Guinea, officially the Republic of Guinea (French: République de Guinée), is a country on the Atlantic coast of West Africa. It became independent of France on October 2, 1958, under the Parti Démocratique de Guinée (PDG – Democratic Party of Guinea) led by Sékou Touré. The PDG had its origins in the Ressemblement Démocatique Africain (RDA), an anti-colonial federation that encompassed France's colonies in West Africa. In the September 1958 French referendum, Guinea was the only one of France's colonies to vote for independence as opposed to continued association with France and the continued French economic aid which was conditional upon it. The PDG separated from the RDA after the independence referendum.
In the post-independence elections, the PDG won 58 of 60 seats in the Assembly, and having absorbed two other parties, the Bloc Africain de Guinée (BAG – founded 1954) and the Démocratie Socialiste de Guinée (DSG – also founded 1954), it formed, in effect, a one-party state. Its policy, according to Donald Ray's Dictionary of the African Left (1989), was "an eclectic amalgam of Marxism, pan-Africanism, Maoism, Islam, and African socialism" (p 37). Sékou Touré was a trade union leader who in 1953 had ogranised a major 66-day strike for higher wages and shorter working hours. His leadership of the strike cost him his civil-service job but made him the "overnight hero of the workers and the poor" (James Bertin Webster and others, p 322). The French colonial administration's underhanded tactics against him in his subsequent political activity were one of the main reasons for the de-legitimisation of the French state in the eyes of the Guinean public and their "no" vote in the 1958 referendum (James and others, p 322).
Under Sékou Touré and the PDG, after independence, state corporations were set up, some economic planning was begun, and domestic private investment was restricted – although foreign private investment was not (Donald Ray, p 157). The organisers of the PDG, led by Sékou Touré and others of a trade union background, "possessed poor houses and clothes and few cars. They gloried in being dubbed 'vagrants', 'illiterates', and 'badly dressed'". Party membership in the PDG after independence included every adult Guinean.
Guinea's population was estimated by the CIA in 2008 to be 10,211,437. Guinea's size is almost 246,000 square kilometres (94,981 sq mi). Its territory has a crescent shape, with its western border on the Atlantic Ocean, curving inland to the east and south. The Atlantic coast borders Guinea to the west, along with Guinea-Bissau. Senegal forms its inland northern border, along with Mali, to the north and north-east. Côte d'Ivoire is to the south-east, Liberia to the south and Sierra Leone to the southwest. The Niger River runs through the nation, providing both water and irregular transportation. Conakry is the capital, seat of the national government, and largest city. The nation is sometimes called Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from its neighbor Guinea-Bissau.
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