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Guinea is a traditional name for the region of the African coast of West Africa which lies along the Gulf of Guinea. It is a naturally moist tropical forest or savanna that stretches along the coast and borders the Sahel belt in the north.
The etymology of "Guinea" is uncertain. The English term Guinea comes directly from the Spanish word Guinea, which in turn derives from the Portuguese word Guiné. The Portuguese term emerged in the mid-15th century to refer to the lands inhabited by the Guineus, a generic term used by the Portuguese to refer to the 'black' African peoples living south of the Senegal River (in contrast to the 'tawny' Sanhaja Berbers, north of it, whom they called Azenegues). The term "Guinea" is extensively used in the 1453 chronicle of Gomes Eanes de Zurara.King John II of Portugal took up the title of Senhor da Guiné (Lord of Guinea) from 1481.
It is believed the Portuguese borrowed Guineus from the Berber term Ghinawen (sometimes Arabized as Guinauha or Genewah) meaning "the burnt people" (analogous to the Classical Greek Aithiops , "of the burned face").The Berber terms "aginaw" and "Akal n-Iguinawen" mean "black" and "land of the blacks", respectively.
A competing theory, first forwarded by Leo Africanus in 1526,claims that 'Guinea' is derived from Djenné (which he refers to as Gheneo, Genni and Ghinea), the great interior commercial city on the Upper Niger River. Djenné dominated the gold and salt trade across West Africa, from the 11th century (fall of Ghana) until the 13th century (when the Mali invasion disrupted its routes and redirected trade to Timbuktu, hitherto just a small Djenné outpost). It is during the period of Djenné dominance that the term Genewah really comes forward into usage in Arab sources (al-Sudan – Arabic for "blacks" – is used more commonly before).
Other theories try to connect "Guinea" to "Ghana", but this is less certain. The Ghana Empire is named after the Medieval trading city of Ghanah mentioned already by 11th-century Arab geographers (e.g. al-Bakri), but it is used distinctly from Genewah by Arab sources (e.g. they would say "Ghanah in the country of Genewah").Conversely, it remains possible that both Ghana and Djenné themselves owe their original city names to the Berber appellation for the blacks that lived there. A possible reconciliation of the theories is that the Berber Ghinawen (blacks) was the source of the Djenné (city), which in turn gave rise to the Arabic Genewah (land dominated by that city), which finally made it into the Portuguese Guiné.
In 1478 (during the War of the Castilian Succession), a Castilian armada of thirty-five caravels and a Portuguese fleet fought the battle of Guinea in the waters off Elmina, for the hegemony of the Guinea trade (gold, ivory and black pepper). The war ended both with a Portuguese naval victory and the official recognition by the Catholic Monarchs of the Portuguese sovereignty over most of the African territories in dispute (Treaty of Alcáçovas, 1479).This was the first colonial war among European powers. Many more would come. After the Portuguese and Castilians came the Dutch, French and British.
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 politically. The cohesion of these kingdoms caused the region to show more resistance to European incursions than other areas of Africa. Such resistance, combined with a disease environment hostile to Europeans, meant that much of Guinea was not colonised by Europeans until the very end of the 19th century.
Guinea is often subdivided into "Lower Guinea" and "Upper Guinea". Lower Guinea is one of the most densely populated regions of Africa, covering southern Nigeria, Benin, Togo and stretching into Ghana. It includes the coastal regions as well as the interior. Upper Guinea is far less densely populated and stretches from Côte d'Ivoire to Senegal.
Within the Republic of Guinea, Lower Guinea refers to the country's coastal plain, while Upper Guinea refers to the country's interior.
European traders in the region subdivided the region based on its main exports. The eastern portion around Benin and Nigeria was named the Slave Coast. What is now Ghana was called the (British) Gold Coast, a name later given to a British colony in the area which ultimately absorbed earlier European colonies. West of this was the Ivory Coast, still the name of the nation in that region. Farthest west, the area around modern Liberia and Sierra Leone was referred to as either the Pepper Coast or the Grain Coast.
The economy of Guinea-Bissau comprises a mixture of state-owned and private companies. Guinea-Bissau is among the world's least developed nations and one of the 10 poorest countries in the world, and depends mainly on agriculture and fishing. Cashew crops have increased remarkably in recent years, and the country now ranks sixth in cashew production.
The Senegal River is a 1,086 km (675 mi) long river in West Africa that forms the border between Senegal and Mauritania. It has a drainage basin of 270,000 km2, a mean flow of 680 m3/s, and an annual discharge of 21.5 km3. Important tributaries are the Falémé River, Karakoro River, and the Gorgol River. The river divides into two branches once it passes Kaédi The left branch, called the Doué, runs parallel to the main river to the north. After 200 km the two branches rejoin a few kilometers downstream of Pondor.
The Gulf of Guinea is the northeasternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean from Cape Lopez in Gabon, north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia. The intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian is in the gulf.
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo, as well as the United Kingdom Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. The population of West Africa is estimated at about 381 million people as of 2018, and at 381,981,000 as of 2017, of which 189,672,000 are female and 192,309,000 male.
The Treaty of Alcáçovas was signed on 4 September 1479 between the Catholic Monarchs of Castile and Aragon on one side and Afonso V and his son, Prince John of Portugal, on the other side. It put an end to the War of the Castilian Succession, which ended with a victory of the Castilians on land and a Portuguese victory on the sea. The four peace treaties signed at Alcáçovas reflected that outcome: Isabella was recognized as Queen of Castile while Portugal reached hegemony in the Atlantic Ocean.
Portuguese Guinea, called the Overseas Province of Guinea from 1951 until 1972 and then State of Guinea from 1972 until 1974, was a West African colony of Portugal from 1588 until 10 September 1974, when it gained independence as Guinea-Bissau.
Elmina Castle was erected by the Portuguese in 1482 as Castelo de São Jorge da Mina, also known as Castelo da Mina or simply Mina, in present-day Elmina, Ghana. It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, and the oldest European building in existence south of the Sahara. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. The Dutch seized the fort from the Portuguese in 1637, after an unsuccessful attempt to the same extent in 1596, and took over all of the Portuguese Gold Coast in 1642. The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814. In 1872, the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of Great Britain.
Elmina, also known as Edina by the local Fante, is a town and the capital of the Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abirem District on the south coast of Ghana in the Central Region, situated on a bay on the Atlantic Ocean, 12 kilometres west of Cape Coast. Elmina was the first European settlement in West Africa and it has a population of 33,576 people.
Gomes Eanes de Zurara, sometimes spelled Eannes or Azurara, was a Portuguese chronicler of the Age of Discovery, the most notable after Fernão Lopes.
Nuno Tristão was a 15th-century Portuguese explorer and slave trader, active in the early 1440s, traditionally thought to be the first European to reach the region of Guinea.
Antão Gonçalves was a 15th-century Portuguese explorer who was the first European to capture Africans in the Rio do Ouro region.
Black Ladinos were Hispanicized black Ladinos, exiled to Spanish America after having spent time in Spain.
The individual member states of the African Union (AU) coordinate foreign policy through this agency, in addition to conducting their own international relations on a state-by-state basis. The AU represents the interests of African peoples at large in intergovernmental organizations (IGO's); for instance, it is a permanent observer at the United Nations' General Assembly.
Álvaro Fernandes, was a 15th-century Portuguese explorer from Madeira, in the service of Henry the Navigator. He captained two important expeditions, which expanded the limit of the Portuguese discovery of the West African coast, probably as far as the northern borderlands of modern Guinea-Bissau. Álvaro Fernandes's farthest point would not be surpassed for ten years, until the voyage of Alvise Cadamosto in 1456.
Precolonial Mauritania, lying next to the Atlantic coast at the western edge of the Sahara Desert, received and assimilated into its complex society many waves of Saharan migrants and conquerors.
The Battle of Guinea took place on the Gulf of Guinea, in western Africa, 1478, between a Portuguese fleet and a Castilian fleet in the context of the War of the Castilian Succession.
Lançarote de Freitas, better known as Lançarote de Lagos or Lançarote da Ilha, was a 15th-century Portuguese explorer and slave trader from Lagos, Portugal. He was the leader of two large Portuguese slaving raids on the West African coast in 1444–46.
Gonçalo de Sintra or de Cintra (d.1444/45), was a 15th-century Portuguese explorer and slave raider.
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