Guinea

Guinea is a rather unsafe nation, due to the fact that it is now one of Africa's unstable countries; therefore lawlessness and criminality are widespread. Most of the crime is done by officials in military uniforms, and usually targets foreigners for target opportunities. Most non-violent crime involves acts of pick-pocketing and purse-snatching, while armed robbery, muggings, and assaults are the most common violent crimes. Criminals particularly target visitors at the airport, in the traditional markets, and near hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners. Stay vigilant, and apply common sense if stuck in a certain situation.

Visitors should also avoid unsolicited offers of assistance at the airport and hotels because such offers often mask an intention to steal luggage, purses, or wallets. Travellers should arrange for hotel personnel, family members, or business contacts to meet them at the airport to reduce their vulnerability to these crimes of opportunity.

When taking photographs, avoid military bases and political buildings, as it can be considered espionage in Guinea and can land you in jail.

Of significant concern to note down is that the police are completely ineffective. Low salaries and improper training contribute to the lack of professionalism of the police. If you are the victim of a crime, consult to your embassy.

Corruption is extremely widespread - Corrupt police and soldiers target foreigners for bribes in just about any place in the country. Policemen will demand bribes at any checkpoint. Policemen will often intimidate you to pay bribes by confiscating a particular item.

Business trips to Guinea are strongly discouraged. Business frauds and scams are rampant, and if you are going for a business trip in Guinea, it is strongly recommended that you do not go.

The medical system in Guinea is in a very poor condition, and is not well equipped and is very limited. Some private medical facilities provide a better range of treatment options than public facilities, but are still well below western standards. There are no ambulance or emergency rescue services in Guinea and trauma care is extremely limited.

Tap water
is unsafe for drinking. Drink only bottled, unopened, water.
Malaria
is prevalent. Make sure to take anti-malarial prophylactics and cover up exposed skin during the evening and early morning when mosquitoes are at their worst.

If staying in the country for a long time it is advisable to bring high quality anti-malarial drugs, and anti-diarrhoea drugs Cipro as well as aspirin and a medical kit with you if you are coming from Europe or the US as the drugs found in Guinea are usually of lesser quality and strength albeit much cheaper.

The best insider's tip for eating fresh vegetables is to soak them in a big bowl of water that has one drop of bleach in it. This will kill any bacteria and you'll be able to have a salad or eat vegetables and fruits that can't be peeled such as tomatoes or keep the skin on cucumbers, etc, for added fibre and vitamins.

Visa inquiries must be made at Guinea embassies, and are not available at the borders or airport.

A one month, single entry visa costs around USD100.

A three month, multiple entry visa is double the price and is the only type available to citizens of the US.

respect

As with most of West Africa, greetings are very much a part of daily life in Guinea. A simple, "Ca va" will often suffice. However, Guineans appreciate if you ask about their family, health and job/studies: "et la famille, la sante, le boulot/les etudes." Before getting to the point in a conversation, e-mail, etc it is common and expected to greet somehow and ask how they are doing.

Greet, eat and exchange money only with your right hand; the left hand is used for bathroom purposes and is considered unclean.

The gender issue is quite complex in Guinea to say the least. Even though Guinea is a slightly conservative, Muslim, male-dominated society, foreign female travellers will rarely face any sort of difficulties. Don't be surprised if you are proposed to a million times! Cat calls, whistles and other similar forms of harassment are rare in Guinea and frowned upon. Guinean males often give up their seat to females as a sign of respect, especially in people's homes, outdoor settings, etc.

In general, men are still higher up the social ladder than women and this is prevalent in all aspects of Guinean society education, jobs, etc. Don't be surprised if men are shown more consideration than women in daily life. Once it's known that you are a foreign woman especially if you are a Black foreign female coming from the US, Europe, etc., and not a local, you will usually be granted a higher level of consideration).

For women it is NOT advisable to wear clothing showing anything from the stomach to the knees! Shorts, see-throughs, mini skirts, bare midriffs are considered tasteless if worn in public. It's not uncommon to be met with hostile stares or looks of disapproval from local Guineans or even worse. Tattoos and body piercings are not common and visitors are advised to cover them up when possible. A head scarf, however, is not necessary. Jeans while still not very popular among Guinean women, long skirts and dresses, tank tops and short or long sleeved shirts are perfectly acceptable.

There is a Christian minority mostly concentrated in the southern forest region; however, Muslims, Christians and others tend to co-exist peacefully with tolerance and respect.

Guineans will often invite you to eat at their home. This is a sign of respect and consideration for the visitor. Accept the invitation where possible. If you are unable, it's better to politely respond with a simple "next time" or "prochainement". Simply showing up without an appointment at the home of a Guinean is not considered rude or impolite as it can be in the West. Don't be alarmed if you find Guineans popping over to see how you are.

Overall Guineans are warm, friendly and hospitable and will come to your assistance where appropriate.

talk

The official language is French. There are numerous ethnic languages, and the three most prevalent are Susu, PularFoulah, Peuhl and Malinke. Susu is spoken in the coastal region and in the capital city. Toma, Guerzé, Kissi and others are spoken in the interior Sacred Forest region bordering on Mali, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Liberia. There are a lot of people who cannot and will not speak any English at all, even in the capital city.