Republic of Guinea
République de Guinée
Guinea lies on the West African coast, bordered by Sierra Leone and Liberia to the south, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal to the north, and Mali and Côte d'Ivoire inland to the east. It has 320 kilometers (199 miles) of coastline, and a land area of 245,857 square kilometers (94,925 miles). Comparatively, the country is slightly smaller than Oregon. The capital of Conakry is on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and has the only international airport.
The population was estimated to be 7,613,870 in July of 2001, a figure which includes up to half a million refugees from the neighboring countries of Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau. According to the United Nations, Guinea is the largest provider of shelter for refugees in the region, with an estimated 650,000 refugees in 2000, and the pattern has been for refugees to drift to the capital, putting pressure on municipal services. The population growth rate in 2001 was estimated at 1.96 percent. The majority of the population is rural, with just 29.6 percent of the population living in urban areas. The capital is home to 1.1 million people, and a further 9 towns have populations of between 25,000 and 100,000.
The population is composed primarily of 3 indigenous ethnic groups: the Peuhl (40 percent), Malinke (30 percent), and Soussou (20 percent). Fully 85 percent of the population are Muslim, while 5 percent are Roman Catholic and the rest follow traditional beliefs. The population is quite young, with 43 percent between the ages of 0 and 14, and 54 percent between the ages of 15 and 64. The life expectancy in the country is 45.91 years (43.49 for men and 48.42 for women).
Mining is the most important sector in the economy, providing approximately 20 percent of GDP, 90 percent of recorded exports, and 70 percent of government revenue, though world commodity price declines in the 1990s have hurt the industry. A new mining code has been an incentive to investors, and foreign companies are now responsible for 85 percent of new developments.
Guinea has 30 percent of the world's known reserves of bauxite and is the world's second largest producer of the ore. The biggest company in the sector is owned by the U.S. company, Alcoa, and produces 12.5 million tons per year, and through further investment this figure should rise to 13 million. A Soviet-backed company has had erratic production since the downfall of the Soviet system and produced only 1.5 million tons in 1998, though its capacity is 5 million tons per year. There is also a joint venture with Iran, though production has yet to start, as it is still waiting for improvements of the rail links with the capital to make the venture viable.
The parastatal Frigvia has the capacity to produce 700,000 tons per year of alumina (the processed form of bauxite), though heavy losses in the years 1991-96 and internal disputes have caused the French advisers to pull out. The privatization sale of Frigvia to a U.S. company is well advanced, and other nations have also shown interest in other smelting ventures elsewhere in the country.
Small-scale gold-mining takes place throughout the country, and several large ventures are planned or have recently come into production. Gold generates about 13 percent of export revenues according to the official figures, but the amount of small-scale mining and smuggling means that much gold production goes unrecorded, and the importance of gold to the economy is significantly greater than the statistics indicate.
The 1985 ban on small-scale diamond mining, which was designed to encourage large-scale foreign investors, was lifted in 1992, and small-scale operators are now responsible for the bulk of the national production of an estimated 80,000 to 125,000 carats per year. Official diamond exports are about US$40 million a year, but because only 15 percent of diamond mining goes through official channels, the real benefit to the economy is closer to US$250 million. The new mining code has sparked considerable international interest.
Guinea has 6 percent of the world's iron-ore, though plans to exploit the deposits have been held back due to their location near Liberia during a period of regional tension. Other reserves include chrome, cobalt, copper, lead, zinc, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, platinum, titanium, uranium, chalk, graphite, and granite. Guinea almost certainly has undiscovered deposits of commercial minerals as only one-third of the country has been surveyed.
Formal manufacturing is small and has fallen from 4.3 percent of the GDP in 1993 to 3.9 percent of the GDP in 2000. The majority of production is in the agro-industry sector, although manufacturing in Guinea also includes brewing, soft drinks, cement, and metal manufacture. The cigarette producer, Entag, closed following a fire in 1999, and most state-run enterprises have closed, and no major enterprise opened in the 1990s. Most manufacturing is concentrated around the capital.
Publicly-funded construction accounts for one-half of total construction, and most of it was concentrated on improving the infrastructure. However, recently the private sector has become more active.
Guinea has no territories or colonies.
Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Guinea. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.
"Guinea and the IMF." International Monetary Fund. <http://www.imf.org/external/country/GIN/index.htm> . Accessed October 2001.
La Guinée. <http://www.guinee.gov.gn> . Accessed October 2001.
Hodd, Michael. "Guinea." The Economies of Africa. Aldershot:Dartmouth, 1991.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html> . Accessed September 2001.
U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Guinea, December 1999. <http://www.state.gov/www/background_notes/guinea_ 9912_bgn.html> . Accessed October 2001.
U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Guinea. <http://www.state.gov/www/about_state/business/com_guides/2001/africa/index.html> . Accessed October 2001.
Guinea franc (GF). One franc equals 100 centimes. There are notes of 25, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, and 5,000 francs.
Bauxite, alumina, diamonds, gold, coffee, fish, agricultural products.
Petroleum products, metals, machinery, transport equipment, textiles, grain and other foodstuffs.
US$10 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).
Exports: US$820 million (f.o.b., 2000). Imports: US$634 million (f.o.b., 2000).