Facts About the Culture, Geography, and History of Guinea
Guinea is a resource-rich West African country with a rich history and diverse culture. We are happy to provide you with 12 interesting facts about this rich African land.
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12. The country is sometimes referred to as Guinea-Conakry in order to distinguish it from other parts of the wider region of the same name, such as Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea.
Guinea-Conakry is one of the larger Guinea formerly known as French West Africa. The word ‘Guinea’ is a traditional name referring to the huge swath of land stretching along the Gulf of Guinea. The word itself is an English translation of the Portuguese word “Guiné" which itself refers to a land occupied by the "Guineus”. The Portuguese used the word “Guineus” to distinguish people living on the southern part of the Senegal River as opposed to the Berbers who lived on the northern part. It must not be forgotten that Portuguese were the first Europeans to encounter this part of the world and thus had a great historical impact.
11. Guinea is bordered by Guinea-Bissau to the northwest, Senegal to the north, Mali to the northeast, Ivory Coast to the southeast, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
Guinea-Conakry is the largest of the three Guineas and it occupies a total area of 245,860 square kilometers. It has a population of 12.4 million. It is one of the least densely populated countries in the world being 168th with a population of just 41 people per square kilometer. However, being among countries with the highest fertility rates in the world and a young population that is over 60%, this will soon not be the case.
10. The official language of Guinea is French.
Like most other Black-African colonies, Guinea-Conakry took over the language of its colonial master as its official language. French is its official language and the language of instruction in schools, though not widely spoken locally. Most of the populations speak local ethnic languages with Fulani and Malinke being the major ones. The almost 60% illiteracy levels ensure that French does not make deep penetration.
9. Mount Richard-Molard is a mountain along the border of Ivory Coast and Guinea in West Africa. The highest peak for both countries and the Nimba Range is at 1,752 meters (5,750 feet).
Nimba range, also known as the ‘Guinean backbone' spreads across three countries – Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Liberia. Mount Richard-Molard sits within the Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site that straddles both Guinea and Ivory Coast. Geologically, the mountain is rich in iron and cobalt compounds. Its landscape is accentuated by curvatures of beautiful steep ridges, thanks to deep soil erosion activity over the ages.
8. The Niger River, the Gambia River, and the Senegal River are among the 22 West African rivers that have their origins in Guinea.
Guinea is a rich source of rivers due to its forested mountainous regions. Being a largely agrarian society, this helps in its farming endeavor. However, despite plenty of river sources, rich agricultural soil, and good rainy season, Guinea is a net importer of food for its largely young and rapidly growing population.
7. Guinea Coast has 320 kilometers (200 miles) of coastline.
Guinea Coast is home to its capital city, Conakry. Guinea Coast has beautiful beaches. Cape Verga is famous for a range of scenic beaches. Some of the famous beaches include Subane beach and Bel Air Beach. Another place with scenic beaches is Les de Los, which is an island group off Conakry connected by ferry. It is popular for its forested interiors. The coastal beaches have a lively and vibrant nightlife that you would definitely be happy to experience.
6. The network of protected areas in Guinea covers about 35.6% of the national territory. It is made up of 3 national parks and other types of protected areas.
The protected area comprises of Badiar National Park, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, National Park of Upper Niger, Nialama (Nyalama) Classified Forest, Pinselly Classified Forest, and Ziama Massif. This network has ensured that, despite skyrocketing population pressure accompanied by extreme poverty, the forest cover remains reasonable and substantial.
5. The Conakry Grand Mosque is a mosque in Conakry. It opened in 1982. It is the fourth largest mosque in Africa and the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Opened in 1982 under the leadership of Ahmed Sékou Touré, this mosque was funded by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. Guinea being 85% Muslim, this is a big national and religious landmark. Its upper compartment comprises 2,500 spaces for women and the lower compartment comprises of 10,000 spaces for men. Its esplanade can accommodate 12,500 more people. This landmark Mosque boldly declares Guinea as a predominantly Muslim country. Nonetheless, the good side is that there is religious tolerance due to the peaceful and welcoming nature of the Guinean people.
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4. Guinea declared its independence from France on 2 October 1958.
The French were not quite easy with leaving French West Africa. They tried to cling to this territory by deviously persuading their colonial subjects to agree to its conversion into the French Community. However, Ahmed Sékou Touré (Samouri Sékou Touré’s great-grandson), read mischief from De Guelle (the then French president) and outwitted him by proposing for Referendum of which Guineans overwhelmingly (95%) voted for independence on 28 September 1958. This led to a grudgingly quick exit by France as a sign of protest. However, this did not deter the highly spirited declaration of independence by Sékou Touré on 2 October 1958.
3. Guinea is richly endowed with minerals, possessing an estimated quarter of the world’s proven reserves of bauxite, more than 1.8 billion metric tons (2.0 billion short tons) of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits, and undetermined quantities of uranium.
There is no doubt that Guinea is a resource-rich country. It has enough resources to make it emerge as a newly industrialized and newly developed country. However, this is not the case. A poor literacy level that allows only 17% of boys and 6% of girls to transition to high school means that this remains a mirage. National policies seem to have been deliberately engineered to impoverish the masses. The resources are just a boon for the thieving political elites and their cunning international conspirators.
2. Guinea’s mineral wealth makes it potentially one of Africa’s richest countries, but its people are among the poorest in West Africa.
Like most resource-rich countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Guinea’s mineral wealth is not for its citizen’s welfare but of a few corrupt political elites and their foreign collaborators. The vast majority of people live below the poverty line. Guineans are not poor but severely impoverished. Low literacy levels, malnutrition, and disease are instead the hallmarks of these resource-rich nations, Guinea being a typical example of them. Luckily, unlike most other African whose mineral resources has become a curse that fuels civil wars and genocides, Guinea has been relatively peaceful, though with extreme human rights violations.
1. Guinean cuisine varies by region with rice as the most common staple.
Rice is the staple food of Guinea. However, other traditional West African dishes are commonly consumed in Guinea. These include jollof rice, fufu, tapalapa bread, and maafe. Fried plantain, Boille (made of rice and corn), boiled mango, and konkoe (smoked fish) are other popular dishes. Boiled cassava leaf sauce is normally served as an accompaniment. The Guinean cuisine is quite delicious. You would never wish to do yourself the injustice of missing its taste while on a visit.
Guinea is not just a resource-rich country but also a rich cultural heritage with exquisite cuisine, scenic beauty, and pristine beaches. Despite its myriad political challenges, Guinea remains a country that not anyone visiting West Africa would want to miss.
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