Guinea is one of West Africa's better-kept secrets. Following its independence from France in 1958, it was isolated not only from European influence, but also from its African neighbors, and that was how the country's leaders wanted it.

But in recent decades, Guinea has slowly begun to open up to the outside world, offering a rare glimpse of African life without a veneer of European culture or the corrupting influences of tourism. You'll find a wide variety of peoples, many of them farmers and herders, scattered across Guinea's plateaus, hills and valleys.

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