The land that is now Guinea belonged to a series of African empires until France colonized it in the 1890s, and made it part of
French West Africa. Guinea declared its independence from France on 2 October 1958. From independence until the
presidential election of 2010, Guinea was governed by a number of
For the origin of the name "Guinea" see
Guinea (region) § Etymology.
West African empires and Kingdoms in Guinea
What is now Guinea was on the fringes of the major
West African empires. The
Ghana Empire is believed to be the earliest of these which grew on trade but contracted and ultimately fell due to the hostile influence of the
Almoravids. It was in this period that Islam first arrived in the region.
Sosso kingdom (12th to 13th centuries) briefly flourished in the void but the Islamic
Mali Empire came to prominence when
Soundiata Kéïta defeated the Sosso ruler
Soumangourou Kanté at the semi-historical
Battle of Kirina in c. 1235. The Mali Empire was ruled by
Mansa (Emperors), the most famous being
Kankou Moussa, who made a famous
hajj to Mecca in 1324. Shortly after his reign the Mali Empire began to decline and was ultimately supplanted by its
vassal states in the 15th century.
The most successful of these was the
Songhai Empire, which expanded its power from about 1460 and eventually surpassed the Mali Empire in both territory and wealth. It continued to prosper until a civil war over succession followed the death of
Askia Daoud in 1582. The weakened empire fell to invaders from
Morocco at the
Battle of Tondibi just three years later. The Moroccans proved unable to rule the kingdom effectively, however, and it split into many small kingdoms.
After the fall of the major West African empires, various kingdoms existed in what is now Guinea.
Fulani Muslims migrated to
Futa Jallon in Central Guinea and established an Islamic state from 1735 to 1898 with a written constitution and alternate rulers. The
Wassoulou or Wassulu empire was a short-lived (1878–1898) empire, led by
Samori Toure in the predominantly
Malinké area of what is now upper Guinea and southwestern
Mali (Wassoulou). It moved to
Ivory Coast before being conquered by the French.
slave trade came to the coastal region of Guinea with European traders in the 16th century. Slavery had always been part of everyday life but the scale increased as slaves were exported to work elsewhere in the
Guinea's colonial period began with French military penetration into the area in the mid-19th century. French domination was assured by the defeat in 1898 of the armies of
Samori Touré, Mansa (or Emperor) of the
Ouassoulou state and leader of Malinké descent, which gave France control of what today is Guinea and adjacent areas.
France negotiated Guinea's present boundaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the British for
Sierra Leone, the Portuguese for their Guinea colony (now
Liberia. Under the French, the country formed the
Territory of Guinea within
French West Africa, administered by a governor general resident in
Dakar. Lieutenant governors administered the individual colonies, including Guinea.
Independence and post-colonial rule (1958–2008)
In 1958, the
French Fourth Republic collapsed due to political instability and its failures in dealing with its colonies, especially
Algeria. The founding of a
Fifth Republic was supported by the French people, while French President
Charles de Gaulle made it clear on 8 August 1958 that France's colonies were to be given a stark choice between more
autonomy in a new
or immediate independence in the referendum to be held on 28 September 1958. The other colonies chose the former but Guinea — under the leadership of
Ahmed Sékou Touré whose
Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) had won 56 of 60 seats in 1957 territorial elections — voted overwhelmingly for independence. The French withdrew quickly, and on 2 October 1958, Guinea proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent republic, with Sékou Touré as president.
Following France's withdrawal, Guinea quickly aligned itself with the
Soviet Union and adopted
socialist policies. This alliance was short-lived, however, as Guinea moved towards a Chinese model of socialism. Despite this, however, the country continued to receive aid and investment from
capitalist countries such as the
United States. Even the relationship with France improved; after the election of
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing as French president, trade increased and the two countries exchanged diplomatic visits.
By 1960, Touré had declared the PDG the only legal party. For the next 24 years, the government and the PDG were one. Touré was reelected unopposed to four seven-year terms as president, and every five years voters were presented with a single list of PDG candidates for the National Assembly. Advocating a hybrid
African Socialism domestically and
Pan-Africanism abroad, Touré quickly became a polarising leader, and his government became intolerant of dissent, imprisoning hundreds and stifling the press.
At the same time the Guinean government nationalised land, removed French-appointed and traditional chiefs from power, and broke ties with the French government and French companies. Vacillating between support for the
Soviet Union and (by the late 1970s) the United States, Guinea's economic situation became as unpredictable as its diplomatic line. Alleging plots and conspiracies against him at home and abroad, Touré’s regime targeted real and imagined opponents, driving thousands of political opponents into exile.
In 1970, Portuguese forces from neighboring
Portuguese Guinea staged
Operation Green Sea, a raid into Guinea with the support of exiled Guinean opposition forces. Among other goals, the Portuguese military wanted to kill or capture Sekou Toure due his support of the
PAIGC, a guerilla movement operating inside Portuguese Guinea.
 After several days of fierce fighting, the Portuguese forces retreated after achieving most of their goals. The regime of Sékou Touré increased the number of internal arrests and executions.
Monument to commemorate the 1970 military victory over the Portuguese raid. The only objective not accomplished by the Portuguese raid was the capture of Ahmed Sékou Touré.
Sékou Touré died on 26 March 1984 after a heart operation in the United States, and was replaced by
Louis Lansana Beavogui, who was to serve as interim president pending new elections.
The PDG was due to elect a new leader on 3 April 1984. Under the constitution, that person would have been the only candidate for president. However, hours before that meeting, Colonels
Lansana Conté and
Diarra Traoré seized power in a bloodless
coup. Conté assumed the role of president, with Traoré serving as prime minister until December.
Conté immediately denounced the previous regime’s record on
human rights, released 250 political prisoners and encouraged approximately 200,000 more to return from exile. He also made explicit the turn away from socialism, but this did little to alleviate poverty and the country showed no immediate signs of moving towards
In 1992, Conté announced a return to civilian rule, with a presidential poll in 1993 followed by elections to parliament in 1995 (in which his party – the
Party of Unity and Progress – won 71 of 114 seats.) Despite his stated commitment to democracy, Conté's grip on power remained tight. In September 2001, the opposition leader
Alpha Condé was imprisoned for endangering state security, though he was pardoned 8 months later. He subsequently spent a period of exile in France.
In 2001, Conté organized and won a referendum to lengthen the presidential term and in 2003 begun his third term after elections were boycotted by the opposition. In January 2005, Conté survived a suspected assassination attempt while making a rare public appearance in the capital
Conakry. His opponents claimed that he was a "tired dictator"
 whose departure was inevitable, whereas his supporters believed that he was winning a battle with dissidents. Guinea still faces very real problems and according to
Foreign Policy is in danger of becoming a
In 2000, Guinea became embroiled in the instability which had long blighted the rest of
West Africa as rebels crossed the borders with
Sierra Leone and it seemed for a time that the country was headed for
 Conté blamed neighbouring leaders for coveting Guinea's natural resources, though these claims were strenuously denied.
 In 2003, Guinea agreed to plans with her neighbours to tackle the insurgents. In 2007, there were
big protests against the government, resulting in the appointment of a new prime minister.
Conté remained in power until his death on 23 December 2008
 and several hours following his death,
Moussa Dadis Camara seized control in a
coup, declaring himself head of a
 Protests against the coup became violent and 157 people were killed when, on 28 September 2009, the junta ordered its soldiers to attack people who had gathered to protest Camara's attempt to become president.
 The soldiers went on a rampage of rape, mutilation, and murder which caused many foreign governments to withdraw their support for the new regime.
On 3 December 2009, an aide shot Camara during a dispute about the rampage of September. Camara went to Morocco for medical care.
 Vice-President (and defense minister)
Sékouba Konaté flew back from
Lebanon to run the country in Camara's absence.
 After meeting in
Ouagadougou on 13 and 14 January 2010, Camara, Konaté and
Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso, produced a formal statement of twelve principles promising a return of Guinea to civilian rule within six months.
The presidential election was held on 27 June,
 with a second election held on 7 November due to allegations of electoral fraud.
 Voter turnout was high, and the elections went relatively smoothly.
Alpha Condé, the leader of the opposition party
Rally of the Guinean People (RGP), won, promising to reform the security sector and review mining contracts.
In late February 2013,
political violence erupted in Guinea after protesters took to the streets to voice their concerns over the transparency of the upcoming May 2013 elections. The demonstrations were fueled by the opposition coalition’s decision to step down from the electoral process in protest at the lack of transparency in the preparations for elections.
 Nine people were killed during the protests, while around 220 were injured, and many of the deaths and injuries were caused by security forces using live fire on protesters.
The political violence also led to inter-ethnic clashes between the
Malinke peoples, the latter forming the base of support for President Condé, with the former mainly supporting the opposition.
On 26 March 2013, the opposition party backed out of the negotiation with the government over the upcoming 12 May election. The opposition said that the government had not respected them, and had not kept any promises they agreed to.
On 25 March 2014, the
World Health Organization said that
Guinea's Ministry of Health had reported
an outbreak of
Ebola virus disease in Guinea. This initial outbreak had a total of 86 cases, including 59 deaths. By 28 May, there were 281 cases, with 186 deaths.
 It is believed that the first case was Emile Ouamouno, a 2-year-old boy who lived in the village of
Meliandou. He fell ill on 2 December 2013 and died on 6 December.
 On 18 September 2014, eight members of an Ebola education health care team
were murdered by villagers in the town of
 As of 1 November 2015, there have been 3,810 cases and 2,536 deaths in Guinea.