Guinea, officially the Republic of Guinea (French: République de Guinée), is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea (French: Guinée française), it is today sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbour Guinea-Bissau and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. It has a population of 10,057,975 and an area of 246,000 square kilometres (94,981 sq mi). Forming a crescent as it curves from its western border on the Atlantic Ocean toward the east and the south, it shares its northern border with Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Mali, and its southern border with Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d’Ivoire. The sources of the Niger River, Gambia River, and Senegal River are all found in the Guinea Highlands.
Conakry is Guinea’s capital, largest city, and economic centre. Other major cities in the country include Kankan, Nzérékoré, Kindia, Labe, Guéckédou, Mamou and Boke. Guinea’s 10 million people belong to twenty-four ethnic groups. The largest and most prominent groups are the Fula (40%), Mandingo (30%), and Susu (20%). It is a predominantly Islamic country, with Muslims representing about 85 percent of the population. Christians, mostly Roman Catholic, make up about 10 percent of the population, and are mainly found in the southern (Guinée forestière) region. French is the official language of Guinea, and is the main language of communication in schools, government administration, the media, and the country’s security forces. More than twenty four indigenous languages are also spoken, of which the most common are Fula, Susu and Maninka. Fula is widely used in the Fouta Djallon region in central Guinea, Maninka in Eastern Guinea, and Susu in the coastal region of northwestern Guinea.
Guinea’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture and mineral production. It is the world’s second largest producer of bauxite, and has rich deposits of diamonds and gold.
At 245,857 km2 (94,926 sq mi), Guinea is roughly the size of the United Kingdom and slightly smaller than the US state of Oregon. There are 320 km (200 mi) of coastline and a total land border of 3,400 km (2,100 mi). Its neighbours are Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone. It lies mostly between latitudes 7° and 13°N, and longitudes 7° and 15°W (a small area is west of 15°).
The country is divided into four main regions: the Basse-Coté lowlands, populated mainly by the Susu ethnic group; the cooler, mountainous Fouta Djallon that run roughly north-south through the middle of the country, populated by Fulas, the Sahelian Haute-Guinea to the northeast, populated by Malinké, and the forested jungle regions in the southeast, with several ethnic groups. Guinea’s mountains are the source for the Niger, the Gambia, and Senegal Rivers, as well as the numerous rivers flowing to the sea on the west side of the range in Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire.
The highest point in Guinea is Mount Nimba at 1,752 m (5,748 ft). Although the Guinean and Ivorian sides of the Nimba Massif are a UNESCO Strict Nature Reserve, the portion of the so-called Guinean Backbone continues into Liberia, where it has been mined for decades; the damage is quite evident in the Nzérékoré Region at 7°32?17?N 8°29?50?W.
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