Guinea

Official name : Republic of Guinea

Area: 245,857 square kilometers (94,926 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Nimba (1,752 meters/5,748 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Western

Time zone: Noon = noon GMT

Longest distances: 831 kilometers (516 miles) from southeast to northwest; 493 kilometers (306 miles) from northeast to southwest

Land boundaries: 3,399 kilometers (2,112 miles) total boundary length; Senegal 330 kilometers (205 miles); Mali 858 kilometers (533 miles); Cote d'Ivoire 610 kilometers (379 miles); Liberia 563 kilometers (350 miles); Sierra Leone 652 kilometers (405 miles); Guinea-Bissau 386 kilometers (240 miles)

Coastline: 320 kilometers (199 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Guinea is located on the coast of the great western bulge of Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean. The country shares borders with Senegal, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau. With an area of about 245,857 square kilometers (94,926 square miles), the country is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. Guinea is divided into thirty-three prefectures and one special zone.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Guinea has no outside dependencies or territories.

3 CLIMATE

The temperature in Guinea varies according to region and season. Conakry is humid nearly all year-round, with fairly uniform temperatures from 23°C (73°F) to 29°C (84°F). Temperatures in the Fouta Djallon and Forest Highlands are more moderate, and in the dry season they may vary daily by 14°C (25°F).

Conakry and the maritime region receive as much as 430 centimeters (169 inches) of monsoon rains annually, with half of the rainfall in July and August. The Fouta receives about 150 to 200 centimeters (60 to 80 inches), while the Forest Highlands receive 280 centimeters (110 inches) annually.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Guinea has four main geographic regions. Lower Guinea, or Maritime Guinea, consists mainly of a coastal plain that rises steeply to high central plateaus known as the Fouta Djallon, or "The Fouta," in Middle Guinea. To the northeast are broad savannahs in Upper Guinea. To the southeast are a combination of mountains and uplands in the Forest Highlands.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Seacoast and Undersea Features

Guinea's irregular coast is broken up by a number of bays and estuaries facing the Atlantic Ocean.

Islands and Archipelagoes

The Îles de Los, a cluster of small volcanic islands off Conakry, are inhabited and draw tourists during the dry season when seas are calm.

Coastal Features

Mangroves line much of Guinea's coast. The coast is broken at only two points, where spurs of resistant rock formations jut into the ocean. One is found at Cape Verga in the north, and the other is the Camayenne (or Kaloum) Peninsula on which Conakry is situated. Tides are high along the entire coast, reaching fifteen or more feet, which results in brackish water in estuaries many miles inland. Behind the coastal swamps lies an alluvial plain which averages about 48 kilometers (30 miles) wide but is considerably narrower in its central section.

6 INLAND LAKES

There are no major lakes in Guinea.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

Guinea is the "water tower" of West Africa. Over one-half of West Africa's principal rivers rise either in the Fouta Djallon or the Forest Highlands. The longest river in Guinea is the Niger River, at 4,100 kilometers (2,460 miles). It rises in the Fouta Djallon and flows northward into Mali. A little more than halfway through Mali, the river curves to the south and flows through the countries of Niger and Nigeria before reaching the Gulf of Guinea. The Niger River system in Guinea drains more than one-third of the country's total area. During the rainy season flooding occurs frequently along the sluggish rivers in the Niger River basin, including parts of the Niger itself.

Many short rivers, originating either in the Fouta Djallon or in its foothills, cascade through the coastal plain to estuaries along the Atlantic Ocean. Among the most important for navigation purposes are the Rio Nunez and the Fatala River. The Konkouré River, north of Conakry, provides hydro-electric power for the capital.

Tidal marshes and swampy flats surround Atlantic coast estuaries.

8 DESERTS

There are no significant desert regions in Guinea.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

Tall grasses, interspersed with lightly wooded savannah, dominate Upper Guinea. Grasses also have colonized deforested areas of the Forest Highlands.

Dense rainforest, now largely secondary growth, characterizes the Forest Highlands in areas below 609 meters (2,000 feet). Higher areas are more lightly forested. The area around Beyla and Nzérékoré consists of rolling plains that were at one time probably covered by rainforest.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

The Guinea Highlands in the Forest Region have general elevations ranging from about 457 meters (1,500 feet) above sea level in the west to over 914 meters (3,000 feet) in the east. Peaks at several points attain 1,219 meters (4,000 feet) and higher. Southeast of Nzérékoré are the Nimba Mountains on the Liberian and Côte d'Ivoire frontiers. Located in this range is Mount Nimba, Guinea's highest point at 1,752 meters (5,748 feet).

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

There are no major caves or canyons in Guinea.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

The Fouta Djallon occupies most of Middle Guinea and consists of a complex, elevated, relatively level plateau. About 12,950 square kilometers (5,000 square miles) of this area reach elevations over 914 meters (3,000 feet). The plateaus are deeply cut in many places by narrow valleys, many of which run at roughly right angles, giving the region a checkerboard appearance. A number of major valleys extend for long distances, providing important lines of communication; the railroad from Conakry to Kankan runs in part through one of these valleys. In the south, foothills occur in steep steps having escarpments well over 304 meters (1,000 feet) high.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

The Garifiri hydroelectric dam on the Konkouré River features a 75-megawatt power plant, a reservoir of 2 billion cubic meters (7.51 billion cubic feet), and a spillway that evacuates 2,000 cubic meters (70,580 cubic feet) of water per second.

DID YOU KNOW?

Guinea is the second-largest bauxite producer in the world, possessing more than 30 percent of the world's bauxite reserves. Bauxite is a main ingredient in the production of aluminum. Major bauxite deposits are found across western and central Guinea. Since these deposits are generally close to the surface, open pit mining operations are typical.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Laye, Camara. The Dark Child . Trans. Eva Thoby-Marcelin. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1954.

Nelson, Harold D., et al, eds. Area Handbook for Guinea . Foreign Area Studies. Washington, D.C.: American University, 1975.

Niane, Djibril Tamsir. Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali . Trans. G.D. Pickett. Essex: Longman, 1965.

O'Toole, Thomas. Historical Dictionary of Guinea . Third Edition. Lanham, MD, and London: Scarecrow Press, 1994.

Web Sites

Wild World: Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World . National Geographic Society. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/wildworld/terrestrial.html (accessed May, 2003).

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