Some Guineans claim that the word arose from an early episode in the European-African encounter. The name came into use among European shippers and map makers in the seventeenth century to refer to the coast of West Africa from Guinea to Benin.In Susu, the language spoken by the coastal Susu ethnic group, the word guinè means "woman." When a group of Europeans arrived on the coast they met some women washing clothes in an estuary.The women indicated to the men that they were women.The Europeans misunderstood and thought the women were referring to a geographic area; the subsequently used the word "Guinea" to describe coastal West Africa.
The capital city is Conakry, and the country often is referred to as Guinea-Conakry to distinguish it from other nation-states with the same name. Guinea is located on the west coast of Africa, and is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.Its area is 94,930 square miles (245,857 square kilometers). The coastal maritime region is filled with mangrove swamps and alluvial plains that support palm trees.Lower Guinea receives heavy rains, and Conakry is one of the wettest cities in the world.The coastal belt is home to one of the country's dominant ethnic groups, the Susu, and to many smaller groups, such as the Baga, Landoma, Lele, and Mikiforé.Other important towns include the bauxite mining centers of Fria and Kamsar. This mountainous region has cool temperatures, allowing for the cultivation of potatoes.The Niger, Senegal, and Gambia rivers originate in the Futa Jallon.