At just 7 hours flying from Paris is one of the most fascinating countries in the world, Guinea, also known as "the pearl of Africa". Guinea, officially the Republic of Guinea (French- République de Guinée), formerly known as French Guinea, is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau. Conakry is the capital, the seat of the national government, the largest city, the hub of Guinea's economy, commerce, education and culture.
Guinea has almost 246,000 square kilometres (94,981 sq mi) which is almost six times as large as The Netherlands and about one third the size of France. Its' northern border is shared with Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Mali, the southern one with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast. The country's four geographic regions include a narrow coastal belt, pastoral highlands (the source of West Africa's major rivers); the northern savannah and the south-eastern rain forest.
The climate is tropical. Generally hot and humid; monsoonal type rainy season from June to November with south-westerly winds; dry season from December to May with north-easterly winds.
Guinea's 10 million people belong to twenty-four ethnic groups. The most prominent groups are the Fula, Mandunka and Susu. The official language of Guinea is French. Other significant languages spoken are Maninka (Malinke), Susu, Pular (Fulfulde or Fulani), Kissi, Kpelle, and Loma. Islam is the majority religion. Approximately 85% of the population is Muslim, while 8% is Christian and 7% holds traditional animist beliefs. In our experience the Guinean people are very friendly, open and willing to work very hard. In particular the people in the countryside are extremely loyal. At our compound we have all been included in their society. It is a pleasure to terurn there very time.
Independent from France since 1958, Guinea did not hold democratic elections until 1993. The political instability lasted until 2010. November 16, 2010, Alpha Condé, the leader of RGP (Rally of the Guinean People), was officially declared the victor in Guinea's presidential election. He has promised to reform the security sector, review mining contracts, change fiscal and legal environment and bring transparency to policies and regulations.
Guinea has abundant natural resources including 25% or more of the world's known bauxite reserves. Guinea also has diamonds, gold and other metals. The country has great potential for hydro-electric power. Bauxite and alumina are currently the only major exports. Other industries include processing plants for beer, juices, soft drinks and tobacco. Agriculture employs 80% of the nation's labour force. Guinea has considerable potential for growth in agricultural and fishing sectors. Soil, water and climatic conditions provide opportunities for large-scale irrigated farming and agro-industry. At the beginning of independence Guinea was a major exporter of bananas, pineapples, coffee, peanuts and palm oil.
Richly endowed with minerals, Guinea possesses over 25 billion metric tons of bauxite. In addition, Guinea's mineral wealth includes more than 4-billion tons of high-grade iron ore, significant diamond and gold deposits and undetermined quantities of uranium. Joint venture bauxite mining and alumina operations in northwest Guinea historically provides about 80% of Guinea's foreign exchange. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinea (CBG) is the main player in the bauxite industry. CBG is a joint venture, 49% owned by the Guinean Government and 51% by an international consortium led by Alcoa and Alcan. CBG exports about 14 million tons of high-grade bauxite annually. The Compagnie des Bauxites de Kindia (CBK), a joint venture between the Government of Guinea and Russki Alumina, produces some 2.5 million tons annually, nearly all of which is exported to Russia and Eastern Europe. Dian Dian, a Guinean/Ukrainian joint bauxite venture, has a projected production rate of 1,000,000 t (1,102,311 ST; 984,207 LT) per year, but is not expected to begin operations for several years. The Alumina Compagnie de Guinée (ACG), which took over the former Friguia Consortium, produced about 2.4 million tons in 2004 as raw material for its alumina refinery. The refinery exports about 750,000 tons of alumina. Both Global Alumina and Alcoa-Alcan have signed conventions with the Government of Guinea to build large alumina refineries with a combined capacity of about 4 million tons per year.
Diamonds and gold are also mined and exported on a large scale. AREDOR, a joint diamond-mining venture between the Guinean Government (50%) and an Australian, British, and Swiss consortium began production in 1984 and mined diamonds that are 90% gem quality. Production stopped from 1993 until 1996, when First City Mining of Canada purchased the international portion of the consortium. The bulk of diamonds are mined artisanal. The largest gold mining operation in Guinea is a joint venture between the government and Ashanti Gold Fields of Ghana. SMD also has a large gold mining facility in Lero near the Malian border. Rio Tinto has signed a binding agreement with Chalco to establish the joint venture for the Simandou iron ore project. This project is said to be same magnitude as the Pilbara in Western Australia.
Northwest Africa's coast has now been assessed and is ready for oil development and Guinea is actively being courted in this endeavour.