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 Côte d'Ivoire to the south-east, Liberia to the south, and Sierra Leone to the west of the southern tip. Its water sources include the Niger, Senegal, and Gambia rivers. Guinea is sometimes called Guinea-Conakry (Conakry being its capital) to differentiate it from the neighboring Guinea-Bissau (whose capital is Bissau).
The land composing present-day Guinea was part of a series of empires, beginning with the "Ghana" which came into being around 900AD. This was followed by the Sosso kingdom in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Mali took control of the region after the Battle of Kirina in 1235, but grew weaker over time from internal conflicts, which eventually led to its dissolution. One of the strongest successor states was the Songhai state, which became the Songhai Empire. It exceeded its predecessors in terms of territory and wealth, but it too fell prey to internal wrangling and Civil war and was eventually toppled at the Battle of Tondibi in 1591.
A chaotic period followed, until an Islamic state was founded in the eighteenth century, bringing some stability to the region. A simultaneous important development was the arrival of Fulani Muslims in the highland region of Fuuta Jalloo in the early eighteenth century.
Europeans first came to the area during the Portuguese Discoveries in the fifteenth century, which saw the beginning of the Slave trade.
Guinea was created as a colony by France in 1890 with Noël Balley as the first governor. The capital Conakry was founded on Tombo Island in the same year. In 1895 the country was incorporated into French West Africa.
On 28 September 1958, under the direction of Charles de Gaulle, Metropolitan France held a referendum on a new constitution and the creation of the Fifth Republic. The colonies, except Algeria, which was legally a direct part of France, were given the choice between immediate independence or retaining their colonial status. All colonies except Guinea opted for the latter. Thus, Guinea became the first French African colony to gain independence, at the cost of the immediate cessation of all French assistance.
After independence Guinea was governed by the dictator Ahmed Sékou Touré. Touré pursued broadly Socialist economic policies, suppressed opposition and free expression with little regard for human rights. Under his leadership, Guinea joined the Non-Aligned Movement and pursued close ties with the Eastern Bloc. After his death in 1984, Lansana Conté assumed power and immediately changed his predecessor's economic policies, but the government remained dictatorial. The first elections since independence were held in 1993, but the results and those of subsequent elections were disputed. Conté faces domestic criticism for the condition of the country's economy and for his heavy-handed approach to political opposition.
While on a visit to France with his family in 2005, Prime Minister François Fall resigned and sought asylum, citing corruption and increasing interference from the President, which he felt limited his effectiveness as the head of the government. Fall's successor, Cellou Dalein Diallo, was removed in April of 2006, and Conté failed to appoint a new one until the end of January 2007 after devastating nationwide strikes and mass demonstrations. During 2006, there were two nationwide strikes by government workers, during which 10 students were shot dead by the military; strikes were suspended when Conté agreed to more favorable wages to civil servants and a reduction of the cost of certain basic amenities (rice and oil).
At the beginning of 2007, citing the government's failure to honour the terms of previous agreements, trade unions called new strikes, protesting of rising costs of living, government corruption, and economic mismanagement. Lasting for more than 2 weeks, these strikes drew some of the largest demonstrations seen during Conté's tenure and resulted in some 60 deaths. Among the unions' demands was that the aging and ailing President name a consensus Prime Minister, to fill the post vacant since Diallo's removal, and relinquish to him certain presidential responsibilities. Conté reluctantly agreed to appoint a new Prime minister and lower fuel and rice prices, and the strikes were subsequently suspended.
On 13 February 2007, upon the nomination of Eugene Camara to the post of Prime Minister, viewed as a close ally of Conté, violent demonstrations immediately broke out throughout the country. Strikes resumed, citing the President's failure to nominate a "consensus" prime minister as per the January 27th agreement. A state of martial law was declared after violent clashes with demonstrators, bringing the death toll since January to well over 100, and there were widespread reports of pillaging and rapes committed by men in military uniform. Government buildings and property owned by government officials throughout the country were looted and destroyed by angry mobs. Many feared Guinea to be on the verge of civil war as protesters from all parts of Guinea called for Conté's unequivocal resignation.
After diplomatic intervention from ECOWAS, neighboring heads of state, the EU, the UN, etc., Conté agreed to choose a new Prime Minister from a list of five candidates furnished by the labor unions and civic leaders. On February 26, Lansana Kouyaté, former Guinean ambassador to the UN, was nominated to the post. Strikes were called off, and the nomination was hailed by the strikers.
Government and politicsRectify
Politics of Guinea takes place in a framework of a presidential republic, whereby the President of Guinea is both Head of state, head of government, and the commander in chief of the Guinean Military. The president is elected to a maximun of two 7 year term, although the current Guinee Lansana Conte who has been in power since 1984 continue to run for further terms. Executive power is exercised by the president and members of his cabinet. To be elected president of Guinea a candidate must be a Guinean born citizen by birth, be at least 35 years of age and must be able to speak and read the French language.
Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly. The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) has 114 members, elected for a four year term, 38 members in single-seat constituencies and 76 members by proportional representation. Guinea is a one party dominant state with the Party of Unity and Progress in power. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power.
Regions and prefecturesRectify
Guinea is divided into seven administrative regions and subdivided into thirty-three prefectures. The national capital, Conakry, ranks as a special zone.
- Boké Region
- Faranah Region
- Conakry (2,000,000)
- Labé (700,000)
- Kankan (439,017)
- Kindia (279,884 )
- Nzérékoré (247,855)
- Kissidougou (135,900)
- Guéckédou (116,541)
- Mamou (105,754)
At 94,919 square miles (245,857 km²), Guinea is roughly the size of the United Kingdom and slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Oregon. There are 200 miles (320 km) of coastline. The total land border is 2,112 miles (3,399 km). The countries bordering Guinea include Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone. The country is divided into four main regions: the Basse-Cote lowlands in the west along the coast, populated mainly by the Susu ethnic group; the cooler, mountainous Fouta Djalon that run roughly north-south through the middle of the country, populated by Peuls, the Sahelian Haute-Guinea to the northeast, populated by Malinkes, and the forested jungle regions in the southeast, with several ethnic groups. Guinea's mountains are the source for the Niger, the Gambia, and Senegal Rivers, as well as the numerous rivers flowing to the sea on the west side of the range in Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.
The highest point in Guinea is Mont Nimba at 5,748 Foot (unit of length) (1,752 m). Although the Guinean and Ivorian sides of the Nimba Massif are a UNESCO Strict Nature Reserve, the portion of the so-called Guinean Backbone continues into Liberia, where it has been mined for decades; the damage is quite evident in the Nzérékoré at .