English Language Fellow in Conakry, Guinée

A Program of the U.S. Department of State

About Guinea

guinea-administrative-map

Source: Nations Online

Guinea – not to be confused with Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Papua New Guinea, French Guiana, or Guyana – is a country on the coast of West Africa. (It is sometimes referred to as Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its northern neighbor, Guinea-Bissau.) A former colony of France, Guinea declared its independence in 1958. The official language is French, though a number of tribal languages serve as Guineans’ mother tongues.

According to Business Insider, Guinea is the 9th poorest country in the world (just for your frame of reference, there are currently 197 countries). The poverty and destitution I have seen here was unfathomable to me prior to my arrival, which says a lot considering I have traveled to nearly 30 different countries. Before arriving in Guinea, I could never have imagined a place so poor that there is not even a McDonald’s in the capital city. It’s a country where the average life expectancy is 54 years old and the literacy rate is among the lowest in the world (children are required to attend school for 8 years, but many don’t or simply are not able to). On the United Nations Human Development Index, Guinea ranks 178 out of 187. To put even more strain on the country, Guinea has absorbed thousands of refugees from Sierra Leone following cross-border conflicts.

Guinea is, however, one of the richest countries in the world in terms of natural resources. From the jungles and waterways, the abundantly fertile land in the forest region to the gold, diamond, and bauxite mines in the north, Guinea is busting at the seams with potential for economic growth. In fact, Guinea has 25% of the world’s known bauxite reserves.

With 24 ethnic groups and just as many different languages, Guinea is also rich in culture. The country has a rich musical tradition, and chances are that when you hear of traditional West African drumming and dancing, you are hearing of Guinean traditions especially. Guinea is a religiously tolerant country; Islam is the main religion, but Christianity and indigenous beliefs are widely practiced.

The BBC provides a great overview of Guinea: click here

To read more about Guinean culture, click here

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