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Map of West Africa, ca. 1736, "explaining what belongs to England, Holland, Denmark, etc."

Guinea is a traditional name for the region of Africa that lies along the Gulf of Guinea. It stretches north through the forested, tropical, regions and ends at the Sahel.

Historically, this region was one of the first parts of sub-Saharan Africa to trade with Europeans. The extensive trade in ivory, gold, and slaves made the region wealthy, with a number of centralized kingdoms developing in the 18th and 19th centuries. These were much smaller than the large states of the wide open Sahel, but they had far higher population densities and were more centralized and technologically advanced. These kingdoms meant that the region showed more resistance to European incursions than other areas of Africa. For that reason, combined with a disease environment hostile to Europeans, much of Guinea was not made into European colonial territories until the very end of the 19th century.

The name comes from the Berber terms "aginaw" or "Akal n-Iguinawen"[1] via Portuguese; meaning "black" or "land of the blacks."

Guinea is often subdivided into "Lower Guinea", one of the most densely populated regions of Africa, covering southern Nigeria, Benin, Togo and stretching into Ghana; and "Upper Guinea", which is far less densely populated and stretches from the Côte d'Ivoire to Guinea-Bissau. Within the Republic of Guinea, Lower and Upper Guinea refer to the coastal plain and the interior of that country, respectively.

European traders in the region subdivided the region based on its main exports. The eastern portion by Benin and Nigeria was named the Slave Coast. What is now Ghana was called the Gold Coast, a name later given to a British colony in the area. West of this was the Ivory Coast, still the name of the nation in that region. Furthest west, the area around modern Liberia and Sierra Leone was referred to as either the Pepper Coast or the Grain Coast.

Countries in Guinea

See also




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