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Travels in the Interior of Africa, by Pierre Berthier, 1820, p.255:


    Timbo is situated at the foot of a high mountain. It contains about nine thousand persons, a spacious mosque and three forts, in one of which is the palace of Almamy, consisting of five large huts, regularly built. The fortifications are of earth, and falling in ruins; in several places they have loop-holes.

    Timbo must be a very ancient city; all the neighbouring country bears the same name. Hence sprung the present masters of Fouta Jallon [Fouta Djallon], for the provinces comprised under that name have been conquered and were not originally subject to them. Timbo is the residence of the king and the army. I was informed that so many as a thousand horses are to be seen there.
    The inhabitants are rich. All the women have silver bracelets, and large gold ear-rings, and wear clothes of blue Guinea stuff, which is a sign of great luxury amongst these Africans.
    Timbo is a military post, and consequently has not much trade. Arms and contributions have enriched it; it enjoys, moreover, the privilege of the exclusive traffic with Kissin-Kissin, and Bengala, while Labbe [Labé],* the great city of the empire, trades with Kakande and Dianfou.**

    It is impossible for me to estimate the population of Timbo with more accuracy than I have done above; for when I was there, only old men, children, and cripples or infirm persons were left, and a very small number of women were to be seen. All the huts are built with taste. The courts are planted with papaw [pawpaw] and banana trees.

    I did not experience any ill treatment from the inhabitants of this city, and that is the only commendation I can bestow on them: their constant habit of seeing strangers must be the cause; for they have very frequent communications with the Rio Nunez [near Boké], and Sierra Leone.

    The women of Timbo, like those of all the cities, are very impudent; they incessantly importune strangers with their requests, or torment them by their jeers. I have already said that the wife of Ali of Niebel was from Timbo. The portrait I have drawn of her will serve for her countrywomen.

    Some old men spoke to me of an Englishman, who after quitting the colony of that nation at Sierra Leone, came to live at Timbo, married there, and had a son. He probably grew tired of this kind of life, and fled, leaving his family behind. After he was gone, his son turned Mahometan [Muslim], and still lives in the environs of Timbo.

    They have also retained a recollection of the journey made by Watt and Winterbottom, to Timbo [in 1794, see An Account of the Native Africans in the Neighbourhood of Sierra Leone, Vol 1 and Vol 2], in the disguise of Shereefs [Sharifs]; their stratagem was soon discovered, they were detained fourteen days in this capital, and then compelled to return to Sierra Leone; the Poulas being unwilling to let them penetrate further eastward into the interior of the country.

*There is a market in this city. **Other factories on the Rio Nunez.

Report on French Colonies, British Foreign Office, Jan, 1900, p.33:


    French Guinea was definitely organised as a separate colony in 1893. Previous to that period it was under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Senegal. The northern boundary of the colony is formed by Portuguese Guinea [now Guinea-Bissau] and the southern by Sierra Leone, whilst towards the interior it comprises the rich protectorate of Futa Djallon, the capital of which is Timbo, some 200 kiloms. from the coast. Further, French Guinea now includes the districts of Denguiray [Dinguiray], Siguiri, Kurussa [Kouroussa], Kankan, Kissidugu [Kissidougou] and Beyla, lately transferred from the French Sudan [now Mali].

    There are in all 241 officials, about 180 native troops officered by Furopeans and 42 colonists of whom 22 are of French nationality.

    It would appear that Konakry [Conakry], the capital and only important centre, is gradually supplanting Sierra Leone in the trade of this portion of the West Coast. As a port of call it is visited annually by a large number of vessels.

    The latest figures show that during the year 1898 the shipping movement consisted of 2,369 vessels, of a tonnage of 263,763 entering and 2,286 of a tonnage of 263,127 clearing, discharging 15,393 tons and loading 4,491 tons, of which respectively 9,534 tons and 2,882 tons were carried in British bottoms.

    The Chargeurs Reunis steamers from Havre and the Fraissinet mail boats from Marseilles each call there once a month; in addition to this the Belgian line is said to have lately deserted Sierra Leone in its favour.

    Besides the road from Konakry to the Niger, of which a certain portion has already been built, the project of a railway seems to have assumed a definite shape. Work will probably be begun shortly, as the colony has contracted a loan of 8,000,000 fr. for the purpose, and it is proposed to connect the port with Kardamana, a point on the upper Niger. Should the scheme be carried out it seems likely that Konakry will become one of the most important commercial centres on the coast.

    According to the figures of the Local Budget for 1898 the finances of the colony are in a flourishing condition. The local receipts were 70,763£, and the expenditure 53,805£. Of this sum 15,898£ was expended on public works. The subsidy allotted for 1899 in the Home Colonial Budget estimates amounts to 12,700£. Since, however, 4,000£ of this was voted for the road to the Niger and about 4,500£ for the military expenditure, the colony may be regarded as practically self-supporting.

    During the six years from 1892 to 1897 inclusive the general trade of the colony has grown greatly in importance. In 1892, the first year for which separate figures are available, the imports were estimated at 142,945£, French goods being placed at 24,134£ and foreign at 118,811£. In 1897 the imports amounted to 302,497£, divided into French and colonial trade, 48,520£, and foreign trade 253,977£. The imports from other colonies were very small and the goods imported from the mother country had. therefore, about doubled, whilst the importation of foreign goods had increased by about 112 per cent.

    The latest official figures show that, in 1898, the total imports were worth 360,795£; the respective proportions of France and her colonies and other countries being 59,422£ and 301,573£. Of the latter the share of British trade was 65 per cent.

    In the year 1896 the value of goods imported from the United Kingdom was 52,398£. Of this cotton textiles were valued at 36,540£, and metal goods, hardware, &c., at 3,521£. It is satisfactory to observe that, according to figures given in the official report the imports from the United Kingdom in 1898 were worth 207,487£ and represented fully 57 per cent. of the total. The increase has shown itself particularly in cotton goods which were worth 139,402£.

    The chief imports from France are wines and spirits, rice, hardware and metal goods, cement and lime, arms and ammunition. Germany, which stands third upon the list, sends rice, arms, and spirits. The importation of the latter, from all sources, shows a diminution of 50 per cent. during the second quarter of 1898 as compared with that of 1897.

    The values of colonial products exported in the year 1892 were: to France, 24,237£; to foreign countries, 134,675£; total, 158,912£. In 1897 the figures were respectively: 26,770£, 239,577£, and 266,347£. Thus, the trade with France increased by 2,533£ and that with foreign countries by 104.902£ during the six years.

    The only detailed official statistics are those for 1896. In that year the direct exports to the United Kingdom were trifling, 5,129£. The trade for the most part passed through Sierra Leone, that colony being credited with 164,835£ worth of products. The principal items were, in round numbers: live-stock, 15,000£; rubber, 109,100£; gum, 10,600£; palm-oil and kernels, 8,000£; raw hides, 6,700£.

    From the somewhat incomplete figures available for the second quarter of 1898 it is evident that the rubber export trade is increasing very rapidly. Its value for the three months is estimated at some 60,000£. The other staple products would appear to have fallen off somewhat. The exports to the mother country have, it is said, decreased owing to the rubber being now shipped direct to destination instead of to Havre for transhipment.

    The most important provisions of the local customs tariff are as follows: on foreign goods indirectly imported—textiles and clothing, 20 fr. per 100 kilos.; tobacco, 10 fr. per 100 kilos.; gunpowder, 20 fr. per 100 kilos.; other goods, 3 fr. 60 c. per 100 kilos. A general export duty of 7 per cent. ad valorem is levied on all products.

    Freights from Marseilles to Konakry are 35 fr. per ton.

* The latest information with regard to the trade of French Guinea will be found in Mr. Consul Arthur's Report for the year 1898, No. 2364 Annual Series.
see also: Senegal News - Mali News - Sierra Leone News - Liberia News

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    Guinea has had a history of authoritarian rule since gaining its independence from France in 1958. Lansana CONTE came to power in 1984 when the military seized the government after the death of the first president, Sekou TOURE [Ahmed Sékou Touré].

    Guinea did not hold democratic elections until 1993 when Gen. CONTE (head of the military government) was elected president of the civilian government. He was reelected in 1998 and again in 2003, though all the polls were marred by irregularities.

    History repeated itself in December 2008 when following President CONTE's death, Capt. Moussa Dadis CAMARA led a military coup, seizing power and suspending the constitution. He appears unwilling to yield to domestic and international pressure calling for him to step down, increasing political and economic tensions.
    CIA World Factbook: Guinea

Area of Guinea: 245,857 sq km
slightly smaller than Oregon

Population of Guinea: 10,057,975
July 2009 estimate

Languages of Guinea:
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Guinea Capital: Conakry

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