Currently viewing country profile for Guinea
Although Guinea's mineral wealth makes it potentially one of Africa's richest countries, its people are among the poorest in West Africa.
Ruled by strong-arm leaders since independence, Guinea has been seen as a bulwark against instability in neighbouring Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. However it has also been implicated in the conflicts that have ravaged the region.
After independence in 1958 Guinea severed ties with France and turned to the Soviet Union. The first president, Ahmed Sekou Toure, pursued a revolutionary socialist agenda and crushed political opposition. Tens of thousands of people disappeared, or were tortured and executed, during his 26-year regime.
Economic mismanagement and repression culminated in riots in 1977. These led to some relaxation of state control of the economy.
But it was only after the death in 1984 of Ahmed Sekou Toure, and the seizure of power by Lansana Conte and other officers, that the socialist experiment was abandoned - without reversing poverty.
In 2000 Guinea became home to up to half a million refugees fleeing fighting in Sierra Leone and Liberia. This increased the strain on its economy and generated suspicion and ethnic tension, amid mutual accusations of attempts at destabilisation and border attacks.
Acute economic problems, instability among its neighbours and uncertainty over a successor to its authoritarian president have prompted a European think-tank, the Crisis Group, to warn that Guinea risks becoming a "failed state".
- Full name: The Republic of Guinea
- Population: 10.3 million (UN, 2010)
- Capital: Conakry
- Area: 245,857 sq km (94,926 sq miles)
- Major languages: French, Susu, Fulani, Mandingo
- Major religions: Islam, Christianity, indigenous beliefs
- Life expectancy: 58 years (men), 62 years (women) (UN)
- Monetary unit: 1 Guinean franc = 100 centimes
- Main exports: Bauxite, alumina, gold, diamonds, coffee, fish, agricultural products
- GNI per capita: US $370 (World Bank, 2009)
- Internet domain: .gn
- International dialling code: +224
President: Alpha Conde
Alpha Conde became president in 2010 after a lifelong battle against a series of despotic and military regimes which sent him into exile and prison.
In December 2010 he was declared winner in Guinea's first democratic election since gaining independence from France in 1958.
He took over from a military junta which seized power after the death of President Lansana Conte in 2008.
Both allies and critics alike acknowledge his charisma and intelligence, but some also describe him as authoritarian and impulsive, someone who rarely listens to others and often acts alone.
His supporters however consider him untainted, a "new man" who has never had the opportunity to "participate in the looting of the country."
Mr Conde's political career began in the 1950s when, as head of the Federation of Black Students in Francophone Africa, he campaigned for independence from France, a drive that bore fruit in Guinea in 1958.
Radio and TV stations, as well as the country's largest and only daily newspaper, are state-controlled and offer little coverage of the opposition and scant criticism of the government.
After much international and opposition lobbying, the government agreed to open up the airwaves and licensed private radio broadcasters in early 2006.
However, a media crackdown followed President Conte's declaration of a "state of siege" amid violent protests against his rule in February 2007.
A restrictive press law allows the government to censor publications. More than a dozen private newspapers publish either weekly or sporadically and are critical of the government. High printing costs also severely restrict publishing.
- Radiodiffusion-Television Guineenne (RTG) - state-run national TV
- Radiodiffusion-Television Guineenne (RTG) - state-run national broadcaster, programmes in French, English and vernacular languages; operating several Radio Rurale community stations
- Radio Nostalgie Guinea - private
- Liberte FM - private
- Soleil FM - private
- Familia FM - private
A chronology of key events
1891 - France declares Guinea to be a colony, separate from Senegal.
1898 - Defeat of resistance to French occupation led by Samory Toure, great-grandfather of future President Ahmed Sekou Toure.
1906 - Guinea becomes part of French West African Federation.
1952 - Ahmed Sekou Toure becomes secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Guinea.
1958 October - Guinea becomes independent, with Ahmed Sekou Toure as president.
1965 - Sekou Toure breaks off relations with France after accusing it of plotting to oust him.
1984 March - Sekou Toure dies.
1984 April - Lansana Conte and Diarra Traore seize power in bloodless coup. Conte becomes president while Traore is installed as prime minister.
1985 - Attempted coup organized by Traore following his demotion to education minister.
1990 - Constitution paving the way for civilian government is adopted.
Democracy without peace
1993 - First multiparty elections are held; Conte confirmed in office.
1995 - Conte's Party of Unity and Progress wins 71 of the National Assembly's 114 seats.
1996 - Some 30 people are killed and presidential palace set on fire as 25% of Guinea's armed forces mutiny over low pay, poor conditions.
2000 September - Alpha Conde, leader of opposition Guinean People's Rally, sentenced to five years in prison for endangering state security and recruiting foreign mercenaries. He is pardoned in May 2001.
2000 September - Start of incursions by rebels in Guinea's border regions with Liberia and Sierra Leone which eventually claim more than 1,000 lives and cause massive population displacement. The government accuses Liberia, the Sierra Leonean United Revolutionary Front (RUF) rebel group, Burkina Faso and former Guinean army mutineers of trying to destabilise Guinea.
2001 February - Government deploys attack helicopters to the front-line in its fight with rebels.
2001 November - Official results show constitutional referendum, boycotted by opposition, endorses President Conte's proposal to extend presidential term from five to seven years. Critics accuse Mr Conte of trying to stay in power for life.
2002 March - Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia agree on measures to secure mutual borders and to tackle insurgency.
2003 November - Opposition leader Jean-Marie Dore detained, subsequently released, after saying President Conte is too ill to contest December's presidential election.
2003 December - President Conte wins a third term in elections boycotted by the opposition.
2004 April - Prime Minister Lounseny Fall resigns while visiting the US.
2005 January - President Conte survives what security officials say is an assassination attempt. Shots were fired as his motorcade passed through the capital.
2005 July - Alpha Conde, head of the main opposition Guinean People's Rally, returns from exile in France. He is welcomed by thousands of supporters.
2006 March - President Conte is flown to Switzerland for medical treatment. Opposition parties call for the formation of an interim government.
2006 April - Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo sacked.
Strikes and protests
2006 June - Crippling general strike suspended after eight days after trade unions, government agree on wages and prices of basic goods. Several student protesters were killed during unrest over the postponement of exams due to the strike.
2006 October - President Conte fails to make his usual independence day speech, fuelling concerns about his health.
2007 January - General strike called by unions, opposition in protest against the rule of President Conte. Several people are killed in clashes between demonstrators and police.
2007 13 February - President Conte declares a state of emergency, instructs the army to restore order following days of violent protests.
2007 26 February - President names Lansana Kouyate as prime minister under a deal to end the general strike.
2007 May - Violent protests as soldiers demand better pay.
2007 August - Government announces discovery of commercially viable reserves of uranium.
2008 May - President sacks Lansana Kouyate as prime minister and replaces him with former minister of mines and ally Ahmed Tidiane Souare.
Soldiers begin a mutiny over pay.
Conte dies, military seizes power
2008 December - Military seizes power within hours of death of President Lansana Conte. The coup meets with international condemnation, but many Guineans back the army's move.
Captain Moussa Dadis Camara emerges as leader of the new military junta and declares himself president.
Junta appoints former banker Kabine Komara as prime minister.
2009 August - Military leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara says presidential elections will be held on 31 January 2010 and elections for parliament in March. Despite a previous promise that he would not seek election, his supporters form a movement urging him to stand.
2009 September - Soldiers open fire on a mass opposition rally at a stadium in Conakry, called to urge military ruler Moussa Camara to step down. The Guinean Human Rights Organisation says 157 are killed in the violence and over 1200 injured. The military government puts the death toll at 57, and bans all "subversive" gatherings.
2009 October - The European Union, the African Union and the US United States impose sanctions.
The United Nations sets up a tribunal to probe the death of at least 150 protesters, who died when troops fired on an anti-government demonstration in September.
2009 December - Captain Camara is shot in the head by a former aide.
2010 January - After receiving treatment in Morocco, Captain Camara goes to Burkina Faso to recuperate. Capt Camara agrees to stay abroad and leave his deputy Gen Sekouba Konate in charge.
Pro-democracy opposition leader and civilian Jean-Marie Dore is appointed interim PM to head a power-sharing government and oversee a return to civilian rule.
2010 February - International Criminal Court (ICC) says September stadium massacre was a crime against humanity.
2010 May - Campaigning kicks off for 27 June presidential election. Military junta promises to respect result.
2010 June - Presidential elections. First round produces no outright winner.
2010 October - Clashes ahead of run-off presidential elections.
2010 November - Alpha Conde declared winner of run-off presidential race. Emergency declared after clashes between security forces and supporters of defeated candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo.
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Congo Dem Republic
- Cote d'Ivoire
- Equatorial Guinea
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- South Sudan
- The Gambia
- Western Sahara