When friends and family found out about my move to Guinea, most of my Portuguese friends immediately thought of Guinea Bissau, others mentioned Papua New Guinea. Most didn’t know about the existence about this Guinea (The Conakry one).
Before you wonder if there are more? Yes, there are four countries with Guinea in the name: Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea and Papua New Guinea. So where does the word Guinea come from?
Well, the other day Adventure Pants and I were at the Expat Club speaking to guy when this issue of the name came up and our English drink joiner gave us a brief explanation of the etymology of the name. Guinea somehow represents wealth and riches, so when West Africa was being colonized, the colonizers starting naming their newly found riches Guinea… So you ended up having Portuguese Guinea (Guinea Bissau), French Guinea (Guinea), Dutch Guinea (Part of Ghana), British Guinea (Papua New Guinea) and eventually Spanish Guinea (Equatorial Guinea).
So for clarification, I moved to Guinea also known as Guinea Conakry. Guinea is surrounded by Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast. It’s official language is French (back to a country where I need to learn a language) and its population is majority Muslim, though you can’t always tell as women don’t tend to wear hijabs.
A country with a population of over 10 million, it ranks very lowly on the UN’s Human Development Index and poverty is clearly visible as you drive around the Conakry. However the country on quite substantial mineral resource which could propel its development if used correctly.
So this is where I am… In a poor Guinea waiting to emerge!