Capital | Conakry
Population | 10,057,975 (July 2009 est.)
Area | 245,857 sq km
Official language | French
Holidays | Independence Day, 2 October (1958)
Currency | Guinean francs (GNF)
Time Zone | UTC+0
Best time to visit | November to February (the dry season) – or between the 13th and 15th centuries when Guinea was part of the Empire of Mali.
Connecting with the Culture | Strolling the streets and taking in the neighbordhood life in Conakry. Hiking in the beautoful green hills of Fouta Djalon. Scouring the enormous Wednesday market at Gueckedou. Visting the Grande Mosquee and sculpture workshop at Kankan. Viewing the Bridal Falls (during the rainy season) at Kindia. Lying in the sun on the beach at Cape Verga.
Read | `L’Enfant Noir’ by Guinean author Camara Laye, full of fascinating insights into traditional daily life.
Listen | to `Bembeya Jazz National’ by the popular Guinean group Bembeya Jazz, one of Africa’s premeir dance bands. Or to one of more than 80 recordings made by Syliphone, the country’s home grown music label.
Watch |`Djembefola’ by Laurent Chevallier, the story of Guinean drummer Mamady Keita’s return to his remote native village.
Eat | kulikuli - peanut balls made from peanuts, onion and cayenne pepper; grilled fish; brochettes (kebabs)
Drink | café noir – small cups of espresso-like coffee drunk with lots of sugar.
In a word | be di (hello in Maninka)
Characteristics | Indigo cloth, vibrant nightlife; gorgeous beaches; traditional music and dance; great street food; French colonial influences; mangrove swamps; rich wildlife. Lush rainforests and breathtaking highland scenery.
Surprises | Vistors to Guinea can trek through the jungles of the south-east, watch an amazing dance performace in Conakry or browse through one of the many bustling markets. The open-air cinema at Mamou; French style patisseries; chimpanzees and hippopotamuses in the Parc Transfronalier Niokolo Badier.