Equatorial Guinea

República de Guinea Ecuatorial
République de Guinée Equatoriale
Republic of Equatorial Guinea
Flag of Equatorial Guinea Coat of arms of Equatorial Guinea
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Unidad, Paz, Justicia"  (Spanish)
"Unity, Peace, Justice"
Anthem: Caminemos pisando la senda
Location of Equatorial Guinea
Capital Malabo
Largest city Malabo
Official language Spanish, French[1]
Government Republic
 - President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
 - Prime Minister Ricardo Mangue Obama Nfubea
 - from Spain October 12 1968 
 - Total 28,051 km² (144th)
10,828 sq mi 
 - Water (%) negligible
 - July 2005 estimate 504,000 (166th)
 - Density 18/km² (187th)
47/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $18.785 billion (112th)
 - Per capita $16,507 (41st)
HDI  (2004) 0.653 (medium) (120th)
Currency CFA franc (XAF)
Time zone WAT (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+1)
Internet TLD .gq
Calling code +240

Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, is a country in West Middle Africa, one of the smallest in continental Africa. It is bordered by Cameroon on the north, Gabon on the south and east, and the Gulf of Guinea on the west, where the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe lie to its southwest. Formerly the Spanish colony of Spanish Guinea, the country's territory (continentally known as Río Muni) includes a number of islands, including the sizable island of Bioko where the capital, Malabo (formerly Santa Isabel), is located. Its post-independence name is suggestive of its location near both the equator and the Gulf of Guinea. It is the only country in mainland Africa where Spanish is an official language, excluding the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Equatorial Guinea is the smallest country, in terms of population, in continental Africa (Seychelles and São Tomé and Príncipe are smaller). It is also the smallest United Nations member from continental Africa, and the smallest Spanish-speaking country in the world. The discovery of sizeable oil reserves changed the history of the country in recent years.




The first inhabitants of the continental region that is now Equatorial Guinea are believed to have been Pygmies, of whom only isolated pockets remain in northern Río Muni. Bantu migrations between the 17th and 19th centuries brought the coastal tribes and later the Fang. Elements of the latter may have generated the Bubi, who emigrated to Bioko from Cameroon and Rio Muni in several waves and succeeded former Neolithic populations. The Bubi were the very first human inhabitants of Bioko Island. The Igbo people of Nigeria arrived in the 18th century. The Annobon population, native to Angola, was introduced by the Portuguese via São Tomé Island (São Tomé and Príncipe).

The Portuguese explorer, Fernão do Pó, seeking a route to India, is credited with having discovered the island of Bioko in 1472. He called it Formosa ("Beautiful"), but it quickly took on the name of its European discoverer. The islands of Fernando Pó and Annobón were colonized by Portugal in 1474. The Portuguese retained control until 1778, when the island, adjacent islets, and commercial rights to the mainland between the Niger and Ogoue Rivers were ceded to Spain in exchange for territory in the American continent (Treaty of El Pardo, between Queen Maria I of Portugal and King Charles III of Spain). From 1827 to 1843, Britain established a base on the island to combat the slave trade. The mainland portion, Rio Muni, became a protectorate in 1885 and a colony in 1900. Conflicting claims to the mainland were settled in 1900 by the Treaty of Paris, and periodically, the mainland territories were united administratively under Spanish rule. Between 1926 and 1959 they were united as the colony of Spanish Guinea.



Map of Equatorial Guinea
Map of Equatorial Guinea

The current president of Equatorial Guinea is Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. The 1982 constitution of Equatorial Guinea gives Obiang extensive powers, including naming and dismissing members of the cabinet, making laws by decree, dissolving the Chamber of Representatives, negotiating and ratifying treaties and calling legislative elections. Obiang retains his role as commander in chief of the armed forces and minister of defense, and he maintains close supervision of the military activity. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and operates under powers designated by the President. The Prime Minister coordinates government activities in areas other than foreign affairs, national defense and security.

On December 15, 2002,[2] Equatorial Guinea's four main opposition parties withdrew from the country's presidential election. Obiang won an election widely considered fraudulent by members of the Western press.

Diplomats and even ministers have been caught smuggling drugs, sometimes using diplomatic bags and even the president's baggage on state trips. The incumbent president has never equalled the bloodthirsty reputation of his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema whom he overthrew. Macias had opponents executed, 150 at a time, to the sound of Mary Hopkin's tune Those Were the Days through stadium loudspeakers.

A huge proportion of the £370 million revenue is confiscated by the president while most of the 500,000 subjects subsist on less than a dollar a day.

Sewage runs through the streets of the capital Malabo and there is no public transport and little running water or electricity.[3]

According to a March 2004 BBC profile,[4] politics within the country are currently dominated by tensions between Obiang's son, Teodorin, and other close relatives with powerful positions in the security forces. The tension may be rooted in power shift arising from the dramatic increase in oil production which has occurred since 1997.

A November 2004 report[5] named Mark Thatcher as a financial backer of a March 2004 attempt to topple Obiang organized by Simon Mann. Various accounts also name Britain's MI6, the CIA, and Spain as having been tacit supporters of the coup attempt.[6] Nevertheless, the Amnesty International report released in June 2005[7] on the ensuing trial of those allegedly involved highlights the prosecution's failure to produce conclusive evidence that a coup attempt had actually taken place.



Pre-independence Equatorial Guinea counted on cocoa production for hard currency earnings. In 1959 it had the highest per capita income of Africa.

The discovery of large oil reserves in 1996 and its subsequent exploitation have contributed to a dramatic increase in government revenue. As of 2004,[8] Equatorial Guinea is the third-largest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its oil production has risen to 360,000 barrels/day, up from 220,000 only two years earlier.

Forestry, farming, and fishing are also major components of GDP. Subsistence farming predominates. The deterioration of the rural economy under successive brutal regimes has diminished any potential for agriculture-led growth.

Despite a per capita GDP (PPP) of more than US$30,000[9] (CIA Factbook $50,200[10]) which is as of 2006 the second highest in the world, after Luxembourg Equatorial Guinea ranks 121st out of 177 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index.

In July 2004, the U.S. Senate published an investigation into Riggs Bank, a Washington-based bank into which most of Equatorial Guinea's oil revenues were paid until recently, and which also banked for Chile's Augusto Pinochet. The Senate report, as to Equatorial Guinea, showed that at least $35 million were siphoned off by Obiang, his family and senior officials of his regime. The president has denied any wrongdoing. While Riggs Bank in February 2005 paid $9 million as restitution for its banking for Chile's Augusto Pinochet, no restitution was made with regard to Equatorial Guinea, as reported in detail in[11] this Anti-Money Laundering Report from Inner City Press.

On August 9, 2006, Harper's Magazine published an article by Ken Silverstein highlighting Obiang's recent connections with the U.S. State Department and Independence Federal Savings Bank.[12]

While EG is currently one of the largest producers of oil in Africa, very few improvements have been made to the living conditions of the people. Most live in poverty.



Satellite image of Equatorial Guinea, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Satellite image of Equatorial Guinea, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Bioko (Equatorial Guinea) visible in the distance from Cameroon
Bioko (Equatorial Guinea) visible in the distance from Cameroon

The Republic of Equatorial Guinea is located in west central Africa. Bioko Island lies about 40 kilometers (25 mi) from Cameroon. Annobón Island lies about 595 kilometers (370 mi) southwest of Bioko Island. The larger continental region of Rio Muni lies between Cameroon and Gabon on the mainland; it includes the islands of Corisco, Elobey Grande, Elobey Chico, and adjacent islets. Contrary to its name, no part of the country lies on the equator. Along with Denmark it is one of two countries in the world with its mainland on a continent and its capital city on an island.



Fang children
Fang children

The majority of the people of Equatorial Guinea are of Bantu origin. The largest tribe, the Fang, is indigenous to the mainland, but substantial migration to Bioko Island has resulted in Fang dominance over the earlier Bantu inhabitants. The Fang constitute 80 percent of the population and are themselves divided into 67 clans. Those in the northern part of Rio Muni speak Fang-Ntumu, while those in the south speak Fang-Okah; the two dialects are mutually unintelligible. The Bubi, who constitute 15 percent of the population, are indigenous to Bioko Island.

In addition, there are coastal tribes, sometimes referred to as "Playeros" (Beach People in Spanish): Ndowes, Bujebas, Balengues, and Bengas on the mainland and small islands, and "Fernandinos", a Creole community, on Bioko. Together, these groups compose five percent of the population. Some Europeans (largely of Spanish or Portuguese descent) – most of them mixed with African ethnicity – also live in the nation. There is a growing number of foreigners from neighboring Cameroon, Nigeria, and Gabon. Equatorial Guinea received Asians and black Africans from other countries as workers on cocoa and coffee plantations. Other black Africans came from Liberia, Angola, and Mozambique, and Asians are mostly Chinese . Equatorial Guinea also allowed many fortune-seeking European settlers of other nationalities, including British, French and Germans. After independence, thousands of Equatorial Guineans went to Spain. Another 100,000 Equatorial Guineans went to Cameroon, Gabon, and Nigeria because of the dictatorship of Francisco Macías Nguema. Some of its communities also live in Brazil, some Spanish-speaking Latin American nations, the United States, Portugal, and France.

Oil extraction has contributed to a doubling of the population in Malabo.


Official languages

The Constitutional Law which amends article 4 of the Fundamental Law of the State, establishes that "the official languages of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea are Spanish and French. The aboriginal languages are recognized as integral parts of the national culture" (Constitutional Law No. 1/1998 of 21 January). The large majority of Guineans speak Spanish, especially those living in the capital, Malabo.



Several cultural dispersion and literacy organizations are located in the country, founded chiefly with the financial support of the Spanish government. The country has one university, the Universidad Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial (UNGE) with a campus in Malabo and a Faculty of Medicine located in Bata on the mainland. The Bata Medical School is supported principally by the government of Cuba and staffed by medical educators and physicians from that country.


Mass media

The most dominant form of mass media in the country is the three state-operated FM radio stations. There are also five shortwave radio stations.

A July 2003 article from the BBC[13] points out there are no daily newspapers in the country and described how a Fang program called "Bidze-Nduan" ("Bury the Fire") on a widely listened-to state radio station declared that Obiang was "in permanent contact with the Almighty"; a presidential aide on the show also said:

He (Obiang) can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to hell because it is God himself, with whom he is in permanent contact, and who gives him this strength.

Most of the media companies practise heavy self-censorship, and are banned by law from criticising public figures. The state owned media and the main private radio station are under the directorship of Teodorin Nguema Obiang, the president's son. Some media-related statistics from The World Factbook are summarized in a section on communications in Equatorial Guinea.




Equatorial Guinea in fiction

See Frederick Forsyth's The Dogs of War (novel) article "Triva".

Fernando Póo (now Bioko) is featured prominently in the 1975 science fiction work The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. The island (and, in turn, the country) experience a series of coups in the story which lead the world to the verge of nuclear war. The trilogy also establishes that Fernando Póo is the last remaining piece of the sunken continent of Atlantis.

Most of the action in Robin Cook's book, Chromosome 6, takes place in Equatorial Guinea, where an international Biochemical corporation, GenSys, established a primate research facility due to the permissive laws of the country. The book shows a little bit of the geography of the country, its history and its people.


Miscellaneous topics


Online References

  1. http://www.unhchr.ch/huridocda/huridoca.nsf
  2. "Equatorial Guinea: Obiang Sure to Win As Opposition Quits Poll", allAfrica, 2002-12-16.
  3. "Playboy waits for his African throne", The Sunday Times, 2006-09-03.
  4. "Profile: Equatorial Guinea's great survivor", BBC News, 2004-03-17.
  5. "Thatcher faces 15 years in prison", The Sydney Morning Herald, 2004-08-27.
  6. "The US knew, Spain knew, Britain knew. Whose coup was it?", Sunday Herald, 2004-08-29.
  7. [http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAFR240052005?open&of=ENG-GNQ Equatorial Guinea, A trial with too many flaws]. Amnesty International (2005-06-07).
  8. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1101-2004Sep6.html
  9. World Economic Outlook IMF Database, September 2005
  10. https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ek.html
  11. http://www.innercitypress.org/finwatch.html
  12. "Obiang's Banking Again: State Department and Washington insiders help a dictator get what he wants", Harper's Magazine, 2006-08-09.
  13. "Equatorial Guinea's "God"", BBC News, 2003-07-26.

This article contains material from the CIA World Factbook which, as a US government publication, is in the public domain.




External links




Overviews and Directories


Ethnic Groups






Spain and Africa

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