Guinea, or People's Revolutionary Republic of Guinea, formerly French Guinea, a country on the western coast of Africa. It is bounded by Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Atlantic Ocean. Guinea's area is 94,926 square miles (245,857 km 2 ).
Guinea's terrain is highly varied. The coast consists of a low-lying plain with numerous bays, estuaries, and mangrove swamps. To the east, the land rises to form the wooded Fouta Djallon plateau, which reaches elevations of more than 3,500 feet (1,070 m). Beyond the plateau, at lower elevations, are extensive plains and savannas that cover most of eastern Guinea. In the southeast are the heavily forested Guinea Highlands, which attain heights of more than 5,700 feet (1,740 m) in the Nimba Mountains. Drainage in Guinea is mainly by the Niger, Senegal, and Gambia rivers and their tributaries.
The climate is tropical with distinct wet and dry seasons, each lasting roughly six months. Total precipitation is heavy, ranging from about 60 inches (1,520 mm) on the savannas to more than 170 inches (4,300 mm) along the coast. Except on the plateau and in the mountains, temperatures average above 80° F. (27° C.) throughout most of the year.
Guinea has long been among the poorest countries in Africa. From 1958, when it gained independence from France, until the mid-1980's Guinea had a rigidly planned economy. Since then the government has allowed much of the economy to be guided by market forces. The basic currency unit is the CFA franc.
Agriculture and mining are the economic mainstays. Agriculture, largely of the subsistence kind, provides a livelihood for the majority of the people. Cassava, rice, sweet potatoes, and corn are staple foods. Coffee, pineapples, and bananas are among the chief commercial crops and exports.
Guinea has about one-third of the world's known bauxite; bauxite and alumina are the principal exports. Diamonds are also produced. There is little manufacturing.
The population in 1992 was about 5,600,000. Conakry is the capital and largest city. The population is composed of about two dozen Negroid groups. Three groups—the Fulani, Malinké (Mandingo), and Soussou—make up about 75 per cent of the population. Islam is the religion of about 95 per cent of the people, but many of its adherents also practice animism.
French is the official language. Of the many indigenous tongues, Soussou and Malinké are widely used in commerce. The literacy rate is about 25 per cent. Primary education begins at age seven and lasts six years. Secondary schooling lasts seven years. The leading institutions of higher education are Gamal Abdul Nasser University of Conakry and Kankan University.
Under the constitution of 1991, Guinea is a republic headed by a president. There is a one-house legislature.
|Facts in brief about Guinea|
|Official language: French.|
|Area: 94,926 mi2 (245,857 km2). Greatest distances—east-west, 450 mi (725 km); north-south, 350 mi (565 km). Coastline—190 mi (305 km).|
|Elevation: Highest—Mt. Nimba, 5,748 ft (1,752 m) above sea level. Lowest—sea level.|
|Population: Current estimate—10,044,000; density, 106 per mi2 (41 per km2); distribution, 67 percent rural, 33 percent urban. 2004 official government estimate—9,214,072.|
|Chief products: Agriculture—bananas, cassava, coffee, corn, palm products, peanuts, plantains, rice, sweet potatoes. Manufacturing—alumina, food products, textiles. Mining—bauxite, diamonds, gold.|
|National anthem: "Liberte" ("Liberty").|
|Flag: Guinea's flag has three vertical stripes, red, gold, and green (left to right). The red stripe represents the spirit of sacrifice, the gold stripe represents the sun and wealth, and the green stripe represents the forests.|
|Money: Basic unit—Guinean franc.|