Guinea is a West African country, with Conakry serving as its capital. The nation, once home to the Wassoulou Empire, was conquered by France in 1898, and Guinea was a part of French West Africa for decades. On 2 October 1958, union organizer Ahmed Sekou Toure declared Guinean independence after refusing to adopt the new French constitution as the law of the colony; President Charles de Gaulle gave Guinea its independence, although he stripped it of economic and administrative aid. From 1958 to 1984, Toure ruled Guinea as a dictator; once a committed African nationalist and Marxist, he abandoned Marxism in 1978 and later dropped African nationalism in favor of aligning towards France and the United States due to his rivalry with the Soviet-backed labor movement. After Toure's death in 1984, the military seized power, with Lansana Conte ruling as dictator from 1984 to 2008. Guinea suffered from poverty and diseases, and it teetered on the brink of state failure. In 2014, Guinea had a population of 11,628,972 people, with 37% being Fula, 36% Mandinka, 13% Susu, 5% Kissi, 5% Kpelle, and 4% others; 85% of the population adheres to Islam.