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Guinea Travel Guide - Travel S Helper

Guinea

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Guinea, formally the Republic of Guinea (French: République de Guinée), is a West African country. Formerly known as French Guinea (French: Guinée française), the contemporary country is also known as Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from other sections of the same name region, such as Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea. Guinea has a population of 10.5 million people and a total land area of 245,860 square kilometers (94,927 sq mi).

Guinea is a democratic republic. The president is chosen directly by the people and serves as both head of state and head of government. The unicameral Guinean National Assembly is the country’s legislative body, and its members are directly elected by the people. The Guinea Supreme Court, the country’s highest and final court of appeal, leads the judicial branch.

Guinea is an Islamic country, with Muslims constituting 85 percent of the population. Guineans are divided into twenty-four ethnic groupings. The official language of Guinea is French, which is also spoken in schools, government administration, and the media, but more than twenty-four indigenous languages are also spoken.

Guinea’s economy is heavily reliant on agriculture and mineral extraction. It is the world’s second largest producer of bauxite and has extensive diamond and gold resources.

Human rights are still a contentious topic in Guinea. In 2011, the US administration alleged that torture by security personnel, as well as mistreatment of women and children (such as female genital mutilation), were continuous violations of human rights.

The country takes its name from the Guinea area. Guinea is a traditional name for the African country located near the Gulf of Guinea. It runs north through wooded tropical areas until it reaches the Sahel. The English term Guinea is derived directly from the Portuguese word Guiné, which first appeared in the mid-15th century to refer to the lands inhabited by the Guineus, a generic term for the black African peoples living below the Senegal River, as opposed to the ‘tawny’ Zenaga Berbers who lived above it and were known as Azenegues or Moors.

The nation was at the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic in 2014.

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Guinea - Info Card

Population

13,531,906

Currency

Guinean franc (GNF)

Time zone

UTC (GMT)

Area

245,857 km2 (94,926 sq mi)

Calling code

+224

Official language

French

Guinea - Introduction

Demographics

Guinea’s population is estimated to be 10.5 million people. Conakry, Guinea’s capital and biggest city, serves as the country’s economic, commercial, educational, and cultural center. Guinea’s total fertility rate (TFR) was projected to be 4.93 children per woman in 2014.

Ethnic groups

Guinea’s population is made up of about 24 ethnic groups. The Mandinka, also known as Mandingo or Malinké, make up 35 percent of Guinea’s population and are mostly located in the Kankan and Kissidougou prefectures in eastern Guinea. The Fulas, also known as Fulani (French: Peuls; Fula: Fule), make about 40% of the population and live mostly in the Futa Djallon area.

The Soussou, who make up 10% of the population, live mostly in western regions such as Conakry, Forécariah, and Kindia. The remaining 17% of the population is made up of smaller ethnic groups such as the Kpelle, Kissi, Zialo, Toma, and others. Guinea is home to around 10,000 non-Africans, mostly Lebanese, French, and other Europeans.

Religion

Guinea’s Conakry Grand Mosque is one of the continent’s biggest mosques.

Guinea’s population is made up of about 85 percent Muslims, 8% Christians, and 7% indigenous religious believers. Many people, both Muslim and Christian, have indigenous African ideas that they integrate into their worldview.

Guinean Muslims are mostly Sunni, following the Maliki school of jurisprudence and influenced by Sufism, with numerous Ahmadiyya; there are few Shi’a in the country.

Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, and Evangelicals are among the Christian denominations. The government recognizes Jehovah’s Witnesses as active in the nation. A tiny Baha’i community exists. Hindus, Buddhists, and traditional Chinese religious organizations make up a tiny percentage of the expatriate population.

In July 2013, there were three days of ethno-religious violence in the city of Nzerekore.

At least 54 people were killed in fighting between ethnic Kpelle, who are Christian or animist, and ethnic Konianke, who are Muslims and related to the broader Malinke ethnic group. People were murdered with machetes and burnt alive among the dead. After the Guinean military enforced a curfew and President Conde issued a televised plea for peace, the violence subsided.

Climate

Guinea’s coastline area and most of the interior have a tropical climate, with a rainy season that lasts from April to November, generally warm and consistent temperatures, and high humidity. Conakry has an average year-round temperature of 29°C (84.2°F) and a low of 23°C (73.4°F), with an average annual rainfall of 4,300mm (169.3 in). The rainy season is shorter in the Sahelian Haute Guinee area, and daily temperature fluctuations are higher.

Geography

Guinea is bordered on the north by Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Mali, and on the south by Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Ivory Coast. As it bends from its western boundary on the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, the country resembles a crescent. The Guinea Highlands are the source of the Niger River, Gambia River, and Senegal River.

Guinea is approximately the size of the United Kingdom, measuring 245,857 km2 (94,926 sq mi). There are 320 kilometers (200 miles) of shoreline and 3,400 kilometers of land border (2,100 mi). Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone are its neighbors. It is mainly located between 7° and 13° north latitude and 7° and 15° west longitude (with a minor region west of 15°).

Guinea is divided into four main regions: Maritime Guinea, also known as Lower Guinea or the Basse-Coté lowlands, populated primarily by the Susu ethnic group; the cooler, 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, populated primarily by the Malink The Niger, Gambia, and Senegal rivers all originate in Guinea’s highlands, as do the many rivers that run to the sea on the west side of the range in Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.

Mount Nimba, at 1,752 meters, is Guinea’s highest peak (5,748 ft). Although the Nimba Massif is a UNESCO Strict Nature Reserve on both the Guinean and Ivorian sides, a section of the so-called Guinean Backbone extends into Liberia, where it has been mined for decades; the damage is visible in the Nzérékoré Region at 7°32′17′′N 8°29′50′′W.

Wildlife

Guinea’s fauna is very varied owing to the broad range of environments. The Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot covers the southern half of the nation, while dry savanna woods dominate the north-east. Unfortunately, big animal populations are dwindling and are confined to remote areas of parks and reserves.

Economy

Fishing ladies from the Malinke tribe on the Niger River in Niandankoro, Kankan Region, eastern Guinea.

Guinea boasts a wealth of natural resources, including a quarter of the world’s known bauxite deposits. Guinea’s mineral wealth includes diamonds, gold, and other precious metals. Hydroelectric power has a lot of promise in this nation. The only significant exports are bauxite and alumina at the moment. Beer, juice, soft drink, and tobacco manufacturing facilities are among the other industries.

Agriculture employs 80% of the workforce in the United States. Guinea was a significant exporter of bananas, pineapples, coffee, peanuts, and palm oil under French administration and at the time of independence. Guinea’s agriculture and fisheries industries have a lot of room for expansion. Large-scale irrigated farming and agro industry are possible due to soil, water, and climatic conditions.

Entry Requirements For Guinea

Visa & Passport

Visas may only be obtained via Guinean embassies; they are not accessible at the borders or at the airport. To enter, you’ll also need a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

In Europe, a single-entry tourist visa for one month costs EUR110, three months costs EUR150, and six months costs EUR220. A one-month single-entry visa costs approximately USD100 in the United States, whereas a three-month multiple-entry visa costs twice as much and is the only kind accessible to US citizens.

How To Travel To Guinea

Get In - By plane

Royal Air Maroc (RAM) flies to Conakry (CKY) through Casablanca from a number of European cities. RAM offers the sole direct route from Montréal to Africa (Casablanca, with a layover in New York) as well as a number of connections from Casablanca to Conakry (also known as Kry) and other destinations.

Air France and SN Brussels fly from Paris, France, and Brussels, Belgium, respectively. Air Ivoire and Belvue both fly to Conakry from Abidjan on their way to Dakar. Airport security is likely to ask for a “present.”

Get In - By train

Although freight trains still operate between Conakry and Kankan, passenger trains are no longer in service in Guinea. The ancient station in Conakry’s downtown area is well worth a visit.

Get In - By car

Travel between Guinea and Liberia was secure in 2008, but it took a long time. One of the greatest alternatives is to rent a motorbike.

It is feasible to cross the Guinean-Senegalese border, although it is difficult and time-consuming. The route between Labe and Koundara in Guinea is unpaved and extremely rugged. With just minor problems, the whole trip takes approximately 8 hours. In Koundara, there are a few good and inexpensive places to stay. A comparable trip exists between Koundara and Diaoube (Senegal). The border crossing is pretty painless. Between border checkpoints, there’s a 20-kilometer no-man’s-land where you only know you’ve entered Senegal when the gravel road becomes better. At any hour of the night, you may change your money at the border towns on both sides of the no man’s land. Diaoube to Tambacounda and then on to Dakar is pretty simple to get there.

Koundara is also the best place to start a journey to Guinea-Bissau.

The ‘Laissez-Passer Pour Vehicule’, available at the Guinea Embassy (USD40), and the ‘Vehicle Clearance Permit,’ available at the Sierra Leone Embassy, make it feasible to traverse Guinea (Kopoto) and Sierra Leone (Kambia) by vehicle or motorbike (USD40). For Sierra Leone, an extra ‘Ecowas International Circulation Permit’ will be needed, which may be purchased for SLL 100,000 at the border.

For evidence of car insurance, an Ecowas ‘Brown Card’ may be required.

How To Travel Around Guinea

Buses do not exist. Conakry’s traffic is notoriously bad. In all of West Africa, Conakry’s local transport vans seem to be the most crowded. Even if you hire a taxi for a half or full day, taxis are extremely cheap. You may expect to need to stop for petrol nearly as soon as you get in the vehicle. Unfortunately, the city’s government and commercial districts are situated at the point of a long and narrow peninsula that is only linked to the rest of Conakry, which sprawls over the mainland, by two highways. During rush hour, this is very aggravating. At times, the lines at Conakry’s petrol stations may be very lengthy and chaotic. Because most of the infrastructure around the airport is being renovated, journeys to downtown or the miniere may require unique diversions.

Bush Taxis (abbreviated as “504” after the popular Peugeot 504 model) are utilized to go from one city to the next. Keep in mind that there is a nighttime curfew, and attempting to drive into Conakry will result in you having to wait outside the city until the morning. Conakry’s local transportation may typically depart after dark. Local transportation has no fixed departure schedules. You may be assured that a cab would leave “toute suite” (immediately) in the morning, but it may not leave Conakry until well after nightfall. In Guinea, intercity travel requires patience and a flexible schedule. Flying from city to city is also an option, but arrive early and have funds on hand to pay for your tickets.

A motorbike, which is often used as a taxi, is a considerably quicker and more pleasant mode of transportation.

Destinations in Guinea

Cities in Guinea

  • Conakry — capital
  • Beyla
  • Dalaba — Because of its moderate weather and beautiful landscape, this tiny town has been nicknamed the “Switzerland of Guinea.”
  • Faranah
  • Forécariah
  • Kankan — the second city
  • Kindia
  • Labé
  • Mamou

Other destinations in Guinea

  • Fouta Djalon — Fouta Djalon is a beautiful woodland and farmed valley area suitable for trekking through Fulani communities or looking for waterfalls.
  • Loos Islands — The Loos Islands, near Conakry, are a favorite weekend getaway for expats. They are wooded islands with sandy beaches.
  • National Park of the Niokolo-Badiar (Parc National du Niokolo-Badiar) — During the dry season, the savanna near the Senegalese border is home to antelope, monkeys, lions, and leopards.
  • The Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is split between Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.
  • National Park of the Upper Niger (Haut Niger National Park) — Hippos, elephants, buffaloes, chimps, and waterbuck live at the Niger River’s headwaters.

Things To See in Guinea

The rainforests in the south are lush, verdant, and full of wildlife, much of it destined for the cooking pot. Guinea has some spectacular landscapes with a few tropical, dry forests remaining, and the rainforests in the south are lush, verdant, and full of wildlife, much of it destined for the cooking pot.

The National Museum in Conakry showcases Guinea’s different ethnic groups as well as traditional instruments, masks, and other artifacts.

Conakry’s major port lies near the President’s Palace, at the point of the peninsula. You may take a day or overnight boat excursion to the Loos islands from there. It’s a busy spot where fisherman unload their catch for the day.

Cape Verga offers some of Guinea’s finest beaches for exploring.

Mount Nimba is Guinea’s highest mountain peak and a popular hiking destination.

Things To Do in Guinea

The beach bar in Taouyah, a neighborhood with a big market and mainly residential with some night clubs and restaurants, is one of the finest locations to get a drink and chill out in Conakry. Many foreigners reside here, including the Peace Corps headquarters, and gather on the beach after sunset for delicious pizza, fish, or chicken meals. There is a pleasant wind, live music, and a large number of people who, particularly on weekends, play soccer till sunset.

Guinea’s music is one of the country’s most popular cultural activities. Guinea has some of the finest Kora players in the world. Live music may be found at a variety of pubs.

The French-Guinean Cultural Centre features fantastic musical performances, as well as films, dramas, and ballets (traditional West-African dance), as well as exhibits and conferences. It also includes a multi-media center and a library. Members get access to books as well as computers and the internet. This is a wonderful location to meet local musicians and artists as well as expats. The majority of the folks there will know where to go to a play that week.

There are numerous interesting tourist sites outside of Conakry for the adventurous visitor. Outside of the capital, infrastructure like as hotels and roads is inadequate, although you may find modest lodging with minimal electricity provided by generators.

Excellent hiking, panoramic views, waterfalls, and cliffs may all be found in the Foutah Djallon region. Fouta Trekking is a local non-profit organization dedicated to promoting fair tourism. They provide three to five-day hiking trips as well as custom tours. Tourists stay in communities, with a portion of the income supporting community development. Labe, the pre-colonial capital and seat of the Foutah Empire, is a busy city with a fascinating history. Beautiful traditional fabric is available in a variety of navy blue colors. Dalaba is a city on the route from Conakry to Kindia, where the nation’s main leaders gathered to decide the destiny of the soon-to-be independent country from the French in 1958. You may see an ancient house and a ceremonial hut with amazing sculptures inside. Kindia boasts some of the finest vegetable and fruit products in the country, which makes for a bustling market.

Beautiful unspoiled beaches, mangroves, and animal watching are all available along the coast from Conakry to Guinea-Bissau. Bel Air is a well-known seaside resort town approximately two hours’ drive from Conakry on a well-paved road. Past political leaders have convened in a big and generally empty hotel. It’s a popular vacation spot over the holidays. Sabolan Village, a tiny hotel on a lovely beach off the well-paved road that goes to the Bel Air hotel, is a much better location to stay if you want more eco-tourism. There are approximately 10 contemporary cottages and a restaurant on the property. It’s a little pricey for what you receive, but the location is breathtaking. If you have a tent or wish to stay somewhere more genuine and less expensive, you may stay in beautiful huts built by a local villager and now managed by his son along the beach or down the walk beyond the real village. Expats working in mining regions rent out the huts on weekends, although you may always pitch a tent. However, you must provide your own meals.

A journey to Tristao, an island archipelago near the Guinea-Bissau border, is recommended for the more daring. From Conakry, you may travel to Kamsar and then take a local boat to the Tristao islands. The boat rides once or twice a week and takes four hours. If there is a fishing boat returning to Tristao, you may get fortunate, although they are typically extremely heavily laden and may not be as safe as the passenger boat. The Tristao archipelago is home to manatees, turtles, and a variety of bird species. It’s a remote location with many animist customs still alive.

The primary bauxite mining export town is Kamsar, where significant bauxite cargoes depart from the Boke area. The mining executives and expats have access to several excellent hotels and restaurants. The major bauxite mining location is the Boke region. Boke, the region’s administrative capital, features a fascinating colonial museum, a few good hotels, and a Lebanese shop on the main road where everyone gathers to watch football (soccer) and drink cool Amstel lights (when the generator is on).

Food & Drinks in Guinea

There are many eating choices. You may eat excellent and healthy meals for just GNF20,000 (EUR2 or approximately USD3). Many more options are available if your taste buds prefer something more foreign. Guinean beef is excellent and comes highly recommended. Because of Islam’s supremacy, pork is not offered, although it is consumed by the inhabitants of the South East’s forests (Guinee Forestiere). There are several excellent Lebanese eateries that provide European-style breakfasts.

Outside of Conakry, you may often get local meals (consisting of Guinean style rice and one of the four major sauces, with sometimes meat or fish in certain instances) for less than USD1 at a small local eatery (GNF3,000-6,000 depending on the exchange rate). You will be stuffed when you leave!

If you want to dine at a more good restaurant in Kankan, Guinea (Haute Guinee), you have a few options. There are two hotels in the area: Hotel Villa and Hotel Bate. These were the top two locations to stay and eat as of mid-2008. A standard plate may range in price from GNF35,000 to GNF55,000. Keep in mind that food and beverage costs may frequently skyrocket on the spur of the moment and without warning!

Fruits are very cheap in this country, particularly when compared to the higher prices in neighboring nations (Mali, Ivory Coast and Senegal). For pineapple lovers, there are individuals selling this delicious fruit by the side of the road in and near Kindia on the national road (which actually runs from the north of the country to Conakry in the south). Mango fruits, oranges, and bananas are also plentiful and inexpensive across the nation, particularly in roadside stands.

Dining “IN” is another option to eating out. Guineans are usually warm and pleasant people, thus you may be asked to have a meal with them. The majority of Guineans eat from a single large plate. Enjoy yourselves and refuse to drink the local water if it is offered to you. Please bring your bottled water with you (Coyah, Milo, etc.).

Local “Guiluxe” and “Skol” lager beers, as well as canned European beer, are available.

Water packaged in the name of Coyah is extremely excellent and can be found anywhere for around USD0.50 per 1.5 litre bottle. The tap water in Conakry is usually unsafe unless filtered or heated.

Money & Shopping in Guinea

Guinea may not have a lot of things to offer, but they do have some fantastic clothes. The tailors there are very talented and can design an outfit in a short amount of time (approximately a day). Many locations outside the large hotels in Conakry and along the roadway sell masks, wood sculptures, djembes (drums), traditional apparel, and bags produced in Guinea. Always negotiate, particularly if you’re not in a big hotel since rates are higher there. A decent rule of thumb is to half the starting price and walk away if the price does not drop down. Negotiations are intended to take a long time and are used to determine the “walk away” price for both the buyer and the seller.

Madina market is Conakry’s biggest market. Everything and everything may be found there. Pickpockets, mud (during the rainy season), and traffic should all be avoided. It’s a frantic and chaotic environment, but it’s where you’ll get the finest food, electronics, and other goods at the best rates. If you’re walking back to a parked vehicle or where you’re staying, you may hire a young kid to carry your goods for you. The fee is about GNF5,000 (EUR0.5 or USD0.7).

There are also some beautiful carvings in various areas of the nation, many of them are made in the city of Kindia.

Currency

Guinea’s currency is the Guinean franc (French: franc guinéen, ISO 4217 code: GNF). Inflation is widespread, and banknotes come in denominations of 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, and 20,000.

ATMs

Since 2014, all Ecobank ATMs in Guinea accept Mastercard and Visa for cash withdrawals.

Traditions & Customs in Guinea

In Guinea, like in the rest of West Africa, greetings are an important aspect of everyday life. Often, a simple ” ça va?” would enough. Guineans, on the other hand, enjoy it when you inquire about their family, health, and job/studies: “and la famille, la sante, le boulot/les etudes.” It is customary and expected to welcome someone and ask how they are doing before getting to the topic in a conversation, e-mail, or other communication.

Solely use your right hand to greet, eat, and exchange money; the left hand is only used for toilet functions and is considered filthy.

Guinea’s gender problem is, to put it mildly, complicated. Despite the fact that Guinea is a somewhat traditional, Muslim, male-dominated culture, foreign female tourists will have no trouble. Don’t be shocked if you get a million proposals! In Guinea, cat calls, whistles, and other kinds of harassment are uncommon and frowned upon. Guinean men often give up their seats to females as a show of respect, particularly in private homes and outdoor settings.

Men still have a greater social status than women in general, and this is reflected in all areas of Guinean culture (education, jobs, etc.). In everyday life, don’t be shocked if males are treated with greater respect than women. When it’s established that you’re a foreign lady (particularly if you’re a Black foreign woman from the US, Europe, or elsewhere) rather than a local, you’ll generally be given more attention.

Wearing clothes that exposes the stomach to the knees is not recommended for ladies! If worn in public, shorts, see-throughs, tiny skirts, and exposed midriffs are deemed impolite. It’s fairly unusual to be greeted with angry glances, disapproving looks, or worse by native Guineans. Tattoos and body piercings are uncommon, and tourists are encouraged to hide them if at all feasible. A head scarf, on the other hand, is not required. Jeans (although still unpopular among Guinean women), long skirts and dresses, tank tops, and short or long sleeved shirts are all appropriate.

Although there is a Christian minority (concentrated mostly in the southern woodland area), Muslims, Christians, and others coexist together with tolerance and respect.

Guineans often ask you to dine with them at their homes. This is a respectful and kind gesture toward the guest. If at all feasible, accept the invitation. If you are unable to reply, it is preferable to gently say “next time” or “prochainement.” It is not regarded disrespectful or unfriendly to just walk up to a Guinean’s house without an appointment, as it is in the West. Don’t be surprised if Guineans come over to check how you’re doing.

Guineans are generally warm, kind, and hospitable, and will come to your aid when necessary.

Culture Of Guinea

Polygamy

Guinean law makes polygamy illegal. According to UNICEF, 53.4 percent of Guinean women aged 15 to 49 are married in polygamous relationships.

Music

Guinea, like other West African nations, has a thriving musical culture. Following Guinea’s independence in the 1960s, the ensemble Bembeya Jazz rose to prominence.

Cuisine

The most prevalent staple in Guinean cuisine is rice, which varies by location. Cassava is another popular food. Guinean cuisines include jollof rice, maafe, and tapalapa bread, which are all part of West African cuisine. Food is served from a big serving dish and eaten by hand outside of houses in rural regions.

Female genital mutilation

Female genital mutilation has been done on more than 98 percent of women in Guinea as of 2009, according to Anastasia Gage, an associate professor at Tulane University, and Ronan van Rossem, an assistant professor at Ghent University. Female genital mutilation is practiced in Guinea by virtually all cultures, religions, and ethnic groups.

History of Guinea

Guinea was a part of a succession of African empires until France conquered it in the 1890s and incorporated it into French West Africa. On October 2, 1958, Guinea proclaimed independence from France. Guinea was ruled by a succession of authoritarian monarchs from independence until the presidential election of 2010.

West African empires and Kingdoms in Guinea

Guinea was on the periphery of the main West African empires of the time. The Ghana Empire is said to be the first of them, which expanded via commerce but eventually collapsed owing to the Almoravids’ hostile influence. Islam initially appeared in the area during this time period.

The Sosso kingdom (12th–13th century) thrived briefly in the vacuum, but the Islamic Manding Mali Empire rose to prominence when Soundiata Kéta defeated Soumangourou Kanté in the semi-historical Battle of Kirina in c. 1235. Mansa (Emperors) governed the Mali Empire, the most notable of them was Kankou Moussa, who performed a memorable hajj to Mecca in 1324. The Mali Empire started to collapse shortly after his rule and was eventually replaced by tributary kingdoms in the 15th century.

The Mali Empire was the most successful, and the Songhai Empire grew in prominence from about 1460, ultimately surpassing the Mali Empire in area and riches. It thrived until Askia Daoud’s death in 1582, when a civil war erupted for succession. Three years later, in the Battle of Tondibi, the weakened empire succumbed to Moroccan invaders. However, the Moroccans were unable to successfully govern the kingdom, and it was divided into many tiny kingdoms.

Various kingdoms flourished in what is now Guinea after the collapse of the main West African empires. From 1735 until 1898, Fulani Muslims moved to Futa Jallon in Central Guinea, where they formed an Islamic kingdom with a codified constitution and rotating monarchs. The Wassoulou or Wassulu empire was a short-lived kingdom headed by Samori Toure in what is now upper Guinea and southern Mali between 1878 and 1888. (Wassoulou). Before being captured by the French, it relocated to the Ivory Coast. Mufasa died in the nation of Guinea.

Colonial era

In the 16th century, European merchants brought the slave trade to Guinea’s coastal area. Slavery had long been a part of society, but when slaves were transported to labor in the triangle trade, the extent of slavery grew.

Guinea’s colonial era started in the mid-nineteenth century, when French forces invaded the country. The troops of Samori Touré, Mansa (or Emperor) of the Ouassoulou kingdom and leader of Malinké origin, were defeated in 1898, giving France control of what is now Guinea and the surrounding regions.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, France negotiated Guinea’s current borders with the British for Sierra Leone, the Portuguese for their Guinea colony (now Guinea-Bissau), and Liberia. Under French rule, the nation was divided into the Territory of Guinea, which was governed by a governor general based in Dakar. Lieutenant governors were in charge of each colony, including Guinea.

Independence and post-colonial rule (1958-2008)

Due to political instability and shortcomings in dealing with its colonies, particularly Indochina and Algeria, the French Fourth Republic fell in 1958. The French people backed the establishment of a Fifth Republic, and French President Charles de Gaulle made it plain on August 8, 1958, that France’s colonies would have to choose between greater autonomy in a new French Community or instant independence in a vote on September 28, 1958. The other colonies selected the former, but Guinea voted decisively for independence, led by Ahmed Sékou Touré, whose Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) had won 56 of 60 seats in territorial elections in 1957. The French soon departed, and Guinea declared itself a sovereign and independent republic on October 2, 1958, with Sékou Touré as president.

Guinea rapidly allied itself with the Soviet Union after France’s departure and embraced communist policies. Guinea, on the other hand, leaned toward a Chinese form of socialism, and the partnership was short-lived. Despite this, capitalist nations such as the United States continued to provide assistance and investment to the country. Even the relationship with France improved; commerce grew following the election of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing as French president, and the two nations exchanged official visits.

Touré proclaimed the PDG to be the sole legitimate party in 1960. The government and the PDG merged for the following 24 years. Touré was uncontested for four seven-year terms as president, and voters were given a single list of PDG candidates for the National Assembly every five years. Touré soon became a polarizing leader, advocating a hybrid African Socialism at home and Pan-Africanism abroad, and his administration grew intolerant of criticism, imprisoning hundreds and suffocating the press.

During this period, the Guinean government nationalized territory, deposed French-appointed and traditional leaders, and severed relations with the French government and businesses. Guinea’s economic condition became as uncertain as its diplomatic stance, vacillating between support for the Soviet Union and (by the late 1970s) support for the United States. Touré’s government attacked actual and imagined opponents, forcing thousands of political opponents into exile, alleging schemes and conspiracies against him at home and abroad.

In 1970, expatriate Guinean opposition troops aided Portuguese soldiers from neighboring Portuguese Guinea in Operation Green Sea, an incursion into Guinea. The Portuguese military sought to murder or arrest Sekou Toure for his support of the PAIGC, a guerrilla group operating in Portuguese Guinea, among other things. The Portuguese troops withdrew after accomplishing the majority of their objectives after many days of intense combat. The frequency of internal arrests and executions rose during Sékou Touré’s reign.

A monument commemorating the military triumph against the Portuguese attack in 1970. The sole goal that the Portuguese assault failed to achieve was the capture of Ahmed Sékou Touré.

Sékou Touré died on March 26, 1984, in the United States following a heart surgery, and was succeeded by Prime Minister Louis Lansana Beavogui, who was to serve as temporary president until fresh elections could be held.

On 3 April 1984, the PDG was set to pick a new leader. That individual would have been the sole contender for president under the constitution. Colonels Lansana Conté and Diarra Traoré, however, took control in a bloodless coup only hours before the conference. Traoré served as prime minister until December, when Conté took over as president.

Conté quickly condemned the previous regime’s human rights record, freed 250 political prisoners, and urged another 200,000 people to return from exile. He also made it clear that he was abandoning socialism, although this did nothing to relieve poverty, and the nation showed no indications of progressing toward democracy.

Conté declared a restoration to civilian government in 1992, with a presidential election in 1993 and parliamentary elections in 1995. (in which his party – the Party of Unity and Progress – won 71 of 114 seats.) Conté’s hold on power remained strong despite his professed devotion to democracy. Alpha Condé, the opposition leader, was imprisoned in September 2001 for threatening national security, but he was released eight months later. Following that, he went into exile in France.

Conté planned and won a referendum to extend the presidential term in 2001, and he began his third term in 2003 when the opposition boycotted the polls. Conté escaped a suspected murder attempt in January 2005 while making a rare public appearance in Conakry, Guinea’s capital. His detractors called him a “weary tyrant” whose demise was inevitable, while his supporters thought he was winning the war against dissidents. Guinea continues to confront significant challenges and, according to Foreign Policy, is on the verge of becoming a failed state.

When insurgents crossed the borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2000, Guinea got involved in the instability that had long plagued the rest of West Africa, and it seemed for a while that the nation was on the verge of civil war. Conté claimed that neighboring leaders were envious of Guinea’s natural riches, but these allegations were vehemently rejected. Guinea agreed to agreements with her neighbors to combat the rebels in 2003. Protests against the administration erupted in 2007, culminating in the nomination of a new prime minister.

Recent history

Conté stayed in power until his death on December 23, 2008, when Moussa Dadis Camara took power in a coup a few hours later, proclaiming himself the leader of a military junta. When the junta ordered its troops to attack protesters who had gathered to oppose Camara’s effort to become president on September 28, 2009, protests against the coup turned violent, and 157 people were murdered. Many foreign countries withdrew their support for the new administration when the troops went on a spree of rape, mutilation, and murder.

Camara was shot by an assistant on December 3, 2009, following a disagreement about the September rampage. Camara visited Morocco for medical treatment. In Camara’s absence, Vice-President (and Defense Minister) Sékouba Konaté traveled back from Lebanon to govern the nation. Camara was transported from Morocco to Burkina Faso on January 12, 2010. Camara, Konaté, and Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaoré met in Ouagadougou on the 13th and 14th of January and issued a formal declaration of twelve principles guaranteeing the restoration of Guinea to civilian government within six months. It was decided that the military would not run in the next elections, and Camara would stay in exile in Guinea. The military junta named Jean-Marie Doré as Prime Minister of a six-month transition administration leading up to elections on January 21, 2010.

The presidential election took place on June 27th, and it was the first free and fair election since the country’s independence in 1958. The two runners-up for the second round were ex-Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and his opponent Alpha Condée. The second round of the election, however, was postponed until September 19, 2010, owing to accusations of electoral fraud. On September 22, 2010, the second round was again postponed until October 10. In early October, another postponement was announced, this time until October 24. On November 7th, elections were eventually conducted. The turnout was strong, and the elections went over without a hitch. Alpha Condé, the head of the opposition Rally of the Guinean People (RGP), was proclaimed the victor on November 16, 2010. He said that he will restructure the security sector and examine mining contracts.

An attempted coup was launched against President Condé’s home on the night of July 18, 2011. President Condé postponed parliamentary elections indefinitely in April 2012, claiming the necessity for them to be “open and democratic.”

2013

President Conde’s insistence on employing a South African company, Waymark Infotech, to compile the registered voter list prompted the opposition alliance to withdraw from the election process in mid-February. Political violence occurred in Guinea in late February 2013, when protestors went to the streets to express their worries about the forthcoming May 2013 elections’ transparency. The opposition coalition’s decision to withdraw from the electoral process in protest of the lack of openness in election preparations fuelled the protests. During the demonstrations, nine people were killed and over 220 were wounded, with many of the fatalities and injuries being caused by security forces firing live ammunition at demonstrators.

Inter-ethnic conflicts between the Fula and Malinke peoples erupted as a result of the political violence, with the latter constituting the basis of support for President Condé and the former primarily backing the opposition.

On March 26, 2013, the opposition pulled out of talks with the administration about the impending election on May 12th. The opposition claims that the administration has failed to respect them and has broken any commitments made to them. More demonstrations and violence are anticipated in Guinea’s streets as a result of this.

Ebola virus outbreak

Guinea’s Ministry of Health announced an epidemic of Ebola virus illness on March 25, 2014, according to the World Health Organization. There were 86 cases in the first epidemic, including 59 fatalities. There were 281 instances as of May 28th, including 186 fatalities.

Emile Ouamouno, a 2-year-old child from the hamlet of Meliandou, is thought to be the first instance. He became sick on December 2, 2013, and died on December 6, 2013. On September 18, 2014, people in the town of Womey assassinated eight members of an Ebola education and health care team. Guinea has had 3,810 cases and 2,536 fatalities as of November 1, 2015.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Guinea

Stay Safe in Guinea

Guinea is a dangerous country because it has a history of being one of Africa’s most unstable nations, with rampant lawlessness and crime. Officials in military clothes commit the majority of the crimes, which mostly target foreigners. Pickpocketing and purse snatching are the most frequent non-violent crimes, whereas armed robbery, muggings, and assaults are the most common violent crimes. Criminals target tourists at the airport, at traditional markets, and near hotels and restaurants where foreigners frequent. If you find yourself in a tough position, be alert and use common sense.

Unsolicited offers of help at the airport and hotels should be avoided since they frequently conceal a plan to steal baggage, purses, or wallets. To minimize their susceptibility to these crimes of opportunity, travelers should arrange for hotel staff, family members, or business connections to meet them at the airport.

Avoid photographing military sites and political structures, since this is considered espionage in Guinea and may result in imprisonment.

The cops are utterly useless. Low pay and insufficient training contribute to the police’s lack of professionalism. Consult your embassy if you have been a victim of a crime.

Corruption is rampant, with corrupt police and military pursuing foreigners for bribes in almost every part of the nation. At any checkpoint, police officers will seek money. By seizing a specific object, police officers often scare you into paying bribes.

Trips to Guinea for business are highly discouraged. Scams and frauds in the business world abound, so if you’re planning a business trip to Guinea, it’s best to avoid it.

Stay Healthy in Guinea

Guinea’s medical system is in a bad state, with outdated equipment and insufficient resources. Some private medical institutions (e.g., Clinique Pasteur in Conakry) provide a wider variety of treatment choices than state hospitals, although they still fall well short of Western expectations. Guinea has neither an ambulance nor an emergency rescue service, and trauma treatment is very restricted.

  • Drinking tap water is dangerous. Only drink bottled, unopened water.
  • Malaria is widespread. Take anti-malarial medication and cover any exposed skin in the evenings and early mornings, when mosquitoes are most active.

If you plan on remaining in Guinea for an extended period of time, you should carry anti-malarial medicines, anti-diarrhea drugs (Cipro), paracetamol, and a medical kit with you, since the pharmaceuticals available in Guinea are generally of lower quality and potency, although considerably cheaper.

The greatest insider tip for eating fresh veggies is to soak them in a large basin of water with one drop of bleach. This will destroy any germs, allowing you to consume a salad or vegetables and fruits that cannot be peeled, such as tomatoes, or retain the skin on cucumbers and other veggies for additional fiber and vitamins.

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