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The lush nation of Guinea is one of the wettest in West Africa. It has dense forests and is rich in bauxite, diamonds, iron ore and gold, although this wealth has not translated into prosperous living for the country's people. The nation has a thriving dance and music scene and musical concerts on the streets of the capital, Conakry, are frequent.

Guinea gained independence from France in 1958. Although Guinea has been spared the civil war of its neighbors - Cote d?Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone - the small coastal nation has experienced strife that has spilled over its borders from these countries. It has also suffered local upheaval as people grow increasingly discontented with President Lansana Conte, who has ruled for more than two decades. Due to political instability, travelers should closely monitor the situation before heading to Guinea.

Guinea has a population of 10 million.  Most people follow Islam, although Christianity and other indigenous beliefs are practiced. The official language and much of the cultural influence in Guinea is French, although Guinea has retained much of its own cultural identity. Although French is the official language, Malinke, Fula and Susu are also spoken.

Guinea two national parks and many designated protected areas. The Parc Transfrontalier Niokolo-Badiar in the northeast connects with Senegal's Parc National du Niokolo-Koba. There are no lodging facilities on the Guinea side. The Parc national du Haut Niger protects on of the last remaining dry forest ecosystems in West Africa. There are biking and hiking opportunities on the country's Fouta Djalon plateau.

There are direct flights from Europe into Guinea via Air France, KLM and Aeroflot. Most planes connect from European cities. Within the country privately run buses are relatively comfortable and cheaper than mini-buses, but they often break down.

For resort vacationing, Le Meridien Mariador Palace has spacious rooms, an outdoor lounge, massage and a swimming pool. The Novotel Conakry Grand Hotel has splendid views of the city, a restaurant and bar, tennis courts, a lounge area and swimming pool.

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