Country Profile - Guinea
Country Profile Of Guinea
President: Alpha Conde
Capital: Mohamed Said Fofana
Land area: 245 861 kilometers squared.
Population: 11,176,026 growth rate: 2.64%; birth rate: 36.3/1000; life expectancy: 59
Monetary unit: Guinean franc
Languages: French (official), Malinke, Susu, Fulani.
Ethnicity: Peul 40%; Malinke 30%; Soussou 20%; other 10%
Literacy rate: 41%
Economic summary: GDP/PPP $12.37; growth-rate 3.9%; inflation-rate 15.2%; exports $1.348 billion; exports $2.606 billion.
Agriculture: rice, coffee, pineapples, palm kernels, cassava (tapioca), bananas, sweet potatoes; cattle, sheep, goats; timber.
Guinea, in West Africa on the Atlantic, is also bordered by Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.The country consists of a coastal plain, a mountainous region, a savanna interior, and a forest area in the Guinea Highlands. The highest peak is Mount Nimba.
Beginning in 900, the Susu migrated from the north and began settling in the area that is now Guinea. The Susu civilization reached its height in the 13th century and today the Susu make up about 20% of Guinea's population. From the 16th to the 19th century, the Fulani Empire dominated the region. In 1849, the French claimed it as a protectorate. First called Rivières du Sud, the protectorate was rechristened French Guinea; finally, in 1895, it became part of French West Africa.
Prosperity came in 1960 after the start of exploitation of bauxite deposits. Touré was reelected to a seven-year term in 1974 and again in 1981. He died after 26 years as president in March 1984. A week later, a military regime headed by Col. Lansana Conté took power.
In 1989, President Conté announced that Guinea would move to a multiparty democracy, and in 1991, voters approved a new constitution. In Dec. 1993 elections, the president's Unity and Progress Party took almost 51% of the vote. In 2001, a government referendum was passed that eliminated presidential term limits, thus allowing Conté to run for a third term in 2003. Despite the trappings of multiparty rule, Conté has ruled the country with an iron fist.
Guinea has had on-going difficulties with its neighbour Liberia, which was embroiled in a long civil war during the 1990s and again in 2000–2003. Guinea had taken sides against rebel leader Charles Taylor in Liberia's civil war and was part of the Nigerian-led ECOMOG forces that intervened in the crisis. As a consequence, President Conté's relations with Taylor remained sour after Taylor became Liberia's president in 1997.
In December 2003 President Conté was re-elected to a third term. In April 2004, after two months on the job, Prime Minister Lonseny Fall resigned and went into exile, claiming that the president would not allow him to govern effectively. Anti-government demonstrators took to the streets in January and February 2007, demanding that Conté step down. In addition, labour unions went on strike, paralyzing the country. Conté, who has been criticized as being corrupt, responded by declaring martial law. The strike ended in late February when President Conté agreed to name diplomat Lansana Kouyaté as prime minister. More than 100 people died in battles with security officials during the strike.
The current president is Alpha Condé and the Prime Minister is Mohamed Said Fofana. The capital is Conakry. With an estimated population of 11million the country speaks French as their official language.
An outbreak of Ebola hit Guinea in March 2014 and spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia. By September, is estimated to have killed about 430 people in Guinea, and there were nearly 650 suspected and confirmed cases of it in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In late August, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak an international emergency. It is the worst outbreak since the virus was first identified almost 40 years ago.
Wracked by political instability and violence after a military coup in 2008, Guinea has yet to return to the levels of economic freedom witnessed in the mid-2000s. With significant bauxite reserves, a main source of aluminum, Guinea’s relatively closed economy relies on export earnings to fund the importation of food. The financial sector is underdeveloped and poorly integrated, and many Guineans do not hold formal bank accounts. The government’s myriad rules and regulations deter investors.
Entrepreneurial activity faces many hurdles. The business licensing process is lengthy and expensive, and the formal labor market remains underdeveloped and resistant to economic changes. The public sector dominates formal employment. Ineffective rule of law and rampant corruption undermine private-sector economic activity that could lift many Guineans out of poverty.