); and a southeastern rain-forest region (Forest Guinea). The Niger, Gambia, and Senegal Rivers are among the 22 West African rivers that have their origins in Guinea.


The coastal region of Guinea and most of the inland have a tropical climate, with a rainy season lasting from April to November, relatively high and uniform temperatures, and high humidity. Conakry's year-round average high is 29°C (85°F), and the low is 23°C (74°F); its average annual rainfall is 430 centimeters (169 inches). Sahelian Upper Guinea has a shorter rainy season and greater daily temperature variations.




PEOPLE

Guinea has four Main ethnic groups:


  • Peuhl (Foula or Foulani), who inhabit the mountainous Fouta Djallon;
  • Malinke (or Mandingo), in the savannah and forest regions;
  • Soussous in the coastal areas; and
  • Several small groups (Gerzé, Toma, etc.) in the forest region.

West Africans make up the largest non-Guinean population. Non-Africans total about 10,000 (mostly Lebanese, French, and other Europeans). Seven national languages are used extensively; major written languages are French, Peuhl, and Arabic.




HISTORY

The area occupied by Guinea today was included in several large West African political groupings, including the Ghana, Mali, and Songhai empires, at various times from the 10th to the 15th century, when the region came into contact with European commerce. 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 Almamy Samory Touré, warlord and leader of Malinke 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 the 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.


Led by Ahmed Sékou Touré, head of the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG), which won 56 of 60 seats in 1957 territorial elections, the people of Guinea in a September 1958 plebiscite overwhelmingly rejected membership in the proposed French Community. The French withdrew quickly, and on October 2, 1958, Guinea proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent republic, with Sékou Touré as president.

Under Touré, Guinea became a oneparty dictatorship, with a closed, socialized economy and no tolerance for human rights, free expression, or political opposition, which was ruthlessly suppressed. Originally credited for his advocacy of cross-ethnic nationalism, Touré gradually came to rely on his own Malinke ethnic group to fill positions in the party and government. Alleging plots and conspiracies against him at home and abroad, Touré's regime targeted real and imagined opponents, imprisoning many thousands in Soviet-style prison gulags, where hundreds perished. The regime's repression drove more than a million Guineans into exile, and Touré's paranoia ruined relations with foreign nations, including neighboring African states, increasing Guinea's isolation and further devastating its economy.


Sékou Touré and the PDG remained in power until his death on April 3, 1984, when a military junta headed by the n-Lt. Col. Lansana Conteseized power..




GOVERNMENT

The prsident governs Guinea, assisted by his appointed council of 25 civilian ministers. Government administration is carried out at five levels: In descending order, they are: 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.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 6/2/03


President: Conte, Lansana, Gen.

Prime Minister: Sidime, Lamine

Min. of Agriculture & Animal Husbandry: Sarr, Jean-Paul

Min. of Commerce, Industry, Small & Medium-Scale Enterprise: Balde, Adama

Min. of Communication: Conde, Mamadi

Min. of Defense:

Min. of Economy & Finance: Camara, Sheik Amadou

Min. of Employment & Public Administration: Kamara, Lamine

Min. of Fishing & Aquaculture: Kouyate, Oumare

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Fall, Francois Lonseny

Min. of Higher Education & Scientific Research: Camara, Eugene

Min. of Justice & Keeper of the Seals: Sylla, Mamadou

Min. of Mining, Geology, & Environment: Soumah, Alpha Mady, Dr.

Min. of Planning: Sagno, Fassou Niankoye

Min. of Pre-University & Civic Education: Doualamou, Germain

Min. of Public Health: Diallo, Mamadou Saliou, Dr.

Min. of Public Works & Transport: Diallo, Cellou Dalein

Min. of Security: Sampil, Moussa

Min. of Social Affairs, Promotion of Women, & Children: Aribot, Mariama

Min. of Technical Teaching & Professional Training: Souma, Ibrahima

Min. of Territorial Administration & Decentralization: Solano, Moussa

Min. of Tourism, Hotels, & Handicrafts: Diakite, Sylla Koumba

Min. of Urban Planning & Housing: Foromo, Blaise

Min. of Water Power & Energy: Kaba, Mory

Min. of Youth, Sports, & Culture: Sangare, Abdel Kadr

Sec. Gen. of the Government: Sanoko, Ousmane

Sec. Gen. of the Presidency: Bangoura, Fode

Governor, Central Bank: Bah, Ibrahim Cherif

Ambassador to the US: Thiam, Mohamed

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Sow, Alpha Ibrahima Guinea maintains an embassy in the United States at 2112 Leroy Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-483-9420) and a mission to the United Nations at 140 E. 39th St., New York, NY 10016 (tel. 212-687-8115/16/17).




POLITICAL CONDITIONS

The Military Committee of National Recovery (CMRN), took control of Guinea in April 1984, just one week after the death of independent Guinea's first president, Sé kou Touré. The CMRN immediately abolished the constitution, the sole political party (PDG) and its mass youth and women's organizations, and announced the establishment of the Second Republic. In lieu of a constitution, the government was initially based on ordinances, decrees and decisions issued by the President and various ministers.


Political parties were proscribed. The new government also released all prisoners and declared the protection of human rights as one of its primary objectives. It reorganized the judicial system and decentralized the administration. The CMRN also announced its intention to liberalize the economy, promote private enterprise, and encourage foreign investment in order to develop the country's rich natural resources.


The CMRN formed a transitional parliament, the "Transitional Council for National Recovery" (CTRN), which created a new Constitution (La Loi Fundamental) and Supreme Court in 1990. The country's first multi-party presidential election took place in 1993. These elections were marred by irregularities and lack of transparency on the part of the government. Legislative and municipal elections were held in 1995. Conte's ruling PUP party won 76 of 114 seats in the National Assembly, amid opposition claims of irregularities and government tampering. The new National Assembly held its first session in October 1995.

Several thousand malcontent troops mutinied in Conakry in February 1996, destroying the presidential offices and killing several dozen civilians. Mid-level officers attempted, unsuccessfully, to turn the rebellion into a coup d'état. The Government of Guinea made hundreds of arrests in connection to the mutiny, and put 98 soldiers and civilians on trial in 1998.


In mid-1996, in response to the coup attempt and a faltering economy, President Conté appointed a new government as part of a flurry of reform activity. He selected Sidya Touré, former chief of staff for the Prime Minster of the Cote d'Ivoire, as Prime Minister, and appointed other technically minded ministers. Touré was charged with coordinating all government action, taking charge of leadership and management, as well as economic planning and finance functions. In early 1997, Conté shifted many of the financial responsibilities to a newly named Minister of Budget and Finance. These changes put Guinea on a track that included solid economic growth and improved infrastructure and services for its population.


In December 1998, Conté was reelected to another 5-year term in a flawed election that was, nevertheless, an improvement over 1993. Following his reelection and the improvement of economic conditions through 1999, Conté reversed direction, making wholesale and regressive changes to his cabinet. He replaced many technocrats and members of the Guinean Diaspora that had previously held important positions with "homegrown" ministers, particularly from his own Soussou ethnic group. These changes have led to increased cronyism, corruption, and a retrenchment on economic and political reforms.


Beginning in September 2000, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel army, backed by Liberian President, Charles Taylor, commenced largescale attacks into Guinea from Sierra Leone and Liberia. The RUF, known for their brutal tactics, in the near decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, operated with financial and material support from the Liberian Government and its allies. These attacks destroyed the town of Gueckedou as well as a number of villages, causing largescale damage and the displacement of tens of thousands of Guineans from their homes. The attacks also forced the UNHCR to relocate many of the 200,000 Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees residing in Guin a. As a result of the attacks, legislative elections scheduled for 2000 were postponed and have yet to be held.

After the initial attacks in September 2000, President Conté, in a radio address, accused Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees living in the country of fomenting war against the government. Soldiers, police, and civilian militia groups rounded up thousands of refugees, some of whom they beat and raped. Approximately, 3,000 refugees were detained, although most were released by year's end.


In November 2001, a nationwide referendum, which some observers believe was flawed, amended the Constitution to permit the President to run for an unlimited number of terms, and to extend the presidential term from 5 to 7 years. The country's second legislative election, originally scheduled for 1999, was held in June 2002. President Conte's Party of Unity and Progress (PUP) and associated parties won 91 of the 114 seats. Most major opposition parties boycotted the legislative elections, objecting to inequities in the existing electoral system.


Opposition political parties are severely hampered by their lack of access to the electronic media. The independent print media reports on both sides of the issues, but since Guinea's literacy rate is only 35%, a large majority of the population hears only the official government side of the issue.


During a trip to Japan in late 2003, President Conte fell ill and returned to Guinea after medical treatment in Morocco. Cont e's illness fueled months of speculation in 2003 over a possible successor. Conte resumed a more active schedule in late 2003 and planned to run for president in elections scheduled for December 2003. Opposition parties and the government began talks in September 2003 over electoral reform although most observers indicate that little time remains to enact the substantive changes demanded by most opposition parties.




ECONOMY

Richly endowed with minerals, Guinea possesses an estimated onethird of the world's proven reserves of bauxite, more than 1.8 billion metric tons (MT) of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits, and undetermined quantities of uranium. Guinea has considerable potential for growth in the agricultural and fishing sectors. Soil, water, and climatic conditions provide opportunities for largescale irrigated farming and agroindustry. 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 largescale investment projects.


Joint venture bauxite mining and alumina operations in northwest Guinea provide about 90% of Guinea's foreign exchange. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea (CBG), a joint venture in which 49% of the shares are owned by the Guinean Government and 51% by an international consortium (mostly U.S. and Canadian interests), exported about 14.5 million MT in 2000. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), a joint venture between the Government of Guinea and Russki Alumina, produces some 2 million MT, 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 million MT per year, but is not yet under production. The Alumina Compagnie de Guinée (ACG), which took over the former Friguia Consortium, produced about 2,400,000 tons of bauxite in 2001.

Diamonds and gold also are also mined and exported on a largescale. 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, which are 90% gem quality. Production stopped from 1993 until 1996, when First City Mining of Canada purchased the international portion of the consortium. More recent diamond mining ventures include HYMEX and the South African DeBeers Corporation. DeBeers has operated in Guinea since 1994. The largest gold mining operation in Guinea is a joint venture between the government and Ashanti Gold Fields (85%) of Ghana. Other concession agreements have been signed for iron ore, but these projects are still awaiting preliminary exploration and financing results.


The Guinean Government has adopted policies 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, the border conflict, lack of longterm 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. Since the beginning of the reform programs, both the number of public enterprises and the civil service payroll have been cut in half. Under 1996 and 1998 IMF/World Bank agreements, Guinea continued fiscal reforms and privatizations, and shifted governmental expenditures and internal reforms to the education, health, infrastructure, banking, and justice sectors.

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. A concerted effort by the government to implement this program had begun to bear fruit in advancing Guinea's economy and commercial sector into the intermediate stages of development, expanding international trade, agricultural production, and manufacturing capabilities. Then in 1997 the head of that government was stripped of his responsibilities, which were mainly economic, and finally fired in 1999. The economy has shown little progress since and growth has slowed. Corruption and a lack of set goals in development are the main causes of this downward turn of the economy. The informal sector continues to be a major contributor to the economy.


The government revised the private investment code in 1998 to stimulate economic activity in the spirit of a free enterprise. The code does not discriminate between foreigners and nationals and provides 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 benefits. A national investment commission has been formed to review all investment proposals. The United States and Guinea have signed an investment guarantee agreement that offers political risk insurance to American investors through OPIC. In addition, Guinea has inaugurated an arbitration court system, which allows for the quick resolution of commercial disputes.


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, both have continued to battle inefficiency, corruption and nepotism over the past year, and foreign private investors in these operations have recently departed the country infrustration.


In 2002, the IMF suspended Guinea's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility because the Government of Guinea had failed to meet key performance criteria. In reviews of the PRGF, the World Bank noted that Guinea is meeting 100% of its goals on spending in targeted social priority sectors. However, this spending contributed to a significant fiscal deficit. The loss of IMF funds and the pursuit of unsound macroeconomic policies have placed the nation's poor at greater risk.


More recently, the government's excessive spending has created an environment nonconducive to local and foreign investment in Guinea's private sector. The government spends more than 50% of its budget on military expenditures, while neglecting the country's infrastructure. Major roadways connecting the country's trade centers are in poor repair or non-existent, slowing the delivery of goods to local markets. Electricity shortages are frequent and sustained, and many businesses are forced to use expensive generators. Since revenues (primarily from the mining sector) are low, the GOG finances its deficit through Central Bank advances. As a result, inflation has risen dramatically since January 2003. Climbing inflation combined with the government's enforcement of price controls have served to dampen interest in the private sector; even stalwart foreign investors in the mining sector are hesitant about future investment.




DEFENSE

Guinea's armed forces are divided into four branches—army, navy, air force, and gendarmerie —whose chiefs report to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Col. Kerfalla Camara. The Chairman reports directly to the President, who took responsibility for the Ministry of Defense in early 2000. The 10,000-member army is the largest of the four services. The navy has about 900 personnel and operates several small patrol craft and barges. Air force personnel total about 700; its equipment includes several Russian-supplied fighter planes and transport planes. Several thousand gendarmes are responsible for internal security.




FOREIGN RELATIONS

Guinea's relations with other countries, including with her West African neighbors, have improved steadily since 1985. Guinea reestablished relations with France and Germany in 1975, and with neighboring Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal in 1978. Guinea has been active in efforts toward regional integration and cooperation, especially regarding the Organization of African Unity and the Economic Organization of West African States (ECOWAS). Guinea takes its role in a variety of international organizations seriously and participates actively in their deliberations and decisions. Guinea has participated in both diplomatic and military efforts to resolve conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau, and contributed contingents of troops to peacekeeping operations in all three countries as part of ECOMOG, the Military Observer Group of ECOWAS. Guinea has offered asylum to more than 700,000 Liberian, Sierra Leonean, and Bissauan refugees since 1990, despite the economic and environmental costs involved.


The civil wars, which engulfed Liberia and then Sierra Leone during the 1990s, have negatively impacted relations between Guinea and these two fellow Mano River Union member countries. Guinea and Liberia have accused each other of supporting opposition dissidents, and in late 2000 and early 2001, Guinean dissidents backed by the Liberian government and RUF rebels from Sierra Leone brutally attacked Guinea. These attacks caused over 1,000 Guinean deaths and displaced more than 100,000 Guineans. The attacks led to Guinea's support for the LURD (Liberians United For Reconciliation and Democracy) rebels in their attacks against the Liberian government of Charles Taylor. Taylor's departure for exile in August 2003 is expected to lead to friendlier relations between the two countries.

Guinea belongs to the UN and most of its specialized related agencies; Organization of African Unity (OAU); International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD); African Development Bank (AFDB); Niger River Basin (NRB); Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC); Mano River Union (MRU); Gambia River Basin Organization (OMVG); Nonaligned Movement (NAM). Guinea was recently elected to the UN Security Council for the 2-year term beginning with the 56th General Assembly, which began October 2001.




U.S.-GUINEAN RELATIONS

The United States maintains close relations with Guinea. U.S. policy seeks to encourage Guinea's sustainable economic and social development, and its full integration into regional cooperative institutions, to achieve economic, social, political, and environmental objectives. The U.S. also seeks to promote increased U.S. private investment in Guinea's emerging economy.


The U.S. Mission in Guinea is composed of five agencies—Department of State, USAID, Peace Corps, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Department of Defense. In addition to the providing the full range of diplomatic functions, the embassy obligated in FY 2003 $57,100 for Self-Help projects and $75,000 for Democracy and Human Rights projects. The embassy also manages a military assistance program that provided nearly $1.5 million for military education, language training, and humanitarian assistance programs.

USAID Guinea is now one of only five sustainable development missions in West Africa, with current core program areas in primary education, family health, democracy and governance, and natural resources management.


The Peace Corps has more than 100 Volunteers throughout the country. Volunteers teach English and mathematics in high schools, assist in village development and health education, and collaborate with USAID on a natural resources management project. Guinea was the first country to inaugurate a full-fledged Crisis Corps program, a new Peace Corps initiative developed to address natural and manmade disasters.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Conakry (E), rue KA 038, B.P. 603, Tel [224] 41-15-20, 41-15-21, or 41-15-23, Fax 41-15-22; AMB cellular Tel [224] 21-86-26; AID Tel 41-20-29, 41-21-63, or 41-25-02; Fax 41-19-85; PAO Tel 46-14-24 or 41-36-78, Fax 41-29-21; PC Tel 46-20-02, 46-31-57 or 40-22-98, Fax 46-34-84. Website: www.eti-bull.net/usembassy

AMB: R. Barrie Walkley
AMB OMS: Holly Hubler
DCM: Frankie A. Reed
DCM OMS: Judyann Dye
POL/ECO: Karl Rios
ECO: Wendy Kahler
COM: Bruce Wilkinson
CON: Kathleen Peoples
DAO: LTC Duke Ellington
MGT: Christopher D. Dye
FMO: Annette Walton
GSO: Aaron Sampson
RSO: John Aybar
FMM: Gary Rose
IPO: Dwayne Taylor
A/RSO: John Jordon
FSNP: [Vacant]
PAO: Louise Bedichek
AID: Annette Adams
PC: Lisa Ellis

Last Modified: Monday, December 15, 2003


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet
February 24, 2003


Country Description: Guinea is a developing country in western Africa, with minimal facilities for tourism. Travelers who are planning to stay in the capital, Conakry, should make reservations in advance. French is the official language.


Entry Requirements: A passport, visa, International Vaccination record (WHO card), and current yellow fever vaccination are required. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea, 2112 Leroy Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 986-4300, fax (202) 478-3010. Overseas, inquiries should be made to the nearest Guinean embassy or consulate.


In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.


Safety and Security: Guinea has experienced occasional civil unrest in the capital, Conakry, and in larger towns in all regions of the country. U.S. citizens have not been targeted in any demonstration-related unrest; however, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be very dangerous. During many demonstrations, crowds of people gather and burn tires, create roadblocks, and damage vehicles by throwing rocks and bricks. Because of the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations. They should also avoid sensitive government installations, including the Presidential Palace, official government buildings, and military bases. U.S. citizens should maintain security awareness at all times.

Despite the Guinean military's attempts to maintain strict control of its borders, instability in neighboring countries has created tense situations along Guinea's borders. Hostilities along Guinea's borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia escalate from time to time, resulting in border incursions and kidnappings by various armed factions. Major incursions occurred in September 2000 through March 2001; skirmishes have also occurred along the Guinea-Liberia border as recently as October 2002. The current civil war in neighboring Cote D'Ivoire has also increased tensions along Guinea's southeastern border.


As a result of continued military activity, the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid all areas south of Kissidougou, including the prefectures of Gueckedou, Macenta, N'Zerekore, Yomou, Lolo, and Beyla. The road connecting Conakry, Coyah, and Kissidougou is not restricted, and as recently as November 2002, several border-crossing areas between Guinea and Sierra Leone have opened. U.S. citizens contemplating travel to any region bordering Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire or Sierra Leone are urged to consult the latest Travel Warnings and/or Consular Information Sheets for these countries (available at the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Website at http://travel.state.gov) and to communicate with the U.S. Embassy in Conakry for the latest travel and security information. Crossing borders requires visas and complete paperwork and may be difficult.


Crime: In Conakry, as in most large cities, crime is a facet of daily life. Residential and street crime is very common. Sentiments toward American citizens in Guinea are generally positive. However, criminals regularly target U.S. and other foreign citizens. Criminals, thieves, prostitutes, beggars, and some corrupt military and police officials perceive U.S. and foreign visitors as lucrative targets. The incidents of property crimes, crimes against persons, and automobile accidents traditionally increase during the months of November through January in Conakry.


Violent as well as nonviolent criminal activity has occurred. The majority of nonviolent crime involves acts of pick-pocketing and purse-snatching. On the other extreme, armed robbery/muggings and assaults are the most common violent crime. Restaurant invasions and home invasion robberies are on the rise. Expatriates have sometimes been targets in these instances, and criminals have not hesitated to hurt victims who have resisted. Banditry near the Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia borders has also been reported. In an effort to stem the tide of urban banditry and to catch perceived rebels, the Guinean government maintains countrywide roadblocks from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Despite the best of intentions, the police have been unable to prevent the rapid escalation of crime. There have also been incidents of direct and indirect requests for bribes from the police and military officials.


Criminals particularly target visitors at the airport, in the traditional markets, and near hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners. Visitors should avoid unsolicited offers of assistance at the airport or hotels, as persons making such offers may be seeking opportunities to steal luggage, purses, or wallets. Travelers should arrange to be met at the airport by hotel personnel, family members, or business contacts to reduce their vulnerability to these crimes of opportunity.


The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance immediately. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, deal with the local police, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Business Fraud: Commercial scams and disputes with local business partners have created legal difficulties for some U.S. citizens. Corruption is widespread in Guinea. Business is routinely conducted through the payment of bribes rather than by the rule of law, and enforcement of the law is irregular and inefficient. The ability of the U.S. Embassy to extricate U.S. citizens from illegal business deals is extremely limited.


Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including Americans. While such fraud schemes in the past have been largely associated with Nigeria, they are now prevalent throughout western Africa, including Guinea. The scams pose a danger of both financial loss and physical harm. Recently, an increasing number of American citizens have been the targets of such scams.


Typically, these scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of the country. A series of "advance fees" must then be paid in order to conclude the transaction: for example, fees to open a bank account, or to pay certain taxes. In fact, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. One common variation of this scheme involves individuals claiming to be refugees or other victims of various western African conflicts (notably Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cote D'Ivoire) who contact U.S. citizens to request their help in transferring large sums of money out of Guinea. Another typical ploy has persons claiming to be related to present or former political leaders who need assistance to transfer large sums of cash. Other variations include what appear to be legitimate business deals requiring advance payments on contracts.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of advance-fee fraud is common sense - if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Any unsolicited business proposal originating from Guinea should be carefully checked out before any funds are committed, any goods or services are provided, or any travel is undertaken. For additional information, single copies of the Department of State's brochure, "Advance Fee Business Scams," are available at no charge by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, Room 4811, Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are poorly equipped and extremely limited. Medicines are in short supply, sterility of equipment is questionable, and treatment is unreliable. There are private medical facilities available that provide a better range of treatment options than public facilities, but are still well below global standards. No ambulance or emergency rescue services exist in Guinea.


Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.


Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.


Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.


Malaria is prevalent in Guinea. P. falciparum malaria, the serious and sometimes fatal strain in Guinea, is resistant to the anti-malarial drug chloroquine. Because travelers to Rwanda are at high risk for contracting malaria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that travelers should take one of the following antimalarial drugs: mefloquine (Lariam - tm), doxycycline, or atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone-tm), as well as other protective measures to prevent insect bites, such as the use of insect repellent. The CDC has determined that a traveler who is on an appropriate antimalarial drug has a greatly reduced chance of contracting the disease. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what antimalarials they have been taking. For additional information on malaria, protection from insect bites, and antimalarial drugs, please visit the CDC Travelers' Health website at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/malinfo.htm.

Other vaccines may be recommended for travel to Guinea. Please visit the CDC's website for more information.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Guinea is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.


Safety of public transportation: Poor
Urban road conditions/maintenance: Poor
Rural road conditions/maintenance: Poor
Availability of roadside/ambulance assistance: Poor


Drivers are poorly trained and routinely ignore road safety rules. Guinea's road network, both paved and unpaved, is underdeveloped and unsafe. Roads and vehicles are poorly maintained, and road signage is poor. Livestock and pedestrians create constant road hazards and make night-time travel inadvisable. Roads and vehicles are frequently unlit. Guinea has many roadblocks set up by the police or the military, making travel in the city and between cities difficult from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. During the rainy season (July through September), flash floods make some roads temporarily impassable. Neither roadside assistance nor ambulance service is available in Guinea.

Guinea has no public transportation. Taxis, including small cars and larger vans, are often poorly maintained and over-crowded. Taxis make frequent stops and starts without regard to other vehicles, making driving hazardous. Rental vehicles are available, often with drivers, from agencies at major hotels in Conakry.


For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.


Air Safety: Domestic airlines offer services to some interior cities, often to rudimentary dirt landing strips. Please note that travelers continuing on to Freetown, Sierra Leone, should be aware that the airport is located across a large body of water from Freetown. Helicopters and ferries are available in connection with most major regional flights to transport passengers to the capital. However, due to concerns about safety and maintenance of the helicopters, United States Government employees are currently not authorized to use this method of transportation.


As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Guinea the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Guinea's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet websites at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa and www.intl.faa.gov.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.


Customs Regulations: Guinean customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Guinea of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, and ivory. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Guinea in Washington (see contact information above in the Entry Requirements section) for specific information regarding customs requirements.


Currency: The local currency is Guinean francs (fg). Travelers are prohibited from having more than 100,000 fg (about $50.00 US) or more than $5,000 US in their possession upon departure from Guinea.


Guinea's economy operates on cash. ATMs are not available. Travelers checks are accepted only at banks and some hotels. Credit cards are accepted at some larger hotels in Conakry and should only be used at reputable hotels and banks. Cash advances on Visa credit cards are available at various branches of Bicigui, a local bank. Inter-bank fund transfers are possible at Bicigui branches but can be difficult and expensive. Money transfers from the U.S. have worked successfully in the past; Western Union has several offices in Conakry, and Moneygram has an office downtown.

Photography Restrictions: Visitors are advised to restrict photography to private gatherings. Explicit permission from the Guinean government should be obtained before photographing military and transportation facilities, government buildings or public works. Taking a photograph without permission in any public area may provoke a response from security personnel or offend the people being photographed.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Guinean law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Guinea are strict; convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.


Consular Access: U.S. consular officers do not always receive timely notification of the detention, arrest, or deportation of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passport and Guinean visa with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity, legal status in Guinea, and U.S. citizenship are readily available.

Telephones: Several cellular phone services are available. A number of public phones operate by locally purchased phone cards. International pre-paid telephone cards are available through Sotelgui, a Guinean telephone company. Telephones are available in Conakry and in other major towns and hotels. However, while privatization has improved the communication system, disruptions in telephone service are common.


Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_html or telephone 1-888-407-4747.


Embassy Location and Registration: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Conakry, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Guinea. The U.S. Embassy is located at 2nd Blvd. and 9th Ave. in Conakry. The mailing address is B.P. 603, Conakry, Guinea, tel. (224) 41-15-20/21/23, fax: (224) 41-15-2 2; website: [email protected]/conakry.

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Guinea

Guinea

POPULATION 7,775,065
MUSLIM 85 percent
CHRISTIAN 10 percent
OTHER 5 percent

Country Overview

INTRODUCTION

The Republic of Guinea, located in western Africa along the Atlantic Ocean, is bordered by six countries: Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Mali to the north; Côte d'Ivoire to the east; and Liberia and Sierra Leone to the south. The country is divided into four natural geographic regions: Lower Guinea (Maritime Guinea, or the Coastal Region), Middle Guinea (the Fouta Djallon), Upper Guinea, and the Forest Region. Each of the regions is home to a major ethnic group or cluster of closely related groups.

Guinea is one of the most Islamic countries in West Africa; the majority of citizens are Sunni Muslims. The Shia branch has been increasing in number but is still small. Christianity in Guinea is most prevalent where European influence was strongest—in the Coastal Region and Forest Region. Muslims and Christians in Guinea remain partly animist. As a result of civil wars and conflicts, some 500,000 people from Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire have sought refuge in the south of Guinea. They are predominantly Christians and practitioners of traditional beliefs.

RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE

Major Religion

SUNNI ISLAM

DATE OF ORIGIN 1100 c.e.
NUMBER OF FOLLOWERS 6.6 million

HISTORY

Islam was introduced to Guinea and other parts of West Africa during the Almorayide (militant Muslim) invasions of the Ghana Empire in 1076. The efforts of Almorayide missionaries were extended by traders, courtiers, and rulers, who spread Islam along trade routes and to far-flung seats of government.

Islam continued to spread throughout the savannah region of Guinea, which was part of the Mali and Songhai empires from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries migrating Fulani (also called Peul, or Fulbé) pastoralists and militant proselytizers conquered the indigenous population and confiscated their land. Religious leaders (karamokos) founded a theocratic kingdom (1725–1896) in the Fouta Djallon region and selected Karamoko Alfa (Ibrahima Musa, or Alpha Ibrahima) as their almamy (military and spiritual king) and leader of the jihad.

In 1751 Karamoko Alfa's successor, Ibrahima Sori, revitalized the jihad, which led to a great religious revival throughout West Africa. The Fouta Djallon was all but converted to Islam when, in about 1850, Al Haj Oumar Tall launched a holy war against the French, the traditional nobility of the Senegal-Niger region, and the dominant Qadiriya theocracies. Islam was further consolidated in Upper Guinea and the Forest Region during wars of conquest led by Samory Touré in the 1870s. In the twentieth century the French colonial administration's anti-Catholic policies inadvertently accelerated the acceptance of Islam. Guinea gained independence from France in 1958.

EARLY AND MODERN LEADERS

In the propitious environment of the Theocratic Kingdom of the Fouta Djallon, Karamoko Alfa conducted jihads, bringing Islam to Fulani peoples in Senegal and the Gambia and throughout coastal West Africa. The Toucouleur Muslim scholar and military chief Al-Hajj Oumar Tall established the Tijaniya Sufi order in the western Sudan (now Mali, Senegal, and Guinea) in the mid-nineteenth century.

The Mandingo warrior Almamy Samory Touré, known for resisting French and British imperialism in the 1880s and 1890s, founded an independent state in 1875. Stretching from present-day Bamako (in Mali) to northern Liberia, the empire lasted only four years, but it contained a brief interlude of theocratic rule during which Touré imposed Islam, outlawed pagan customs, destroyed symbols of animism, and built mosques.

Religious leadership is shared by the secretary-general of the Islamic League; the leaders of Guinea's regional cultural associations; the grand imams of Conakry, Labé, and Kankan; and a diverse group of scholars and teachers.

MAJOR THEOLOGIANS AND AUTHORS

Karamoko Alfa, educated in the great Islamic learning center of Bhourya, is credited with translating the Koran into Pulaar, the Fulani language. Al-Hajj Oumar Tall came under the influence of the Tijaniyya brotherhood in the Fouta Djallon. He taught and preached before he began his jihad against the pagan Bambara kings of Ségou and Kaarta in 1852. Some 20 works have been attributed to this mystic-pilgrim and influential sheik, who, more than any other Guinean author, shaped Islam in Guinea.

HOUSES OF WORSHIP AND HOLY PLACES

The Great Mosque is located in the capital city, Conakry, and the oldest mosque is outside of Pita in the Fouta Djallon. Muslims regard the village of Touba in the northwest Fouta Djallon as holy. Touba was founded in 1823–24 by Al-Hajj Salimou, a Muslim teacher. It is home to Diakhanké Muslim scholars and teachers of the Qadiriya brotherhood, a group that dates to the late fifteenth century. Touba has become a destination for pilgrimages, and many of the faithful send their children there for religious instruction.

The village of Fougoumba holds special significance because of the role it played during the Theocratic Kingdom. Almamys were installed in Fougoumba, which served as neutral ground where free men assembled and provincial armies gathered prior to jihads.

WHAT IS SACRED?

The words and texts from the Koran written upon prayer recitation boards are thought to have a supernatural power, and the water used to wash them from the board may be captured in a bowl and consumed, conveying power to the person who drinks it. Some Guinean Muslims believe that the pig, which once befriended the Prophet Muhammad, is sacred.

HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS

The government recognizes Muslim and Christian holidays, which are celebrated widely by people of both faiths. One popular Muslim holiday is the Fête de Tabaski (known elsewhere as Id al-Adha), commemorating Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, believed by Muslims to be Ismael. On Tabaski it is customary to kill a ram or sheep and eat mutton, and it is charitable for those of means to offer a sheep or goat to the less fortunate. Tabaski is also a day to give and receive gifts and to wear new clothes.

Another feast occurs at the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. Work assumes a slower pace during Ramadan, and nightlife quiets as people typically eat and drink at home to recover their strength. In spite of the physical deprivation, many Guineans look forward to spiritual renewal and approach Ramadan with great anticipation. A third important holiday is Mawloud, the Prophet Muhammad's birthday. People celebrate by attending mosque, visiting friends and family, and feasting. The dates are determined by the lunar calendar.

MODE OF DRESS

Muslim Guineans wear boubous, garments that are slipped over the head and worn over matching pants. They vary from simple cuts of cloth with little or no decoration to beautifully embroidered cotton robes. The full-length cut of the boubou reflects an Islamic injunction recommending long garments to protect the body. Leather, open-heeled, pointed slippers may be worn with the boubou. Women may wear matching scarves or turbans, while men wear Muslim skullcaps, which are either of a simple round design and usually white or tailored to match their tunics. They may also wear felt caps. In the Fouta Djallon boubous are tailored with distinctive Fulani patterns and styles and are particularly associated with Islamic practice.

DIETARY PRACTICES

Some Guinean Muslims publicly follow Islam's dietary restrictions on alcohol and pork, while at home they may not strictly observe them. Generally Muslims from the Forest Region and some modern urbanites are less rigid about their dietary practices. Before and after meals, which are eaten with the right hand only, a bowl of water is made available for washing hands. This is a Muslim practice that in Guinea has become a cultural norm. Gratitude to Allah for the meal is expressed using the Arabic term albarka.

RITUALS

The National Islamic League estimates that 70 percent of Guinean Muslims practice their faith regularly through observance of Islamic rituals. These include the Five Pillars of Islam. In Guinea prayer time is observed quite strictly, and it is not unusual to interrupt work or other activities to say prayers.

In times of illness or uncertainty Muslims seek the advice of marabouts—religious teachers, medicine men, and soothsayers who are considered intermediaries between Allah and his people. The rituals that marabouts prescribe often combine traditional religious practices with aspects of Islam. For instance, depending on the need, they may ask their followers to wear an amulet with a verse from the Koran inside or to drink the words of a text washed from a prayer board and collected into a bowl.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Guinean Muslims observe at least six rites of passage: birth, circumcision, a complete reading of the Koran, marriage, being an elder, and death. Birth is validated by baptism and the naming ceremony. The Malinke conduct a naming ceremony seven days after the birth of a child; the father whispers the name into the baby's ear so that the child is the first to hear his or her name.

Both male and female children are circumcised, but the dates for performing the rite vary by ethnic group and community and, increasingly, according to the wishes of the parents. Although observed less than in the past, circumcision traditionally confirms knowledge of the faith and marks the passage to adulthood (hence, it must be performed before an individual can marry). The complete reading of the Koran by age 15 marks the passage to young adulthood, when preparations begin for marrying and establishing a household.

Guinean Muslims between 35 and 40 years of age are expected to bridge younger and older generations. Men typically begin to attend prayers regularly, and as they age they may be welcomed into elder's associations. Many elders are able to recite lengthy passages from the Koran.

MEMBERSHIP

Converts from other beliefs are welcomed into the faith, but Guinean Muslims seldom proselytize. Making a pilgrimage to Mecca enhances a Muslim's membership status. Additional recognition may be bestowed upon theologians, imams, and scholars who are able to recite the entire Koran.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

Guineans have traditionally had an accepting attitude toward poverty. Acts of charity are required by the Koran and by traditional social norms. It is commonplace to give alms to street beggars and to those gathered at the doors of the mosque. On feast days the wealthy are expected to give alms commensurate to their ability.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

All Guineans are born into relationships through clan and kinship and are bound by their age set or peer group (karé, or sérè). Children circumcised in the same group may form mutual help associations and cooperative work parties. Guineans see these traditional institutions as consistent with teachings in the Koran.

Malinke and Fulani societies continue to reflect their once highly stratified class structure. During the jihads of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, various communities were assimilated or enslaved. In the Fouta Djallon a feudal society evolved that was composed of Fulani overlords, freeborn Fulani, Fulani of the bush, and non-Fulani serfs. As a result of this stratification, many serf villages do not have mosques.

POLITICAL IMPACT

Given the Sunni influence, no Islamic party or significant fundamentalist movement exists in Guinea. Islam does influence politics, however, and to some extent the former ruling party (Parti Démocratique de Guinée) has competed with Islamic leaders for leadership.

Since the advent of multiparty politics in 1992, parties have aligned themselves with regional cultural associations, whose leaders include clerics and theologians. Following the December 1993 elections (during which some street violence occurred), Fulani leaders appealed for peace, admonishing that outcomes were Allah's will. Some analysts regarded this fatalist view as the equivalent of giving the incumbent carte blanche to manipulate the elections.

The National Islamic League, whose mandate is to reach out to Muslims and to coordinate with other faith communities, has cabinet-level status in the government. The league distributes rice to Islamic groups, supports mosque construction, arranges annual charter flights to Mecca, and contributes to strengthening the political base of the regime.

CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES

Although Islam has generated little controversy in state and social relations, government support for the National Islamic League has led to complaints that the state favors Muslims over non-Muslims. Furthermore, in deference to the Islamic communities of the Fouta Djallon and parts of Upper Guinea, the government refrains from making appointments of non-Muslim leaders in these areas. In April 1999 government ministers were required to take an oath on either the Koran or the Bible, a gesture that provoked some criticism from those insisting that such practices violated the secular nature of the state.

Both Islamic and Christian leaders condemned the fighting between Muslims and Christians in the Forest Region in January 2000. National Muslim leaders attributed the violence to long-unsettled land disputes and not to religion.

CULTURAL IMPACT

Islam has had a great effect on the language, alphabet, and intellectual thought of the Fulani people. Arabic was used to transcribe Pulaar (the Fulani language) into written form, into which the Koran was translated word for word. Arabic was the language of the Koran; hence, the close relationship of Arabic script to that of Pulaar encouraged the spread of Islam through increased facility in reading the Koran. Because the Fulani are so Islamicized, many of them master the Arabic alphabet as well as their own language. In Koranic schools children are taught to read and write Arabic from an early age so that later they can read and interpret the Koran and religious works written in Arabic.

Fulani poetry is highly lyrical and expresses religious, philosophical, and social themes. Arabesque designs embellish many mosques throughout the Fouta and other parts of the country. Leather craftsmen design cases for the Koran, and musicians compose religious music, which is played on locally made violins, lyres, flutes, maracas, and calabashes (which are used as drums).

Other Religions

Christian groups in Guinea include Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, and evangelicals. Portuguese explorers landed on the coast of West Africa in the late 1400s, but it was not until 1877 that the Holy Ghost Fathers established the first Catholic mission at Boffa. Because of resistance in the Fouta Djallon and parts of the Forest Region, evangelization was restricted to coastal areas. After World War II the rate of conversions slowed as a result of the continuing spread of Islam and competition between Catholic and Protestant missionaries from Sierra Leone. Despite these hindrances the impact of Christianity has been intensified by the influence of missionary schools, where many political leaders have received their training.

Some 10 percent of Guineans describe themselves as Christians, and the vast majority of these are Roman Catholics. The Guinean Catholic Church is presided over by an archbishop in Conakry and two bishops in Kankan and N'zérékoré. Protestants, numbering perhaps a few thousand, are mostly Anglicans. Relations between Christians and Muslims have been generally amicable. Like Muslims, Christians in Guinea blend elements of traditional African religion into their faiths.

About five percent of the Guinean population adheres to traditional indigenous beliefs. The exact origins of traditional religion in Guinea are unknown, but it likely dates to the Stone Age. The Malinke, the Fulani, and other African groups shaped religious systems from the tenth century onward.

Guinean indigenous religions share common characteristics with the traditional beliefs of sub-Saharan Africa. At the apex is a God or Supreme Being, who, like the God of Islam and Christianity, is omnipotent and timeless. Similarities diverge at this point. The African God is remote and seldom worshiped. People pray and sacrifice to intermediate divinities that take the form of animate or inanimate objects, which, living or dead, each have a force called nyama (spirit, will, personality, and distinctiveness). Pre-Islamic Fulani revered the bull and used sour milk in life-cycle ceremonies. Coastal peoples believe in a water genie, Sata-Bo. Malinke rites, which are connected with the earth, sometimes involve worship of the crocodile. Marabouts—clerics, fortune tellers, healers, and teachers—perform rituals, decipher signs, unravel mysteries, assign blame, prescribe medicines, cast spells, and advise on important decisions.

The belief in ancestral homelands is a determining factor for the location and movement of people. The shrine of the ancestors unites a clan or kin group with the head of the family lineage, its chief priest. Rituals in the Forester Toma group are practiced in forest clearings known as the "Sacred Forest." These groves are off-limits to women and strangers. The Forester Toma bury family members around the foundation of the home, because their spirits are believed to be present in the village.

In the Forest Region and the Coastal Region are found mystery cults, or "secret societies," such as the Poro society for men and the Sande society for women. Membership is by initiation and takes place at puberty. Beliefs and practices are not shared with members of the opposite sex or with uninitiated children. When performing official functions, cult leaders wear masks representing the cult object. These masks are considered sacred. The cult leaders, usually the society's elders, exercise a controlling influence over cult members, dictating their stances in elections and political affairs.

In the 1960s President Sékou Touré, a member of the Malinke group, conducted a debunking campaign to strip away the powers of the cults. Sacred forests were burned and planted over with banana and coffee plantations, and sacred objects were destroyed. Foresters blamed the Fulani for tacit approval of the desecration. The campaign was only partly successful. After Touré's death in 1984, cult leaders who had fled to neighboring countries returned to Guinea, and traditional practices reemerged. Many Foresters continue to harbor deep distrust of the Malinke and Fulani and have refused to support their political candidates.

In Guinea traditional initiation and caste associations have exerted more influence on music, the visual arts, and oral literature than Islam and Christianity have. Traditional sculpture, masks, jewelry, and musical instruments are attributed special powers when they are worn or displayed during initiation ceremonies and the like. As such, they exercise political, social, religious, and cultural power via rituals. Malinke musicians draw on the glory of the Mali Empire (c. 1230–c. 1450). Malinke literature—epitomized by Camara Laye's L'Enfant noir (1953; The African Child)—reflects the staying power of taboos and the spirit world.

A small number of Bahai exist in Guinea but are not officially recognized. Among the expatriate community (mainly composed of traders from Asia) are Hindus, Buddhists, and practitioners of traditional Chinese religions. There are few atheists.

Robert Groelsema

See Also Vol. 1: African Indigenous Beliefs, Christianity, Islam, Roman Catholicism, Sunni Islam

Bibliography

Binns, Margaret. Guinea. World Bibliographical Series, vol. 191. Oxford: Clio Press, 1996.

CultureGrams 2002. Vol. 2, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Orem, Utah: CultureGrams, 2002.

Nelson, Harold D., et al. Area Handbook for Guinea. 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975.

O'Toole, Thomas, and Ibrahima Bah-Lalya. Historical Dictionary of Guinea. 3rd ed. African Historical Dictionaries, no. 16. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1995.

Suret-Canale, Jean. "Touba in Guinea: Holy Place of Islam." In African Perspectives. Edited by Christopher Allen and R.W. Johnson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970.

Trimingham, J. Spencer. A History of Islam in West Africa. London: Oxford University Press, 1962.

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Guinea

GUINEA

Compiled from the February 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Guinea (République de Guinée)


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 245,860 sq. km. (95,000 sq. mi.), about the size of Oregon.

Cities: Capital—Conakry. Other cities—Guéckédou, Boké, Kindia, N'Zérékoré, Macenta, Mamou, Kankan, Faranah, Siguiri, Dalaba, Labe, Pita, Kamsar.

Terrain: Generally flat along the coast and mountainous in the interior. The country's four geographic regions include a narrow coastal belt; pastoral highlands (the source of West Africa's major rivers); the northern savanna; and the southeastern rain forest.

Climate: Tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Guinean(s).

Population: (2002 census) 8,444,559, including refugees and foreign residents. Refugee population (June 2002 est.) 180,000-200,000 Liberians and Sierra Leoneans. Population of Conakry: 2 million. Population of largest prefectures—Guéckédou (487,017), Boké (366,915), Kindia (361,117), N'Zérékoré (328,347), Macenta (365,559).

Annual growth rate: (2002 census) 3.5%.

Ethnic groups: Peuhl 40%, Malinke 30%, Soussou 20%, other ethnic groups 10%.

Religions: Muslim 85%, Christian 8%, traditional beliefs 7%.

Languages: French (official), national languages.

Education: Years compulsory—8. Enrollment—primary school, 64.32% (male 78.71%, female 69.03%); secondary, 15%; and post secondary, 3%. Literacy (total population over age 15 that can read and write)—44.2% (male 58.74%, female 26.38%).

Health: (2002) Life expectancy—total population 54 years. Infant mortality rate (2002)—98/1000.

Work force: (2002, 4.5 million) Agriculture—76%; industry and commerce—18%; services—6%.

Government

Type: Republic.

Constitution: 1990; amended 2001.

Independence: October 2, 1958. Anniversary of the Second Republic, April 3, 1984.

Branches: Executive—elected president (chief of state); 25 appointed civilian ministers. Legislativeelected National Assembly (114 seats). Judicial—Supreme Court.

Administrative subdivisions: Region, prefecture, subprefecture, rural district.

Political parties: Legalized on 1 April 1992. Seven parties, of the more than 40 with legal status, won seats in the June 1995 legislative elections. Pro-government—Party for Unity and Progress (PUP). Opposition—Rally for the Guinean People (RPG), Union for Renewal and Progress (UPR), Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), Union for Progress of Guinea (UPG), Union of Republican Forces (UFR).

Suffrage: Universal over age 18.

Central government budget: (2002) $394.76 million.

Economy

GDP: (2003 est.) $4.72 billion.

Annual economic growth rate: (2003) 2.1%.

Per capita GDP: (2003 est.) $376.3.

Avg. inflation rate: (2003) 15.4%.

Natural resources: Bauxite, iron ore, diamonds, gold, water power, uranium, fisheries.

Industry: (31.12% of GDP) Typesmining, light manufacturing, construction.

Agriculture: (18.43% of GDP) Products—rice, cassava, fonio, millet, corn, coffee, cocoa, bananas, palm products, pineapples, livestock, forestry. Arable land—35%. Cultivated land—4.5%.

Trade: (45.4% of GDP) Exports (2002)—$835 million: bauxite, alumina, diamonds, gold, coffee, pineapples, bananas, palm products, coffee. Major markets—European Union, U.S., Commonwealth of Independent States, China, Eastern Europe, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco.

Official exchange rate: (2003) Approximately 2000 Guinean francs=U.S.$1.

Fiscal year: January 1-December 31.


GEOGRAPHY

Guinea is located on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa and is bordered by Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The country is divided into four geographic regions: A narrow coastal belt (Lower Guinea); the pastoral Fouta Djallon highlands (Middle Guinea); the northern savannah (Upper Guinea); and a southeastern rain-forest region (Forest Guinea). The Niger, Gambia, and Senegal Rivers are among the 22 West African rivers that have their origins in Guinea.

The coastal region of Guinea and most of the inland have a tropical climate, with a rainy season lasting from April to November, relatively high and uniform temperatures, and high humidity. Conakry's year-round average high is 29ºC (85ºF), and the low is 23ºC (74ºF); its average annual rainfall is 430 centimeters (169 inches). Sahelian Upper Guinea has a shorter rainy season and greater daily temperature variations.


PEOPLE

Guinea has four main ethnic groups:

  • Peuhl (Foula or Foulani), who inhabit the mountainous Fouta Djallon;
  • Malinke (or Mandingo), in the savannah and forest regions;
  • Soussous in the coastal areas; and
  • Several small groups (Gerzé, Toma, etc.) in the forest region.

West Africans make up the largest non-Guinean population. Non-Africans total about 10,000 (mostly Lebanese, French, and other Europeans). Seven national languages are used extensively; major written languages are French, Peuhl, and Arabic.


HISTORY

The area occupied by Guinea today was included in several large West African political groupings, including the Ghana, Mali, and Songhai empires, at various times from the 10th to the 15th century, when the region came into contact with European commerce. 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 Almamy Samory Touré, warlord and leader of Malinke 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 the 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.

Led by Ahmed Sékou Touré, head of the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG), which won 56 of 60 seats in 1957 territorial elections, the people of Guinea in a September 1958 plebiscite overwhelmingly rejected membership in the proposed French Community. The French withdrew quickly, and on October 2, 1958, Guinea proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent republic, with Sékou Touré as President.

Under Touré, Guinea became a one party dictatorship, with a closed, socialized economy and no tolerance for human rights, free expression, or political opposition, which was ruthlessly suppressed. Originally credited for his advocacy of cross-ethnic nationalism, Touré gradually came to rely on his own Malinke ethnic group to fill positions in the party and government. Alleging plots and conspiracies against him at home and abroad, Touré's regime targeted real and imagined opponents, imprisoning many thousands in Soviet-style prison gulags, where hundreds perished. The regime's repression drove more than a million Guineans into exile, and Touré's paranoia ruined relations with foreign nations, including neighboring African states, increasing Guinea's isolation and further devastating its economy.

Sékou Touré and the PDG remained in power until his death on April 3, 1984. A military junta—the Military Committee of National Recovery (CMRN)—headed by then-Lt. Col. Lansana Conte, seized power just one week after the death of Sékou Touré. The CMRN immediately abolished the constitution, the sole political party (PDG) and its mass youth and women's organizations, and announced the establishment of the Second Republic. In lieu of a constitution, the government was initially based on ordinances, decrees, and decisions issued by the president and various ministers.

Political parties were proscribed. The new government also released all prisoners and declared the protection of human rights as one of its primary objectives. It reorganized the judicial system and decentralized the administration. The CMRN also announced its intention to liberalize the economy, promote private enterprise, and encourage foreign investment in order to develop the country's rich natural resources.

The CMRN formed a transitional parliament, the "Transitional Council for National Recovery" (CTRN), which created a new constitution (La Loi Fundamental) and Supreme Court in 1990. The country's first multi-party presidential election took place in 1993. These elections were marred by irregularities and lack of transparency on the part of the government. Legislative and municipal elections were held in 1995. Conte's ruling Party for Unity and Progress (PUP) won 76 of 114 seats in the National Assembly, amid opposition

claims of irregularities and government tampering. The new National Assembly held its first session in October 1995.

Several thousand malcontent troops mutinied in Conakry in February 1996, destroying the presidential offices and killing several dozen civilians. Mid-level officers attempted, unsuccessfully, to turn the rebellion into a coup d'etat. The Government of Guinea made hundreds of arrests in connection to the mutiny, and put 98 soldiers and civilians on trial in 1998.

In mid-1996, in response to the coup attempt and a faltering economy, President Conté appointed a new government as part of a flurry of reform activity. He selected Sidya Touré, former chief of staff for the Prime Minster of the Cote d'Ivoire, as Prime Minister, and appointed other technically minded ministers. Touré was charged with coordinating all government action, taking charge of leadership and management, as well as economic planning and finance functions. In early 1997, Conté shifted many of the financial responsibilities to a newly named Minister of Budget and Finance.

In December 1998, Conté was reelected to another 5-year term in a flawed election that was, nevertheless, an improvement over 1993. Following his reelection and the improvement of economic conditions through 1999, Conté reversed direction, making wholesale and regressive changes to his cabinet. He replaced many technocrats and members of the Guinean Diaspora that had previously held important positions with "homegrown" ministers, particularly from his own Soussou ethnic group. These changes led to increased cronyism, corruption, and a retrenchment on economic and political reforms.

Beginning in September 2000, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel army, backed by Liberian President Charles Taylor, commenced large-scale attacks into Guinea from Sierra Leone and Liberia. The RUF, known for their brutal tactics in the near decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone, operated with financial and material support from the Liberian Government and its allies. These attacks destroyed the town of Gueckedou as well as a number of villages, causing large-scale damage and the displacement of tens of thousands of Guineans from their homes. The attacks also forced the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to relocate many of the 200,000 Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees residing in Guinea. As a result of the attacks, legislative elections scheduled for 2000 were postponed.

After the initial attacks in September 2000, President Conté, in a radio address, accused Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees living in the country of fomenting war against the government. Soldiers, police, and civilian militia groups rounded up thousands of refugees, some of whom they beat and raped. Approximately, 3,000 refugees were detained, although most were released by year's end.

In November 2001, a nationwide referendum, which some observers believe was flawed, amended the constitution to permit the president to run for an unlimited number of terms, and to extend the presidential term from 5 to 7 years. The country's second legislative election, originally scheduled for 2000, was held in June 2002. President Conté's Party of Unity and Progress (PUP) and associated parties won 91 of the 114 seats. Most major opposition parties boycotted the legislative elections, objecting to inequities in the existing electoral system.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Guinea is a constitutional republic in which effective power is concentrated in a strong presidency. The president governs Guinea assisted by his appointed council of civilian ministers. Government administration is carried out at several levels; in descending order, they are: 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). Districtlevel leaders are elected; the president appoints officials to all other levels of the highly centralized administration.

Opposition political parties are severely hampered by their lack of access to the electronic media. The independent print media reports on both sides of issues, but since Guinea's literacy rate is only 35%, a large majority of the population hears only the official government side.

During a trip to Japan in late 2003, President Conté fell ill and returned to Guinea after medical treatment in Morocco. Despite his illness, Conté ran for president a third time in elections held in December 2003. Opposition parties boycotted the election, and Conté easily won a third term against a single, relatively unknown candidate. In February 2004, President Conté made changes to his government by firing unpopular ministers and appointing more technocrats. On January 19, 2005, President Conte's motorcade was fired upon by unknown assailants. Two bodyguards were wounded but the President was not harmed.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 6/2/03

President: Conte , Lansana, Gen.
Prime Minister: Sidime, Lamine
Min. Of Agriculture & Animal Husbandry: Sarr , Jean-Paul
Min. Of Commerce, Industry, Small & Medium-Scale Enterprise: Balde , Adama
Min. Of Communication: Conde , Mamadi
Min. Of Defense:
Min. Of Economy & Finance: Camara , Sheik Amadou
Min. Of Employment & Public Administration: Kamara , Lamine
Min. Of Fishing & Aquaculture: Kouyate , Oumare
Min. Of Foreign Affairs: Fall , Francois Lonseny
Min. Of Higher Education & Scientific Research: Camara , Eugene
Min. Of Justice & Keeper Of The Seals: Sylla , Mamadou
Min. Of Mining, Geology, & Environment: Soumah , Alpha Mady, Dr.
Min. Of Planning: Sagno , Fassou Niankoye
Min. Of Pre-University & Civic Education: Doualamou , Germain
Min. Of Public Health: Diallo , Mamadou Saliou, Dr.
Min. Of Public Works & Transport: Diallo , Cellou Dalein
Min. Of Security: Sampil , Moussa
Min. Of Social Affairs, Promotion Of Women, & Children: Aribot , Mariama
Min. Of Technical Teaching & Professional Training: Souma , Ibrahima
Min. Of Territorial Administration & Decentralization: Solano , Moussa
Min. Of Tourism, Hotels, & Handicrafts: Diakite , Sylla Koumba
Min. Of Urban Planning & Housing: Foromo , Blaise
Min. Of Water Power & Energy: Kaba , Mory
Min. Of Youth, Sports, & Culture: Sangare , Abdel Kadr
Sec. Gen. Of The Government: Sanoko , Ousmane
Sec. Gen. Of The Presidency: Bangoura , Fode
Governor, Central Bank: Bah , Ibrahim Cherif
Ambassador To The Us: Thiam , Mohamed
Permanent Representative To The Un, New York: Sow , Alpha Ibrahima

Guinea maintains an embassy in the United States at 2112 Leroy Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-483-9420) and a mission to the United Nations at 140 E. 39th St., New York, NY 10016 (tel. 212-687-8115/16/17).


ECONOMY

Richly endowed with minerals, Guinea possesses over 25 billion metric tons (MT) of bauxite—an estimated one-third of the world's proven reserves of bauxite—more than 4 billion tons of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits, and undetermined quantities of uranium. 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. 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 largescale investment projects.

Joint venture bauxite mining and alumina operations in northwest Guinea provide about 80% of Guinea's foreign exchange. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea (CBG), a joint venture in which 49% of the shares are owned by the Guinean Government and 51% by an international consortium (mostly U.S. and Canadian interests), exported about 14.5 million metric tons in 2003. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), a joint venture between the Government of Guinea and Russki Alumina, produces some 2.5 million MT, 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 million MT per year, but is not yet under production. The Alumina Compagnie de Guinée (ACG), which took over the former Friguia Consortium, produced about 2.4 million tons of bauxite in 2003.

Diamonds and gold also are also 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 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 are still awaiting preliminary exploration and financing results.

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 privatizations, and shifted governmental expenditures and internal reforms to the education, health, infrastructure, banking, and justice sectors. Cabinet changes in 1999 as well increasing corruption, economic mismanagement, and excessive government spending since 2000 have slowed the momentum for economic reform. The informal sector continues to be a major contributor to the economy.

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 provides 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 benefits. A national investment commission has been formed to review all investment proposals. The United States and Guinea have signed 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.

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, both have continued to battle inefficiency, corruption, and nepotism over the past year, and foreign private investors in these operations have 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 met 100% of its goals on spending in targeted social priority sectors. However, this spending—and spending in other areas such as defense—contributed to a significant fiscal deficit. The loss of IMF funds and the pursuit of unsound macroeconomic policies have placed the nation's poor at greater risk.

The government spent more than 50% of its budget on military expenditures in 2003, while neglecting the country's infrastructure. Major roadways connecting the country's trade centers are in poor repair or non-existent, 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. Since revenues (primarily from the mining sector) are low, the Government of Guinea finances its deficit through Central Bank advances. As a result, inflation (official rate) rose from 8.9% in 2002 to over 15.4% in 2003. Climbing inflation combined with the government's enforcement of price controls for certain commodities have served to dampen interest in the private sector; even stalwart foreign investors in the mining sector are hesitant about future investment.


DEFENSE

Guinea's armed forces are divided into four branches—army, navy, air force, and gendarmerie—whose chiefs report to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Col. Kerfalla Camara. The Chairman reports directly to the President, who took responsibility for the Ministry of Defense in early 2000. The 10,000-member army is the largest of the four services. The navy has about 900 personnel and operates several small patrol craft and barges. Air force personnel total about 700; its equipment includes several Russian-supplied fighter planes and transport planes. Several thousand gendarmes are responsible for internal security.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Guinea's relations with other countries, including with her West African neighbors, have improved steadily since 1985. Guinea reestablished relations with France and Germany in 1975, and with neighboring Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal in 1978. Guinea has been active in efforts toward regional integration and cooperation, especially regarding the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) and the Economic Organization of West African States (ECOWAS). Guinea takes its role in a variety of international organizations seriously and participates actively in their deliberations and decisions. Guinea has participated in both diplomatic and military efforts to resolve conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau, and contributed contingents of troops to peacekeeping operations in all three countries as part of ECOMOG, the Military Observer Group of ECOWAS. Guinea has offered asylum to more than 700,000 Liberian, Sierra Leonean, and Bissauan refugees since 1990, despite the economic and environmental costs involved.

The civil wars that engulfed Liberia and then Sierra Leone during the 1990s have negatively affected relations between Guinea and these two fellow Mano River Union member countries. Guinea and Liberia accused each other of supporting opposition dissidents, and in late 2000 and early 2001, Guinean dissidents backed by the Liberian government and RUF rebels from Sierra Leone brutally attacked Guinea. These attacks caused over 1,000 Guinean deaths and displaced more than 100,000 Guineans. The attacks led to Guinea's support for the LURD (Liberians United For Reconciliation and Democracy) rebels in their attacks against the Liberian government of Charles Taylor. Taylor's departure for exile in August 2003 and the establishment of an interim government has led to friendlier relations between the two countries and lower tension on Guinea's southern border.

Guinea belongs to the UN and most of its specialized related agencies; Organization of African Unity (OAU—now the African Union); International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD); African Development Bank (AFDB); Niger River Basin (NRB); Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC); Mano River Union (MRU); Gambia River Basin Organization (OMVG); and Nonaligned Movement (NAM). Guinea recently relinquished a seat on the UN Security Council after serving a 2-year term beginning October 2001.


U.S.-GUINEAN RELATIONS

The United States maintains close relations with Guinea. U.S. policy seeks to encourage Guinea's sustainable economic and social development, and its full integration into regional cooperative institutions, to achieve economic, social, political, and environmental objectives. The U.S. also seeks to promote increased U.S. private investment in Guinea's emerging economy.

The U.S. Mission in Guinea is composed of five agencies—Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Peace Corps, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Defense. In addition to providing the full range of diplomatic functions, the Embassy obligated in FY 2004 $57,100 for Self Help projects and $75,000 for Democracy and Human Rights projects. The U.S. Mission also manages a military assistance program that provided nearly $627,000 for military education, language training, and humanitarian assistance programs.

USAID Guinea is now one of only five sustainable development missions in West Africa, with current core program areas in primary education, family health, democracy and governance, and natural resources management.

The Peace Corps has more than 100 volunteers throughout the country. Volunteers teach English and mathematics in high schools, assist in village development and health education, and collaborate with USAID on a natural resources management project. Guinea was the first country to inaugurate a full-fledged Crisis Corps program, a new Peace Corps initiative developed to address natural and manmade disasters.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

CONAKRY (E) Phone: 224-41-15-20/21/23; Fax: 224-41-15-22; Workweek: M-Th, 7:30-16:30; F, 7:30-13:30; Website: www.usembassy.state.gov/conakry

AMB:Jackson McDonald
AMB OMS:Judyann H. Dye
DCM:Frankie A. Reed
DCM OMS:Vacant
POL/ECO:Vacant
COM:Bruce Wilkinson
CON:Barbara Bartsch-Allen
MGT:Christopher D. Dye
AFSA:Aaron Sampson
AID:Annette Adams
CLO:Applicant Selected
DAO:Maj. Christian Ramthun
ECO:Kathleen Peoples
EEO:Louise Bedichek
FIN:Sharon Yang
FMO:Gary Rose
GSO:Aaron Sampson
ICASS Chair:Carrie Dailey
IPO:Dwayne Taylor
ISSO:Dwayne Taylor
PAO:Louise Bedichek
RAMC:FSC Charleston
RSO:John Aybar
State ICASS:Barabara Bartsch-Allen
Last Updated: 12/5/2004

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

October 21, 2004

Country Description: Guinea is a developing country in western Africa, with minimal facilities for tourism. Travelers who are planning to stay in the capital, Conakry, should make reservations in advance. French is the official language.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport, visa, International Vaccination record (WHO card), and current yellow fever vaccination are required. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea, 2112 Leroy Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 986-4300, fax (202) 478-3010. Overseas, inquiries should be made to the nearest Guinean embassy or consulate. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Guinea and other countries.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

Safety and Security: Guinea has experienced occasional civil unrest in the capital, Conakry, and in larger towns in all regions of the country. U.S. citizens have not been targeted in any demonstration-related unrest; however, being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be very dangerous. During many demonstrations, crowds of people gather and burn tires, create roadblocks, and damage vehicles by throwing rocks and bricks. Because of the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations. They should also avoid sensitive government installations, including the Presidential Palace, official government buildings, and military bases. U.S. citizens should maintain security awareness at all times.

Despite the Guinean military's attempts to maintain strict control of borders, instability in neighboring countries has created tense situations along Guinea's borders. Hostilities along Guinea's borders in the past decade with Sierra Leone and Liberia, resulted in border incursions and kidnappings by various armed factions. Peace agreements in Sierra Leone and Liberia have largely eased tensions along the borders shared with Guinea. Concerns still remain high along Guinea's southeastern border with Cote d'Ivoire due to continuing political unrest in that country. Although rumors of rebel activity along the border are constant, there is no significant impact on the current security situation.

As a result of continued military activity in Guinea, the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to take precautions when traveling south of Kissidougou, including the prefectures of Gueckedou, Macenta, N'Zerekore, Yomou, Lolo, and Beyla. The road connecting Conakry, Coyah, and Kissidougou is not restricted, and in late 2002, several border-crossing areas between Guinea and Sierra Leone opened. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for caller outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00am to 8:00pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: In Conakry, as in most large cities, crime is a facet of daily life. Residential and street crime is very common. Sentiments toward American citizens in Guinea are generally positive. However, criminals regularly target U.S. and other foreign citizens. Criminals, thieves, prostitutes, beggars, and some corrupt military and police officials perceive U.S. and foreign visitors as lucrative targets. The incidents of property crimes, crimes against persons, and automobile accidents traditionally increase during the months of November through January in Conakry.

Violent as well as nonviolent criminal activity has occurred. The majority of nonviolent crime involves acts of pick-pocketing and purse-snatching. On the other extreme, armed robbery/muggings and assaults are the most common violent crime. Home invasion robberies are not uncommon. Expatriates have sometimes been targets in these instances, and criminals have not hesitated to hurt victims who have resisted. Banditry near the Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia borders has also been reported. Despite the best of intentions, the police have been unable to prevent the rapid escalation of crime. There have also been incidents of direct and indirect requests for bribes from the police and military officials. Gunfire exchange between armed criminals and the police are on the rise, as is gang-related activity in general.

Criminals particularly target visitors at the airport, in the traditional markets, and near hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners. Visitors should avoid unsolicited offers of assistance at the airport or hotels, as persons making such offers may be seeking opportunities to steal luggage, purses, or wallets. Travelers should arrange to be met at the airport by hotel personnel, family members, or business contacts to reduce their vulnerability to these crimes of opportunity.

Commercial scams and disputes with local business partners have created legal difficulties for some U.S. citizens. Corruption is widespread in Guinea. Business is routinely conducted through the payment of bribes rather than by the rule of law, and enforcement of the law is irregular and inefficient. The ability of the U.S. Embassy to extricate U.S. citizens from illegal business deals is extremely limited.

Perpetrators of business fraud often target foreigners, including Americans. While such fraud schemes in the past have been largely associated with Nigeria, they are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Guinea. The scams pose a danger of both financial loss and physical harm. Recently, an increasing number of American citizens have been the targets of such scams.

Typically, these scam operations begin with an unsolicited communication (usually by e-mail) from an unknown individual who describes a situation that promises quick financial gain, often by assisting in the transfer of a large sum of money or valuables out of the country. A series of "advance fees" must then be paid in order to conclude the transaction: for example, fees to open a bank account, or to pay certain taxes. In fact, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees. One common variation of this scheme involves individuals claiming to be refugees or other victims of various western African conflicts (notably Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cote D'Ivoire) who contact U.S. citizens to request their help in transferring large sums of money out of Guinea. Another typical ploy has persons claiming to be related to present or former political leaders who need assistance to transfer large sums of cash. Other variations include what appear to be legitimate business deals requiring advance payments on contracts.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance immediately. The Embassy staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed. See information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/brochure_victim_assistance.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities are poorly equipped and extremely limited. Medicines are in short supply, sterility of equipment is questionable, and treatment is unreliable. Some private medical facilities provide a better range of treatment options than public facilities but are still well below global standards. No ambulance or emergency rescue services exist in Guinea.

Malaria is prevalent in Guinea. P. falciparum malaria, the serious and sometimes fatal strain in Guinea, is resistant to the anti-malarial drug chloroquine. Because travelers to Guinea are at high risk for contracting malaria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that travelers should take one of the following antimalarial drugs: mefloquine (Lariamtm), doxycycline, or atovaquone/proguanil (Malaronetm), as well as other protective measures to prevent insect bites, such as the use of insect repellent. The CDC has determined that a traveler who is on an appropriate anti-malarial drug has a greatly reduced chance of contracting the disease. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what anti-malarial drugs they have been taking. For additional information on malaria, protection from insect bites, and anti-malarial drugs, please visit the CDC Travelers' Health web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/malaria.

Water is presumed contaminated. Use of bottled or distilled water for drinking is highly recommended.

Additional information on recommended vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect-bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international traveler's at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299); or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who/int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Guinea is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Drivers are poorly trained and routinely ignore road safety rules. Guinea's road network, both paved and unpaved, is underdeveloped and unsafe. Roads and vehicles are poorly maintained, and road signage is poor. Livestock and pedestrians create constant road hazards and make nighttime travel inadvisable. Roads and vehicles are frequently unlit. During the rainy season (July through September), flash floods make some roads temporarily impassable. Neither roadside assistance nor ambulance service is available in Guinea.

Guinea has no public transportation. Taxis, including small cars and larger vans, are often poorly maintained and over-crowded. Taxis make frequent stops and starts without regard to other vehicles, making driving hazardous. Rental vehicles are available, often with drivers, from agencies at major hotels in Conakry. Note however that the maintenance history of rental cars is questionable. Please refer to our Road Safety page at http://travel.state.gov/travel/abroad_roadsafety.html for more information.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the U.S. and Guinea by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Guinea's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet websites at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.htm.

Domestic airlines offer services to some interior cities, often using rudimentary dirt landing strips. Travelers continuing on to Freetown, Sierra Leone, should be aware that the airport is located across a large body of water from Freetown. This often requires an overnight stay in Lungi before continuing onward to Freetown. Helicopters, ferries, and hover-craft service is available in connection with most major regional flights to transport passengers to the capital. However, due to concerns about safety and maintenance of the helicopters, United States Government employees are currently authorized to use only the Pan African Helicopter Service and the ferry and hovercraft services.

Special Circumstances: Guinean customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Guinea of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, and ivory. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Guinea in Washington (see contact information above in the Entry Requirements section) for specific information regarding customs requirements.

The local currency is Guinean francs (FG). Travelers are prohibited from having more than 100,000 FG or more than $5,000 US in their possession upon departure from Guinea.

Guinea's economy operates on cash. ATMs are not available and traveler's checks are accepted only at banks and some hotels. Credit cards are accepted at some larger hotels in Conakry and should only be used at reputable hotels and banks. Cash advances on Visa credit cards are available at various branches of Bicigui, a local bank. Inter-bank fund transfers are possible at Bicigui branches but can be difficult and expensive. Money transfers from the U.S. have worked successfully in the past; Western Union has several offices in Conakry, and Moneygram has an office downtown.

Visitors are advised to restrict photography to private gatherings. Explicit permission from the Guinean government should be obtained before photographing military and transportation facilities, government buildings or public works. Taking a photograph without permission in any public area may provoke a response from security personnel or provoke a dangerous confrontation from the people who are offended by being photographed.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Guinean law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Guinea are strict and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in Guinea are encouraged to register with the US Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and obtain updated information on travel and security within Guinea. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Conakry. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 2nd Blvd. and 9th Ave. in Conakry. The mailing address is B.P. 603, Conakry, Guinea, tel. (224) 41-15-20/21/23, fax: (224) 41-15-22; website: http://usembassy.state.gov/conakry.

International Adoption

January 2005

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family

Disclaimer: The information in this circular relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

Please Note: IV's cannot be issued in Guinea, however, U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact the U.S. Consular officials in Dakar, Senegal.

Availability of Children for Adoption: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect that in the last four years only one Guinean child was adopted by a U.S. citizen.

Guinean Adoption Authority: Adoption petitions are submitted to a Tribunal of First Instance or a Justice of the Peace. The Court of Appeals is the second resort. The Ministry of Justice grants their authority.

Guinean Adoption Procedures: Those seeking to adopt should retain an attorney who is a member of the Guinean bar association. There are two types of adoptions in Guinea—perfect adoption and simple adoption. Both are open to Guineans and non-Guineans. A perfect adoption is irrevocable and should be advantageous to the child. In perfect adoptions, the adoptive relationship takes precedence over any biological relationship. In a simple adoption, the child may continue to have ties to his/her biological family and it is revocable. In both kinds of adoption, if the parents are alive, their consent is required. If both parents are dead, consent needs to be granted by the remaining family members (le Conseil famille). The initial request is made to the Tribunal of First Instance or a Justice of the Peace. The judgement is given after inquiry and debate in court chambers.

Age and Civil Status Requirements: Anyone at least 35 years old may adopt another person if the difference in age between the two is at least 15 years. A couple may seek to adopt a minor child if one of the adopters is at least 35 years old and without children. Those seeking to adopt should not have a serious medical condition.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are no adoption agencies or groups that specialize in adoption in Guinea. The Embassy maintains a list of numerous attorneys practicing in Guinea.

Doctors: The U.S. Embassy in Conakry maintains current lists of doctors and sources for medicines, should either you or your child experience health problems while in Guinea

Guinean Documentary Requirements: The final request for adoption should include a copy of the child's birth certificate, identification for the prospective parents and the child, written justification for the adoption and a "certificate of domicile" verifying the potential prospective parent's place of residence.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: A Guinea child, even if adopted by an American citizen, must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family

Guinean Embassy in the United States:
Guinea Embassy
2112 Leroy Place NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: 202-483-9420;
Fax: 202-483-8688.

U.S. Embassy in Guinea:
Street address
2nd Blvd and 9th Ave
Kaloum, Conakry

Mailing Address
American Embassy
BP 603
Conakry, Guinea
Tel: (224) 41-15-20/1/3;
Fax: (224) 41-15-22

Questions: Specific questions regarding adoption in Guinea may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Conakry. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, SA-29, 2201 C Street, NW, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-2818, telephone 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.

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Guinea

Guinea

Guinea is located on the west coast of Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It has turbulent neighbors: Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Guinea occupies 245,857 square kilometers (94,900 square miles), slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Oregon. Its population was estimated to be 9,246,462 in July 2004, and its per capita income at $2,100 in 2003, about the same as Ghana, Nicaragua, and Pakistan.

Guinea is ethnically diverse. The Peuhl people constitute 40 percent of its population; the Malinke, 30 percent; the Soussou, 20 percent; and smaller ethnic groups, 10 percent. Religiously, Guinea's is not diverse: 85 percent of its population is Muslim, with Christians accounting for 8 percent and followers of indigenous beliefs, 7 percent. With a life expectancy of less than 49 years and an adult literacy rate estimated at between 36 and 41 percent (and a literacy rate for women of 22 percent), the United Nations Human Development Report 2004 ranked Guinea 160 out of 177 nations for whom it calculated its Human Development Index.

In ancient times, the territory that became Guinea was a part of the great West African empires of Ghana, Songhai, and Mali. It became a French colony in the nineteenth century and remained one until 1958, when its citizens voted to end its association with France, the first of France's numerous African colonies to do so. It began its existence as an independent republic under the authoritarian leadership of its pro-independence leader, Sekou Touré (1922–1984), a strong nationalist and Pan-African proponent. Touré's rule was tumultuous.

When Touré died in 1984, the army staged a military coup that installed Lansana Conté (b. 1934) as chief executive. Conté ruled from his position at the head of the military junta until December 1993, when he was elected president as a civilian. He was nearly ousted in 1996 in a military revolt, but loyal forces finally helped him overcome the threat. After surviving this challenge, he was reelected in 1998 in "an election that was marred by violence and civil unrest, widespread irregularities, and the arrest and detention of major opposition candidates during vote counting" (U.S. Department of State 2003). Conté was elected to a third 5-year term in 2003 with more than 95 percent of the vote.

Guinea is officially a constitutional republic with a very strong president who is popularly elected. The 114 members of its unicameral National Assembly are elected for 5-year terms. Elections for president and for the National Assembly have not generally been regarded as free or fair. President Conté and his political party, the Party for Unity and Progress, have dominated the elections on the basis of appeals to the Sousou ethnic group.

The U.S. Department of State's 2003 country report on the human right situation in Guinea noted that the judiciary, which includes courts of first instance , two Courts of Appeal, and the Supreme Court, has not demonstrated the independence that Guinea's constitution guarantees it. Instead, "judicial authorities routinely deferred to executive authorities in politically sensitive cases … [and] influential members of the Government often were … above the law" (U.S. Department of State 2003).

In sum, the state of citizen rights in Guinea is nearly as poor as the economy. Freedom House rated it in 2003 as "Not Free."

See also: Presidential Systems.

bibliography

Amnesty International. "Guinea." Amnesty International Report 2004. New York: Amnesty International, 2004. <http://web.amnesty.org/report2004/gin-summary-eng>.

Freedom House. "Guinea." Freedom in the World 2003: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties. New York: Freedom House, 2004. <http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/freeworld/2003/countryratings/Guinea.htm>.

"Guinea." In CIA World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2005. <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/gv.html>.

Turner, Barry. "Guinea." SYBworld: The Essential Global Reference. <http://www.sybworld.com>.

United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Report 2004. New York: United Nations Development Programme, 2004. <http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2004/pdf/hdr04_HDI.pdf>.

U.S. Department of State. "Guinea." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices—2003. Washington DC: Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2003. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27731.htm>.

C. Neal Tate

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