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FRENCH GUINEA

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Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 103 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FRENCH GUINEA, a French colony in West Africa, formerly known as Rivieres du Sud. It is bounded W. by the Atlantic, N. by Portuguese Guinea and Senegal, E. by Upper Senegal and the Ivory Coast, and S. by Liberia and Sierra Leone. With a sea-board running N.N.W. andS.S.E. from to° 5o' N. to 90 2' N., a distance, without reckoning the indentations, of 17o m., the colony extends eastward 45o m. in a straight line and attains a maximum width N. to S. of nearly 300 m., covering fully zoo,000 sq. m., and containing a population estimated at 2,000,000 to 2,500,000. Physical Features.—Though in one or two places rocky headlands jut into the sea, the coast is in general sandy, low, and much broken by rivers and deep estuaries, dotted with swampy islands, giving it the appearance of a vast delta. In about 9° 30' N., off the promontory of Konakry, lie the Los Islands (q.v.), forming part of the colony. The coast plain, formed of alluvial deposits, is succeeded about 30 M. inland by a line of cliffs, the Susu Hills, which form the first step in the terrace-like formation of the interior, culminating in the massif of Futa Jallon, composed chiefly of Archean and granite rocks. While the coast lands are either densely forested or covered with savannas or park-like country, the Futa Jallon tableland is mainly covered with short herbage. This tableland, the hydro-graphic centre of \Vest Africa, is most elevated in its southern parts, where heights of 5000 ft. are found. Near the Sierra Leone frontier this high land is continued westward to within 20 M. of the sea, where Mount Kakulima rises over 3300 ft. East and south of Futa Jallon the country slopes to the basin of the upper Niger, the greater part of which is included in French Guinea. The southern frontier is formed by the escarpments which separate the Niger basin from those of the coast rivers of Liberia. Besides the Niger, Gambia and Senegal, all separately noticed, a large number of streams running direct to the Atlantic rise in Futa Jallon. Among them are the Great and Little Scarcies, whose lower courses are in Sierra Leone, and the Rio Grande which enters the sea in Portuguese Guinea. Those whose courses are entirely in French Guinea include the Cogon (or Componi), the Rio Nunez, the Fatalla (which reaches the sea through an estuary named Rio Pongo), the Konkure, whose estuary is named Rio Bramaya, the Forekaria and the Melakori. The Cogon, Fatallah and Konkure are all large rivers which descend from the plateaus through deep, narrow valleys in rapids and cataracts, and are only navigable for a few miles from their mouth. Climate.—The climate of the coast district is hot, moist and unhealthy, with a season of heavy rain lasting from May to November, during which time variable winds, calms and tornadoes succeed one another. The mean temperature in the dry season, when the " harmattan " is frequent, is 62° Fahr., in the wet season 86°. Throughout the year the humidity of the air is very great. There is much rain in the Futa jallon highlands, but the Niger basin is some-what drier. In that region and in the highlands the climate is fairly healthy for Europeans and the heat somewhat less than on the coast. I Numerous remains of a stone age have been discovered, both on the coast and in the hinterland. See L. Desplagnes, " L'Archeologie prehistorique en Guinee francaise," in Butt. Soc. Geog. Comm. de Bordeaux. March 1907, and the authorities there cited. export. Among minor products are coffee, wax and ivory. Large herds of cattle and flocks of sheep are raised in Futa Jallon ; these are sent in considerable numbers to Sierra Leone, Liberia and French Congo. The trade in hides is also of considerable value. The chief grain raised is millet, the staple food of the people. The rubber is mainly exported to England, the palm products to Germany, and the ground-nuts to France. The principal imports are cotton goods, of which 8o% come from Great Britain, rice, kola nuts, chiefly from Liberia, spirits, tobacco, building material, and arms and ammunition, chiefly " trade guns." The average annual value of the trade for the period 1900–1907 was about £1,250,000, the annual export of rubber alone being worth £400,000 or more. The great bulk of the trade of the colony is with France and Great Britain, the last-named country taking about 45% of the total; Germany comes third. Since April 1905 a surtax of 7% has been imposed on all goods of other than French origin. Communications.—The railway from Konakry to the Niger at Kurussa, by the route chosen a distance of 342 m., was begun in 1900, and from 1902 has been built directly by the colony. The first section to Kindia, 93 m., was opened in 1904. The second section, to near Timbo in Futa Jallon, was completed in 1907, and the rails reached Kurussa in 1910. From Kurussa the Niger is navigable at high water all the way to Bamako in Upper Senegal, whence there is communication by rail and river with St Louis and Timbuktu. Besides the railway there is an excellent road, about 390 M. long, from Konakry to Kurussa, the road in its lower part being close to the Sierra Leone frontier, with the object of diverting trade from that British colony. Several other main roads have been built by the French, and there is a very complete telegraphic system, the lines having been connected with those of Senegal in 1899. History.—T his part of the Guinea coast was made known by the Portuguese voyagers of the 15th century. In consequence, largely, of the dangers attending its navigation, it was not visited by the European traders of the 16th-18th centuries so frequently as other regions north and east, but in the Rio Pongo, at Matakong (a diminutive island near the mouth of the Forekaria), and elsewhere, slave traders established themselves, and ruins of the strongholds they built, and defended with cannon, still exist. When driven from other parts of Guinea the slavers made this difficult and little known coast one of their last resorts, and many barracoons were built in the late years of the 18th century. It was not until after the restoration of Goree to her at the close of the Napoleonic wars that France evinced any marked interest in this region. At that time the British, from their bases at the Gambia and Sierra Leone, were devoting considerable attention to these Rivieres du Sud (i.e. south of Senegal) and also to Futa Jallon. Rene Caillie, who started his journey to Timbuktu from Boke in 1827, did much to quicken French interest in the district, and from 1838 onward French naval officers, Bouet-Willaumez and his successors, made detailed studies of the coast. About the time that the British government became wearied of its efforts to open up the interior of West Africa, General Faidherbe was appointed governor of Senegal (1854), and under his direction vigorous efforts were made to consolidate French influence. Already in 1848 treaty relations had been entered into with the Nalu, and between that date and 1865 treaties of protectorate were signed with several of the coast tribes. During 1876-188o new treaties were concluded with the chief tribes, and in 1881 the almany (or emir) of Futa Jallon placed his country under French protection, the French thus effectually preventing the junction, behind the coast lands, of the British colonies of the Gambia and Sierra Leone. The right of France to the littoral as far south as the basin of the Melakori was recognized by Great Britain in 1882; Germany (which had made some attempt to acquire.a protectorate at Konakry) abandoned its claims in 1885, while in 1886 the northern frontier was settled in agreement with Portugal, which had ancient settlements in the same region (see PORTUGUESE GUINEA). In 1899 the limits of the colony were extended, on the dismemberment of the French Sudan, to include the upper Niger districts. In 1904 the Los Islands were ceded by Great Britain to France, in part return for the abandonment of French fishing rights in Newfoundland waters. (See also SENEGAL: History.) French Guinea was made a colony independent of Senegal in 1891, but in 1895 came under the supreme authority of the newly constituted governor-generalship of French West Africa. Guinea has a considerable measure of autonomy and a separate budget. It is administered by a lieutenant-governor, assisted by a nominated council. Revenue is raised principally from customs and a capitation tax, which has replaced a hut tax. The local budget for 1907 balanced at £205,000. Over the greater part of the country the native princes retain their sovereignty under the superintendence of French officials. The development of agriculture and education are objects of special solicitude to the French authorities. In general the natives are friendly towards their white masters. See M. Famechon, Notice sur la Guinee francaise (Paris, 1900) ; J. Chautard, Etude geophysique et geologique sur le Fouta-Djallon (Paris, 19o5); Andre Arcin, La Guinee francaise (Paris, 1906), a valuable monograph ; J. Machat, Les Rivieres du Sud et la Fouta-Diallon (Paris, 1906), another valuable work, containing exhaustive bibliographies. Consult also F. Rouget, La Guinee (Paris, 1908), an official publication, the annual Reports on French West Africa, published by the British Foreign Office, and the Carte de la Guinee francaise by A. Meunier in 4 sheets on the scale 1: 500,000 (Paris, 1902).
End of Article: FRENCH GUINEA
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