Country on Africa’s W coast between Guinea-Bissau and Senegal on the N, Mali on the NW, Ivory Coast on the W, and Liberia and Sierra Leone on the S. The area of Guinea was part of the empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai over the period from about the 10th to the 15th centuries. The French first arrived in the 16th century, but French military penetration into Guinea began in the mid-19th century.
Assisted by treaties with the French in the 1880s, the Malinke leader, Samori Toure, expand ed eastward. In 1890 Toure allied himself with the Tukulor Empire and the Kingdom of Sikasso and tried to expel the French from the area. He was finally defeated in 1898, and France gained control of Guinea and Ivory Coast. In 1958 Guinea became independent under Ahmed Sekou Toure and the Parti Democratique de Guinee (PDG). Toure was outspoken against French colonialism and under his regime Guinea was isolated from the rest of Francophone West Africa. Toure worried about conspiracies and held show trials; by the end of the 1960s, 250,000 Guineans were living in exile. A Portuguese-sponsored invasion of Guinean exiles in 1970 failed, but the government allowed some reforms in return for foreign aid. In 1984 after Toure’s death, a military coup headed by Lansana Conte took power and started to open Guinea to the outside world. A failed coup led by Vice President Traore in 1985 resulted in Traore’s execution and the consolidation of power by Conte. In 1990, riots occurred from the slow pace of democratic reform as the economy was strained by an influx of Guineans and refugees fleeing civil war in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Attempts at open elections have run into trouble, as there were accusations of vote-rigging at the 1993 presidential elections, a mutiny over army pay in 1996, and a boycott by opposition parties in the 2002 election.