23 interesting facts about Guinea

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The most interesting facts about Guinea, from Africa’s first million-selling single to chimpanzees who use tools to chop fruit.

Mount Nimba in Guinea
Interesting facts Guinea include the Nimba Mountains (Guy Debonnet/CC 3.0)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of Guinea
Population: 12,877,894
Area: 245,857 sq km
Capital city: Conakry
Major languages: French, Pular, Maninka, Sus
Major religions: Muslim, Christian, animist
Time zone: UTC 0 (Greenwich Mean Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Guinea

1. Guinea is a country located in West Africa bordering Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

2. Guinea has been inhabited for at least 30,000 years by hunter-gather- populations. Farming has been practised there for around 3,000 years.
– Source: Britannica

3. Guinea used to be part of the Empire of Mali, which covered a large area of western Africa between the 13th and 15th centuries.
– Source: Lonely Planet

4. There are four countries in the world with the word Guinea in their name: Guinea, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau in Africa and Papua New Guinea in Oceania and Asia.
– Source: The Economist

A map of Guinea and West Africa
A map of Guinea and West Africa (Shutterstock)

5. Despite the name’s prevalence, it is unclear where the name originates. Some trace it to a word in Tuareg, aginaw. Others think it once referred to Djenné, a trading city in Mali. In the 15th century, Portuguese sailors used “Guiné” to describe what is now Senegal, and by the 18th century, Europeans used “Guinea” to refer to much of West Africa.
– Source: The Economist

6. Europeans began arriving in Guinea during the 15th century (first the Portuguese, then the British and French) where they developed a slave trade that would continue to affect Guinea until the mid-19th century. 
– Source: Britannica

7. Singer-songwriter Mory Kanté is from Guinea. Kanté is best known for Yéké Yéké, which was recorded in 1987 and became the first African single to sell over a million copies.
– Source: The Guardian

Mory Kanté in 2009
Mory Kanté in 2009 (Tor Even Mathisen/CC 2.0)

8. In 1891, Guinea became a French colony and then in 1906, it became part of the French West African Federation before it finally achieved independence in 1956 with Ahmed Sekou Toure as president.
– Source: BBC News

9. In West Africa, French Guinea would become Guinea, Portuguese Guinea became Guinea-Bissau and Spanish Guinea became Equatorial Guinea.
– Source: The Economist

10. The region was also where the name “guinea” for the British gold coin originated as significant quantities of gold was sourced from the area.
– Source: The Economist

11. The Guinean flag is vertically striped red, yellow and green. Red represents sacrifice and labour; yellow symbolizes mineral wealth, the tropical sun and justice; green reflects the agricultural wealth of the land and solidarity.
– Source: Britannica

The flag of Guinea
The flag of Guinea (Shutterstock)

12. Since independence, Guinea has suffered from sustained instability caused by a 20-year experiment with socialism known as ‘communocracy’, military coups, ethnic tensions and electoral fraud.
– Source: BBC News, Lonely Planet

13. Three major West African rivers rise in Guinea: the Gambia, Niger and Sénégal.
– Source: Britannica

14. Despite possessing a wealth of natural resources including a substantial portion of the world’s bauxite reserves, significant amounts of iron, gold, and diamonds, Guinea is one of the least-developed countries in the world.
– Source: Britannica, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

15. Guinea suffers from some of the world’s worst air pollution. A recent analysis suggests it has the world’s seventh-highest death rate from air pollution.
– Source: Our World in Data

A drone shot of Conakry in Guinea
The capital city of Conakry in Guinea (Shutterstock)

16. From 2013 to 2016, there was a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa with Guinea one of the worst affected countries with over 2,500 deaths.
– Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

17. The Centre d’Art Acrobatique Keita Fodeba in Conakry is famed for training some of Africa’s greatest acrobats and contortionists who go on to perform all around the world.
– Source: Lonely Planet

18. Guinea has just one UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, which it shares with Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The reserve is rich in flora and fauna.
– Source: UNESCO

Mount Nimba in Guinea
Mount Nimba in Guinea (Guy Debonnet/CC 3.0)

19. The reserve is home to the Nimba Range, a chain of mountains that culminate at Mount Nimba. At 1,752m (5,748ft) it is the highest mountain in both Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.
– Source: UNESCO

20. It was in the Nimba Mountains of Guinea that chimpanzees were first observed using tools to chop up and reduce food into smaller bite-sized portions. In 2009, they were seen using both stone and wooden cleavers, as well as stone anvils, to process Treculia fruits.
– Source: BBC News

Chimpanzees using tools
Chimpanzees using tools (Fair Use: Global Explorers Fund)

21. In 2017, a new species of tree called Talbotiella cheekii was discovered in Guinea. Incredibly for an undiscovered species, the tree can grow up to 24m high and has fruit in “exploding pods”.
– Source: The Guardian

22. Guinea is one of just four countries in the world that doesn’t have any telephone fixed lines. The others are Guinea-Bissau, South Sudan and DR Congo.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

23. Traditional healers are still extremely popular in Guinea when it comes to treating illness. Traditional healers are believed to be the first port of call for around 80% of sick Guineans.
– Source: The Guardian

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