President: Alpha Conde
Alpha Conde became president in 2010 after a lifelong battle against a series of despotic and military regimes which sent him into exile and prison.
In December 2010 he was declared winner in Guinea's first democratic election since gaining independence from France in 1958.
He took over from a military junta which seized power after the death of President Lansana Conte in 2008.
However, the vote kindled ethnic tensions, as Mr Conde hails from the Malinke ethnic group, which makes up 35% of the population. The defeated, Cellou Dalein Diallo, is a member of the Peul ethnic group, to which 40% of Guineans belong.
Mr Diallo has repeatedly accused the president of sidelining his constituents, including many Peul.
In July 2011, armed men launched an attack on his residence in Conakry, partially destroying the building, but Mr Conde was unharmed.
In the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for 27 December 2011, the opposition accused Mr Conde of attempting to rig the vote and of failing to consult it about the date. The president agreed to delay the vote and pledged to hold an "inclusive dialogue" with the opposition.
Both allies and critics alike acknowledge his charisma and intelligence, but some also describe him as authoritarian and impulsive, someone who rarely listens to others and often acts alone.
His supporters however consider him untainted, a "new man" who has never had the opportunity to "participate in the looting of the country."
Mr Conde's political career began in the 1950s when, as head of the Federation of Black Students in Francophone Africa, he campaigned for independence from France, a drive that bore fruit in Guinea in 1958.