Conakry (/ˈkɒnəkri/; French pronunciation: [kɔnakʁi]; Susu: Kɔnakiri; N’ko: ߞߐߣߊߞߙߌ߫, Fula: Konaakiri 𞤑𞤮𞤲𞤢𞥄𞤳𞤭𞤪𞤭) is the capital and largest city of Guinea. A port city, it serves as the economic, financial and cultural centre of Guinea. Its population as of the 2014 Guinea census was 1,660,973. Originally situated on Tombo Island, one of the Îles de Los, it has since spread up the neighboring Kaloum Peninsula.
The current population of Conakry is difficult to ascertain, although the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs has estimated it at 2 million, accounting for one sixth of the entire population of the country
Conakry is the largest city and the capital of Guinea. Located on coastal islands and a peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, it is also the nation’s chief port. In 2011 its population was estimated at approximately 1,786,000 people.
The city was founded in 1884 on Tombo Island by French settlers although its political control remained in dispute until Great Britain officially ceded to island to France, which was consolidating its control over the entire colony of Guinea. Conakry was founded on land belonging to the Susu (Soussou) people. The name “Conakry” originally referred to a nearby Susu fishing village. Conakry became the capital of French Guinea in 1904 and was the seaport terminus of the only railroad in the colony.
The layout of the city was influenced by the early French settlers. Conakry is divided into quarters with a number of large tree-lined boulevards inspired by Paris and other French cities. Originally the city was only on Tombo Island but has since expanded to include the Iles de Los and the Kaloum Peninsula which is connected to Tombo Island by a causeway.
The climate of Conakry is tropical with temperatures ranging from 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity throughout the year. Most of the surrounding area is swampland.
In 1958 when Guinea gained its independence from France, Conakry had only about 50,000 people. After independence, the city grew rapidly to 600,000 in 1980 and to its nearly two million people today. Since independence the majority of Conakry’s population has been made up of people belonging to the Peuhl, Malinke, and Susu nations, virtually all of whom are Muslim. Conakry is also home to many refugees fleeing the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Most of the population of Conakry lives in poverty and suffers a high risk of contracting a variety of diseases including malaria, and AIDS. It is estimated that only 3.6% of the total population lives past the age of 65.
Conakry’s economy is mostly dependent on trade due to Tombo Island’s natural deep-water harbor. Conakry’s main exports include bauxite, alumina, gold, coffee, and fish. In addition to trade, Conakry also has a large industrial district located on the Kaloum Peninsula which manufactures a variety of goods especially aluminum and plastic products.
At nearly two million people, Conakry has almost one quarter of the population of Guinea. It is also Guinea’s educational and cultural center, the home of the University of Conakry as well as many museums, art galleries, and other tourist destinations. In 2014 Conakry faced a new health challenge as its citizens had to cope with the ebola epidemic.
Government and administration
Central Conakry is on Tombo Island, with the growing city spreading up the Kaloum Peninsula.
Conakry is a special city with a single region and prefecture government. The local government of the city was decentralized in 1991 between five municipal communes headed by a mayor. From the tip in the southwest, these are:
The five urban communes make up the Conakry Region, one of the eight Regions of Guinea, which is headed by a governor. At the second-tier prefecture level, the city is designated as the Conakry Special Zone, though the prefecture and regional government are one and the same. At an estimated two million inhabitants, it is far and away the largest city in Guinea, making up almost a quarter of the nation’s population and making it more than four times bigger than its nearest rival, Kankan.
Conakry is Guinea’s largest city and its administrative, communications, and economic centre. The city’s economy revolves largely around the port, which has modern facilities for handling and storing cargo, through which alumina and bananas are shipped. Manufactures include food products and cement, metal manufactures, and fuel products.
Periodic power and water cuts have been a daily burden for Conakry’s residents since early 2002. Government and power company officials blame the drought of February 2001 for a failure of the hydro-electric supply to the capital, and a failure of aging machinery for the continuation of the crisis. Critics of the government cite mis-management, corruption and the withdrawal of the power agency’s French partner at the beginning of 2002. As of 2007, much of the city has no traffic lighting in the overnight hours.
Unlike much of West Africa, Conakry’s wet season sees an extraordinary amount of precipitation, averaging more than 1,100 millimetres (43 in) in both July and August. As a result, Conakry averages nearly 3,800 millimetres (150 in) of precipitation per year.