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Guinea

Guinea

Guinea, officially Republic of Guinea is a country in West Africa, formerly known as French Guinea. Guinea's territory has a curved shape, with its base at the Atlantic Ocean, inland to the east, and turning south. The base borders Guinea-Bissau and Senegal to the north, and Mali to the north and north-east; the inland part borders Cote d'Ivoire to the south-east, Liberia to the south, and Sierra Leone to the west of the southern tip.

Background History

Guinea has had a history of authoritarian rule since gaining its independence from France in 1958. Lansana Conte came to power in 1984 when the military seized the government after the death of the first president, Sekou Toure. Guinea did not hold democratic elections until 1993 when General Conte (head of the military government) was elected president of the civilian government. He was reelected in 1998 and again in 2003, though all the polls were marred by irregularities. History repeated itself in December 2008 when following President Conte's death, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara led a military coup, seizing power and suspending the constitution. His unwillingness to yield to domestic and international pressure to step down led to heightened political tensions that culminated in September 2009 when presidential guards opened fire on an opposition rally killing more than 150 people, and in early December 2009 when Camara was wounded in an assassination attempt and evacuated to Morocco and subsequently to Burkina Faso. A transitional government led by General Sekouba Konate held democratic elections in 2010 and Alpha Conde was elected president in the country's first free and fair elections since independence.

Government

Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Guinea
  • conventional short form: Guinea
  • local long form: Republique de Guinee
  • local short form: Guinee
  • former name: French Guinea

Capital:

  • name: Conakry
  • population: 1,597,000
  • geographic coordinates: 9 33 N, 13 42 W
  • time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Independence:

  • 2 October 1958 (from France)

Government Type:

  • Republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Alpha Conde (since 21 December 2010)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed Said Fofana (since 24 December 2010)
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term)

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: the legislature was dissolved by junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara in December 2008 and in February 2010, the Transition Government appointed a 155 member National Transition Council (CNT) that has since acted in the legislature's place

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Constitutional Court; Court of First Instance; Court of Appeal; Supreme Court

People & Society

Population:

  • 10,884,958 (global rank: 76)
  • growth rate: 2.641% (global rank: 21)

Nationality:

  • noun: Guinean(s)
  • adjective: Guinean

Major Cities:

  • Conakry (capital): 1.597 million

Ethnic Groups:

  • Peuhl 40%, Malinke 30%, Soussou 20%, smaller ethnic groups 10%

Religions:

  • Muslim 85%, Christian 8%, indigenous beliefs 7%

Languages:

  • French (official)

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 63.82 years (global rank: 173)
  • male: 61.52 years
  • female: 66.18 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 59.04 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 32)
  • male: 62.18 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 55.81 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS:

  • adult prevalence rate: 1.3% (2009 est.) (global rank: 39)
  • people living with AIDS: 79,000 (2009 est.) (global rank: 45)

Literacy:

  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 29.5%
  • male: 42.6%
  • female: 18.1%

Economy

Overview: Guinea is a poor country that possesses major mineral, hydropower, and agricultural resources. The country has almost half of the world's bauxite reserves and significant iron ore, gold, and diamond reserves. However, Guinea has been unable to profit from this potential, as rampant corruption, dilapidated infrastructure, and political uncertainty have drained investor confidence. In the time since a 2008 coup following the death of long-term President Lansana Conte, international donors, including the G-8, the IMF, and the World Bank, have significantly curtailed their development programs. Throughout 2009, policies of the ruling military junta severely weakened the economy. The junta leaders spent and printed money at an accelerating rate, driving inflation and debt to perilously high levels. In early 2010, the junta collapsed and was replaced by a Transition Government, which ceded power in December 2010 to the country's first-ever democratically elected president, Alpha Conde. International assistance and investment are expected to return to Guinea, but the levels will depend upon the ability of the new government to combat corruption, reform its banking system, improve its business environment, and build infrastructure. IMF and World Bank programs will be especially critical as Guinea attempts to gain debt relief. International investors have expressed keen interest in Guinea's vast iron ore reserves, which could further propel the country's growth. The government put forward a new mining code in September 2011 that includes provisions to combat corruption, protect the environment, and review all existing mining contracts.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $11.53 billion (global rank: 149)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $1,100 (global rank: 210)
  • real growth rate: 4% (global rank: 102)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 16.8%, industry: 53.3%, services: 29.7%

Currency:

  • currency: Guinean Franc (GNF)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 6,600

Poverty:

  • population below poverty line: 47%
  • unemployment rate: NA

Agricultural Products:

  • rice, coffee, pineapples, palm kernels, cassava (tapioca), bananas, sweet potatoes; cattle, sheep, goats; timber

Industries:

  • bauxite, gold, diamonds, iron; alumina refining; light manufacturing, and agricultural processing

Exports Commodities:

  • bauxite, alumina, gold, diamonds, coffee, fish, agricultural products

Imports Commodities:

  • petroleum products, metals, machinery, transport equipment, textiles, grain and other foodstuffs

Geography

Location:

  • Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone

Area:

  • total: 245,857 sq km (global rank: 79)
  • land: 245,717 sq km
  • water: 140 sq km
  • comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon

Climate:

  • generally hot and humid; monsoonal-type rainy season (June to November) with southwesterly winds; dry season (December to May) with northeasterly harmattan winds

Land Use:

  • arable land: 4.47%
  • permanent crops: 2.64%
  • other: 92.89%

Natural Resources:

  • bauxite, iron ore, diamonds, gold, uranium, hydropower, fish, salt

Current Environmental Issues:

  • deforestation; inadequate supplies of potable water; desertification; soil contamination and erosion; overfishing, overpopulation in forest region; poor mining practices have led to environmental damage

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: conflicts among rebel groups, warlords, and youth gangs in neighboring states have spilled over into Guinea resulting in domestic instability; Sierra Leone considers Guinea's definition of the flood plain limits to define the left bank boundary of the Makona and Moa rivers excessive and protests Guinea's continued occupation of these lands, including the hamlet of Yenga, occupied since 1998
  • refugees (country of origin): 21,856 (Liberia); 5,259 (Sierra Leone); 3,900 (Cote d'Ivoire)
  • internally displaced peoples: 19,000 (cross-border incursions from Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone)
  • human traficking: Guinea is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation; the majority of victims are children, and internal trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking; within the country, girls are trafficked primarily for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation, while boys are trafficked for forced agricultural labor, and as forced beggars, street vendors, shoe shiners, and laborers in gold and diamond mines; some Guinean men are also trafficked for agricultural labor within Guinea; transnationally, girls are trafficked into Guinea for domestic servitude, forced labor, and likely also for sexual exploitation

For more info please contact:
African Studies
(310) 825-3686
africa@international.ucla.edu

African Studies Center