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Background: Independent from France since 1958, Guinea did not hold democratic elections until 1993 when Gen. Lansana CONTE (head of the military government) was elected president of the civilian government. He was reelected in 1998. Unrest in Sierra Leone has spilled over into Guinea, threatening stability and creating a humanitarian emergency.
Government type: republic
Capital: Conakry
Currency: 1 Guinean franc (FG) = 100 centimes

Geography of Guinea 

Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone
Geographic coordinates: 11 00 N, 10 00 W
total: 245,857 sq. km
land: 245,857 sq. km
water: 0 sq. km
Land boundaries:
total: 3,399 km
border countries: Cote d’Ivoire 610 km, Guinea-Bissau 386 km, Liberia 563 km, Mali 858 km, Senegal 330 km, Sierra Leone 652 km
Coastline: 320 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: generally hot and humid; monsoonal-type rainy season (June to November) with southwesterly winds; dry season (December to May) with northeasterly harmattan winds
Terrain: generally flat coastal plain, hilly to mountainous interior
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Nimba 1,752 m
Natural resources: bauxite, iron ore, diamonds, gold, uranium, hydropower, fish
Land use:
arable land: 2%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 22%
forests and woodland: 59%
other: 17% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 930 sq. km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: hot, dry, dusty harmattan haze may reduce visibility during dry season
Environment – current issues: deforestation; inadequate supplies of potable water; desertification; soil contamination and erosion; overfishing, overpopulation in forest region.
Environment – international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the Niger and its important tributary the Milo have their sources in the Guinean highlands

People of Guinea 

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.

Population: 9,467,866 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  43.12% 
15-64 years:  54.19% 
65 years and over:  2.69%
Population growth rate: 1.96% 
Birth rate: 39.78 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 17.53 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -2.63 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
note: as a result of civil war in neighboring countries, Guinea is host to almost half a million Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees.
Infant mortality rate: 129.03 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  45.91 years
male:  43.49 years
female:  48.42 years
Total fertility rate: 5.39 children born/woman 
noun: Guinean(s)
adjective: Guinean
Ethnic groups: Peuhl 40%, Malinke 30%, Soussou 20%, smaller ethnic groups 10%
Religions: Muslim 85%, Christian 8%, indigenous beliefs 7%
Languages: French (official), each ethnic group has its own language
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 35.9%
male: 49.9%
female: 21.9% (1995 est.)

History of Guinea 

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, when a military junta headed by then-Lt. Col. Lansana Conte seized power.

Guinea  Economy

Economy – overview: Guinea possesses major mineral, hydropower, and agricultural resources, yet remains a poor underdeveloped nation. The country possesses over 30% of the world’s bauxite reserves and is the second largest bauxite producer. The mining sector accounted for about 75% of exports in 1999. Long-run improvements in government fiscal arrangements, literacy, and the legal framework are needed if the country is to move out of poverty. The government made encouraging progress in budget management in 1997-99, and reform progress was praised in the World Bank/IMF October 2000 assessment. However, escalating fighting along the Sierra Leonean and Liberian borders will cause major economic disruptions. In addition to direct defense costs, the violence has led to a sharp decline in investor confidence. Foreign mining companies have reduced expatriate staff, while panic buying has created food shortages and inflation in local markets. Real GDP growth is expected to fall to 2% in 2001.

GDP: purchasing power parity – $10 billion (2000 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 5% (2000 est.)
GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $1,300 (2000 est.)
GDP – composition by sector:
agriculture:  22.3%
industry:  35.3%
services:  42.4% (1998 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 32% (1994)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 3 million (1999)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture 80%, industry and services 20% (2000 est.)
revenues:  $NA
expenditures:  $417.7 million (2000 est.)
Industries: bauxite, gold, diamonds; alumina refining; light manufacturing and agricultural processing industries
Industrial production growth rate: 3.2% (1994)
Electricity – production: 750 million kWh (1999)
Electricity – production by source:
fossil fuel: 
hydro:  53.33%
nuclear:  0%
other:  0% (1999)
Agriculture – products: rice, coffee, pineapples, palm kernels, cassava (tapioca), bananas, sweet potatoes; cattle, sheep, goats; timber
Exports: $820 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports – commodities: bauxite, alumina, gold, diamonds, coffee, fish, agricultural products
Exports – partners: US, Benelux, Ukraine, Ireland (1999)
Imports: $634 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports – commodities: petroleum products, metals, machinery, transport equipment, textiles, grain and other foodstuffs
Imports – partners: France, Belgium, US, Cote d’Ivoire (1999)
Debt – external: $3.6 billion (1999 est.)
Economic aid – recipient: $359.2 million (1998)
Currency: Guinean franc (GNF)

Map of Guinea