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Guinea has had only two presidents since gaining its independence from France in 1958 A.D.. Lansana Conte came to power in 1984 when the military seized the government after the death of the first president, Sekou Toure. Guinea did not hold democratic elections until 1993 A.D. when Gen. Conte (head of the military government) was elected president of the civilian government. He was reelected in 1998 A.D. and again in 2003 A.D., though all the polls have been marred by irregularities. Guinea has maintained its internal stability despite spillover effects from conflict in Sierra Leone and Liberia. As those countries have rebuilt, Guinea's own vulnerability to political and economic crisis has increased. Declining economic conditions and popular dissatisfaction with corruption and bad governance prompted two massive strikes in 2006 A.D.; a third nationwide strike in early 2007 A.D. sparked violent protests in many Guinean cities and prompted two weeks of martial law. To appease the unions and end the unrest, Conte named a new prime minister in March 2007 A.D.. French is the official language, but each ethnic group also has its own language.
1. A district on the west coast of Africa (formerly noted for its export of gold and slaves) after which the Guinea fowl, Guinea grass, Guinea peach, etc., are named.
2. A gold coin of England current for twenty-one shillings sterling, or about five dollars, but not coined since the issue of sovereigns in 1817. The guinea, so called from the Guinea gold out of which it was first struck, was proclaimed in 1663, and to go for twenty shillings; but it never went for less than twenty-one shillings. Pinkerton. Guinea corn. (Bot.) See Durra.
-- Guinea Current (Geog.), a current in the Atlantic Ocean setting
southwardly into the Bay of Benin on the coast of Guinea.-- Guinea dropper one who cheats by dropping counterfeit guineas. [Obs.] Gay.
-- Guinea fowl, Guinea hen (Zoöl.), an African gallinaceous bird, of
the genus Numida, allied to the pheasants. The common domesticated species (N. meleagris), has a colored fleshy horn on each aide of the head, and is of a dark gray color, variegated with small white spots. The crested Guinea fowl (N. cristata) is a finer species.-- Guinea grains (Bot.), grains of Paradise, or amomum. See Amomum.
-- Guinea grass (Bot.), a tall strong forage grass (Panicum
jumentorum) introduced. from Africa into the West Indies and Southern United States.
-- Guinea-hen flower (Bot.), a liliaceous flower (Fritillaria
Meleagris) with petals spotted like the feathers of the Guinea hen.
-- Guinea peach. See under Peach. -- Guinea pepper (Bot.), the pods of the Xylopia aromatica, a tree
of the order Anonaceæ, found in tropical West Africa. They are also sold under the name of Piper Æthiopicum. --Guinea pig.
Note: [Prob. a mistake for Guiana pig.] (a) (Zoöl.) A small Brazilian rodent (Cavia cobaya), about seven inches in length and usually of a white color, with spots of orange and black. (b) A contemptuous sobriquet. Smollett.
-- Guinea plum (Bot.), the fruit of Parinarium excelsum, a large
West African tree of the order Chrysobalaneæ, having a scarcely edible fruit somewhat resembling a plum, which is also called gray plum and rough-skin plum.
-- Guinea worm (Zoöl.), a long and slender African nematoid worm
(Filaria Medinensis) of a white color. It lives in the cellular tissue of man, beneath the skin, and produces painful sores.
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