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 has four main regions namely Maritime Guinea (La Guinée Maritime), Mid-Guinea (La Moyenne-Guinée), Upper-Guinea (La Haute-Guinée) and Forested Guinea (Guinée forestière).
Art in Guinea:
In this region the style of woodcarving is abstract. Distortion is often used to emphasize features of spiritual significance. The figures of the Dogon tribe of central Mali stress the cylindrical shape of the torso. Some wooden carvings were made by an earlier people, the Tellem. Sculptures such as masks carved of soft wood are homes for the spirits and are discarded once they have been used in rituals. The Dogon have three distinctive styles of sculpture: masks incorporating recessed rectangles, ancestor sculptures carved in abstract geometric style used as architectural supports, and freestanding figures made in a cylindrical style. High-ranking Dogon families often had carved doors on their granaries.
The Bambara people of W Mali are famous for their striking wooden headdresses in the form of stylized antelope heads. The art of the Baga of NW Guinea includes snake carvings, drums supported by small free-standing figures, and spectacular masks. Poro society members in Liberia made ceremonial masks notable for their size, color, and vitality of expression. The Dan are known for their quasi-naturalistic, smoothly carved masks that represent materializations of spirits of the forest. Many of their masks are used to instruct initiates and relate to various social responsibilities, such as fighting fires and making peace. The Dan also carve large wooden spoons with anthropomorphic features used in ceremonies to show the importance of women.
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.
View Larger Map