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Preface Last Updated: 11/15/2005 10:30 AM

Lying on the southwest edge of the great western bulge of the African continent, Guinea is one of the most diverse countries in West Africa. From the mangrove forests and verdant coastal plains, through the central highlands, to the headwaters of the great Niger River, the dry savanna of Haute Guinea, and the lush interior forest, one finds a country of deep cultural roots, regional historic importance, and beautiful scenery. Three major and many smaller ethnic groups provide wide-ranging music, arts and traditions. With a history steeped in empires, colonialism, defiance and revolution, Guinea is struggling to transform itself into a market-based democracy.

Between the 13th and 15th centuries, Guinea was part of the great West African empire of Mali stretching from Northern Nigeria to the coast of Senegal. It was during the late stages of this epoch that Fulani herders began migrating south into the highlands of the Fouta Djalon, bringing with them the Islamic faith that eventually spread and now dominates Guinea. European traders also began arriving in the 15th century, bringing with them goods, arms, and the demand for slaves.

It wasn’t until the French arrived in the mid 1800s that direct control was declared over any extended part of the area now known as Guinea. In 1849 the French proclaimed the coastal region a French Protectorate, and throughout the 19th century slowly extended their influence and claims across the interior. It was in Haute Guinea that Samory Touré, a national hero and leader of the powerful Manding Empire, led the final 15-year fight against the French colonizers that ended in Manding defeat and full French control.

In 1958 France offered Guinea and its other West African colonies two choices; autonomy as separate but unequal partners within a Franco-African community, or immediate and complete independence. Stating that Guinea, “preferred freedom in poverty to liberty in chains,” Guinea’s independence leader Sékou Touré led the country to proclaim its independence from France on October 2, 1958. The French response was immediate and severe; withdrawal of French Administration and the removal of massive amounts of capital, infrastructure, equipment, and materials.

Sékou Touré then appealed to the east for assistance and adopted the communist ideology. After an initial association with the Soviet Union, the newly named People’s Republic of Guinea moved to a path closely aligned with the communist Chinese. A farm collectivization program followed that proved to be disastrous. Political repression, often violent and lethal, and worsening conditions overall drove over a million Guineans, almost one-quarter of the population, into exile.

The turning point for communism in Guinea came in 1977, with the “market women’s revolt.” In response to Sékou Touré’s decree that all agricultural production be delivered to state-run cooperatives, the market women of Conakry staged protests. As a result the government began to loosen constraints on the economy. At the same time the government started reconciliation with France and the west culminating with a visit from Giscard d’Estaing, the first by a French president since independence. Before he died in 1984, Sékou Touré also toured West Africa, making amends with his neighbors.

Since 1984, Guinea has been slowly transitioning from a dictatorial one-party state with a centralized economic plan in hopes of becoming a free market economy. Privatization of industry lurches along, though government retains control in strategic economic sectors. Presidential elections (with opposition disputes) were held in 1993, 1998, and 2003, and local elections have also taken place on a somewhat regular basis. An elected National Assembly meets twice a year, though one session was cancelled and National Assembly elections were postponed in 2000 due to armed incursions along the borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia. Tensions remain high along this frontier as a low-intensity conflict simmers in the region.

Given this ever-changing and dramatic setting, Conakry is a challenging and busy post. The Guinean people are friendly, considerate and welcoming to outsiders, particularly Americans. Personnel assigned here can expect a wide variety of work responsibilities, contact with high-level people in the diplomatic and business communities, and multiple opportunities to prove their mettle. There is a genuine sense of participating in something worthwhile and making a difference.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:45 AM

The Republic of Guinea is situated on the West Coast of Africa and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Guinea covers 245,860 square kilometers (95,000 square miles) and is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. The country is divided into four geographic regions: the narrow coastal belt; the pastoral Fouta Djallon highland region, with elevations averaging 1,000 feet above sea level; the hotter, drier upper Guinea savanna region; and the tropical rainforest in the southeast.

Guinea has a varied landscape. The coastal region includes 320 kilometers of coastline and offers beautiful offshore islands, remote beaches, and mangrove swamps; the highland region encompasses verdant hills and stunning waterfalls; and the southeastern region contains ancient and beautiful forests and Guinea's highest point, the 1,752-meter high Mount Nimba.

The coastal areas and most of the inland regions of Guinea have a tropical climate, with a rainy season lasting from May to October, uniformly warm temperatures, and moderate to high humidity. The upper Guinea region has a hotter, drier, more desert-like climate. The Niger, Gambia, and Senegal Rivers are among the 22 West African rivers that originate in Guinea.

Conakry is located on a narrow, 36-kilometer-long peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean. The peninsula has low, rolling hills, tropical vegetation, and many vistas of the sea. Conakry’s year-round high temperature averages 85 °F, and rarely rises above 90 °F or falls below the mid-70s. Relative humidity is generally 70% or higher. Conakry’s average annual rainfall of 169 inches, almost all of which falls during the May–October period, makes it one of the world’s rainiest capital cities. Americans living in Guinea generally find the climate pleasant overall, although the dry season can be very dusty and the rainy season quite damp.

Population Last Updated: 8/22/2005 12:59 AM

Guinea’s population is about eight million, of which two million reside in Conakry. The population includes four main ethnic groups: the Peuhl (40%) from the mountainous Fouta Djallon region; the Malinke (30%) who live in the savanna region; the Soussou (20%) who primarily inhabit the coastal areas; and indigenous ethnic groups (10%), including those living in the Southeastern forest region. Guinea hosts many citizens from nearby African countries, including an estimated 550,000 refugees. Guineans are notable for the tolerance they show for the religious and social customs of others. About 85% of the population is Moslem; 8% Christian; and 7% hold traditional beliefs.

French is the official language for government and business communications and is widely spoken in Conakry and other urban areas. English is not widely used by Guineans, but rather spoken primarily by the expatriate community and recent immigrants from neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. Several national languages are used extensively in Guinea.

The U.S. is well-liked in Guinea and Guineans are generally very friendly to Americans. Guinea’s non-African population totals about 10,000, including about 800 Americans. American expatriates, who live in Conakry as well as other parts of Guinea, are primarily missionaries, business people involved in Guinea’s mining sector, or employees of nongovernmental organizations. Twenty-five countries maintain diplomatic missions in Guinea, including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, China, Russia, Romania, and Ukraine. Many other nations maintain honorary consuls. The U.N. and other international organizations are well represented, including UNDP, UNHCR, FAO, UNICEF, IMF, and the World Bank.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 8/22/2005 1:01 PM

From the 10th to the 15th century several large West African kingdoms, the Ghana, Mali and Songhai empires, controlled Guinea. Early on, however, the area came into contact with European commerce. The 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 Almamy Samory Touré, a Samory warlord and leader of Malinke descent. His defeat gave France control of what is today Guinea and the adjacent areas.

France negotiated Guinea’s present boundaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with the British for Sierra Leone, with the Portuguese for their Guinea colony (now Guinea-Bissau), and with 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. After the Second World War, France expanded opportunities for greater local participation in public life for its African colonies.

Under the leadership of labor organizer and political activist Ahmed Sékou Touré, whose Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) won 56 of 60 seats in 1957 territorial elections, the people of Guinea, in a September 1958 plebiscite, overwhelmingly rejected membership in the proposed French Community. The French withdrew quickly from the country, and on October 2, 1958, Guinea proclaimed itself a sovereign and independent republic, with Sékou Touré as president.

Under Touré, Guinea became a one-party dictatorship with a closed-socialist economy. There was no tolerance for human rights or free expression. Political opposition was ruthlessly suppressed. Originally credited for his advocacy of cross-ethnic nationalism, Touré gradually came to rely on his own Malinke ethnic group to fill positions in the party and government. Alleging plots and conspiracies against him at home and abroad, Touré’s regime targeted real and imagined opponents and imprisoned many thousands in Soviet-style prison gulags where hundreds perished. The regime’s repression drove more than a million Guineans into exile. Touré’s abuse of human rights upset relations with foreign nations including neighboring African states. This increased Guinea’s isolation and further devastated its economy.

Sékou Touré and the PDG remained in power until his death on April 3, 1984. A military junta headed by then-Lieutenant Colonel Lansana Conté and calling itself the Military Committee of National Recovery (CMRN) took power. With Conté as president, the CMRN set about dismantling Touré’s oppressive regime by abolishing the authoritarian constitution, dissolving the sole political party and its mass youth and women’s organizations, and announcing the establishment of the Second Republic. The new government released all political prisoners and committed itself to the protection of human rights. The CMRN also reorganized the judicial system, decentralized the administration, and took steps to liberalize the economy. They began to promote private enterprise, develop the country’s natural resources and encourage foreign investment with an objective of reversing the steady economic decline under Touré’s rule.

In 1990, Guineans approved by referendum a new constitution that inaugurated the Third Republic and established a Supreme Court. In 1991, the CMRN was replaced by a mixed military and civilian body, the Transitional Council for National Recovery (CTRN), with Conté as president and a mandate to manage a 5-year transition to full civilian rule. The CTRN drafted “organic” laws to provide for republican institutions, independent political parties, national elections, and freedom of the press. Political party activity was legalized in 1992 when more than 40 political parties were officially recognized.

In December 1993, Conté was elected to a 5-year term as president in the country’s first multiparty elections, which were marred by irregularities and a lack of transparency on the part of the government. In 1995, amid opposition claims of irregularities and government tampering, Conté’s ruling PUP party won 76 of 114 seats in elections for the National Assembly. In 1996, President Conté reorganized the government, appointing Sidya Touré to the revived post of Prime Minister and charging him with special responsibility for leading the government’s economic reform program. Touré was replaced as Prime Minister in 1999. Conte was reelected President in 1998 and again in 2003 in elections that were marred by accusations of fraud. Many cabinet reshufflings have occurred in the last several years.

The President governs Guinea assisted by a council of 25 civilian ministers appointed by him. The Government administers the country through 8 regions, 33 prefectures, over 100 subprefectures, and many more districts (known as communes in Conakry and other large towns and villages or “quartiers” in the interior). District-level leaders are elected; the President appoints officials at all other levels of the highly centralized administration.

Guinea’s armed forces are divided into four branches — army, navy, air force, and gendarmerie. Each chief reports to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is subordinate to the Minister of Defense. President Conté appointed his first civilian Minister of Defense in 1997. The 10,000-member army is the largest of the four services. The navy has about 900 personnel and operates several small patrol craft and barges. Air force personnel total about 700; its equipment includes several Russian-supplied fighter and transport aircraft. Several thousand gendarmes are responsible for internal security.

Guinea’s relations with other countries, including its West African neighbors, have improved steadily since 1985. Guinea reestablished relations with France and Germany in 1975, and with neighboring Cote d’lvoire and Senegal in 1978. Guinea has been active in efforts toward regional integration and cooperation, especially regarding the Organization of African Unity and the Economic Organization of West African States (ECOWAS). Guinea takes its role in a variety of international organizations seriously and participates actively in their deliberations and decisions.

Guinea has participated in both diplomatic and military efforts to resolve conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau. Guinea has contributed contingents of troops to peacekeeping operations in all three countries as part of ECOMOG, the Military Observer Group of ECOWAS. Since 1990, Guinea has offered asylum to more than 700,000 Liberian, Sierra Leonean, and Bissauan refugees despite the economic and environmental costs involved. Recently, Guinea has been subject to rebel incursions along its borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 8/22/2005 1:02 PM

Guinea has a rich tradition of arts and crafts. The National Museum showcases a small collection of traditional arts and sculptures, as well as statues representing local heroes and colonial figures. Local craft production includes pottery, musical instruments, leatherwork, basketry, paintings, and batik art. Woodworking is a major craft that ranges from large furniture to modern sculpture, antique masks, and carvings. A variety of fabrics, including numerous varieties of locally woven and dyed cloth, is available. Conakry is often the site of local artistic or theatrical performances, concerts by popular African musicians and cultural events sponsored by the Public Affairs Section of the Embassy or the French cultural center. Guinea’s talented national dance troupes, which tour foreign countries periodically, also perform locally from time to time.

Guinea’s national university is located in Conakry and offers programs of study in humanities, agronomy, agriculture, engineering, sciences, architecture, and medicine. The other major university campus is located in the city of Kankan in Guinea’s interior. Public school education in Guinea is compulsory for 8 years, however, many children are unable to attend due to family obligations and poverty. French is the predominant language of instruction. Primary school attendance is 57% (male 70%; female 44%); secondary school attendance is about 15%, and postsecondary school attendance is about 3%. Literacy of people who are age 15 and over is 36% (male 50%; female 22%).

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 11/15/2005 10:31 AM

Guinea is richly endowed with minerals, possessing an estimated one-third of the world’s proven reserves of bauxite; more than 1.8 billion metric tons (MT) of high-grade iron ore; diamond and gold deposits; and undetermined quantities of uranium. Guinea also has considerable potential for growth in the agricultural and fishing sectors. Land, water, and climatic conditions provide opportunities for large-scale irrigated farming and agro-industry.

Bauxite mining and related alumina production provide about 80% of Guinea’s foreign exchange. Several U.S. companies are active in this sector. Some diamonds and gold are also mined and exported. Concession agreements have been signed for future exploitation of Guinea’s extensive iron ore deposits. Remittances from Guineans living and working abroad and exports of coffee account for the rest of Guinea’s foreign exchange.

The Guinean Government revised the private investment code in 1998 to stimulate economic activity in the spirit of free enterprise. The code does not discriminate between foreigners and nationals and provides for repatriation of profits. Foreign investments outside Conakry are encouraged, but conditions are very difficult for these investors.


Automobiles Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:46 AM

U.S. Mission personnel rely on their personal vehicles for transportation in Guinea. Guinea allows employees to import one vehicle duty-free - there are no restrictions on the make or color of vehicles that may be imported. Cars that are five years old or older when imported into Guinea may only be resold in Guinea three years after date of importation. Traffic moves on the right (American) side of the road, but vehicles may be registered regardless of steering-wheel placement.

A substantial majority of Mission personnel have four-wheel-drive sport utility vehicles. Regular sedans are adequate for most in-town driving conditions, but the location of some houses on unpaved roads and conditions during the rainy season also make vehicles with a high clearance desirable. A network of paved roads provides access to major towns and areas in Guinea, but some of the more scenic and recreationally interesting areas are best reached by off-road vehicle.

Isuzu, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Land Rover are among the more popular makes within the Mission. Toyota, Isuzu, Peugeot, and Mitsubishi have authorized dealer/service centers in Conakry, although service and parts availability for those models are patchy. Maintenance and repair facilities are limited both in expertise and availability of parts. Bring a vehicle in very good condition, without a sophisticated electronic system.

New cars in Guinea cost substantially more than comparable vehicles purchased in the U.S. Used cars are often available as employees complete their tours. Mission personnel who choose to sell their vehicles upon departure generally succeed in doing so. If interested in purchasing a vehicle from a departing employee, contact the Community Liaison Office to determine availability.

Leaded gasoline and diesel fuel are reliably available in Conakry and generally available in Guinea’s interior. Because octane ratings are not high, the performance of engines designed for premium gasoline may suffer. Unleaded gasoline is not available, so catalytic converters should be removed before shipping vehicles to Guinea. Duty-free fuel coupons are available for purchase at the Embassy. Although diesel fuel and leaded gasoline cost roughly the same amount, better fuel efficiency makes diesel engines more economical and a better choice for up-country travel. Fuel theft is not uncommon, so a lockable gas cap is highly recommended.

Undercoating, undercarriage protection, heavy-duty suspensions, and off-road packages are practical options for Guinea. Tubeless tires can be repaired in Conakry, but inner tubes are recommended for up-country travel. Spare parts can be hard to find. Include in your household effects a good supply of belts, filters, gaskets, hoses, headlights, windshield wipers, fuses, power-steering and brake fluids, spark plugs, a distributor, a condenser, and tires. For up-country travel, bring emergency equipment, such as a strong jack, spare tires, tire pumps, jumper cables, winch or tow ropes, first-aid kit, and racks.

Locally purchased third-party liability insurance is required and reasonably priced. Comprehensive insurance is available locally but is generally less expensive if purchased from U.S. insurers. The Embassy assists in registering vehicles and obtaining Guinean driver’s licenses. Driver’s licenses are issued without a test to those having valid U.S. licenses. Because the issuance of local driver’s licenses can take several months, obtain an AAA international driver’s license before coming to Guinea.

Local Transportation Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:57 AM

Conakry’s few buses and numerous taxis are extremely overcrowded, poorly maintained, and badly driven. They should not be considered a safe and suitable substitute for a personally owned vehicle.

Parking. On-street parking is available throughout Conakry, but Conakry is a congested city and parking can occasionally be a problem. There is no paid parking in Conakry. On street parking, under the watch of locally hired contract guards, is available to Embassy staff. Off-street Embassy parking is available only for official vehicles, the Ambassador and the Deputy Chief of Mission. USAID and Peace Corps offices also have some guarded on-street parking. All housing has parking for residents’ vehicles, and most have garages or carports and room for guests’ cars as well.

Regional Transportation Last Updated: 11/15/2005 10:34 AM

Conakry is linked to Brussels and Paris by several Brussels Air and Air France flights per week. Flights on regional carriers are also available to such African destinations as Dakar, Abidjan, Banjul, Freetown, Accra, and Casablanca. Dakar and Abidjan, in particular, offer connections to other destinations. Air travel within Guinea is possible between Conakry and several cities, including Kankan, Siguiri, Labe, and Nzerekore, however local airlines are unreliable and may not maintain rigorous safety standards.

A network of roads allows ground transportation within Guinea. Road conditions often deteriorate in the interior, however, and river crossings are often accomplished via ferries of varying reliability. Driving to scenic and recreational destinations often requires high ground clearance and four-wheel-drive. Overland travel to some neighboring countries is possible; but distances are long, there are no paved land border crossings, and immigration formalities may be time-consuming. Mission personnel are advised not to use public ground transportation in Guinea. There is no passenger rail service.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 11/21/2005 6:41 AM

Guinea’s telephone system is badly in need of upgrade. The national telephone company (Sotelgui) is only one of a number of service providers offering a range of telephone options including hard-wired (land line) phones, radio telephones, satellite phones, and cellular phones. Reliability is sporadic by any means. Cell phones are the most reliable, but calls usually result in multiple dialings or be unusable due to the overselling of numbers. Landline telephones are not available in mission housing. Cell phones and hand-held radios are issued to all official personnel and adult family members. DHL operates reliable service in Conakry.

Internet Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:47 AM

Guinea was one of the first African countries on the Internet. Several Internet providers offer a range of services to the public however, local service is expensive. All U.S. Government offices have Internet capabilities, and most Mission housing is connected to the Internet through the Embassy.

Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:48 AM

Mail service is predominantly via the diplomatic pouch. International mail is also available, but is not as reliable. DHL is available but expensive, although it offers promotional rates shortly before Christmas. Conakry is not an APO post.

Mail sent in either direction via the pouch takes two to three weeks to reach its destination. Employees should bring an adequate supply of personal stamps to post — postage is also available for purchase through the Internet. The Embassy’s mailroom staff can determine correct postage for personal letters and packages that may be sent. Only letter mail and limited categories of package mail may be sent from Conakry through the diplomatic pouch. Packages sent to Conakry may not exceed 40 pounds or 62 inches in combined length and girth; length alone cannot exceed 24 inches. Glass and liquids are among the items prohibited from being sent via pouch. The Mission’s pouch address is:

(Name) 2110 Conakry Place Washington, DC 20521–2110

International mail service is somewhat reliable for letter mail, less so for package mail. Letters sent between Conakry and either Europe or the U.S. can take from 1–4 weeks to reach their destinations. Packages are subject to pilferage. As most locations in Conakry do not have complete street addresses, international mail should be addressed to a post office box whenever possible.

The Embassy’s local mailing address is:

(Name) Ambassade Americaine Rue KA 038 B.E 603 Conakry, Guinea

Radio and TV Last Updated: 11/23/2005 3:06 AM

The Guinean Government-owned radio station broadcasts various programs in French and other national languages. English-language programming is extremely limited. Content includes music, news, and various features. Shortwave reception of VOA, BBC, and other foreign stations is possible, although an exterior antenna (locally available) may be needed to boost reception.

The Guinean Government-owned television station broadcasts for several hours in French and local languages, with no English-language programming. Content includes news, films, documentaries and sports. Guinea TV broadcasts on the PAL system, so a PAL or multi-system TV is essential for reception.

Satellite reception of international cable television services, including CNN International and Canal Plus, is available. U.S. Armed Forces Television (AFRTS) is available at most Embassy houses after a decoder box is purchased. Numerous local video clubs rent tapes on the PAL or SECAM systems, requiring compatible components. Televisions, radios, shortwave radios, and stereos can be purchased locally, but selection is very limited and costs exceed U.S. prices.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:48 AM

Numerous French-language newspapers are published locally, government owned and independent. Many French newspapers, The International Herald Tribune, and international editions of Time and Newsweek are generally available. Most personnel receive subscriptions through pouch mail. Current news is available from the Internet, the PAS, and Marine Security Guard news service cables.

Both English- and French-language books are scarce in Conakry. The Community Liaison Office operates a small lending library. The resource center in the Public Affairs Section has about 600 books, of which about 40% are in English.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 11/23/2005 3:17 AM

The Mission Health Unit, located in the Embassy, provides routine medical care and immunizations for American diplomatic personnel and eligible family members. It is open for appointments and walk-in service 28 hours per week, and is staffed by a Foreign Service Nurse Practitioner and a local-hire nurse who provide 24-hour on-call service. The regional medical officer from Bamako visits the Mission every 3 months.

All eligible employees and family members must be cleared by the Medical Division of the Department of State before coming to Guinea. All inoculations should be up-to-date. Eligible contractors must undergo medical examinations comparable to the State Department exam and must present the results of the exam and proof of medical evacuation insurance before the Health Unit can grant access to facilities. U.S. Government-funded medevacs for most personnel are directed to the Medevac Center at the U.S. Embassy, London.

Private medical facilities in Conakry are extremely limited. A few private doctors are occasionally used for consultations. A small private clinic and an international hospital can perform emergency surgery or assist in stabilizing a patient prior to medevac, but do not offer coronary or intensive care and are not used on a routine basis by Mission personnel. All other hospitals and clinics in Conakry do not meet minimum standards for use by the Mission. The only blood bank in Guinea does not adequately test the blood supply and is therefore off limits to the Mission. The Mission maintains records for a “walking blood bank.” Rudimentary X-ray facilities are available, but most laboratory work is not.

Adequate dental care is not available. Eligible employees and family members should have dental check-ups before arriving at post, and dental work should be performed before coming to Conakry or during R&R travel. Emergency dental care is accomplished via medevac. Basic eye exams are available, and eyeglasses are available but of questionable quality and expensive.

The Mission Health Unit stocks a small supply of medicines. Local pharmacies stock a wider range, but some carry counterfeit or outdated supplies and packaging is often in French. Bring an adequate supply of medications with you to post, and arrange prescription service with an on-line pharmatical company.

Community Health Last Updated: 11/15/2005 10:35 AM

Guinean public health controls are almost nonexistent. Conakry has poor sanitation and garbage control is nonexistent. Sewage is dumped untreated into the waters surrounding Conakry. Tap water is treated but not potable. There are very few public restrooms.

Malaria, schistosomiasis (bilharzia), infectious hepatitis, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, intestinal worms, dysentery, venereal diseases (including AIDS), leprosy, and polio are persistent health problems among the Guinean population. With proper immunizations, common sense precautions, and good hygiene, Americans are at minimal risk from these maladies. Vermin and snakes (some poisonous) are occasionally encountered, as are stray animals.

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:50 AM

All eligible employees and family members must be cleared by the Medical Division of the Department of State before coming to Guinea. All inoculations should be up-to-date. Eligible contractors must undergo medical examinations comparable to the State Department exam and must present the results of the exam and proof of medical evacuation insurance before the Health Unit can grant access to facilities. U.S. Government-funded medevacs for most personnel are directed to the Medevac Center at the U.S. Embassy, London.

A Health Unit booklet will be provided to you upon arrival with information on preventative health measures in Guinea. The following, as well as many other items, are discussed in detail in the booklet.

WATER - All water used for drinking, cooking, making ice cubes, rinsing contact lenses, and brushing teeth must be sterilized by distillation or boiling. When in restaurants and hotels, only beverages that are bottled and sealed when delivered to you should be consummed. Bath water should be pre-treated with chlorene bleach to eliminate harmful bacteria before bathing children or enjoying a leasurely soak.

FLOURIDE - Parents of children age six months and older living in Guinea should consider giving flouride supplements to their children to help prevent tooth decay.

PREPARATION OF FOOD - Fresh fruits and vegetables musts be washed thoroughly and soaked in a solution of bleach before eating. Eggs should also be thoroughly washed and cooked. Meats and seafood must be well cooked to be safe. Avoid fresh dairy products unless you know them to be hygenically prepared and properly refrigerated.


Wash hands, utensils, and kitchen surfaces with hot soapy water after they touch raw meat or poultry. Cook beef and beef products thoroughly, especially hanburger. Cook poultry and eggs throughly. Eat cooked food promptly and refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours after cooking. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, especially those that will be eaten raw. Drink only pasturized milk and juices and treated surface water. Wash hands carefully after using the bathroom, changing infant diapers, or cleaning up animal feces. HEAT, SUN and DUST - Sunlight in Guinea is intense. Drink plenty of fluids, use sunscreen liberally, and avoid strenuous outdoor activity when temperatures and humidity are high. Protective clothing and sunglasses are also recommended.

HEALTH PROBLEMS AND HAZARDS - HIV/AIDS, blister beetles, cholera, dengue fever, diarrhea, fungal/skin infections, hepatitis A and B, malaria, measles, meningitis, poisinous snakes, polio, rabies, schistosomiasis, tuberculosis, tumbu/mango worms, typhoid fever, yellow fever and upper respiratory problems are areas of particular concern here. Use of items such as mosquito nets and insect repellant, maintaining current innoculations, wearing proper clothing and establishing good health practices will greatly assist in ensuring you and your family have a healthy, happy experience in Guinea.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 11/23/2005 3:23 AM

Most family members who wish to work are able to find employment, however it may not be in their field of choice. Long-term employment for professionals not interested in Eligible Family Member (EFM) positions is more limited. The Embassy has twelve EFM positions, offering interesting work within the political, economic, consular, and administrative functions. USAID is also developing a position suitable for family members. The International School of Conakry has occasional vacancies for certified teachers, office staff, and volunteers. Opportunities for employment with nongovernmental organizations are rare. Artists are sometimes able to participate in showings and sales at local hotels, restaurants, and shops. Some opportunities exist to provide private English-language tutoring on a volunteer or paid basis. The Mission operates a summer-hire program for teenage family members. Knowledge of French is an asset when seeking employment, either within or outside the U.S. Mission.

American Embassy - Conakry

Post City Last Updated: 11/15/2005 10:38 AM

Conakry, the capital of the Republic of Guinea, is located on a narrow peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Conakry lies some 450 miles southeast of Dakar, Senegal, and 600 miles north of the Equator. The historical, business, and governmental center of the city (Conakry I) is on Tumbo, formerly a small island but now connected to the rest of the peninsula (Conakry II and III) by landfill. Several small islands are located off the tip of the peninsula. Conakry’s population is estimated at 1.1 million.

French settlement of Conakry began in 1855 when it was a tiny fishing village. The present form of downtown Conakry was laid out in 1905 with rectangular blocks. The main streets are lined with mango and kapok trees. A few buildings were constructed shortly before independence, and there has been some recent construction, but most of the architecture is French colonial and African. The Embassy is located in the downtown tip of the peninsula; USAID and the American Cultural Center are located a short distance from the peninsula’s base. Most U.S. Mission facilities are located along the north side of the peninsula. Most foreigners and Guinean Government officials live away from the downtown tip of the peninsula, in modern houses scattered among more traditional African dwellings. The Marine House and Peace Corps office are both located up the peninsula about 30 minutes from the embassy. USAID and some other Mission personnel live in mid-town Donka, Camayenne, and Miniere areas. Two residential compounds are located farther up the peninsula in the Kipe and Nongo areas.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 8/22/2005 12:53 AM

The State Department, Department of Defense, U.S. Agency for International Development, Treasury, and Peace Corps maintain ongoing operations in Guinea.

The Chancery, which houses most State Department offices in Guinea, is located near the port in the heart of Kaloum, Conakry’s downtown district. A new Embassy compound in the Kipe section of Conakry is under construction and is scheduled for completion in early 2006. The current building includes a snack bar, mail and pouch facility, and health clinic. State leases separate maintenance and warehouse facilities. The Public Affairs Section (PAS) occupies a cultural center, complete with conference room and library, and is located about 15 minutes by car from the Chancery. USAID occupies an office building in Camayenne, about a 15-minute drive from the Chancery. The USAID facility is also the location of the Mission’s video club, from which videos and DVDs are brought to the Chancery at regular intervals for rental. The Peace Corps office and its medical unit and hostel are all located near the Marine House in Ratoma, about 35 minutes from the Chancery.

In addition to the Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission, direct-hire staffing includes the following: a) State: two office management specialists, political/economic section chief, economic/consular rotational officer, economic/commercial officer, public affairs officer, assistant public affairs officer, regional affairs officer, regional affairs assistant, management officer, general services officer, facilities maintenance manager, financial management officer, regional security officer, assistant regional security officer, four information management personnel, health practitioner, and a six-person Marine Security Guard detachment. b) USAID: Mission director, health population officer, agriculture development officer, program development officer, executive officer, controller, information resources management assistant, and numerous contract personnel. c) Peace Corps: Country director, three associate directors, and about 100 volunteers. d) A Treasury advisor opened an office in December 2003.

U.S. Mission telephone and fax numbers are as follows:

Chancery telephone: (224) 41–15–20 or 41–15–21 or 41–15–23; Chancery fax: (224) 41–15–22.

PAS telephone: (224) 46–14–24 or 41–36–78; PAS fax: (224) 41–29–21.

USAID telephone: (224) 41–20–29 or 41–21–63 or 41–25–02; USAID fax: (224) 41–19–85.

Peace Corps telephone: (224) 46–20–02 or 21–70–29; Peace Corps fax: (224) 46–31–57.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 11/23/2005 3:26 AM

Permanent quarters are generally ready in time for new arrivals. If this is not possible, employees and families are placed in temporary housing. In either case, newly refurbished Hospitality Kits are provided consisting of linens, kitchenware, and other basic household items for use.

Permanent Housing Last Updated: 8/22/2005 1:15 PM

The Ambassador’s residence is U.S. Government owned. It is located on a seaside lot in the residential Donka section, about 20 minutes by car from the Chancery. The house is an attractive two-story, concrete structure with tile floors. It has a living room, dining room, den, outdoor patio, kitchen, pantry, laundry room, master bedroom with bath, four other bedrooms, three baths, and storage areas. The grounds are lovely and contain many flowering plants and towering trees, including many palms. The front garden contains a tile-paved circular drive and guest parking. The large rear garden overlooks the sea and includes terraces, swimming pool, cabana, open-air thatched “paillotte,” a thatch-roofed bar, and a basketball hoop.

The DCM’s home is a leased building located in the "Ratouma" section about 40 minutes from the Chancery by car. It is an attractive two-story structure with tile floors. It has a living room, dining room, den, kitchen and pantry, a master bedroom-suite with bath and kitchenette, three other bedrooms, four other baths, and several terraces. It sits seaside and affords a wonderful view of the ocean.

The Marine House is a large two-story cement structure with a living room, dining room, barroom, kitchen, storage areas, two guest bathrooms, five bedrooms (each with bath), and a large office. The house’s roof is a large, thatch-roofed terrace. The grounds include terraces, swimming pool, volleyball court, basketball court, open-air thatched “paillotte,” and separate building housing a weight room.

Staff housing includes apartments and single-family houses, the latter located either on one of two residential compounds or scattered throughout town. Housing generally has three to four bedrooms, two or more baths, balconies or porches, covered parking, laundry rooms, and storage areas. Single-family houses have gardens and are protected by perimeter walls. Most housing does not have separate staff quarters. The two residential compounds have recreational facilities that include swimming pools, basketball courts, a tennis court, and a recreation room.

Furnishings Last Updated: 11/15/2005 10:41 AM

All housing is completely furnished by the U.S. Government. The Ambassador’s residence public areas are furnished in an elegant but relaxed transitional style. The Ambassador and DCM residences are supplied with complete sets of silver flatware, china, glassware, silverplated serving pieces, kitchenware, and bed/bath linens.

Staff housing is equipped with furniture for the living room, dining room, master bedroom, den, spare bedroom, and patio. Master bedrooms have queen beds; other bedrooms generally have twin beds. Lamps and curtains are provided, as are a limited number of area carpets. Houses are fully air-conditioned and contain washer, dryer, vacuum, refrigerator, freezer, gas or electric range, dehumidifiers, water purifier, and a small number of transformers. Availability of microwaves varies by agency.

Most housing has space for smaller items of personal furniture, but large or bulky items should not be shipped to post without advance consultation. Constant use of air-conditioners and dehumidifiers can help reduce the impact of Conakry’s climate and insects on personal effects, but you should avoid sending climate-sensitive items.

Plan to bring irons, hair dryers, wastebaskets, clothes hampers, mops, brooms, buckets, bed/bath linens, battery-powered clocks, outdoor lounge chairs, televisions, VCRs, DVD’s, and stereo equipment. Houses often have cement walls and tile floors, so consider shipping non-slip area rugs, throw pillows, pictures, and other decorative items to personalize your home.

If bringing a personal computer, include surge-protectors and UPS protection and consider shipping a computer desk. Any small appliances, such as toaster/toaster oven, blender, bread machine, mixer, food processor, or ice cream maker, should be shipped as well. Dual-voltage or 220v appliances are the most convenient; small numbers of transformers and plug adapters are provided; ship enough to meet most of your needs.

Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 10/15/2004 4:19 AM

Mission housing has hot and cold running water and bathroom facilities are adequate. Water service is generally reliable; when shortages occur, water is delivered by truck to residences. Drinking water is obtained from water distillers located in each home.

Electrical service is not reliable; so all houses have back-up generators. Current is 220v, 50 cycles. Outlets are in the French style, with two round holes and a round grounding prong. A limited supply of step-down transformers is supplied with each house, but bring extra transformers and plug adapters. Power fluctuations are very common, and surge protectors are recommended for computers and other sensitive equipment. Electric clocks do not keep accurate time if plugged into a transformer, so bring battery-operated ones. Transformers and plug adapters are generally not available locally. Although Mission facilities have back-up generators, bring some emergency lighting equipment, such as lanterns, candles, and flashlights.

Telephone service is not available at Mission housing; instead cellular phones are issued to all personnel and adult family members. Electricity, water and cooking gas are provided at U.S. Government expense.

Food Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:53 AM

Conakry has several reliably stocked food stores that carry packaged goods, eggs, dairy products, fresh meats, cheeses, and deli items, grooming and paper products, and frozen foods. Many imported items are European, but several stores offer a growing choice of American products. Choices are limited, quality varies, and prices are higher than U.S. prices. Not all items are available at any one time or from any one store, so a degree of creativity is associated with food shopping in Guinea. Adequate fresh local meat is available and includes beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. Local seafood is excellent; availability can include shrimp, crab, lobster, and Atlantic fishes such as red snapper, sole, perch, and grouper. Long-life UHT (whole, low-fat, and skim) and powdered milk are generally available, as are canned or long-life UHT cream. Butter and a selection of French cheeses are available. Condiments (ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard) are available, although name brands vary. Bakeries produce a variety of breads, including sandwich loafs, croissants, baguettes and rolls. A French restaurant produces excellent French pastries and breads for purchase. A growing selection of frozen foods — ice cream, meat, vegetables, fruit, and convenience foods — is available. Imported liquors, wines, and beers are available, as is locally produced Skol beer.

Conakry has excellent seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. Tropical fruits such as mangoes, pineapples, bananas, watermelons, cantaloupes, avocado, coconuts, and citrus fruits are particularly good. Apples, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, parsley, green beans, eggplant, onions, cabbage, and cucumbers can be found. Prices for local produce are reasonable — the best selections are available in front of supermarkets, along the roadside, and in local markets.

The Mission does not operate a commissary, but employees and family members have limited access to a commissary at the mining town of Kamsar, located 4 hours away from Conakry by road. The commissary serves a North American mining company operating in Guinea and stocks some American products; but distance, limited availability, and quotas restrict its utility to the Mission. The commissary (or a local grocery store) places a bulk order for frozen turkeys on behalf of the Mission each year before Thanksgiving.

Employees assigned to Conakry are authorized an allowance for consumables. Many have chosen to send the following items, which are either not available locally or of poor quality: uniquely American items (peanut butter, grape jelly, chocolate chips, cake and brownie mixes, cranberries, pumpkin pie mix, stuffing, other holiday foods, pancake mix and syrup, chocolate syrup), spices, canned soups, crackers, cookies, snacks, napkins, paper towels, Kleenex, toilet paper, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, trash bags, flour, yeast, Mexican foods, toiletries, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, baby supplies (diapers, cereals, formula, jarred food), kosher foods, and diet foods. The CLO sends an updated list of suggested consumables to newly assigned personnel. You may also use your remaining consumables allowance to place a supplemental order after arrival. Many at post also regularly rely on for desired items, which arrive about three weeks after the order is placed.

Clothing Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:54 AM

Bring washable, lightweight clothes. Summer clothing is appropriate year round, and cotton or cotton blends are the most practical. Bring an adequate supply of frequently worn items; catalogs can help in supplementing your wardrobe. Ship spare shoes of all kinds, and bring or ship a supply of swimwear, beachwear, and apparel for tennis, jogging, and other sports. Although Conakry’s rainy season is very damp, most people find raincoats too warm. A large umbrella — bring several — and a light poncho provide the best protection against the rains.

Availability of ready-made clothing is limited; good-quality clothing is very hard to find and expensive. Conakry has inexpensive tailors who are skilled at duplicating clothing from a sample or picture. A wide range of fabrics, in African and Western styles, is available; high-quality fabrics are rare.

Bring some cooler weather clothing—jackets, sweaters, long-sleeved shirts, and pants—for travel to the mountainous parts of Guinea and for vacation or business travel to areas with cooler climates.

A few dry cleaners operate in Conakry, however, service is unreliable, expensive, and reports of ruined items are common.

Men Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:54 AM

Men should have at least one dark business suit for formal occasions. Formal wear is usually worn, but not required for the Marine Ball. Most diplomatic functions require jacket and tie. Most internal Mission parties are casual. Cotton shorts, jeans, and t-shirts are appropriate for casual wear, as are sneakers, boat shoes, and sandals.

Women Last Updated: 11/15/2005 10:51 AM

Formal wear is useful for the Marine Ball. Most internal Mission events are casual. Sundresses, cropped pants, jeans, and casual tops are acceptable casual wear (short shorts and skirts are rarely seen). Western bathing suits are acceptable at the beach and island areas. Guineans do not expect women to conform to African or Islamic customs regarding dress.

Children Last Updated: 11/15/2005 10:54 AM

Children’s clothing in Guinea should be cotton and informal. Allow for heavy wear and tear, and frequent changes due to heat and dust. Boys commonly wear shorts or cotton pants and short-sleeved shirts or T-shirts. Girls wear sundresses, short-sleeved or sleeveless shirts, shorts, and cotton pants. For both boys and girls, sandals or sneakers are appropriate footwear for most functions, including school. You may want to include a few "dressier" outfits for functions such as special parties and activities at school.

Office Attire Last Updated: 11/23/2005 5:45 AM

For men, office wear within the Mission is slacks, dress shirt and tie; officers interacting outside the Mission, and during visits of VIPs, wear suit or jacket and tie. Women wear dresses or skirts and pants with blouses. Sandals or flat shoes are common in both business and social settings; stockings are seldom worn. Work attire or cocktail dresses are appropriate for official dinners and receptions.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:55 AM

U.S. or European-quality household supplies are scarce in Conakry. Quality merchandise, when and if available, is extremely expensive.

Common household items, such as tools, clothes hangers, kitchen supplies and utensils, ice cube trays, stationery and desk supplies, and shower curtains should be shipped to post. Paper products should be shipped as well, including party and seasonal decorations, wrapping paper, cards, paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, Kleenex, food wraps, and paper plates. Most toiletries, cosmetics, feminine personal supplies, U.S. tobacco products, sun block, batteries, film, over-the-counter medicines, and home medical supplies should be brought or sent to post. Some of these items are available in Conakry, but U.S. brands are rare and expensive.

Recreational items such as sports equipment, BBQ grills, fishing gear, camping equipment, beach chairs, sun umbrellas, and coolers should be brought to post. Locally made charcoal is available. Bring anything needed for at-home entertaining, which is popular within the Mission. Toys and games should be sent, along with anything needed for gardening and hobbies. Consider shopping in advance and shipping birthday and holiday gifts; if you have children, include some presents for your children to take to other children's birthday parties.

Limited selections of dog and cat food and kitty litter are usually available, but the quality is poor and these items are expensive.

A very small selection of baby food and equipment is sometimes available, but bring or ship everything you anticipate will be needed.

Basic Services Last Updated: 11/15/2005 10:56 AM

Some community services are available. Most tailors are competent and reasonably priced, and a wide selection of fabric is available. Tailoring can be a lengthy process as multiple fittings and delays in receiving your items are common. Some drycleaning is available but not recommended due to the high probability of shrinkage and fabric discoloration. Hair cutters are affordable and adequately skilled and a few offer “salon” services. Bring any grooming supplies you will need during your tour. Basic shoe and luggage repair is available but workmanship and materials are not first rate. Some repair facilities exist. Although technicians are often not highly skilled or reliable, they can be very creative in finding solutions with the materials they have on hand. Many Mission personnel use local garages for car repairs. Generally they are reasonably competent, and able to determine whether needed parts are available locally. Repairs of other mechanical or electrical equipment can sometimes be accomplished, but technicians are often unfamiliar with U.S. products. Ship simple, durable items and, if possible, bring spare parts.

A limited selection of camera film is generally available. Film can be adequately developed and printed in Conakry, although prices are higher than in the U.S.

Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:56 AM

Most Mission personnel employ one or more household workers. Housemen or maids are available to clean, do laundry, shop and prepare food. Nannies and drivers are also available. Domestic employees are often found by recommendation of other Americans, and many domestic employees find employment from one American family to the next. Domestic employees are generally Guinean, Sierra Leonean, or Liberian; the latter two tend to speak English better than Guineans. Domestic employees are generally honest but often require training and close supervision. Those without prior experience working for Americans will be unfamiliar with American foods or household equipment. The Mission Health Unit periodically conducts first-aid and hygiene classes for domestic workers, and the regional security office will conduct background checks on new hires. Prospective hires should have preemployment medical examinations.

Salaries generally start from GF 200,000 (approx. $100) per month for an inexperienced houseman or maid, to twice that amount per month for a skilled driver or cook. Social security contributions equal 14% of salary, and supplemental health insurance for domestic staff can be purchased through the Embassy for $120 per year. Employers may provide employees who work full time one or more meals, but this is negotiable. Uniforms, if desired, are purchased by the employer and can be tailored locally. Employers often provide domestic staff with raincoats or umbrellas. Domestic employees do not generally live in.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:57 AM

The following denominations maintain places of worship in Conakry: Moslem (in Arabic and local languages), Roman Catholic (in French and occasionally in English), Anglican (in French and English), and Protestant (in French and English). Several U.S. missionary groups are active in Guinea.


Dependent Education Last Updated: 11/23/2005 5:54 AM

Private instruction in English or French is available in Conakry. Guinean public schools range from first grade through high school and follow French methods of instruction. Public schools suffer from overcrowding, poor facilities, shortages of texts and supplies, and antiquated equipment, and are not used by Mission children.

The International School of Conakry (ISC) is a private English-language school that follows an American international curriculum and receives financial support and counsel from the Department of State. It ranges from nursery (starting at age 2) through eighth grade, and facilitates correspondence school for grades 9 to 12. The ISC has an American, U.S. recruited director and a combination of U.S. and locally hired staff. The student-teacher ratio is 5-1, and instruction is highly individualized. Instruction for most grades is in shared classrooms (two grades per class), and total enrollment is about 75 children. School tuition is covered by the education allowance. The Ambassador has an appointed representative on the ISC’s board of directors, and Mission parents often serve on the board in an elected capacity. Additional information about the ISC can be obtained by writing to the school in care of the Embassy.

Parents preferring French education for their children generally choose the French Mission school, Lycee Albert Camus, which ranges from preschool through high school. The educational allowance covers tuition costs.

Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 11/15/2005 11:15 AM

The Embassy runs a Post Language (French) Program for eligible American employees and family members, with classes given at beginner and intermediate levels. These courses are funded by participating agencies to eligible partipants. Private tutoring in French can be arranged at personal expense. Classes or tutoring in local languages is available. The National University, when in session, offers a range of classes in the humanities and sciences. Instruction is in French. Recreational clubs offer instruction in a variety of sports, and private swimming and tennis instruction can be arranged.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 11/15/2005 11:12 AM

The U.S. Mission has a lighted tennis court, two swimming pools suitable for lap swimming (with attached children’s pools), and a basketball court. The Marine Detachment has a swimming pool, weight room, basketball court, and volleyball court that is often shared with the community. A few private sporting clubs offer swimming and tennis.

Outside of Conakry, Guinea’s beautiful and varied landscape offers opportunities for hiking.

The Embassy’s emergency evacuation boat is available for recreational use during the dry season (users must pay for fuel, pilot, and maintenance). Conakry proper has no usable beaches, but the islands and waters off Conakry offer nice beaches and deep-sea fishing opportunities. The Island of Los, for example, offers a pretty palm-lined white-sand beach strewn with the occasional volcanic boulder. Additional beaches with rustic camping and dining facilities can be reached about 3 hours by car from Conakry.

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 11/15/2005 11:10 AM

Travel is possible to most interior regions of Guinea except during the height of the rainy season. Many roads are paved and a network of gas stations covers much of Guinea. Reaching the more scenic areas requires four-wheel-drive and may require bringing fuel in jerry cans. There are throughout Guinea opportunities to appreciate beautiful scenery, varied tropical foliage, waterfalls and rivers, the occasional monkey or antelope, and authentic Guinean village life.

The coastal area offers a small number of beautiful beaches with lodging ranging from comfortable hotels to rustic huts for rent and villagers willing to cook chicken or fish for visitors. One of the most beautiful and accessible areas is the Fouta Djallon highlands, where the scenery is mountainous and green and where the climate is cooler and less humid than in Conakry. Beautiful waterfalls are found near Dubreka (a 2-hour drive), near Kindia (a 3-hour drive), near Dalaba (a 6-hour drive), and near Labe (an 8-hour drive). The falls near Dubreka offers a restaurant and swimming, including a good ride in the current created by the falls. The falls near Kindia, Dalaba, and Labe offer spectacular scenery and endless opportunities for hiking. The towns of Dalaba and Labe offer comfortable hotels and guides who help visitors explore the countryside.

For the more intrepid traveler, the northern savanna and southeastern forest regions offer attractions deeper within Guinea’s interior. The savanna region offers typical Sahel landscapes and wildlife, while the forest region includes dense wooded areas and the beautiful Mt. Nimba, Guinea’s highest peak. Overland travel into neighboring countries is possible, subject to security and road conditions.

Many appealing destinations lie a short distance by plane from Conakry. Banjul, Dakar, Abidjan, Accra, and Casablanca are among the more affordable and popular regional destinations. Direct flights to Brussels and Paris also provide opportunities for a change of scenery.

Entertainment Last Updated: 11/15/2005 11:07 AM

The French and American cultural centers sponsor concerts, films, local dance troups and a few other cultural events. The employee association operates a video club. Throughout the year the Marine House hosts movie nights, as well as a range of other social events, including Fourth of July party, barbeques, and the Marine Ball. The Community Liaison Office organizes a regular series of social events, including shopping tours and outings to restaurants and waterfalls.

Conakry offers a handful of restaurants serving Chinese, Lebanese, French, Tex-Mex, Korean and Italian. Some restaurants have spectacular oceanfront settings with wonderful views of sunsets, and occasionally are the venue for musical or dance performances. There are a few nightclubs featuring African, European, and American music.

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:58 AM The American Mission community is friendly, cohesive, and large enough to provide variety in interactions. Most socializing is private and informal, usually in the form of meals, game nights, movies, or quiet get-togethers. The Marines offer frequent movie nights — the first of two movies shown is always suitable for children. The CLO and the Marines are active in planning many social events for Mission personnel.

International Contacts Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:59 AM Guineans are friendly toward Americans and welcome opportunities for interaction. As many Guineans speak only a little English, knowledge of French facilitates contact with them. A significant English-speaking expatriate population exists: not only Americans and Canadians but other nationalities — such as Lebanese and German — that speak English well. An active English Speaking Women's Association and a small number of recreational clubs offer opportunities to interact with the expatriate population.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 1/19/2005 12:08 AM

Diplomatic social events occur frequently, usually taking the form of receptions or dinners. The Ambassador and DCM participate most frequently in such events. Most official events require business attire (i.e., jacket and tie). The Ambassador hosts a large National Day reception on July 4th, as well as other events throughout the year.

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 11/15/2005 11:00 AM

Upon arrival, the Chief of Mission makes diplomatic calls on other Ambassadors and on ministers and officials with whom the Embassy customarily does business. The DCM also calls upon his or her counterparts, and other officers are encouraged to call upon appropriate Guinean and diplomatic contacts soon after their arrival. It is not unusual for relatively junior Embassy officers to engage in discussions with high-ranking Guinean officials. Employees find 250 to 500 business cards to be adequate for a 2-year tour. Cards can be adequately printed locally.

Special Information Last Updated: 7/2/2005 2:46 PM

Guinea offers many opportunities for photography, but discretion should be used. Taking photographs in Guinea technically requires no official permission, but Guineans may object to being photographed without their approval. In addition, such facilities as the airport, police stations, and military camps may not be photographed.

Post Orientation Program

Newly arrived Mission personnel call on the Ambassador and DCM shortly after their arrival. New employees are assigned social and work sponsors, and receive administrative, security, and medical briefings. In addition, to aid in your orientation to the Mission, short briefings and tours of all agencies and sections will be scheduled within your first week of duty. The CLO also organizes activities for newcomers, focusing on shopping, recreational, and cultural assets.

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 12/5/2005 9:59 AM

Travelers usually arrive in Conakry via Paris on Air France (five flights per week) or Brussels on Brussels Air (two flights per week). Delta code-shares with Air France and Brussels Air code-shares with United. Other airlines serving Conakry include Air Afrique via Paris and a number of African cities, and Royal Air Maroc via Casablanca.

Customs, Duties, and Passage Last Updated: 12/5/2005 10:00 AM

Guinea does not distinguish between categories of personnel for customs purposes. The Guinean government allows each direct-hire employee duty free entry of personal effects and one vehicle. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco can be imported duty free in reasonable quatities for personal consumption.

Refer to post's welcome cable and contact the Embassy's general services office for the latest shipping information. Airfreight usually arrives and is cleared within four weeks. Household effects, vehicles, and consumables are sent by sea to the Port of Conakry and should be containerized. In addition, all crates and boxes should be waterproofed. Surface shipments may take three months to arrive, plus an additional week or two to clear customs. Shipments are sent via the European Logistical Support Office (ELSO), Antwerp, Belgium. All effects are addressed to the American Ambassador, American Embassy, Conakry, Republic of Guinea.

You should hand-carry the following information: inventory or packing list for each shipment; weight and estimated value of each shipment; and vehicle year, make, model identification number, and value.

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 12/5/2005 10:03 AM

Guinea does not distinguish between categories of personnel for customs purposes. The Guinean government allows each direct-hire employee duty free entry of personal effects and one vehicle. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco can be imported duty free in reasonable quatities for personal consumption.

Refer to post's welcome cable and contact the Embassy's general services office for the latest shipping information. Airfreight usually arrives and is cleared within four weeks. Household effects, vehicles, and consumables are sent by sea to the Port of Conakry and should be containerized. In addition, all crates and boxes should be waterproofed. Surface shipments may take three months to arrive, plus an additional week or two to clear customs. Shipments are sent via the European Logistical Support Office (ELSO) located in Antwerp, Belgium.

It is important that you hand-carry the following information: inventory or packing list for each shipment; weight and estimated value of each shipment; and vehicle year, make, model identification number, and value.

All effects are addressed as follows:

American Ambassador (initials of employee) American Embassy Conakry, Republic of Guinea

Passage Last Updated: 12/5/2005 10:03 AM

Employees stationed in Guinea should have diplomatic or official passports. A visa is required for entry into Guinea and must be obtained prior to arrival — Guinea no longer issues airport visas. Upon arrival, the Embassy will assist in obtaining long-term visas. Check the visa requirements of any countries being transited en route. All travelers should have up-to-date innoculation cards, which are often scrutinized by airport officials. All personnel and family members should bring at least 10 small photos for obtaining visas, driver’s licenses, and local identity cards.

Pets Last Updated: 12/5/2005 10:03 AM

Pets must have valid rabies certificates (between one month and one year old) and recent certificates of good health. Bring special medications, copies of health documents, etc., in your carry-on luggage. Guinea does not quarantine pets and generally clears them through customs without incident provided documentation is in order.

There is no licensed veterinarian in Conakry, however, basic care is available for routine treatment and inoculations. Sanitation is less than desirable at these facilities. There are no kennel facilities.

To ensure your pet has a supply of food and other necessities upon arrival at post, you are encouraged to mail these items at least three weeks before departure. Pet food is obtainable at only a couple of local stores, no American brands are available. Most owners suppliment pet needs by on-line orders from the U.S. — arrival time averages three weeks.

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/5/2005 10:03 AM

Firearms and ammunition must not be brought into Guinea without prior written permission from the Chief of Mission.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 11/23/2005 5:52 AM

The unit of currency is the Guinean Franc. The rate of exchange is GF4300 = US$1 (November 2005). Guinean currency may not be brought into or out of Guinea, and is not generally convertible on the world market. Currency can legally be exchanged only at government-approved sites, such as banks, hotels, and several supermarkets. The Guinea Franc is accepted for all local transactions, although major hotels also accept U.S. dollars.

Guinea has a banking system operated largely by French banks. Mission personnel do not maintain local bank accounts. Employee salaries are direct-deposited into U.S. bank accounts and checks are cashed at the Embassy or USAID cashier. Credit cards (American Express and Visa) are accepted only at major hotels and by some airlines.

Guinea uses the metric system of weights and measurements.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 8/22/2005 12:33 AM

Vehicles and personal effects may be sold upon departure with the permission of the Chief of Mission and in compliance with U.S. regulations. Vehicles and property may be sold duty free to other persons with duty-free privileges. If items are sold outside the duty-free community, the seller must obtain certification that the buyer has paid the appropriate Guinean taxes.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 12/5/2005 10:04 AM

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published in this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Adamolekum, Ladipo. Sékou Touré’s Guinea: An Experiment in Nation Building. Methuen: London, 1976.

Harold E. Nelson, et al. Area Handbook for Guinea. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976.

Attwood, William. The Reds and the Blacks. Harper & Row: New York, 1967.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes on Guinea. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Muriel Devey, La Guinee. Karthala: Paris, 1998.

Morrow, John H. The First American Ambassador to Guinea. Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, N.J., 1968.

O’Toole, Thomas. Historical Dictionary of Guinea. Scarecrow Press: Metuchen, N.J., 1978.

Riviere, Claude. Guinea: The Mobilization of a People. Cornell University Press: Ithaca, 1977.

The Internet

U.S. Mission Conakry’s website, at, contains among other useful materials, Embassy’s Country Commercial Guide for Guinea.

The State Department’s annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Guinea is available at rights/.

USAID’s new website is

Local Holidays Last Updated: 12/5/2005 10:05 AM

Offices and stores are closed and many services are interrupted during local holidays, although the airport remains open. Services are also reduced during the Moslem holy month of Ramadan, when it can be difficult to get appointments with local officials. Some of Guinea’s holidays vary according to the lunar calendar — send travel plans as soon as possible so that the U.S. Mission can advise if a planned arrival coincides with a local holiday.

The Mission is closed on U.S. Government holidays and the following local holidays:

End of Ramadan Varies Easter Monday Varies Declaration of the Second Republic April 3 Tabaski Varies Labor Day May 1 Organization of African Unity May 25 Maouloud Varies Assumption Day August 15 Independence Day October 2

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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