Guinea Attraction is The Undisturbed Countryside

By: Douglas Scott

The Republic of Guinea is located in West Africa and bounded by Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Cote dIvoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The River Niger flows north from the southern highlands into Mali before turning south again through Niger and Nigeria.

The coastal plain is made up of mangrove swamps. In the northeast, savannah plains of the Sahel region stretch into Mali. To the south are mountains known as the Guinea Highlands.

Guineas main attraction to tourists is its relatively undisturbed countryside. Its landscape varies from mountains to plains and from savannah to forest. The capital, Conakry, is located on the island of Tumbo and connected to the Kaloum Peninsula by a 300m long pier.

The city is well laid out, its alleys shaded by mangrove and coconut palm trees. One dish visitors are likely to be offered is hot maize soup, served from calabashes. Guinea has a strong music tradition and Conakry, in particular, is a dynamic centre for music. The singing of the Kindia people is especially renowned.

Guinea has had only two presidents since gaining its independence from France in 1958. Lansana CONTE came to power in 1984, when the military seized the government after the death of the first president, Sekou Toure. Guinea did not hold democratic elections until 1993 when Gen. CONTE was elected president of the civilian government. He was reflected in 1998 and again in 2003. Unrest in Sierra Leone and Liberia has spilled over into Guinea on several occasions over the past decade, threatening stability and creating humanitarian emergencies.

Guinea possesses major mineral, hydropower, and agricultural resources, yet remains an underdeveloped nation. The country possesses over 30 percent of the worlds bauxite reserves and is the second largest bauxite producer. The mining sector accounted for about 75 percent of exports in 1999. Long run improvements in government fiscal arrangements, literacy, and the legal framework are needed if the country is to move out of poverty. Fighting along the Sierra Leonean and Liberian borders, as well as refugee movements has caused major economic disruptions, aggravating a loss in investor confidence. Foreign mining companies have reduced expatriate staff. Panic buying has created food shortages and inflation and caused riots in local markets. Guinea is not receiving multilateral aid. The IMF and World Bank cut off most assistance in 2003. Growth rose slightly in 2004, primarily due to increases in global demand and commodity prices on world markets.

Although Guineas mineral wealth makes it potentially one of Africas richest countries, its people are among the poorest in West Africa.

Radio and TV stations, as well as the countries largest and only daily newspaper, are state controlled and offer little coverage of the opposition and scant criticism of the government.

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