Equatorial Guinea

Republic of Equatorial Guinea
  • República de Guinea Ecuatorial  ( Spanish)
  • République de Guinée équatoriale  ( French)
  • República da Guiné Equatorial  ( Portuguese)
  • "Unidad, Paz, Justicia" (Spanish)
  • "Unity, Peace, Justice"
Anthem:  Caminemos pisando las sendas de nuestra inmensa felicidad  (Spanish)
Let us walk the paths of our immense happiness
Location of  Equatorial Guinea  (dark blue)– in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)– in the African Union  (light blue)
Location of  Equatorial Guinea  (dark blue)

– in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)
– in the African Union  (light blue)

Capital Malabo (de jure)
Oyala (seat of government) [1]
3°45′N 8°47′E / 3°45′N 8°47′E / 3.750; 8.783
Largest city Bata
Official languages Spanish (national language)
Portuguese [2] [3] [4]
Recognised regional languages

Pidgin English

Igbo [5] [6]
Ethnic groups (1994 [7])
  • Equatorial Guinean
  • Equatoguinean
Government Dominant-party presidential republic
•  President
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Francisco Pascual Obama Asue
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue
Legislature Parliament
Chamber of Deputies
• from Spain
12 October 1968
• Total
28,050 km2 (10,830 sq mi) ( 141st)
• Water (%)
• 2015 estimate
845,060 [8]
• 2015 census
1,222,442 [9]
GDP ( PPP) 2016 estimate
• Total
$31.769 billion [10]
• Per capita
$38,699 [10]
GDP (nominal) 2016 estimate
• Total
$11.638 billion [10]
• Per capita
$14,176 [10]
HDI (2015) Increase 0.592 [11]
medium ·  135th
Currency Central African CFA franc ( XAF)
Time zone WAT ( UTC+1)
Drives on the right
Calling code +240
ISO 3166 code GQ
Internet TLD .gq
  1. Including Equatoguinean Spanish (Español ecuatoguineano).

Equatorial Guinea ( Spanish: Guinea Ecuatorial, [a] French: Guinée équatoriale, Portuguese: Guiné Equatorial), officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea (Spanish: República de Guinea Ecuatorial, French: République de Guinée équatoriale, Portuguese: República da Guiné Equatorial), [b] is a country located in Central Africa, with an area of 28,000 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi). Formerly the colony of Spanish Guinea, its post-independence name evokes its location near both the Equator and the Gulf of Guinea. Equatorial Guinea is the only sovereign African state in which Spanish is an official language. As of 2015, the country had an estimated population of 1,222,245. [12]

Equatorial Guinea consists of two parts, an insular and a mainland region. The insular region consists of the islands of Bioko (formerly Fernando Pó) in the Gulf of Guinea and Annobón, a small volcanic island south of the equator. Bioko Island is the northernmost part of Equatorial Guinea and is the site of the country's capital, Malabo. The island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe is located between Bioko and Annobón. The mainland region, Río Muni, is bordered by Cameroon on the north and Gabon on the south and east. It is the location of Bata, Equatorial Guinea's largest city, and Oyala, the country's planned future capital. Rio Muni also includes several small offshore islands, such as Corisco, Elobey Grande, and Elobey Chico. The country is a member of the African Union, Francophonie, OPEC and the CPLP.

Since the mid-1990s, Equatorial Guinea has become one of sub-Saharan Africa's largest oil producers. It is the richest country per capita in Africa, [13] and its gross domestic product (GDP) adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita ranks 43rd in the world; [14] However, the wealth is distributed very unevenly and few people have benefited from the oil riches. The country ranks 144th on the UN's 2014 Human Development Index. The UN says that less than half of the population has access to clean drinking water and that 20% of children die before reaching the age of five.

The country's authoritarian government has one of the worst human rights records in the world, consistently ranking among the "worst of the worst" in Freedom House's annual survey of political and civil rights. [15] Reporters Without Borders ranks President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo among its "predators" of press freedom. [16] Human trafficking is a significant problem, with the U.S.Trafficking in Persons Report, 2012, stating that "Equatorial Guinea is a source and destination for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking." The report rates Equatorial Guinea as a "Tier 3" country, the lowest (worst) ranking: "Countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so." [17]


Pygmies probably once lived in the continental region that is now Equatorial Guinea, but are today found only in isolated pockets in southern Río Muni. Bantu migrations between the 18th and 19th centuries brought the coastal ethno-linguistic groups as well as the Fang people. Elements of the latter may have generated the Bubi, who migrated from Cameroon to Río Muni and Bioko in several waves and succeeded former Neolithic populations. The Annobón population, originally native to Angola, was introduced by the Portuguese via São Tomé island.

First European contact (1472)

The Portuguese explorer Fernando Pó, seeking a path to India, is credited as being the first European to discover 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.

In 1778, Queen Maria I of Portugal and King Charles III of Spain signed the Treaty of El Pardo which ceded Bioko, adjacent islets, and commercial rights to the Bight of Biafra between the Niger and Ogoue rivers to Spain. Spain thereby tried to gain access to a source of slaves controlled by British merchants. Between 1778 and 1810, the territory of Equatorial Guinea was administered by the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, based in Buenos Aires.

From 1827 to 1843, the United Kingdom had a base on Bioko to combat the slave trade, [18] which was moved to Sierra Leone under an agreement with Spain in 1843. In 1844, on restoration of Spanish sovereignty[ clarification needed], the area became known as the "Territorios Españoles del Golfo de Guinea." Spain had neglected to occupy the large area in the Bight of Biafra to which it had right by treaty, and the French had busily expanded their occupation at the expense of the area claimed by Spain. The treaty of Paris in 1900 left Spain with the continental enclave of Rio Muni, a mere 26,000 km2 out of the 300,000 stretching east to the Ubangi river which the Spaniards had initially claimed. [19] At the turn of the century, the plantations of Fernando Pó were largely in the hands of a black Creole elite, later known as Fernandinos. The British had settled some 2,000 Sierra Leoneans and freed slaves there during their brief occupation of the island in the early nineteenth century, and a small current of immigration from West Africa and the West Indies continued after the departure of the British. To this core of settlers were added Cubans, Filipinos and Spaniards of various colours deported for political or other crimes, as well as some assisted settlers.

There was also a trickle of immigration from the neighbouring Portuguese islands, in the form of escaped slaves and prospective planters. Although a few of the Fernandinos were Catholic and Spanish-speaking, about nine-tenths of them were Protestant and English-speaking on the eve of the First World War, and pidgin English was the lingua franca of the island. The Sierra Leoneans were particularly well placed as planters while labor recruitment on the Windward coast continued, for they kept family and other connections there and could easily arrange labor supplies.

From the opening years of the twentieth century, the Fernandinos were put on the defensive by a new generation of Spanish immigrants. New land regulations in 1904–1905 favoured Spaniards, and most of the big planters of later years arrived in the islands from Spain following these new regulations. The Liberian labor agreement of 1914+ favoured wealthy men with ready access to the state, and the shift in labor supplies from Liberia to Rio Muni increased this advantage. In 1940, it was estimated that only 20 per cent of the colony's cocoa production came from African land, nearly all of it in the hands of Fernandinos.

Corisco, 1910

The greatest constraint to economic development was a chronic shortage of labour. Pushed into the interior of the island and decimated by alcohol addiction, venereal disease, smallpox, and sleeping sickness, the indigenous Bubi population of Bioko refused to work on plantations. Working their own little cocoa farms gave them a considerable degree of autonomy. Moreover, beginning in the late nineteenth century, the Bubi were protected from the demands of the planters by the Spanish Claretian missionaries, who were very influential in the colony and eventually organised the Bubi into little mission theocracies reminiscent of the famous Jesuit Reductions of Paraguay. Catholic penetration was furthered by two small insurrections in 1898 and 1910 protesting the conscription of forced labour for the plantations. Afterwards the Bubi were disarmed in 1917, and left dependent on the missionaries. [19]

Between 1926 and 1959 Bioko and Rio Muni were united as the colony of Spanish Guinea. The economy was based on large cacao and coffee plantations and logging concessions and the workforce was mostly immigrant contract labour from Liberia, Nigeria, and Cameroun. [20] Between 1914 and 1930, an estimated 10,000 Liberians went to Fernando Po under a Labour Treaty that was stopped altogether in 1930.

When Liberian workers were no longer available, the cocoa planters of Fernando Po turned to Rio Muni for their laborers. Campaigns were mounted to subdue the Fang people in the 1920s, at the time that Liberia was beginning to cut back on recruitment. There were garrisons of the colonial guard throughout the enclave by 1926, and the whole colony was considered 'pacified' by 1929. [21]

Rio Muni had a small population, officially put at a little over 100,000 in the 1930s, and escape across the frontiers into Cameroun or Gabon was very easy. Also, the timber companies needed increasing numbers of workers, and the spread of coffee cultivation offered an alternative means of paying taxes[ clarification needed]. Fernando Pó thus continued to suffer from labour shortages. The French only briefly permitted recruitment in Cameroun, and the main source of labour came to be Igbo smuggled in canoes from Calabar in Nigeria. This reolution to the worker shortage allowed Fernando Pó to become one of Africa's most productive agricultural areas after the Second World War. [19]

Politically, one can divide the post-war colonial history into three fairly distinct phases: up to 1959, when its status was raised from 'colonial' to 'provincial', following the approach of the Portuguese Empire; between 1960 and 1968, when Madrid attempted a partial decolonisation which as aimed at conserving the territory as an integral segment of the Spanish system; and onwards from 1968, when the territory became an independent Republic. The first of these phases consisted of little more than a continuation of previous policies; these closely resembled the policies of Portugal and France, notably in dividing the population into a vast majority governed as 'natives' or non-citizens, and a very small minority (together with whites) admitted to civic status as emancipados, assimilation to the metropolitan culture being the only permissible means of advancement. [22]

This 'provincial' phase saw the beginnings of nationalism, but chiefly among small groups who had taken refuge from the Caudillo's paternal hand in Cameroun and Gabon. They formed two bodies: the Movimiento Nacional de Liberación de la Guinea (MONALIGE), and the Idea Popular de la Guinea Ecuatorial ( es) (IPGE). The pressure they could bring to bear was weak, but the general trend in West Africa was not.

A decision of 9 August 1963, approved by a referendum of 15 December 1963, introduced the territory to a measure of autonomy and the administrative promotion of a 'moderate' group, the Movimiento de Unión Nacional de la Guinea Ecuatorial ( es) (MUNGE). This proved a feeble instrument, and, with growing pressure for change from the UN, Madrid gave way to the currents of nationalism.

Independence (1968)

Independence was conceded on 12 October 1968 and the region became the Republic of Equatorial Guinea. Francisco Macías Nguema was elected as president. [23]

In July 1970, Macias Nguema created a single-party state and made himself president for life in 1972. He broke off ties with Spain and the West. In spite of his condemnation of Marxism, which he deemed "neo-colonialist", Equatorial Guinea maintained very special relations with socialist countries, notably China, Cuba, and the USSR. He signed a preferential trade agreement and a shipping treaty with the Soviet Union. The Soviets also granted loans to Equatorial Guinea. [24]

The shipping agreement granted the Soviets permission to establish a pilot fishery development project and also a naval base at Luba. In return the USSR was to supply fish to Equatorial Guinea. China and Cuba also gave different forms of financial, military, and technical assistance to Equatorial Guinea, which gave them a measure of influence there. For the USSR, despite the unsavoury background of Macias Nguema, there was an advantage to be gained in the War in Angola by having access to Luba base and later on to Malabo International Airport. [24]

Towards the middle 1970s the Macias regime saw accusations of mass killings. In 1974 the World Council of Churches affirmed that large numbers of people had been murdered since 1968 in a 'reign of terror' which continued. The same body claimed that a quarter of the whole population had fled abroad, while 'the prisons are overflowing and to all intents and purposes form one vast concentration camp'. On Christmas 1975, Macías Nguema had 150 alleged coup plotters executed. [25] Out of a population of 300,000, an estimated 80,000 were killed. [26] [27] Apart from allegedly committing genocide against the ethnic minority Bubi people, he ordered the deaths of thousands of suspected opponents, closed down churches and presided over the economy's collapse as skilled citizens and foreigners fled the country. [28]

Teodoro Obiang deposed Macías Nguema on 3 August 1979, in a bloody coup d'état. Macias Nguema was tried and executed soon afterward. [29]

In 1995 Mobil, an American oil company, discovered oil in Equatorial Guinea and the country has subsequently experienced rapid economic development. Nevertheless, the earnings from the country's oil wealth have not reached the population and the country ranks low on the UN human development index, 20% of children die before age 5 and more than 50% of the population lacks access to clean drinking water. [30] President Teodoro Obiang is widely suspected of using the country's oil wealth to enrich himself [31] and his associates. In 2006, Forbes estimated his personal wealth at $600 million. [32]

In 2011, the government announced it was planning a new capital for the country, named Oyala. [33] [34] [35] [36]

As of February 2016, Obiang is Africa's longest serving dictator. [37]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Äquatorialguinea
azərbaycanca: Ekvatorial Qvineya
bamanankan: Cɛmajan Gine
Bahasa Banjar: Guinea Katulistiwa
Bân-lâm-gú: Chhiah-tō Guinea
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Экватарыяльная Гвінэя
Bikol Central: Guineyang Ekwatoryal
dolnoserbski: Ekwatorialna Guineja
Esperanto: Ekvatora Gvineo
estremeñu: Guinea Equatorial
Fiji Hindi: Equatorial Guinea
føroyskt: Ekvatorguinea
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Chhak-tho Guinea
한국어: 적도 기니
hornjoserbsce: Ekwatorialna Gineja
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: একুয়াটরিয়াল গায়ানা
Bahasa Indonesia: Guinea Khatulistiwa
interlingua: Guinea Equatorial
Interlingue: Equatorial Guinéa
íslenska: Miðbaugs-Gínea
Kapampangan: Equatorial Guinea
kernowek: Gyni Ekwadoriel
Kinyarwanda: Gineya Ekwatoriyale
Kiswahili: Guinea ya Ikweta
Kreyòl ayisyen: Gine ekwateryal
لۊری شومالی: گینە ئوستوڤایی
Lëtzebuergesch: Equatorialguinea
lingála: Gine-Ekwatorial
مازِرونی: اوستوایی گینه
Bahasa Melayu: Guinea Khatulistiwa
Baso Minangkabau: Guinea Khatulistiwa
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Chiáh-dô̤ Guinea
Dorerin Naoero: Gini t Ekwador
Nederlands: Equatoriaal-Guinea
日本語: 赤道ギニア
Nordfriisk: Ekwatoriaal-Guinea
Norfuk / Pitkern: Ekwatoryal Gini
norsk nynorsk: Ekvatorial-Guinea
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Ekvator Gvineyasi
پنجابی: استوائی گنی
Piemontèis: Guinea Equatorial
Plattdüütsch: Äquatoriaal-Guinea
português: Guiné Equatorial
Qaraqalpaqsha: Ekvatorial Gvineya
qırımtatarca: Ekvatorial Gvineya
sámegiella: Beaivvedási Guinea
Gagana Samoa: Kini Ekuatoria
Sesotho sa Leboa: Equatorial Guinea
Simple English: Equatorial Guinea
slovenčina: Rovníková Guinea
slovenščina: Ekvatorialna Gvineja
Soomaaliga: Ikweetiga Guinea
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ekvatorijalna Gvineja
Taqbaylit: Ginya Tasebgast
татарча/tatarça: Экваториаль Гвинея
Türkçe: Ekvator Ginesi
Türkmençe: Ekwatorial Gwineýa
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: ئېكۋاتور گۋىنېيىسى
vepsän kel’: Ekvatorialine Gvinei
Tiếng Việt: Guinea Xích Đạo
žemaitėška: Ekvatuorė Gvinėjė