Guinea, Republic of

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Guinea, Republic of


(République de Guinée).

Guinea is a state in West Africa. It is bordered on the north by Senegal, on the north and northeast by Mali, on the east by the Ivory Coast, on the south by Liberia, on the southwest by Sierra Leone, on the northwest by Bissau, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. Guinea’s area is 245,800 sq km, and its population was 4 million in 1969. The capital is Conakry. Guinea is divided into 29 administrative regions, which are subdivided into districts and communes.

Guinea is a republic whose operative constitution was adopted on Nov. 10, 1958 (with subsequent changes). The head of state and government is the president, who is elected by general, direct elections for seven years. He appoints and replaces ministers as well as high civilian and military officials, and he is the commander in chief of the armed forces and the country’s representative in foreign relations. The government—the Council of Ministers—consists of the ministers and state secretaries.

The highest body of state power and the sole legislative body—the parliament—is the unicameral National Assembly, which consists of 75 deputies elected by general, direct elections for five years. The right to vote is granted to citizens who have reached age 21. The National Assembly elects the Standing Commission. Between parliamentary sessions the commission may adopt legislative acts, which are later presented to the National Assembly for ratification. Governors and commandants appointed by the president head the regions and districts. Administrative regions are grouped together into four ministerial delegations, which are headed by plenipotentiary ministers. The regional assemblies are bodies of local self-government within the administrative regions. Their deputies are elected by general, direct elections for five years, and their members also include deputies of the National Assembly. In villages and city districts the functions of the bodies of local authority are performed by bureaus of party committees of the Democratic Party of Guinea.

Between 1958 and 1966, Guinea reorganized its judicial system. The colonial law courts—courts for cases involving Europeans, mixed courts, and courts of native law—were eliminated. New judicial agencies were created, including the Superior Court of Cassation, which is a court of higher instance, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court, which tries cases involving crimes against state security as well as crimes of ministers and other high officials. In addition, there is á special court that tries cases involving economic crimes, a military tribunal, and two courts of the first instance. In villages and city districts people’s tribunals have been established, consisting of members of the bureaus of party committees of the village or city district and administered by committees of sections of the Democratic Party of Guinea. These tribunals try divorce cases, cases involving the establishment of facts, and cases involving petty crimes.


The territory of Guinea lies almost entirely in the sub-equatorial zone 8°-12° north of the equator. Its shores are heavily indented, and they are of the ria type, with signs of submergence in the recent past. Along the coastline and in the estuaries there are many large and small low-lying islands.

Terrain. Medium and low mountains and plateaus prevail. A narrow band of the Atlantic coast is occupied by a lowland. In the south the shoreline is approached by the Fouta Djallon plateau, with ledges (elevations, 300-400 m and 800-1,000 m) that rise from the ocean floor and extend deep into the country, occupying its entire northwestern section. Individual massifs in the central part of this plateau are as high as 1,500 m (Mount Tamgué, 1,537 m). The southeastern part of the country is occupied by the Northern Guinea Upland, with an average elevation of about 800 m. (The highest peak is Mount Nimba, 1,752 m.) In the northeast there is a plain (elevation, 300-400 m), which is the basin of the upper reaches of the Niger River.


Geological structure and minerals. The southeastern part of Guinea is made up of plutonic metamorphosed rocks of the Precambrian period (in the region of Mount Nimba, with large deposits of jaspilite iron ores) and granites dating from the Early Proterozoic age. The central and northern parts of Guinea (the Fouta Djallon plateau) correspond to a flat, shallow platform depression, filled in with Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian oceanic sandstones and argillites. Adjacent to this depression in the north (from the direction of Senegal) and the south (from the direction of Sierra Leone) there are sunken, folded, and weakly metamorphosed sedimentary layers from the Late Proterozoic age that belong to the Mauretanian-Senegal folded system. All these formations are deeply pierced by dikes and sills composed of basic and partly ultrabasic magma rocks, which probably intruded during the Early Mesozoic period into cracks running northwest and northeast. One of the largest gabbro and pyroxenite dikes forms the Kaloum Peninsula, on which the city of Conakry is located. The Los Islands, which are located off Conakry, are an annular intrusion of recent nepheline syenites. The younger veins and dikes of kimberlites, which are widespread south of the city of Kankan, are associated with primary and placer deposits of diamonds. Small quantities of gold are found in alluvial deposits along the course of the upper Niger and in gold-bearing quartz veins. Of worldwide importance are bauxite deposits, which are confined to the young weathered crust of the Fouta Djallon plateau.


Climate. Guinea has an equatorial-monsoon, hot, humid climate. The average temperature in the hottest month (March or April) is 27°-30° C on the coast and up to 23° C in the more elevated regions. The average temperature in the coolest month (August) is 24°-26° C on the coast and up to 18° C in the higher regions. The coastal area—especially around the city of Conakry—where the annual precipitation exceeds 4,000 mm, is the wettest part of the country. In the remaining regions the average annual precipitation is at least 1,200-1,500 mm. The rainy season in the southern part of the country lasts for seven to ten months (from March, April, or May through October or November). In the extreme north it lasts for five months (June through October).

Rivers and lakes. The river network is dense and carries a great deal of water. Most of the rivers, including the Gambia, Bafing (the upper reaches of the Senegal River), and Niger, have their source in the Fouta Djallon and the Northern Guinea Upland. The most important rivers that empty into the ocean in Guinea itself are the Kogon, Fatala, and Konkouré. The water discharge in rivers varies greatly during the course of a year. There are many rapids and waterfalls. The rivers can provide as much as 60 billion kilowatt-hours annually, one-tenth of which comes from the Konkoure River. The only navigable sections are the mouths of certain rivers that empty into the ocean and a small portion of the course of the Niger River and its tributary, the Milo River, in the northern part of the country.

Soils and flora. Well-developed humid equatorial evergreen forests once grew on the maritime lowland and on the windward slopes of the inland plateaus on red and reddish yellow lateritic soils. Most of these have been removed, and they are preserved only in isolated “islands,” primarily in the Northern Guinea Upland. Located in the tidal belt along the seacoast are sections of mangrove forests, which grow on saline, muddy soil. In the southern and central regions severely depleted secondary forests and wooded savannas prevail. Typical of the northern regions are secondary wooded savannas and tall-grass savannas on red lateritic soils.

Fauna. Guinea has abundant, diverse animal life, but hunting has sharply diminished the number and species composition of the large animals. Elephants, hippopotamuses, antelopes, and boars have been preserved and, among the predators, leopards and cheetahs. There are many monkeys, and snakes are widespread. Most numerous among the birds are the small species of the sparrow family, which are harmful to sowings and plantings. There are few freshwater fish, but there are abundant fish in the coastal waters of the ocean, including flying fish, tunny, and sailfish. Crocodiles are also encountered.

In order to study the climate, flora, and fauna of the mountain-forest zone, the Mount Nimba Preserve was established in 1944 on the summit of the Nimba Mountain massif.

Natural regions. The Atlantic Lowland (Lower Guinea) is a flat, low plain indented by numerous rivers. It is one of the wettest regions on the continent. The Northern Guinea Upland (Forest Guinea) is an elevated area with a uniform terrain and savanna vegetation. Its steeper southern slope is heavily broken by rivers and covered with dense, humid equatorial forests. The Fouta Djallon plateau (Central Guinea) is a mesa massif broken by river valleys. It has savanna vegetation. The flat plains of the upper Niger (Upper Guinea) are dissected by the valleys of large rivers (including the Niger and Milo) and are covered with typical savanna vegetation.


Gornung, M. B. Gvineiskaia respublika. Moscow, 1960.


Approximately 60 percent of Guinea’s population belongs to the Mande linguistic group. This includes the Mandingo peoples (for example, the Malinke, Bambara, and Koranko), who live in the interior regions of the country (a total of 1 million people, 1967 estimate). In addition, there are the Susu (400,000), who live in the city of Conakry and its environs, and the Kpelle (160,000), the Loma (or Toma) (110,000), and the Kono (or Vai) and Mano, who live in the southern part of the country. More than 40 percent of the population belongs to the Atlantic family of languages, including the Fulbe (1.5 million), who live on the Fouta Djallon plateau, as well as the Kissi (230,000), Baga, and Tenda (Badiaranke, Koniagi, and Bassari), who inhabit the coastal zone northwest of Conakry. The official language is French; however, it is used by only a small part of the population. The most widespread languages are Susu, Fula, and Malinke. Muslims make up two-thirds of the population, and most of the remainder of the population adheres to local, traditional beliefs. There is a small number of Christians—Catholics and Protestants. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

The annual rate of population growth between 1963 and 1969 was 2.5 percent. Most of the rural inhabitants (farmers) lead a settled mode of life. Seminomads, who are engaged in livestock breeding, are generally found among the Fulbe. Among certain nationality groups there are migrations that are confined to a definite territory. (For example, among the Koniagi migrations are limited to Youkounkoun Region.)

Approximately 85 percent of the economically active population was engaged in farming in 1965. Those working for wages (workers, office employees, and people in the service fields) totaled approximately 110,000.

The average density of the population is 16 persons per sq km. The most densely populated areas are the Atlantic Low-land, the Fouta Djallon plateau, and the upper Niger basin. The urban population is about 500,000 (1965).

The important cities are Conakry (population, 197,300 including suburbs, 1967), Kankan, Labé, and Nzérékore. A number of cities lie along the Conakry-Kankan railroad line, including Kindia and Mamou. The growth of certain cities (for example, Fria, Boké, and Kamissar) is connected with the development of the mining industry.

Prior to the beginning of the colonial conquest (until the mid-19th century). The early history of the nationality groups that settled the territory of Guinea has received little study. It is known that part of the territory of Guinea was included in the medieval states of Ghana and Mali. With the decline of Mali, a number of small states came into being, which tended to unite. In 1725 a military-feudal state was formed in the Fouta Djallon region by Fulbe nomadic livestock breeders, who had come from the northern regions of West Africa and subjugated the native population. The Fulbe state was divided into nine provinces. Standing at the head of the state and the provinces were representatives of the aristocratic Alfaya and Soriya families, who held power alternately every two years.

Europeans (Portuguese seafarers) first appeared on the coast of Guinea in the mid-15th century. Until the 19th century they carried on a predatory slave trade, as a result of which the densely settled coastal areas were almost completely depopulated.

The colonial conquest of Guinea: Guinea as a French colony (second half of the 19th century through 1958). The European powers began the colonial conquest of Guinea in the second half of the 19th century. Under the pretext of “protecting” European traders, the French government sent a number of military expeditions to the “Country of the Southern Rivers” (the name of the coastal section of the territory of Guinea until the end of the 19th century). In the last quarter of the 19th century Great Britain and Germany joined the struggle for possession of this territory. The rivalry among the colonial powers ended with the victory of France, which signed a number of treaties concerning a protectorate with the almamy (rulers) of Fouta Djallon in the 1880’s and 1890’s. In 1896, French troops occupied Timbo—the principal city of Fouta Djallon. Protégés of the colonizers began to be appointed rulers of the country. (In 1912 the title of almamy was abolished, and as a result, the treaties concerning a protectorate lost their significance.)

The French colonial army encountered stubborn resistance from the native population, which was suppressed with extreme cruelty. The colonial troops burned down populated places, exterminated the native population, and conscripted surviving men into the army. However, even after the establishment of French control over the Country of the Southern Rivers and Fouta Djallon, the struggle by the Fulbe and other national groups continued. The most important anticolonial outbreaks included the struggle of the Malinke during the 1870’s through 1890’s under the leadership of Samory, the uprising in Fouta Djallon in 1900, and the uprisings in 1904 in Youkounkoun Region and in 1905 in Labé Region.

Until 1895, French possessions in Guinea were part of the French colony of Senegal. Later, they were separated into an individual colony. From 1904 to 1958, French Guinea was considered a territory of French West Africa. A French governor headed the administration, and district administrators (also Frenchmen) were subordinate to him. These administrators appointed representatives of the native tribal aristocracy, as well as members of other classes of the population who were loyal to the colonists, to the positions of canton and village chiefs. The population of Guinea was cruelly exploited. Forced labor, which was officially abolished in 1946, flourished, and the natives were obliged to pay a heavy poll tax.

After World War I, banana, pineapple, and coffee plantations owned by Europeans began to appear in Guinea. However, the plantation economy did not develop significantly. (In 1954 the European planters had 18,000 hectares [ha] of land at their disposal, but the total area of land under cultivation was approximately 850,000 ha.) Commercial monetary relations developed in agriculture, leading to the undermining of the feudal order and the patriarchal-tribal organization of society. It was only on the eve of World War II that industry—primarily mining—began to appear in Guinea. Small processing enterprises were also built.

After World War II, during the decline of the colonial system, the national liberation movement in Guinea gained noticeable strength. By this time a working class had begun to develop in the country, and a native bourgeoisie and nationalistic intelligentsia also appeared. Political parties and trade unions were founded, and political groupings took shape. However, they were formed along ethnic and territorial lines, and they fought among themselves, weakening the liberation movement.

In May 1947 the Democratic Party of Guinea was formed on the basis of the African Democratic Union. The party united the progressive classes of the people of Guinea—the workers, the peasants, and the progressive nationalist intelligentsia—regardless of their ethnic and religious affiliations. In addition to its principal goal—the elimination of colonial oppression—the party endeavored to carry out serious internal reforms, including abolition of the institution of chiefs, elimination of the tribal structure and caste system, granting of equal rights to women, and introduction of fair labor legislation.

In March 1957 elections were held in Guinea for the Territorial Assembly (a body of self-government that had been created in 1947). The Democratic Party of Guinea won 56 out of 60 seats. In April 1957 a so-called Government Council consisting of Africans was created in Guinea as well as in other French colonies in tropical Africa. The leader of the Democratic Party of Guinea—Ahmed Sékou Touré—was elected vice-president of the Government Council (initially the governor was considered the president), and later he became its president.

By creating the Government Council the French colonialists were pursuing the goal of retarding the growth of the liberation movement; however, the struggle continued. During the referendum on the draft of the new French constitution (Sept. 28, 1958), 95.4 percent of the voters followed the appeal of the Democratic Party of Guinea and cast their ballots against the constitution and for the independence of Guinea.

Independent republic. On Oct. 2, 1958, in accordance with the results of the referendum of Sept. 28, 1958, the Territorial Assembly proclaimed an independent Republic of Guinea. In December the Republic of Guinea became a member of the UN. Sékou Touré became president of the country and its head of state. The efforts of the French government to organize an economic and political blockade of the Republic of Guinea were defeated thanks to aid from the Soviet Union, other socialist countries, and several African states, which was received by Guinea as early as the first days of its existence as an independent nation.

The government of the Republic of Guinea proceeded to carry out a set of measures aimed at eliminating the vestiges of colonialism, reconstructing the social structure of the countryside, and strengthening the political independence of the country, as well as achieving its economic independence. Important administrative reforms were implemented. In 1958 the institution of chiefs was abolished, and the election of bodies of local power was introduced. The principle of equal rights for women was also proclaimed. In 1959 paid vacations and pensions for certain categories of workers were introduced. On Nov. 1, 1959, the government prohibited land deals (buying and selling land, renting it, or donating it) between Africans without the permission of the state bodies, and the right to use communal land was granted only to those who personally cultivated it. The Fifth Congress of the Democratic Party of Guinea (September 1959) adopted a resolution on the development of a network of farm production cooperatives.

In July 1960 the Republic of Guinea began to implement its first three-year plan of development (1960-63), in which special attention was given to raising agricultural production. Processing enterprises were built near the places where raw materials were obtained. Further development of the economy was pursued under the seven-year plan (1964-70). The Soviet Union gave the Republic of Guinea a great deal of assistance in fulfilling this plan.

The government has established state control over the country’s international trade, and it has nationalized foreign banks, insurance companies, a number of mining companies, and transportation companies, as well as the power and water supply systems. In 1960 the Republic of Guinea left the franc zone and introduced its own national currency—the Guinea franc. All these socioeconomic reforms have been carried out under the direction of the Democratic Party of Guinea. The resolutions of the Sixth (1962), Seventh (1963), and Eighth (1967) congresses of the Democratic Party of Guinea have provided for the noncapitalistic development of the Republic of Guinea. This course is being carried out by the party leadership, which is overcoming the difficulties connected with the economic and cultural backwardness left over from the colonial period.

The Republic of Guinea pursues a policy of positive neutralism. The government cooperates with the Soviet Union, with which diplomatic relations were established in 1958, as well as with other socialist countries. The country supports the liberation movement in Africa.

In November 1970 the Republic of Guinea suffered an armed aggression: detachments led by Portuguese mercenaries and trained in Bissau landed on the territory of the republic for the purpose of overthrowing its government. The mercenaries were routed by the armed forces of the republic. The imperialist aggression against the Republic of Guinea was decisively condemned by the people of Guinea and other African countries, by the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, and by progressive forces throughout the world. On Dec. 2, 1970, the Conference of the Political Consultative Committee of the Member States of the Warsaw Treaty adopted a declaration condemning the armed aggression of the Portuguese colonialists against the Republic of Guinea. A resolution condemning the government of Portugal for its armed invasion of the Republic of Guinea was adopted on December 8 by a majority of votes in the UN Security Council. On Dec. 9-11, 1970, the Council of Ministers of the Organization of African Unity condemned NATO and Portugal’s other allies for the aid that they had given Portugal in carrying out its aggression.


Touré, Sékou. Nezavisimaia Gvineia: Stat’i i rechi. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from French.)
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Touré, Sékou. Le Pouvoir populaire. Conakry, 1969.
Arcin, A. La Guinée Française. Paris, 1907.
Ameillon, B. La Guinée: bilan d’une indépendence. Paris, 1964.


Founded in 1947, the Democratic Party of Guinea (DPG; Le Parti Démocratique de Guinée) is the national democratic party. Since 1958 it has been the ruling party, and it directs the work of the trade unions and women’s, youth, and other social organizations.

The National Confederation of Laborers of Guinea was founded in July 1960 on the basis of trade unions that were already in existence. The only central trade union organization in the country, it is a member of the All-African Federation of Trade Unions.

Founded in 1959, the Youth of the African Democratic Revolution is a mass organization that operates under the direction and leadership of the DPG. The Women’s Organization of the DPG was established in 1967.

General state of the economy. Guinea is an agrarian country with a relatively well-developed mining industry. The economy is heavily dependent on the foreign market. Since Guinea achieved independence, important changes have occurred in its economy. In industry a state sector has appeared as a result of the nationalization of installations that had belonged to foreign companies, including electric power plants, the water-supply system in Conakry, and diamond-mining enterprises. New installations have been built using state funds. However, most of the mining industry is still in the hands of foreign monopolies. In agriculture the government has announced a policy of creating cooperative farms, and several state farms have been organized in the country. At educational institutions such as colleges and schools experimental sections have been established, which are operated by the students and on the basis of which production cooperatives have been formed. Among the goals pursued under the seven-year plan (1964-70) were the modernization of agriculture, increasing the volume of agricultural production in order to ensure raw material for the enterprises of the processing industry that were being established, and development of the cooperative movement. New crops were introduced into Guinea—cotton, sugarcane, tobacco, and tea. The production of vegetables—especially tomatoes—increased, the area planted with oil palms was expanded, and the productivity of livestock breeding rose. National industry and the energy base were further developed. A cement plant producing 200,000 tons of cement per year was constructed in the city of Mali, a hydroelectric power plant was built in the Banéa region, and a number of cities were electrified, including Kankan, Siguiri, Gaoual, and Boké. The government’s implementation of its plans for economic development is based on increasing investments by mobilizing internal reserves and on taking advantage of possibilities of obtaining foreign loans.

Aid from the Soviet Union is very important for developing the economy. By drawing on credit that was advanced by the Soviet Union in August 1959, Guinea was able to build a number of industrial enterprises, a stadium, and a hotel. A construction organization was established and equipped by the Soviet Union. Two model farms were furnished with equipment. A geological expedition was set up, and a great deal of work was done in geological mapping and prospecting for minerals. The Republic of Guinea also received cooperation in building an international airport and organizing air transportation. Under the Soviet-Guinean economic agreement of November 1969 the USSR is providing assistance in creating enterprises for processing bauxite deposits in the region of the city of Kindia. Guinea also has agreements on economic and technical cooperation with other socialist countries, including the German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Chinese People’s Republic.

Agriculture. Farming is the main branch of the economy, providing about four-fifths of the country’s gross product. Agriculture is clearly divided into two sectors: the traditional sector, which is primarily engaged in the production of food crops, and the export sector. In certain regions the peasants produce both consumer and export crops. (For example, in Forest Guinea coffee trees are cultivated on family plots of land.) In the traditional sector the fallowing system and the slash-and-burn system (mountainous and forest regions) prevail. These methods do not give high crop yields. In the process of improving agriculture, provision is being made for the transformation of the traditional, consumers’ sector into a sector that produces a commercial output.

FARMING. Cultivated lands make up only 4 percent of the entire territory of the republic (1 million hectares). Most of this land is occupied by food crops for local consumption. The principal food crop is rice, which is grown on the irrigated lands of Upper and Lower Guinea and on the dry farming lands of Fouta Djallon (with a harvest of more than 300,000 tons). There is not enough rice, and it must be imported (as much as 50,000-60,000 tons per year). However, measures are being taken to increase rice production. The second most important food crop is fonio (fine-grained millet), which is grown primarily in Upper Guinea. Other grass crops—millet and sorghum—and corn are also widely produced. An important share of agricultural production is held by universally grown root and tuberous crops—cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, and taro. Most important among the legumes are peanuts, which are grown primarily in the northern part of the country and Lower Guinea. Raw peanuts are consumed by the people of Guinea. Some peanuts are processed at oil mills, and some are exported.

The most important industrial crop is the oil palm, which grows primarily in Lower and Forest Guinea. The oil is obtained only from the shell of the fruit, and the palm kernels are exported (20,000 tons in 1968). Among other oil-producing plants the shea tree is important.

Export crops occupy 35,000 hectares (excluding wild palm groves). Coffee of the “robust” variety is cultivated in Forest Guinea and Fouta Djallon and around the mouth of the Nunez River. Most of the banana plantations are located along the Conakry-Kindia road. Pineapples are grown in Forécariah and Mamou regions and in the southeastern part of the country. (For the area and yield of the main crops, see Table 1.)

Table 1. Area and yield of the main agricultural crops
(in thousands of hectares
(in thousands of tons
1 Annual average
Source: Production Yearbook 1969 (FAO). Rome, 1970.
Millet and sorghum...............22825026093134150

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY. There is extensive livestock breeding in Guinea. The animals are seldom confined in stalls. Productivity is extremely low. Fouta Djallon is the country’s principal livestock-breeding region. As of 1967 there were approximately 1.8 million head of cattle, about 500,000 sheep, and more than 400,000 goats. Measures are being taken to improve the breeds of cattle, and farms have been established for this purpose in Ditinn (Dalaba Region) and Famoéla (Beyla Region). New industrial types of fishing are being developed. (Until recently fishing was done in traditional ways from pirogues with small nets.) A state company was established for fishing in the open sea. By 1968 the fishing fleet consisted of 13 vessels, several thousand motor-boats, and pirogues.

Industry. Guinea has at its disposal a base for developing mining, metallurgical, light, and food industries. The mining industry began to develop even under the colonial regime. In 1939 bauxite deposits began to be worked on Kassa Island. In March 1969 an alumina plant belonging to international aluminum monopolies was put into operation in Fria. (Every year this plant produces more than 500,000 tons of alumina.) The Fria Company pays one-third of its profits to the government of Guinea in the form of profits taxes. The rich deposits of bauxites in Sangarédi (near Boké) began to be worked in 1972 by a mixed company, which includes seven of the largest aluminum monopolies and the government of Guinea. (The latter will deduct 65 percent of the profits.) The potential extraction at Sangarédi is from 5 to 7 million tons of bauxite per year. After World War II iron-ore deposits on the Kaloum Peninsula began to be mined. The enterprise belonged to the Compagnie Minière de Conakry, in which French capital predominated. In 1967 the company’s mining operations were halted. Preparations are under way to work deposits of high-quality iron ore in the region of Mount Simandou and Mount Nimba.

Diamond deposits are being worked in the basins of the Milo, Makona, and Diani rivers. (See Table 2.)

Abundant water resources are the foundation of electrical power engineering. A number of hydroelectric power

Table 2. Output of mining industry
1 By metallic content 21966 3Exports 41967
Source: Statistical Yearbook 1969. New York, 1970.
Iron ore1 (thou tons)...............1993883002
Bauxites (thou tons)...............3271,3782,118
Diamonds (thou carats)...............781113704

plants have already been built: the Grande Chute Hydroelectric Power Plant, with a capacity of 20,000 kilowatts (kW), the Banéa Hydroelectric Power Plant (near Kindia), with a capacity of 3,000 kW, and a hydroelectric power plant in Kinkon (Pita Region), with a capacity of 2,400 kW. In 1958, 20.8 million kilowatt-hours of electric power were produced, and in 1968, 200 million kilowatt-hours. There are steam power plants in a number of cities, including Fria, Conakry, and Kankan.

Since Guinea achieved independence, a number of enterprises have been built with the help of the USSR, including a cannery (Mamou), a sawmill (Nzérékoré), and a refrigerator and oxyacetylene plant (Conakry). Among the other enterprises that have been built are a brick and tile plant (Kobeya), match and tobacco and textile combines (near Conakry), a furniture factory (Sofoniya), motor vehicle and bicycle assembly plants (Kankan), a vegetable oil mill (Dabola), and a fruit-juice plant (Kankan).

Transportation. There are two railroads in the Republic of Guinea: the Conakry-Kankan line (662 km), which was redesigned in 1962 with the aid of Soviet specialists, and the Conakry-Fria line (about 140 km). Automotive transportation is important—in 1968, Guinea had 18,900 motor vehicles, including 7,600 passenger cars. One of the main highways passes through the cities of Conakry, Kindia, Kankan, Beyla, and Nzérékoré. The other goes through Mamou, Kissidougou, Guéckédou, and Nzérékoré. The Conakry-Kindia section (135 km) was paved with asphalt before 1958. By 1967, 366 km of highways were paved with asphalt. Most of the graded country roads, approximately 13,000 km of which are used throughout the year, have a natural covering—a hard, lateritic crust. The major seaport is Conakry, which is especially important for foreign trade. Freight is shipped on a relatively large scale only on the Milo River. Air transportation is being developed. There is a national airline company—Air Guinée. Airports are located in the cities of Conakry, Kindia, Fria, Boké, Labé, Kankan, Kissidougou, and Nzérékoré.

Foreign trade. Guinea’s exports, in descending order of value, include alumina, coffee, bananas, diamonds, bauxite, palm kernels, pineapples, iron ore, and peanuts. The country imports industrial equipment, agricultural machinery, motor vehicles, petroleum products, metal goods, and foodstuffs. In the past Guinea’s foreign trade was almost exclusively with France. In 1967 the French share of the value of Guinea’s export trade amounted to 11 percent; the share of the USA, 9 percent; Norway, 9 percent; and Cameroon, 3 percent. The socialist countries’ share of Guinea’s exports was 23 percent. The socialist countries accounted for 40 percent of Guinea’s imports and the USA for 22 percent, followed by the Federal Republic of Germany and Great Britain. The monetary unit is the Guinea franc. As of August 1971, according to the currency exchange rate of Gosbank (State Bank) of the USSR, 1,000 Guinea francs = 3 rubles, 65 kopecks.


Gavrilov, N. I. Zapadnaia Afrika pod gnetom Frantsii (1945-59). Moscow, 1961.
Suret-Canale, J. Afrika Zapadnaia i Tsentral’naia. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from French.)


The people’s army consists of land troops, an air force, and some combat naval units. The armed forces are under the administration of the State Secretariat of Defense and Civil Duties. The supreme commander in chief is the president, who heads the Council of Defense, which was created in January 1969. In 1970 the total number of men in the armed forces was approximately 6,000, including 4,800 in the land forces (four infantry battalions and small tank, artillery, and engineering units). There are 100 men in the air force, 200 in the navy, and 900 in the military police. There is also a people’s militia consisting of about 7,300 men. The armed forces are formed on the basis of paid volunteers as well as universal military duty, and there is a military school that graduates young officers. Officers in technical specialities take their training abroad. A characteristic feature of the armed forces is the active participation of servicemen in the country’s political life and in carrying out economic projects, such as road construction, transporting goods, and making lands suitable for agricultural crops. The military units have electoral party committees.

Medicine and public health. In 1966, according to incomplete data, the birth rate per 1,000 people was 62 and the mortality rate 40. The infant mortality rate was 216 per 1,000 live births. About 25 percent of the total mortality consists of infant deaths before age one, and about 40 percent of the children die before age five. The average life span is 26 years. Infectious and parasitic diseases prevail in Guinea, and skin and venereal diseases, fungous diseases, and nutritional diseases (beriberi and kwashiorkor) are widespread. Cases of smallpox have been recorded.

Characteristic of Lower Guinea is the widespread incidence of ancylostomiasis, ascariasis, trichuriasis, and yaws. Among the typical diseases in Central Guinea (the Fouta Djallon plateau) are endemic goiter, trypanosomiasis, intestinal schistosomiasis, and histoplasmosis. Typical of Forest Guinea are leprosy (especially in Guéckédou and Kissidougou), endemic goiter, trypanosomiasis, ancylostomiasis, taeniasis, taeniarynchosis, filariasis, and histoplasmosis. Frequently occurring in Upper Guinea are intestinal schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, and acanthocheilonematosis. Widespread throughout the country are amebiasis, diphtheria, malaria, and cerebrospinal meningitis. Cases of typhoid and paratyphoid fever have been recorded, and cases of dengue fever, epidermal leishmaniasis, and pyomyositis are encountered. The most frequently occurring diseases are mycoses, myiases, scabies, mycetoma, noma, keloids, inflammations of the eyelids and tear ducts, trachoma, primary cancer of the liver, and malignant melanomas.

The National Institute of Hygiene operates in Conakry, and central medicinal bases and pharmaceutical centers have been established in localities to dispense free medicines to the people. In 1960 the National Office of Social Insurance was organized. In 1967, Guinea had four general hospitals with 2,700 beds, 17 rural hospitals with 2,400 beds, and 37 medical centers with 1,600 beds. The total number of beds was 6,800 (1.8 beds per 1,000 inhabitants). Outpatient care was offered at 28 polyclinics and 182 outpatient clinics. The Donka Hospital is located in Conakry. It has 500 beds and was equipped by the Soviet Union in 1961 as a gift to Guinea. In 1970 the USSR provided Guinea with 100,000 doses of anticholera vaccine. In 1967 there were 88 physicians working in Guinea (one physician per 42,000 inhabitants), and 87 of them were in government service. There were also 212 physician’s aides, nine dentists, nine pharmacists, 145 mid-wives, 236 nurses, and 728 nurse’s aides. Schools have been established to train nurses and midwives.


Veterinary services. Most cattle are concentrated on the Fouta Djallon plateau, which lies outside the zone where the tsetse fly (the carrier of trypanosis) is widespread. Thus, trypanosomiasis is found only among cattle in the coastal regions. (There have been 15 outbreaks. The data here and below cover 1962-67.) There were 118 outbreaks of anthrax. The country’s livestock is damaged by perepneumonia of cattle (171 outbreaks). Cases of pasteurellosis of cattle (32 outbreaks), emphysemic carbuncles, and hydropericarditis have been observed, and 57 cases of rabies in farm animals were recorded. Cattle are widely infected with helminthiases and skin diseases. Assistance in organizing veterinary services has been provided by the USSR and other socialist countries.

When Guinea’s independence was proclaimed in 1958, approximately 90 percent of the population was illiterate. In 1959 a law was passed that transferred all educational institutions to the administration of the state, and a great deal of work was done to Africanize the course of instruction. (The curricula in history and geography that were traditional for the French-language countries of Africa were replaced by new ones, whose foundation was the study of the history and geography of Africa and the history of the national liberation movement on the African continent.) The educational reform of 1961, which was designed to be implemented over a seven-year period, provided for the introduction of compulsory, free education of children from ages seven through 16. (At the end of the 1960’s, this aspect of the reform had not yet been realized.) The reform of 1961 also provided for a basic change in the content of education. As of 1968, the educational system was organized to include a four-year elementary school, an incomplete secondary school (college, five years), and a complete secondary school (lycée, three years). During the academic year 1966-67 there were more than 300,000 pupils enrolled in the elementary schools and about 20,000 in secondary educational institutions. (In the academic year 1957-58, 42,500 pupils were enrolled in elementary schools and 2,500 in secondary schools.)

Since 1968 a new reform of public education has been pursued, with the goal of increasing the occupational training of students. Teachers for the elementary schools and incomplete secondary schools are trained at teachers colleges, and lecturers for the lycées study at the Kankan Polytechnic Institute. Economists are trained at the Higher Administrative School. With aid from the USSR, a polytechnic institute was built in Conakry in 1963, and its curriculum was organized. (It has faculties of natural sciences, civil engineering, geology, and mining.) During the academic year 1970-71 the institute in Conakry had an enrollment of more than 1,000 students.

Also located in Conakry are the National Library (founded in 1960, 10,000 volumes) and the National Museum (1960).


Before Guinea won its independence, it had only a few experimental agricultural stations—branches of French institutes and a small scientific institute in Conakry, which was staffed by Frenchmen and engaged in research in the fields of West African history, ethnology, and archaeology.

After independence was proclaimed, the government of Guinea adopted measures to organize scientific research projects in the fields of natural science and technology. In 1958 the National Institute of Scientific Research and Documentation was founded in Conakry, with divisions in the humanities, physics, mathematics, and technology. (Included under its administration are the National Library, the archives and museum, and the Mount Nimba Preserve.)

Research in tropical medicine, microbiology, parasitology, and serology is conducted at the Guinean Pasteur Institute at Kindia, which is a branch of the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Studies on rice are done at a center in the city of Kankan with an experimental station in Kobé. Fruit crops (pineapples, fig palms, and citrus) are studied at a center in Kindia with experimental stations in Dalabé, Foulaya, and Fouta Djallon, and research on the cinchona tree and mountain crops is done at a center in Sérédou. Scientific research is also conducted at the Mining and Geological Administration, the National Meteorological Station in Conakry, and other institutions.


Horoya (Conakry), Apr. 13-14, 1967; Aug. 26, 1967.
Révolution démocratique africaine (Conakry), no. 26, 1968.
“Guinée: la révolution culturelle prépare l’avenir économique.” Marchés tropicaux et méditerranéens, no. 1,197, p. 2507.
Scientific Research in Africa [Paris, 1966]. (UNESCO.)
Afrika heute, 1964, no. 2. Beilage.


The newspaper Horoya has been published since 1961. It is the central organ of the Democratic Party of Guinea and has a circulation of 10,000 (1971). The official journal of the Republic of Guinea, Journal officiel de la République de Guinée, is issued bimonthly. It publishes the laws, decrees, and resolutions of the central government bodies, as well as various private announcements and information.

The national radio broadcasting service has been in operation since 1958, with domestic programs in French as well as the languages of the nationality groups of the Republic of Guinea. Its broadcasts to foreign countries are carried in English, Portuguese, Arabic, and various African languages.


All the peoples of Guinea have a rich folklore. Stories of wars and legends (about Soundiata Kéita, a 13th-century ruler of Mali) have been preserved among the Malinke in versions transmitted by singer-narrators (griots). The historian and writer Djibril Tamsir Niane published one of the versions of the story of Soundiata in 1960. Also common are tales, proverbs and sayings, fables about animals, and stories based on everyday themes. The small folklore forms are characteristic for all the people of Guinea. However, among the Fulbe there is not only a rich oral tradition but also a rich written tradition in the native language. A popular form is the qasida—a narrative poem hundreds of lines long, with alliteration, assonances, and rhymes. Written on historical and religious themes by specific authors, they eventually become folk works (for example, The Life of Omar El Hadj, 1935, by Muhammad Ali Tyam). A new type of poetry written in French and based on ancient traditions is taking shape in present-day Guinea. In 1955 revolutionary poems (the collection Toward Liberty) were published by Ray Autra (Mamadou Traoré). C. Nénékhaly-Camara, the author of the collection of poems Lagoons (1955), is also well known as a literary critic. A. Sékou Touré (born in 1922) has expressed himself as a poet and writer. Having made his literary debut with the autobiographical novella The Dark Child (1953), Camara Laye (born in 1928) published the modernistic novel The Radiance of the King (1954) and the story “The Statue’s Eyes” (1959), which is imbued with symbolism. In the novel Assiatou in September (1959), E. Cissé reflected the concluding stage of the struggle for independence. During the 1960’s work was begun on developing written literatures for the various national languages. Their completion will open new possibilities for the growth of literature.


V ritmakh tam-tama. [With an introduction by E. Gal’perina.] Moscow, 1961.
Gal’perina, E. L. “Literaturnye problemy v stranakh Afriki.” In Sovremennaia literatura za rubezhom. Moscow, 1962.
Nénékhaly-Camara, C. “Poeziia i natsional’noe samosozhanie.” In Literatura stran Afriki, collection 2. Moscow, 1966.
Potekhina, G. I. Ocherki sovremennoi literatury Zapadnoi Afriki. Moscow, 1968.


The traditional dwellings of the peoples of Guinea are round huts made of banko (clay and straw), without windows and with conical, straw roofs. With the arrival of the Europeans, rectangular houses with terraces began to appear in the cities. Since World War II modern buildings have been constructed, using new designs and materials. Typical of these buildings are jalousies, open grills, and slanting roofs for protection from the sun. Since 1958 construction of public and industrial buildings in Conakry has increased—a process in which the socialist countries have participated. (The polytechnic institute, stadium, and radio center were designed by Soviet architects, and the printing plant was designed by architects from the German Democratic Republic.)

Characteristic examples of Guinean art include stone statuettes of both people and animals, executed in a generalized and conventional manner; old-fashioned wooden utensils that are decorated with carvings; sharply geometric human figurines with the heads of fantastic creatures; and ritual masks made of wood and ivory and meticulously painted. Straw weaving is also widespread. (Pouches and bags, fans, and mats with simple ornamentations in two or three colors are made.) The art of printing fabrics with dark blue, orange, and red designs is well developed. However, professional art has not developed in Guinea. A small workshop in Conakry makes cheap, popular prints—sheets of thick, black paper on which schematic but very expressive depictions of folk dances are imposed by means of multicolored gouache.


Les Guides bleus: Afrique Occidental Française: Togo. Paris, 1958.

Guinea’s music is diverse—each nationality group has its own songs, dances, and instruments. Group forms of musical creativity prevail, such as joint singing, group dances, and ensemble playing on folk instruments. The lead soloist gives organization to the performance. Basically, the song melodies are diatonic; however, complex harmonic forms are also encountered, particularly in instrumental music. Polymetry and polyrhythm are characteristic of the music of Guinea. Typical of folk music is one-part singing. (In choral songs unison-octave composition prevails.) However, specific polyphonic devices are used, particularly in instrumental ensembles.

Among the numerous musical instruments drums of various forms and sizes enjoy great popularity. The tom-tom, which is reminiscent of a kettledrum, is widely used. In folk ensembles the balaphon, an instrument similar to the xylophone, plays a leading role. Outstanding among the stringed instruments are the koro (a multistringed, plucked instrument), the bolon (a three-stringed instrument), and the kerona (a nine-stringed folk guitar). The longitudinal flute is an outstanding wind instrument. Various idiophones are used in ensembles, including the zanza (a conical-shaped instrument of stretched leather, filled with pebbles) and the dara (a metal rattle).

After the country gained its independence, a great deal of attention was devoted to the art of music, and amateur activity developed. Associated with the Guineans’ special interest in dances was the widespread development of jazz groups in the 1960’s. These were usually made up of five to ten performers, including one or several guitars, a saxophone, a trumpet, and a singer, who is often also the drummer. Jazz ensembles perform pieces based on folk melodies but modified in accordance with the rhythms of contemporary Western dances.

Musical groups that receive subsidies from the state include an ethnologic radio ensemble, three jazz groups entitled Sili (Sili-1 toured the USSR in 1966), and two ballet groups. In 1963 the National Music School was opened in Conakry; it trains music teachers for the general-education colleges.


Vinogradov, V. Muzyka Gvinei. Moscow, 1969.

Guinea is located in the part of West Africa where the art of the spectacle has been most widespread since remote antiquity. Dance performances on holidays in Guinean villages often turned into a theatrical presentation with fantastic costumes and painted faces and bodies. (Sometimes the performers appeared in masks.) The action was accompanied by explanations by the “leader” as well as improvised dialogue by the performers, and pantomime was also introduced. Those who preserved the old traditions of the griot (singer-narrator), accompanied by musical instruments, told stories about folk heroes, depicting them by means of mimicry and gestures. Professional performers toured the villages and played scenes drawn from daily life (often improvised).

During the period of colonialism traditional art was not encouraged by the authorities. In 1948 the African Ballets Ensemble was formed in Paris, and for ten years it successfully toured the countries of Europe. After independence was gained in 1958, this ensemble provided the basis for the formation of a group called African Ballets of the Republic of Guinea, which spends most of its time on tour abroad. Its repertoire includes dances, pantomime, and musical-dramatic scenes such as “Stages” (about the liberation struggle), “The Holy Forest,” and “Tiranké.” In 1964 the Djoliba National Ensemble was organized, whose repertoire includes The Mother, The Monster at the Spring, and The Fisherman’s Wedding. Both ensembles have toured the USSR (the former in 1961 and the latter in 1966, 1968, and 1971).

The government and the Democratic Party of Guinea are actively promoting the development of amateur theater, seeing in it a means of propaganda. In many of its lower-echelon organizations the Democratic Party of Guinea has established artistic groups that stage ballets and dramatic shows. Using the method of improvisation, the participants in these shows create plays that are usually based on topical subjects. So-called federal troupes have been formed from the most talented of these performers. Competitions between artistic groups are held in Conakry at artistic quinzaines—15-day festivals that have been held annually since 1960.

In 1969, Guinea won the grand prize at the Festival of African Countries, which was held in Algiers. In 1970 the First National Festival of Art and Culture was held in Conakry, at which 15 dramatic shows and 30 ballets were presented. The number of participants in all the art forms at this festival totaled 10,000.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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