Guinea

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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

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

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

CapitalConakry
9°31′N 13°42′W / 9.517°N 13.700°W / 9.517; -13.700
Official languagesFrench
Vernacular
languages
Ethnic groups
([1])
Religion
(2014)[2]
Demonym(s)Guinean
GovernmentUnitary republic under a military junta
Mamady Doumbouya
Bernard Gomou
LegislatureNational Council of the Transition[3]
Independence 
(was the colony of French Guinea since 1891)
• from France
2 October 1958
• Republic
2 October 1958
• 4th constitution
2 October 1958
• Second Republic Day
3 April 1984
5 September 2021
Area
• Total
245,857 km2 (94,926 sq mi) (77th)
• Water (%)
negligible
Population
• 2022 estimate
13,237,832[4] (75th)
• Density
40.9/km2 (105.9/sq mi) (164th)
GDP (PPP)2020 estimate
• Total
$26.451 billion[5]
• Per capita
$2,390[5]
GDP (nominal)2020 estimate
• Total
$9.183 billion[5]
• Per capita
$818[5]
Gini (2012)33.7[6]
medium
HDI (2021)Decrease 0.465[7]
low · 182nd
CurrencyGuinean franc (GNF)
Time zoneUTC (GMT)
Driving sideright
Calling code+224
ISO 3166 codeGN
Internet TLD.gn

Guinea (/ˈɡɪni/ (listen) GHIN-ee),[a] officially the Republic of Guinea (French: République de Guinée), is a coastal country in West Africa. It borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Guinea-Bissau to the northwest, Senegal to the north, Mali to the northeast, Cote d'Ivoire to the southeast, and Sierra Leone and Liberia to the south. It is sometimes referred to as Guinea-Conakry after its capital Conakry, to distinguish it from other territories in the eponymous region such as Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea.[8][9][10][11] It has a population of 13.5 million and an area of 245,857 square kilometres (94,926 sq mi).[12]

Formerly French Guinea, it achieved independence in 1958.[13] It has a history of military coups d'état.[14][15][16] After decades of authoritarian rule, in 2010 it held its first democratic election.[16][17][18] As it continued to hold multi-party elections, the country continued to face ethnic conflicts, corruption, and abuses by military and police.[18][19] In 2011, the United States government claimed that torture by security forces and abuse of women and children (including female genital mutilation) were ongoing human rights issues.[20] In 2021, a military faction overthrew president Alpha Condé and suspended the constitution.[14][15][16]

Muslims represent 85% of the population.[8][21][22] The country is divided into four geographic regions: Maritime Guinea on the Atlantic coast, the Fouta Djallon or Middle Guinea highlands, the Upper Guinea savanna region in the northeast, and the Guinée forestière region of tropical forests. French, the official language of Guinea, is a language of communication in schools, in government administration, and the media. More than 24 indigenous languages are spoken and the largest are Susu, Pular, and Maninka, which dominate respectively in Maritime Guinea, Fouta Djallon, and Upper Guinea, while Guinée forestière is ethnolinguistically diverse. Guinea's economy is mostly dependent on agriculture and mineral production.[23] It is the world's second largest producer of bauxite, and has deposits of diamonds and gold.[24] The country was at the core of the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Name

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

History

The land that is now Guinea belonged to a series of African empires until France colonized it in the 1890s, and made it part of French West Africa. Guinea declared its independence from France on 2 October 1958. From independence until the presidential election of 2010, Guinea was governed by a number of autocratic rulers.[25][26][27]

West African empires and kingdoms

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

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

The Songhai Empire expanded its power from about 1460 and eventually surpassed the Mali Empire in both territory and wealth. It continued to prosper until a civil war, over succession, followed the death of Askia Daoud in 1582. The empire fell to invaders from Morocco at the Battle of Tondibi 3 years later. The Moroccans proved unable to rule the kingdom effectively and it split into smaller kingdoms.

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

Colony

European traders competed for the cape trade from the 17th century onward and made inroads earlier.[28][29] Slaves were exported to work elsewhere. The traders used the regional slave practices.

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

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

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

In 1958, the French Fourth Republic collapsed due to political instability and its failures in dealing with its colonies, especially Indochina and Algeria. The French Fifth Republic gave the colonies the choice of autonomy in a new French Community or immediate independence, in the referendum of 28 September 1958. Unlike most other colonies, Guinea voted overwhelmingly for independence. It was led by Ahmed Sékou Touré whose Democratic Party of Guinea-African Democratic Rally (PDG) had won 56 of 60 seats in 1957 territorial elections. The French withdrew, and on 2 October 1958, Guinea proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent republic, with Sékou Touré as president.

The Washington Post observed the "brutal" French tearing down all that they considered their contributions to Guinea: "In reaction, and as a warning to other French-speaking territories, the French pulled out of Guinea over a two-month period, taking everything they could with them. They unscrewed lightbulbs, removed plans for sewage pipelines in Conakry, the capital, and even burned medicines rather than leave them for the Guineans."[30]

Post-colonial (1958–)

Subsequently, Guinea aligned itself with the Soviet Union and adopted socialist policies. It then moved towards a Chinese model of socialism. It continued to receive investment from capitalist countries, such as the United States. By 1960, Touré had declared PDG the country's only legal political party, and for the next 24 years, the government and PDG were one. Touré was re-elected unopposed to 4 7-year terms as president, and every 5 years voters were presented with a single list of PDG candidates for the National Assembly. Advocating a hybrid African Socialism domestically and Pan-Africanism abroad, Touré became a polarising leader, with his government becoming intolerant of dissent, imprisoning thousands, and stifling the press.

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

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

On 22 November 1970, Portuguese forces from neighbouring Portuguese Guinea staged Operation Green Sea, a raid on Conakry by several hundred exiled Guinean opposition forces. Among their goals, the Portuguese military wanted to kill or capture Sekou Touré due to his support of PAIGC, an independence movement and rebel group that had carried out attacks inside Portuguese Guinea from their bases in Guinea.[31] After some fighting, the Portuguese-backed forces retreated, having freed several dozen Portuguese prisoners of war that were being held by PAIGC in Conakry, and without having ousted Touré. In the years after the raid, purges were carried out by the Touré government, and at least 50 thousand people were killed. Others were imprisoned and faced torture. Some foreigners were forced to leave the country, after having had their Guinean spouse arrested and their children placed into state custody.

Guinea was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council 1972–73.

In 1977, a declining economy, mass killings, a stifling political atmosphere, and a ban on all private economic transactions led to the Market Women's Revolt, a series of anti-government riots started by women working in Conakry's Madina Market. This prompted Touré to make major reforms. Touré vacillated from supporting the Soviet Union to supporting the United States. The late 1970s and early 1980s saw some economic reforms, while Touré's centralized control of the state remained. In the relationship with France, after the election of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing as French president, trade increased and the 2 countries exchanged diplomatic visits.

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

Conté denounced the previous regime's record on human rights, releasing 250 political prisoners and encouraging approximately 200 thousand more to return from exile. He made explicit the turn away from socialism.

In 1992, Conté announced a return to civilian rule, with a presidential poll in 1993, followed by elections to parliament in 1995 (in which his party—the Party of Unity and Progress—won 71 of 114 seats.) In September 2001, the opposition leader Alpha Condé was imprisoned for endangering state security and pardoned 8 months later. Subsequently, he spent time in exile in France.

In 2001, Conté organized and won a referendum to lengthen the presidential term, and in 2003, began his third term after elections were boycotted by the opposition. In January 2005, Conté survived a suspected assassination attempt while making a public appearance in the capital of Conakry. His opponents claimed that he was a "tired dictator",[32] whose departure was inevitable, whereas his supporters believed that he was winning a battle with dissidents. According to Foreign Policy, Guinea was in danger of becoming a failed state.[33]

In 2000, Guinea suffered from the instability which had blighted the rest of West Africa, as rebels crossed the borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone. It seemed that the country was headed for civil war.[34] Conté blamed neighbouring leaders for coveting Guinea's natural resources, and these claims were denied.[35] In 2003, Guinea agreed to plans with her neighbours to tackle the insurgents. The 2007 Guinean general strike resulted in the appointment of a new prime minister.[36]

Conté remained in power until his death on 23 December 2008.[37] Several hours after his death, Moussa Dadis Camara seized control in a coup, declaring himself head of a military junta.[38] Protests against the coup became violent, and 157 people were killed when, on 28 September 2009, the junta ordered its soldiers to attack people gathered to protest Camara's attempt to become president.[39] The soldiers went on a rampage of rape, mutilation, and murder, which caused some foreign governments to withdraw their support for the new regime.[40]

On 3 December 2009, an aide shot Camara during a dispute over the rampage in September. Camara went to Morocco for medical care.[40][41] Vice-president (and defense minister) Sékouba Konaté flew from Lebanon to run the country.[42] After meeting in Ouagadougou on 13 and 14 January 2010, Camara, Konaté and Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso, produced a formal statement of 12 principles promising a return of Guinea to civilian rule within 6 months.[43] The presidential election of 27 June[44][45] brought allegations of fraud, and a second election was held on 7 November.[46] Voter turnout was "high", and the elections went "relatively smoothly".[47] Alpha Condé, leader of the opposition party Rally of the Guinean People (RGP), won the election, promising to reform the security sector and review mining contracts.[48]

In February 2013,

On 25 March 2014, the World Health Organization stated that Guinea's Ministry of Health had reported an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Guinea. This initial outbreak had 86 cases, including 59 deaths. By 28 May, there were 281 cases, with 186 deaths.[54] It is believed that the first case was Emile Ouamouno, a 2-year-old boy in the village of Meliandou. He fell ill on 2 December 2013 and died on 6 December.[55][56] On 18 September 2014, 8 members of an Ebola education health care team were murdered by villagers in the town of Womey.[57] As of 1 November 2015, there had been 3,810 cases and 2,536 deaths in Guinea.[58]

The 2019–2020 Guinean protests were a series of violent protests and mass civil unrest against the rule of Alpha Conde that broke out on October 14, 2019, against constitutional changes. More than 800 were killed in clashes.[59] After the 2020 Guinean presidential election, Alpha Condé's election to a third term was challenged by the opposition, who accused him of fraud. Condé claimed a constitutional referendum from March 2020 allowed him to run despite the 2-term limit.[60]

On 5 September 2021, after hours of gunfire near the presidential palace, Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya seized control of state television and declared that President Alpha Conde's government had been dissolved and the nation's borders closed.[61] By the evening, the putschists declared control of all Conakry and the country's armed forces. According to Guinée Matin, by 6 September the military fully controlled the state administration and started to replace the civil administration with its military counterpart.[62][63] The United Nations, European Union, African Union, ECOWAS (which suspended Guinea's membership) and La Francophonie denounced the coup, and called for President Condé's unconditional release. Similar responses came from some neighboring and Western countries (including the United States),[64][65][66] and from China (which relies on Guinea for half of its aluminum ore, facilitated by its connections to President Condé).[66] Despite these, On 1 October 2021, Mamady Doumbouya was sworn in as interim President.[67]

Geography

Guinea shares a border with Guinea-Bissau to the northwest, Senegal to the north, Mali to the northeast, Ivory Coast to the east, Sierra Leone to the southwest and Liberia to the south. The nation forms a crescent as it curves from its southeast region to the north and west, to its northwest border with Guinea-Bissau and southwestern coast on the Atlantic Ocean. The sources of the Niger River, the Gambia River, and the Senegal River are all found in the Guinea Highlands.[68][69][70] At 245,857 km2 (94,926 sq mi), Guinea is roughly the size of the United Kingdom. There are 320 km (200 mi) of coastline and a total land border of 3,400 km (2,100 mi). It lies mostly between latitudes and 13°N, and longitudes and 15°W, with a smaller area that is west of 15°.

Guinea is divided into 4 regions: Maritime Guinea, also known as Lower Guinea or the Basse-Coté lowlands, populated mainly by the Susu ethnic group; the cooler, more mountainous Fouta Djallon that run roughly north–south through the middle of the country, populated by Fulas; the Sahelian Haute-Guinea to the northeast, populated by Malinké; and the forested jungle regions in the southeast, with several ethnic groups. Guinea's mountains are the source for the Niger, the Gambia, and Senegal Rivers, and rivers flowing to the sea on the west side of the range in Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. The highest point in Guinea is Mount Nimba at 1,752 m (5,748 ft). While the Guinean and Ivorian sides of the Nimba Massif are a UNESCO Strict Nature Reserve, the portion of the so-called Guinean Backbone continues into Liberia, where it has been mined for decades; the damage is evident in the Nzérékoré Region at 7°32′17″N 8°29′50″W / 7.53806°N 8.49722°W / 7.53806; -8.49722.

Guinea is home to 5 ecoregions: Guinean montane forests, Western Guinean lowland forests, Guinean forest-savanna mosaic, West Sudanian savanna, and Guinean mangroves.[71] It had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 4.9/10, ranking it 114th globally out of 172 countries.[72]

Wildlife

The southern part of Guinea lies within the Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity hotspot, while the north-east is characterized by dry savanna woodlands. Declining populations of some animals are restricted to uninhabited distant parts of parks and reserves.

Species found in Guinea include the following:

Regions and prefectures

The Republic of Guinea covers 245,857 square kilometres (94,926 sq mi) of West Africa, about 10 degrees north of the equator. It is divided into 4 natural regions with distinct human, geographic, and climatic characteristics:

Guinea is divided into 8 administrative regions which are subdivided into 33 prefectures. The capital Conakry with a population of 1,675,069 ranks as a special zone.

Region Capital Population
(2014 census by National Institute of Statistics)
Conakry Region Conakry 1,675,069
Nzérékoré Region Nzérékoré 1,591,716
Kindia Region Kindia 1,573,690
Boké Region Boké 1,092,291
Labé Region Labé 1,001,392
Mamou Region Mamou 737,062
Kankan Region Kankan 1,979,038
Faranah Region Faranah 949,589

Politics

Guinea is a republic. The president is directly elected by the people and is the head of state and the head of government. The unicameral National Assembly is the legislative body of the country, and its members are directly elected by the people. The judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court of Guinea, the highest and final court of appeal in the country.[73]

The National Assembly of Guinea, the country's legislative body, did not meet from 2008 to 2013, when it was dissolved after the military coup in December. Elections have been postponed multiple times since 2007. In April 2012, President Condé postponed the elections indefinitely, citing the need to ensure that they were "transparent and democratic".[74] The 2013 Guinean legislative election was held on 24 September.[75] President Alpha Condé's party, the Rally of the Guinean People (RPG), won a plurality of seats in the National Assembly of Guinea, with 53 out of 114 seats. The opposition parties won a total of 53 seats, and opposition leaders denounced the official results as fraudulent.

The president of Guinea is normally elected by popular vote for a 5-year term; the winning candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast to be elected president. The president governs Guinea, assisted by a council of 25 civilian ministers, appointed by him. The government administers the country through 8 regions, 33 prefectures, over 100 subprefectures, and districts (known as communes in Conakry and other cities and villages, or quartiers in the interior). District-level leaders are elected; the president appoints officials to all other levels of the centralized administration. Former President Alpha Condé derived support from Guinea's second-largest ethnic group, the Malinke.[76] Guinea's opposition was backed by the Fula ethnic group,[77] who account for around 33.4% of the population.[78]

Foreign relations

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

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

According to a February 2009 U.S. Department of State statement, Guinea's foreign relations, including those with its West African neighbours, had improved steadily since 1985.[79] The Department's October 2018 statement indicated that—although "the U.S. condemned" Guinea's "2008 military coup d'etat,"—the U.S. had "close relations" with Guinea before the coup, and after "Guinea's presidential elections in 2010, the United States re-established strong diplomatic relations with the government." The statement indicated support for the "legislative elections in 2013 and a second presidential election in 2015," as signs of "democratic reform."[80] A March 2021 report by the U.S. State Department blasted extensive human rights violations by the government, security forces and businesses in Guinea. The report cited extensive international criticism of the recent national elections, which yielded "President Alpha Conde's re-election (despite disputed results)... following a controversial March referendum amending the constitution and allowing him to run for a third term."[81] The Department condemned the 2021 coup, warning that "violence and any extra-constitutional measures will only erode Guinea's prospects for peace, stability, and prosperity, [and] could limit the ability of the United States and Guinea's other international partners to support the country...," While not explicitly calling for President Condé's return to power, the U.S. called for "national dialogue to address concerns sustainably and transparently to enable a peaceful and democratic way forward for Guinea..."[82][83]

The United Nations promptly denounced the 2021 coup, and some of Guinea's allies condemned the coup. The African Union and West Africa's regional bloc (ECOWAS), both threatened sanctions—while some analysts expect the threats to be of limited effect because Guinea is not a member of the West African currency union, and is not a landlocked country.[83] ECOWAS promptly suspended Guinea's membership, and demanded the unconditional release of President Condé, while sending envoys to Conakry to attempt a "constitutional" resolution of the situation.[64][65] Uncharacteristically responding to another nation's internal affairs, China (which relies on Guinea for half of its aluminium ore, facilitated by connections to ousted President Condé) openly opposed the coup.[66]

Military

Guinea's armed forces are divided into 5 branches—army, navy, air force, the paramilitary National Gendarmerie and the Republican Guard—whose chiefs report to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who is subordinate to the Minister of Defence. In addition, regime security forces include the National Police Force (Sûreté Nationale). The Gendarmerie, responsible for internal security, has a strength of several thousand.

The army, with about 15,000 personnel, is by far the largest branch of the armed forces and is mainly responsible for protecting the state borders, the security of administered territories, and defending Guinea's national interests. Air force personnel total about 700. Its equipment includes several Russian-supplied fighter planes and transports. The navy has about 900 personnel and operates several small patrol craft and barges.

Human rights

Homosexuality is illegal in Guinea.[84] The prime minister declared in 2010 that he does not consider sexual orientation a legitimate human right.[20]

Guinea has one of the world's highest rates of female genital mutilation (FGM, sometimes referred to as 'female circumcision') according to Anastasia Gage, an associate professor at Tulane University, and Ronan van Rossem, an associate professor at Ghent University.[85] Female genital mutilation in Guinea had been performed on more than 98% of women as of 2009.[86] In Guinea "almost all cultures, religions, and ethnicities" practice female genital mutilation.[86] The 2005 Demographic and Health Survey reported that 96% of women have gone through the operation.[20]

Economy

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

Agriculture

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

Natural resources

Guinea has 25% or more of the world's known bauxite reserves. It has diamonds, gold, and other metals. Bauxite and alumina are the most major exports. Other industries include processing plants for beer, juices, soft drinks and tobacco. Agriculture employs 75% of the nation's labour force. Under French rule, and at the beginning of independence, Guinea was an exporter of bananas, pineapples, coffee, peanuts, and palm oil. Soil, water, and climatic conditions provide opportunities for irrigated farming and agro industry.

Mining

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

Joint venture bauxite mining and alumina operations in north-west Guinea historically provide about 80% of Guinea's

Children has engaged in manual labour in order to support their families.

The Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), a joint venture between the government of Guinea and RUSAL, produces some 2.5 million tonnes annually, nearly all of which is exported to Russia and Eastern Europe. Dian Dian, a Guinean/Ukrainian joint bauxite venture, has a projected production rate of 1,000,000 t (1,102,311 short tons; 984,207 long tons) per year, and is not expected to begin operation for several years. The Alumina Compagnie de Guinée