In 2019, Guinea had an average population density of 50 residents per km2. The majority of the population is concentrated in the plateau areas of central Guinea. Due to a previously high migration, about 2 million Guineans are believed to live abroad.
In 2018, it was estimated that 35 percent of the population lived in cities. The largest city is the capital Conakry (1.7 million residents, 2014).
According to Countryaah, Guinea’s population consists of more than twenty ethnic groups. In the precipitous coastal country, the male-speaking Susu (1.1 million), who are 85 percent Muslims, live as well as Baga, a smaller, indigenous peoples of the area who speak an Atlantic language and have maintained their traditional religion; both peoples feed on agriculture with rice as base crop.
On the Fouta Djallon Plateau are the Muslim, livestock- eating fulani (4 million), which make up 43 percent of the country’s population. On Upper Guinea’s savannah plateau dominate the male-speaking malink (2.4 million), who are farmers with rice and sorghum as base crops. Malinke was a carrier of the Mali kingdom, and their communities are still divided into family groups that belong to three strata: free peasants, craftsmen and “slaves”. The craftsmen are in turn divided into three endogamous, caste-like occupational groups: blacksmiths, leather workers and skulls (griots).
The influence of Islam on the Malian culture has been evident since the time of the Mali kingdom; the proportion of Muslims is about 40 percent, while the rest have maintained their traditional religion. At the far north-east, towards the border with Mali, and towards the border with Sierra Leone, there are groups of male-speaking Yalunka (91,000), who are Muslims and whose language is related to Susu.
Guinea’s southeastern forest areas are inhabited by a number of ethnic groups, all of whom feed on agriculture. The largest are the Atlantic-speaking kissi (448,000) and the male-speaking kpelle (549,000), loma (144,000), kuranko (87,000) and ziolo (25,000). Among these peoples, traditional religions predominate, although Islam’s influence is increasingly prevalent among kpelle and kuranko.
- AllCityPopulation: Find Guinea demographics including latest population, life expectancy, age structure, and urbanization.
The official language is French. The indigenous languages belong to two branches of the Niger-Congo family: the Mandate languages and the Atlantic languages. Among the languages spoken are susu in the area around Conakry and Malinke in the eastern part of the country. The central and eastern parts are dominated by the Atlantic Fulani, which has the status of national languages and which, along with five additional languages, were used in the teaching until 1984. At the far north-west is the Atlantic baggage.
With the Almoravids, Islam in the 1000s came to the West African region of which today’s Guinea is a part. In the 1600s, Muslim migrants came to Guinea’s highlands and established themselves along the shores of the Milo River, where they founded the city-state of Baté with the capital Kankan. Baté became a Muslim enclave that attracted many students and traders. At the beginning of the 18th century, Muslim fulanil migrants (see fulani) arrived in Fouta Djallon, which is part of central Guinea. These created a centralized theocratic state. Today (2010), about 85% of the population comprises Islam, most of whom are Sunni. The Shiites are relatively few but increase in numbers. In Guinea’s forest areas, where the people lived scattered in small villages, Islam has not had any major successes.
The Portuguese presence in the area dates back to the 15th century, and a slave trade that affected Guinea until the mid-1800s was established. In 1881 the country came under French protection, in 1895 Guinea became part of French West Africa and in 1958 the country became independent. The proportion of Christians amounts to about 10% and about 5% comprises traditional indigenous religion. Among the Christians you will find Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists and various charismatic groups. There are also Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, Bahai, Hindus, Buddhists, and those who profess traditional Chinese religion.
During the colonial period, Guinea was governed by the French secular constitution. During the liberation from France, the country was ruled by President Sékou Touré, who strived to create an independent African socialism that brought about an atheist constitution and oppression of human rights. According to the current constitution of 2010, Guinea is a secular republic which guarantees freedom of religion in the constitution and other laws, which the government is completing in practice. However, there is some favoritism of Islam. For example, universities are closed on Fridays so Muslim students can participate in Friday prayers. On Sundays, teaching is ongoing, which prevents Christian students from participating in Sunday worship. The state also supports pilgrimage trips to Mecca.
There are no obstacles for citizens to choose the religion he or she wants to belong to. The Secretariat for Religious Affairs works for better relations between the different faith communities and to minimize tensions between different ethnic groups.