GUINEA

Country Description: Guinea is a developing coastal West African country with minimal facilities for tourism. Travelers should make hotel arrangements in advance.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A visa is required. There is an airport departure tax. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea, 2112 Leroy Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 483-9420. Overseas inquiries should be made to the nearest Guinean embassy or consulate.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Guinea has experienced occasional civil unrest in larger towns in all regions of the country. Conakry, the capital city, experienced violence during an early February 1996 military mutiny over soldiers' pay. The government of Guinea has taken steps to address the soldiers' grievances, and life in Conakry has returned to normal; however, the long-term outlook remains unclear. U.S. citizens have not been targeted in any demonstration-related violence.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are limited. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. Travelers have found that supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas and medical evacuation coverage has proven to be useful. For additional health information, travelers can contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: In an effort to stem the tide of urban banditry, the Guinean government has established roadblocks from midnight to 6 AM. Residential and street crime is common. Criminals particularly target visitors at the airport, in the markets, and near hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners. Visitors should avoid unsolicited offers of assistance by freelancers at the airport or hotels as these people may be seeking opportunities to make off with bags, purses, or wallets. Being met at the airport by your hotel personnel, family members or business contacts can reduce vulnerability to these crimes of opportunity. Commercial scams and disputes with local business partners have occasionally created legal difficulties for U.S. citizens. The ability of the U.S. Embassy to extricate U.S. citizens from unlawful business deals is extremely limited.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the U.S. Embassy. The pamphlets, "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa," provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Restrictions on Photography: Visitors are advised to restrict photography to private gatherings. Explicit permission from the Guinean government should be obtained before photographing military and transportation facilities, government buildings or public works. Visitors should note that taking a photograph without permission in any public area may agitate security personnel or create offense among those being photographed.

Currency Regulations: Credit cards are rarely accepted in Guinea, and credit card cash advances are not available at local banks. Inter-bank fund transfers are frequently difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish.

Telephones: The communication system is poor. Telephones are available in Conakry and other major towns at major hotels. International service is frequently unreliable.

Local Transportation: Guinea's road network is underdeveloped. Vehicles are often poorly maintained; road safety rules are routinely ignored; and night time travel is inadvisable. Domestic airlines offer services to most interior cities on a variety of Russian turbo prop aircraft to often rudimentary dirt landing strips.

Embassy Location/Registration: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Conakry at Second Boulevard and Ninth Avenue, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Guinea. The U.S. Embassy's mailing address is B.P. 603. The telephone number is (224) 41-15-20/21/23. The fax number is (224) 41-15-22.

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