Guinea is situated on the west coast of Africa, 10° north of the equator. It has a land area of 245,800 km2, slightly larger than the United Kingdom. It has a population of approximately 10 million, and the capital city is Conakry.
The country borders Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone and 320 km of Atlantic coastline. The official language is French and the currency is the Guinean Franc.
The country can be sub-divided into four geographical zones: narrow coastal belt (Lower Guinea); north-western mountainous region; central savannah (source of the River Niger); and south-eastern rainforest (Forest Guinea). Guinea’s climate is predominantly humid and tropical.
Transport within the country consists of an intermittent rail network, a relatively limited network of roads (although largely improved in areas influenced by the mining industry), a large international airport at Conakry and a number of smaller domestic airports/airstrips.
Access to the country from abroad is relatively easy owing to the international airport at Conakry, which offers a regular service throughout the year, to both Europe and African countries.
In terms of history, Guinea became a French colony in the late 19th Century and subsequently gained independence in October 1958. Following independence, the country was initially under autocratic rule, resulting in only very limited economic growth, and leading to a number of military coups. The most significant coup occurred in 1984, after which Guinea began implementing western government systems, allowing the first multiparty election in 1993.
Successive military coups have occurred since 1993, however the country is currently stable, with an agreement signed to return the country to civilian rule within 6 months of January 12th 2010. After a series of postponements, presidential elections were held on the 16th December 2010; the first truly democratic election in Guinea’s history.
Guinea is developing its economy based on agriculture, mining, and trade. Predominantly agricultural, Guinea produces rice, coffee, pineapples, bananas and sweet potato, with some livestock-raising in the highlands. The country is attractive to mining companies as it has approximately 30% of the world’s known bauxite resources and significant iron ore deposits.
The mining sector in Guinea contributes around 25% of the country’s income and 80% of Guinea’s foreign exchange earnings, with bauxite production by far the most important contributor, making Guinea a significant bauxite producer. Bauxite deposits are found across much of western and central Guinea. Guinea is considered to have the largest bauxite resource and reserve potential in the world, although it is currently not the largest producer of either bauxite or alumina.
The local traffic network is weakly developed. The access network linking Télimélé to theregional towns of Sangaredi and Fria are dirt roads of medium to bad quality. However, the roads are equipped with a concrete gutter system designed to control the drainage of rainwater. Existing side-tracks are passable in dry season only, when most of rivers/creeks dry completely. But even then they are passable by off-road vehicles only. In the rainy season (June-October) all the creeks and rivers are transformed into powerful streams, hindering traffic and exploration.
The nearest railways are located in Fria (70 km) and Sangaredi (80 km).