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Equatorial Guinea

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República de Guinea Ecuatorial   (Spanish)
République de Guinée Équatoriale   (French)
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Unidad, Paz, Justicia  (Spanish)
Unité, Paix, Justice  (French)

Unity, Peace, Justice
Anthem:  Caminemos pisando la senda
and largest city
3°45′N 8°47′E
Official languages Spanish and French
Recognised regional languages Fang, Bube, Annobonese
Ethnic groups 85.7% Fang, 6.5% Bubi, 3.6% Mdowe, 1.6% Annobon, 1.1% Bujeba, 1.4% other ( Spanish)
Demonym Equatoguinean, Equatorial Guinean
Government Presidential Republic
 -  President Teodoro Obiang
 -  Prime Minister Ignacio Milam
 -  from Spain October 12, 1968 
 -  Total 28,050 km2 ( 144th)
10,830 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  2009 estimate 676,000 ( 166th)
 -  Density 24.1/km2 ( 187th)
62.4/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $21.522 billion
 -  Per capita $31,837 ( 22nd)
GDP (nominal) 2009 estimate
 -  Total $10.413 billion
 -  Per capita $15,401
HDI (2007) Increase 0.719
Error: Invalid HDI value · 118th
Currency Central African CFA franc ( XAF)
Time zone WAT ( UTC+1)
 -  Summer ( DST) not observed ( UTC+1)
Drives on the right
Calling code 240
ISO 3166 code GQ
Internet TLD .gq

Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea (Spanish: República de Guinea Ecuatorial, pronounced:  [reˈpuβlika ðe ɣiˈne.a ekwatoˈɾjal]; French: République de Guinée Équatoriale, French pronunciation: ​ [ʁepyblik də ɡine ekwatɔʁjal]) is a country located in Middle Africa. With an area of 28,000 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi) it is one of the smallest countries in continental Africa. It is also the most prosperous; however, the wealth is concentrated in government and elite hands, with 70% of the population living under the United Nations Poverty Threshold of $2/day. It has a population of 1,014,999. It comprises two parts: a Continental Region ( Río Muni), including several small offshore islands like Corisco, Elobey Grande and Elobey Chico; and an insular region containing Annobón island and Bioko island (formerly Fernando Po) where the capital Malabo is situated.

Annobón is the southernmost island of Equatorial Guinea and is situated just south of the equator. Bioko island is the northernmost point of Equatorial Guinea. Between the two islands and to the east is the mainland region. Equatorial Guinea is bordered by Cameroon on the north, Gabon on the south and east, and the Gulf of Guinea on the west, where the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe is located between Bioko and Annobón. Formerly the colony of Spanish Guinea, its post-independence name is suggestive of its location near both the equator and the Gulf of Guinea. It is one of the few territories in mainland Africa where Spanish is an official language, besides the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla.

Equatorial Guinea is the third smallest country in continental Africa in terms of population. It is also the second smallest United Nations (UN) member from continental Africa. The discovery of sizeable petroleum reserves in recent years is altering the economic and political status of the country. Equatorial Guinea has been cited as an example of the natural resource curse; its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita ranks 28th in the world; however, most of the country's considerable oil wealth actually lies in the hands of only a few people.

Equatorial Guinea 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 and Reporters Without Borders ranks President Obiang among its "predators" of press freedom.

Out of 44 sub-Saharan countries, Equatorial Guinea ranks 9th in terms of the Human Development Index (HDI) and 115th overall, which is among the “medium” HDI countries.

Equatorial Guinea tried to become validated as an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Compliant country, working toward transparency in reporting of oil revenues and the prudent use of natural resource wealth. The country was one of 30 Candidate countries and obtained Candidate status February 22, 2008. It was then were required to meet a number of obligations to do so, including committing to working with civil society and companies on EITI implementation, appointing a senior individual to lead on EITI implementation, and publishing a fully costed Work Plan with measurable targets, a timetable for implementation and an assessment of capacity constraints. However, when Equatorial Guinea applied to extend the deadline for completing EITI validation, the EITI Board did not agree to grant Equatorial Guinea an extension.


In the continental region that is now Equatorial Guinea there 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 Annobón 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 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, 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). Between 1778 and 1810, the territory of Equatorial Guinea depended administratively on the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, with seat in Buenos Aires.

From 1827 to 1843, the United Kingdom established a base on the island to combat the slave trade, which was then moved to Sierra Leone upon agreement with Spain in 1843. In 1844, on restoration of Spanish sovereignty, it became known as the Territorios Españoles del Golfo de Guinea Ecuatorial. The mainland portion, Rio Muni, became a protectorate in 1885 and a colony in 1900. Conflicting claims to the mainland were settled by the Treaty of Paris in 1900, and periodically, the mainland territories were united administratively under Spanish rule. Between 1926 and 1959 they were united as the colony of Spanish Guinea.

In September 1968, Francisco Macías Nguema was elected first president of Equatorial Guinea, and independence was recognised on October 12, 1968. In July 1970, Nguema created a single-party state. Nguema’s reign of terror led to the death or exile of up to 1/3 of the country's population. Out of a population of 300,000, an estimated 80,000 had been killed. The economy collapsed, and skilled citizens and foreigners left. Teodoro Obiang deposed Francisco Macías Nguema on August 3, 1979, in a bloody coup d'état.


Equatorial Guinea is located in west central Africa. The country consists of a mainland territory, Rio Muni, which is bordered by Cameroon to the north and Gabon to the east and south and five small islands, Bioko, Corisco, Annabon, Small Elobey and Great Elobey. Bioko, the site of the capital, Malabo, lies about 40 kilometers (25 mi) off the coast of Cameroon. Annobón island is about 350 kilometers (220 mi) west-south-west of Cape Lopez in Gabon. Corisco and the two Elobey islands are in Corisco Bay, on the border of Rio Muni and Gabon.

Despite its name, no part of Equatorial Guinea's territory lies on the equator. The southern border of Rio Muni is at about 1° north latitude and four of the islands also lie north of that line. Annabon is at about 5° south latitude. The whole country lies within the Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests ecoregion except for patches of Central African mangroves on the coast, especially in the Muni River estuary.


Equatorial Guinea has a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. From June to August, Río Muni is dry and Bioko wet; from December to February, the reverse occurs. In between there is gradual transition. Rain or mist occurs daily on Annobón, where a cloudless day has never been registered. The temperature at Malabo, Bioko, ranges from 16 °C (61 °F) to 33 °C (91 °F), though on the southern Moka Plateau normal high temperatures are only 21 °C (70 °F). In Río Muni, the average temperature is about 27 °C (81 °F). Annual rainfall varies from 1,930 mm (76 in) at Malabo to 10,920 mm (430 in)) at Ureka, Bioko, but Río Muni is somewhat drier.


Map of Equatorial Guinea

The current president of Equatorial Guinea is Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. The 1982 constitution of Equatorial Guinea, written following the 1979 deposition of dictator Francisco Macías Nguema and with help from the UN, gives the presidency extensive powers, including naming and dismissing members of the cabinet, making laws by decree, dissolving the Chamber of Representatives, negotiating and ratifying treaties and serving as commander in chief of the armed forces. The Prime Minister, Ignacio Milam Tang is appointed by the President and operates under powers designated by the President.

President Obiang overthrew previous dictator Francisco Macías Nguema. On Christmas 1975, Macías had 150 alleged coup plotters executed to the sound of a band playing Mary Hopkin's tune Those Were the Days in a national stadium.

Under President Obiang, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, in April 2006, to establish a Social Development Fund in the country, implementing projects in the areas of health, education, women's affairs and the environment.

Since 2005, MPRI, a U.S. based international policing consulting company, has worked in Equatorial Guinea to train police forces in appropriate human rights practices. In February 2010, Equatorial Guinea signed a contract with the MPRI subsidiary of the US defense corporation, L3 Communications for coastal surveillance and maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

Although President Obiang signed a national anti-torture decree in 2006 to ban all forms of abuse and improper treatment in Equatorial Guinea and commissioned the renovation and modernization of Black Beach prison in 2007 to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners, human rights abuses continue. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International among other non-governmental organizations have documented severe human rights abuses in prisons, including torture, beatings, unexplained deaths and illegal detention.

Under President Obiang, the basic infrastructure of Equatorial Guinea has also improved. Asphalt now covers more than 80% of the national roads and ports and airports are being built across the entire country.

According to a March 2004 BBC profile, 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 named Mark Thatcher as a financial backer of a 2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d'état attempt to topple Obiang, organized by Simon Mann. Various accounts also name the United Kingdom's MI6, the United States' CIA, and Spain as having been tacit supporters of the coup attempt. Nevertheless, the Amnesty International report released in June 2005 on the ensuing trial of those allegedly involved highlighted the prosecution's failure to produce conclusive evidence that a coup attempt had actually taken place.

Simon Mann was released from prison on November 3, 2009 for humanitarian reasons. The presidential decree pardoning Mann from prison cites concerns about his physical health and the need for him to receive ongoing care in his home country.

President Obiang was re-elected to serve an additional term in 2009 in an election deemed by the African Union as “in line with electoral law”. The President reappointed Prime Minister Ignacio Milam Tang and installed a new government in Equatorial Guinea on January 12, 2010.

The new government is dedicated to strengthening the “cooperation and friendship” with the Barack Obama administration. During a meeting on the sidelines of the recent United Nations General Assembly, President Obiang urged President Obama to institute a U.S–Africa summit, to strengthen the cooperation between the United States and Africa.

Administrative Divisions

Provinces of Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea is divided into seven provinces (capitals appear in parentheses):

  1. Annobón Province ( San Antonio de Palé)
  2. Bioko Norte Province (Malabo)
  3. Bioko Sur Province ( Luba)
  4. Centro Sur Province ( Evinayong)
  5. Kié-Ntem Province ( Ebebiyín)
  6. Litoral Province ( Bata)
  7. Wele-Nzas Province ( Mongomo)

The provinces are further divided into districts.


Pre-independence Equatorial Guinea counted on cocoa production for hard currency earnings. It had the highest per capita income of Africa in 1959. On January 1, 1985, the country became the first non- Francophone African member of the franc zone, adopting the CFA as its currency. The national currency, the ekwele, was previously linked to the Spanish peseta.

The discovery of large oil reserves in 1996 and its subsequent exploitation have contributed to a dramatic increase in government revenue. As of 2004, Equatorial Guinea is the third-largest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its oil production has risen to 360,000 barrels per day (57,000 m3/d), 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.

In July 2004, the United States 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 an Anti-Money Laundering Report from Inner City Press.

Equatorial Guinea is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa ( OHADA).


Equatorial Guinean children of Bubi descent.

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% of the population and comprise 67 clans. Those in the northern part of Rio Muni speak Fang-Ntumu, while those in the south speak Fang-Okah; the two dialects have differences but are mutually intelligible. Dialects of Fang are also spoken in parts of neighboring Cameroon (Bulu) and Gabon. These dialects, while still intelligible, are more distinct. The Bulu Fang of Cameroon were traditional rivals of Fang in Rio Muni. The Bubi, who constitute 15% of the population, are indigenous to Bioko Island. The traditional demarcation line between Fang and beach tribes was the village of Niefang (limit of the Fang) inland from Bata.

In addition, there are coastal tribes, sometimes referred to as Ndowe or "Playeros" (Beach People in Spanish): Combes, Bujebas, Balengues, and Bengas on the mainland and small islands, and Fernandinos, a Krio community on Bioko Island. Together, these groups compose 5% of the population. Some Europeans (largely of Spanish or Portuguese descent) – among them mixed with African ethnicity – also live in the nation. Most Spaniards left after independence. 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. Most of the Asian population is Chinese, with small numbers of Indians.

Equatorial Guinea also allowed many fortune-seeking European settlers of other nationalities, including British, French and Germans. There is also a group of Israelis, which are employed at the Centro Médico La Paz in Bata. 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 Equatorial Guinean communities are also to be found in Latin America, the United States, Portugal, and France. Oil extraction has contributed to a doubling of the population in Malabo.

Religion in Equatorial Guinea
religion percent
Other (indigenous beliefs/Baha'i)


The principal religion in Equatorial Guinea is Christianity which is the faith of 93% of the population. These are predominately Roman Catholic (87%) while a minority are Protestants (5%). Another 5% of the population follow indigenous beliefs and the final 2% comprises Muslims, Bahá'í Faith, and other beliefs.

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. In July 2007, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema announced his government's decision for Portuguese to become Equatorial Guinea's third official language, in order to meet one of the requirements to apply for full membership in the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), the other one being political reforms allowing for effective democracy and the respect for human rights. This upgrading from its current Associate Observer condition would result in Equatorial Guinea being able to access several professional and academic exchange programs and the facilitation of cross-border circulation of citizens. Its application is currently being assessed by other CPLP members.

According to a few sources Portuguese is an official language now, but many other sources, including official Equatorial Guinean sources, do not treat Portuguese as an official language, which indicates that the decision above was not implemented. During the VIII Conference of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries in Luanda (23 July 2010), Equatorial Guinea has formally requested the membership in this organization. The final declaration of the conference stated that one of the conditions is the adoption of Portuguese as an official language of Equatorial Guinea, which clearly indicates that by the time of the conference the Portuguese language was not an official language of Equatorial Guinea. Aboriginal languages are recognized as integral parts of the national culture" (Constitutional Law No. 1/1998 of January 21). The great majority of Equatorial Guineans speak Spanish, especially those living in the capital, Malabo. Spanish has been an official language since 1844.

Languages spoken in the country are Spanish, Equatoguinean Spanish, native languages (including Fang, Bube, Benga, Pichinglis, Ndowe, Balengue, Bujeba, Bissio, Gumu, Annobónese, Igbo and a nearly extinct Baseke), French, others (mainly English, or German, as well as Fernando Poo Creole English).


In June 1984, the First Hispanic-African Cultural Congress was convened to explore the cultural identity of Equatorial Guinea. The congress constituted the centre of integration and the marriage of the Hispanic culture with African cultures.


Under the regime of Francisco Macias, education had been significantly neglected with few children receiving any type of education. Under President Obiang, the illiteracy rate dropped from 73 percent to 13 percent and the number of primary school students has risen from 65,000 in 1986 to more than 100,000 in 1994. Education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14.

The Equatorial Guinea government has also partnered with Hess Corporation and The Academy for Educational Development (AED) to establish a $20 million education program through which primary school teachers participate in a training program to teach modern child development techniques.

In recent years, with change in economic/political climate and government social agendas, several cultural dispersion and literacy organizations are now 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. In 2009 the university produced the first 110 national doctors. The Bata Medical School is supported principally by the government of Cuba and staffed by Cuban medical educators and physicians, however, it is predicted that Equatorial Guinea will have enough national doctors in the country to be self-sufficient within the next five years.


Equatorial Guinea’s innovative malaria control programs have had a remarkable impact on malaria infection, disease, and mortality in the population. Their program consists of twice-yearly indoor residual spraying (IRS), the introduction of artemisinin combination treatment (ACTs), the use of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnant women (IPTp) and the introduction of very high coverage with long-lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets (LLINs). The result of their efforts resulted in a reduction in all-cause under-five mortality from 152 to 55 deaths per 1,000 live births (down 64%); and the drop occurred rapidly and timed directly with the beginning of the program.


Air transport

Every airline registered in the country appears on the list of air carriers prohibited in the European Union (EU) which means that it is banned for safety reasons from operating services of any kind within the EU.

Due to the big-oil presence in the country, internationally recognised carriers fly to Malabo (Bioko). The carriers include:


The principal means of communication within the country are three state-operated FM radio stations. There are also five shortwave radio stations. There are also two newspapers and two magazines. Television Nacional, the television network, is state operated.

Most of the media companies practice 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.

Landline telephone penetration is low, with only two lines available for every 100 persons. There is one GSM mobile telephone operator, with coverage of Malabo, Bata, and several mainland cities. As of 2009, approximately forty percent of the population subscribed to mobile telephone services. The only telephone provider in Equatorial Guinea is Orange.

Equatorial Guinea has nine (as of 2009) Internet service providers, which serves more than 8,000 users.



Equatorial Guinea has been chosen to co-host the 2012 African Cup of Nations in partnership with Gabon. The country was also chosen to host the 2008 Women's African Football Championship, which they won. The Women's National Team has qualified for the 2011 World Cup, that will take place in Germany.


Equatorial Guinea is also famous for the national swimming champion Eric Moussambani, nicknamed "Eric the Eel".

In fiction

Frederick Forsyth's 1974 novel The Dogs of War is set in the fictional platinum-rich 'Republic of Zangaro', which is based on Equatorial Guinea. There is also a 1981 film adaptation of the book, also called The Dogs of War.

Fernando Po (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 story also hypothesizes that Fernando Po is the last remaining piece of the sunken continent of Atlantis.

Most of the action in the American novelist Robin Cook's book, Chromosome 6, takes place at a primate research facility based in Equatorial Guinea due to the country's permissive laws. The book also discusses some of the geography, history, and peoples of the country.

Episode 2 of the British sitcom Yes Minister, The Official Visit, situates the fictional lesser developed country of Buranda in what is actually Equatorial Guinea.

In the novel Limit (2009) by Frank Schätzing which takes place in 2025 the country's history (and future history) plays a significant role in the plot.


  • Max Liniger-Goumaz, Small is not Always Beautiful: The Story of Equatorial Guinea (French 1986, translated 1989) ISBN 0-389-20861-2
  • Ibrahim K. Sundiata, Equatorial Guinea: Colonialism, State Terror, and the Search for Stability (1990, Boulder: Westview Press) ISBN 0-8133-0429-6
  • Robert Klitgaard. 1990. Tropical Gangsters. New York: Basic Books. (World Bank economist tries to assist pre-oil Equatorial Guinea) ISBN 0-465-08760-4
  • D.L. Claret. Cien años de evangelización en Guinea Ecuatorial (1883–1983)/ One Hundred Years of Evangelism in Equatorial Guinea (1983, Barcelona: Claretian Missionaries)
  • Adam Roberts, The Wonga Coup: Guns, Thugs and a Ruthless Determination to Create Mayhem in an Oil-Rich Corner of Africa (2006, PublicAffairs) ISBN 1-58648-371-4
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