Equatorial Guinea

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Not to be confused with Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, or Papua New Guinea.
Republic of Equatorial Guinea
  • República de Guinea Ecuatorial  (Spanish)
  • République de Guinée équatoriale  (French)
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: 
  • "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 Malabob
3°45′N 8°47′E / 3.750°N 8.783°E / 3.750; 8.783
Largest city Bata
Official languages Spanish
French
Portuguese (under implementation)
Recognised regional languages
Ethnic groups (1994[3])
Demonym
  • Equatoguinean
  • Equatorial Guinean
Government Single-party semi-presidential republic (Family Inheritance System)
 -  President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
 -  Prime Minister Vicente Ehate Tomi
Legislature Chamber of People's Representatives
Independence
 -  from Spain 12 October 1968 
Area
 -  Total 28,050 km2 (144th)
10,830 sq mi
 -  Water (%) negligible
Population
 -  2012 estimate 622,000[4] (150th)
 -  Density 24.1/km2 (187th)
62.4/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $25.331 billion[5]
 -  Per capita $32,557[5]
GDP (nominal) 2014 estimate
 -  Total $15.396 billion[5]
 -  Per capita $19,787[5]
HDI (2013) Decrease 0.556[6]
medium · 144th
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
a. Including Equatoguinean Spanish (Español ecuatoguineano).
b. Oyala (under construction).

Equatorial Guinea (Spanish: Guinea Ecuatorial, French: Guinée équatoriale), officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea (Spanish: República de Guinea Ecuatorial, French: République de Guinée équatoriale),[a] is a country located in Central Africa, with an area of 28,000 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi). It has 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 also includes several small offshore islands (such as Corisco, Elobey Grande, and Elobey Chico).

Formerly the colony of Spanish Guinea, its post-independence name evokes its location near both the equator and the Gulf of Guinea. It is the only African country where Spanish is an official language.

Since the mid-1990s, Equatorial Guinea has become one of sub-Sahara's largest oil producers. With a population of 650,702, it is the richest country per capita in Africa,[7] and its gross domestic product (GDP) per capita ranks 69th in the world;[8] 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 five.

The authoritarian regime ruling 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.[9] Reporters Without Borders ranks President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo among its "predators" of press freedom.[10] Human trafficking is a significant problem, with the US 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."[11]

The country is a member of the African Union, Francophonie and CPLP.

Geography[edit]

Equatorial Guinea is in west central Africa. The country consists of a mainland territory, Río Muni, which is bordered by Cameroon to the north and Gabon to the east and south, and five small islands, Bioko, Corisco, Annobón, Elobey Chico (Small Elobey), and Elobey Grande (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 Río Muni and Gabon.

Equatorial Guinea lies between latitudes 4°N and 2°S, and longitudes and 12°E. Despite its name, no part of the country's territory lies on the equator—it is in the northern hemisphere, except for the insular Annobón Province, which is about 155 km south of the equator.

Equatorial Guinea spans several ecoregions. Río Muni region lies within the Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests ecoregion except for patches of Central African mangroves on the coast, especially in the Muni River estuary. The Cross-Sanaga-Bioko coastal forests ecoregion covers most of Bioko and as well as the adjacent portions of Cameroon and Nigeria on the African mainland, and the Mount Cameroon and Bioko montane forests ecoregion covers the highlands of Bioko and nearby Mount Cameroon.

The São Tomé, Príncipe, and Annobón moist lowland forests ecoregion covers all of Annobón, as well as São Tomé and Príncipe.

Climate[edit]

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.[12]

History[edit]

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

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 the Bioko, adjacent islets, and commercial rights to the Bight of Biafra between the Niger and Ogoue rivers to Spain. Spain had 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,[13] 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. Spain had neglected to occupy the large area in the Bight of Biafra to which it had Treaty rights, and the French had been busily expanding 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 .[14]

At the turn of the century, the plantations of Fernando Po 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 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 labour recruitment on the Windward coast continued, for they kept family and other connections there and could easily arrange labour 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 1904-5 favoured Spaniards, and most of the big planters of later years arrived in the islands from Spain following these new regulations. The Liberian labour agreement of 1914 favoured wealthy men with ready access to the state, and the shift in labour 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. The indigenous Bubi population of Bioko, pushed into the interior of the island and decimated by alcoholic addiction, venereal disease, smallpox and sleeping- sickness, refused to work on plantations. Working their own little cocoa farms gave them a considerable degree of autonomy. Moreover, the Bubi were protected from the demands of the planters from the late nineteenth century 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 protesting the conscription of forced labour for the plantations, in 1898 and 1910, which led to the Bubi being disarmed in 1917 and left them dependent on the missionaries.[14]

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.[15] Between 1914 and 1930, an estimated 10,000 Liberians went to Fernando Po under a Labour Treaty that was stopped altogether in 1930. With the ending of Liberian imports, the cocoa planters of Fernando Po turned to Rio Muni. It was no coincidence that campaigns were mounted to subdue the Fang 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.[16] However, Rio Muni had a small population, officially put at a little over 100,000 in the 1930s, and escape over the frontiers into Cameroun or Gabon was very easy. Moreover, the timber companies needed growing amounts of labour, and the spread of coffee cultivation offered an alternative means of paying taxes. Fernando Po 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, Nigeria. The British made this current of labour migration legal in 1942. It was this agreement which really permitted Fernando Po to become one of Africa's most productive agricultural areas after the Second World War.[14]

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', taking a leaf out of the approach of the Portuguese Empire; between 1960 and 1968, when Madrid attempted a partial decolonisation which should, as it was hoped, conserve 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.[17]

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 (IPGE). Their pressures were 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' grouping, the Movimiento de Unión Nacional de la Guinea Ecuatorial (MUNGE). This proved a feeble instrument, and, with growing pressure for change from the UN, Madrid gave way to the currents of nationalism.

Independence[edit]

Independence was conceded on 12 October 1968 and became the Republic of Equatorial Guinea with Francisco Macías Nguema elected as president.[18]

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 Republic. The Soviets also granted loans to Equatorial Guinea. The shipping agreement granted the Soviets permission to establish a pilot project of fishery development and a naval base at Luba. The USSR was, in return, to supply fish to Equatorial Guinea. China and Cuba also gave different forms on financial, military, and technical assistance to Equatorial Guinea, which gave them a measure of influence in Equatorial Guinea. 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.[19]

Towards the middle 1970s the Macias regime came under grave accusations of being guilty 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.[20] Out of a population of 300,000, an estimated 80,000 were killed.[21][22] 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 left the country.[23]

Teodoro Obiang deposed Macías Nguema on 3 August 1979, in a bloody coup d'état. Macias Nguema was tried and executed soon after.[24]

In 1995 an American 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 been distributed amongst 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 lack access to clean drinking water.[25] President Teodoro Obiang is widely suspected of using the country's oil wealth to enrich himself[26] and his associates and in 2006 Forbes estimated his personal wealth at $600 million.[27]

In 2011, the government announced it was planning a new capital in the country, named Oyala.[28][29][30][31]

As of July 2014 President Teodoro Obiang is Africa's longest serving dictator.[32]

Politics[edit]

Map of Equatorial Guinea

The current president of Equatorial Guinea is Teodoro Obiang Nguema. The 1982 constitution of Equatorial Guinea, written with help from the UN, 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 serving as commander in chief of the armed forces. The Prime Minister, Vicente Ehate Tomi was appointed by Obiang and operates under powers designated by the President.

During the three decades of his rule, Obiang has shown little tolerance for opposition. While the country is nominally a multiparty democracy, elections have generally been considered a sham. According to Human Rights Watch, the dictatorship of President Obiang has used an oil boom to entrench and enrich itself further at the expense of the country's people.[33] Since August 1979 some 12 real and perceived unsuccessful coup attempts have occurred. The 'real' coup attempts were often perpetrated in an attempt by rival elites to seize the state's economic resources.[34]

According to a March 2004 BBC profile,[35] politics within the country are currently dominated by tensions between Obiang's son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, and other close relatives with powerful positions in the security forces. The tension may be rooted in a power shift arising from the dramatic increase in oil production which has occurred since 1997.

Equatorial Guinea hit the headlines in 2004 when a plane load of suspected mercenaries was intercepted in Zimbabwe while allegedly on the way to overthrow Obiang. A November 2004 report[36] named Mark Thatcher as a financial backer of the 2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d'état attempt organized by Simon Mann. Various accounts also named the United Kingdom's MI6, the United States' CIA, and Spain as having been tacit supporters of the coup attempt.[37] Nevertheless, the Amnesty International report released in June 2005[38] 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 3 November 2009 for humanitarian reasons.[39]

A 2004 US Senate investigation into the Washington-based Riggs Bank found that President Obiang's family had received huge payments from US oil companies such as Exxon Mobil and Amerada Hess. Since 2005, Military Professional Resources Inc., a US-based international private military company, has worked in Equatorial Guinea to train police forces in appropriate human rights practices. In 2006, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hailed Obiang as a "good friend" despite repeated criticism of his human rights and civil liberties record. The US Agency for International Development entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Obiang, 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.[40]

In 2006, Obiang signed an anti-torture decree to ban all forms of abuse and improper treatment in Equatorial Guinea and he commissioned the renovation and modernization of Black Beach prison in 2007 to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners,[41] However, human rights abuses have continued. 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.[42][43]

The anti-corruption lobby Transparency International has put Equatorial Guinea in the top 12 of its list of most corrupt states. Dismissing the international voices that call for more transparency, Obiang has for long held that oil revenues are a state secret. In 2008 the country became a candidate of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative – an international project meant to promote openness about government oil revenues – but failed to qualify by an April 2010 deadline. The advocacy group Global Witness has been lobbying the United States to act against Obiang's son, Teodorin, who is vice-president and a government minister. It says there is credible evidence that he spent millions buying a Malibu, California mansion and private jet using corruptly acquired funds – grounds for denying him a visa. 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.[44][45]

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”.[46] Obiang re-appointed Prime Minister Ignacio Milam Tang in 2010.[47]

Obiang and US President Obama with their wives in 2009

Under Obiang, the basic infrastructure of Equatorial Guinea has improved. Asphalt now covers more than 80% of the national roads and ports and airports are being built by Chinese, Moroccan and French contractors across much of the country.[48] However, when a British parliamentary and press entourage toured the country as guests of the president in 2011, the The Guardian newspaper reported that very few of Equatorial Guinea's citizens seem to be benefiting from improvements, with reports of empty three-lane highways and many empty buildings.[49]

The Obiang regime is an ally of the USA. During a meeting on the sidelines of the recent United Nations General Assembly, Obiang urged the US to strengthen the cooperation between the United States and Africa.[48] President Barack Obama posed for an official photograph with President Obiang at a New York reception.[33]

In November 2011, a new constitution was approved. This constitution was voted although the text to be approved was not distributed nor was its content revealed to the public before the vote. Under the new constitution the president was limited to a maximum of two seven-year terms and he would be both the head of state and head of the government, therefore eliminating the figure of prime minister. The new constitution also introduced the figure of a vice president and it also called for the creation of a 70-member senate with 55 elected by the people and the 15 remaining designated by the president. Surprisingly, during the following cabinet reshuffle it was announced that there would be two vice-presidents in clear violation of the constitution that was just taking effect.[50]

In October 2012, during an interview with Christiane Ammanpour on CNN, Obiang was asked whether he would step down at the end of the current term (2009–2016) since the new constitution limited the number of terms to two and he has been reelected at least 4 times before. Obiang answered he refused to step aside because the new constitution was not retroactive and the two term limit would only become applicable from 2016.[51]

The 26 May 2013 elections combined the senate, lower house and mayoral contests all in a single package. This, as all the previous elections, was denounced by the opposition and it too was won by Obiang's PDGE. During the electoral contest, the ruling party decided to have their own internal elections which were later scrapped as none of the president's favorite candidates was leading the internal lists. At the end, the ruling party and its satellites of the ruling coalition decided to run not based on the candidates but based on the party. This created a situation where during the election the ruling party's coalition did not provide the names of their candidates so effectively individuals were not running for office, instead the party was the one running for office.

The May 2013 elections were marked by a series of events including the popular protest planned by a group of activists from the MPP (Movement of Popular Protest) which included several social and political groups. The MPP called for a pacific protest at the Plaza de la Mujer Square on 15 May. The MPP coordinator Enrique Nsolo Nzo was arrested and the official state media portrayed him as an individual who was planning to destabilize the country and depose the president. However, and despite speaking under duress and with clear signs of torture, Enrique clearly stated that they were planning a peaceful protest and had indeed obtained all the legal authorizations required to carry out the peaceful protest. In addition to that, and despite the repeated attempts of the state media to link Enrique to an illegal political party, he firmly stated that he was not affiliated with any political parties in the country. The Plaza de la Mujer Square in Malabo was occupied by the police from 13 May and it has been heavily guarded ever since. The government embarked on a censorship program that affected social sites including Facebook and other websites that were critical to the government of Equatorial Guinea. In their censorship efforts, they would redirect all the searches performed online to the official government website.

Shortly after the elections, the opposition party CPDS announced that they were going to protest peacefully against the 26 May elections on 25 June.[52] The interior minister Clemente Engonga refused to authorize the protest on the grounds that such an event could "destabilize" the country and CPDS decided to go forward with the peaceful protest claiming it was a constitutional right. On the night of 24 June, the CPDS headquarters in Malabo were surrounded by heavily armed police officers in order to keep those inside from leaving and thus effectively blocking the protest. Several leading members of CPDS were detained in Malabo and others in Bata were kept from boarding several local flights to Malabo.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Annobón Province Bioko Norte Province Bioko Sur Province Centro Sur Province Kié-Ntem Province Litoral Province (Equatorial Guinea) Wele-Nzas ProvinceA clickable map of Equatorial Guinea exhibiting its two regions and seven provinces.
About this image

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.

Economy[edit]

Graphical depiction of Equatorial Guinea's product exports in 28 color-coded categories

Pre-independence Equatorial Guinea exported cocoa, coffee and timber mostly to its colonial ruler, Spain, but also to Germany and the UK. On 1 January 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.[53]

The discovery of large oil reserves in 1996 and its subsequent exploitation have contributed to a dramatic increase in government revenue. As of 2004,[54] 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.[55]

Pesetas Ecuatoguineanas (1969)

Equatorial Guinea is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).[56] 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 thirty candidate countries and obtained candidate status on 22 February 2008. It was then 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 the extension.[57]

According to the World Bank, Equatorial Guinea has the highest GNI (Gross National Income) per capita of any other Sub-Saharan country. It is 83 times larger than the GNI per capita of Burundi which is the poorest country.[58]

Demographics[edit]

Equatorial Guinean children of Bubi descent

The majority of the people of Equatorial Guinea are of Bantu origin.[59] The largest ethnic group, the Fang, is indigenous to the mainland, but substantial migration to Bioko Island since the 20th century means the Fang population exceeds that of the earlier Bubi inhabitants. The Fang constitute 80% of the population[60] and comprise around 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 Bubi, who constitute 15% of the population, are indigenous to Bioko Island. The traditional demarcation line between Fang and 'Beach' (inland) ethnic groups was the village of Niefang (limit of the Fang), east of Bata.

In addition, there are coastal ethnic groups, 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. According to the Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations (2002) 7% of Bioko islanders were Igbo, an ethnic group from southeastern Nigeria.[61] 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, and Moroccans. 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[edit]

Religion in Equatorial Guinea
Religion percent
Christianity
  
93%
Islam
  
2%
Other (indigenous beliefs / Baha'i)
  
5%

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%). 2% of the population follows Islam (mainly Sunni). The remaining 5% practise Animism, Bahá'í Faith, and other beliefs.[62]

Languages[edit]

For several years, the official languages were Spanish (the local variant is Equatoguinean Spanish) and French[3] with Portuguese also being adopted as an official language later.[63][64] Spanish has been an official language since 1844. It is still the language of education and administration. 67.6% of Equatorial Guineans can speak it, especially those living in the capital, Malabo.[65]

Aboriginal languages are recognized as integral parts of the "national culture" (Constitutional Law No. 1/1998 January 21). Indigenous languages include Fang, Bube, Benga, Ndowe, Balengue, Bujeba, Bissio, Gumu, Pichinglis, Fa d’Ambô and the nearly extinct Baseke. Most ethnic groups speak Bantu languages."[66]

Fa d’Ambô, a Portuguese creole, has vigorous use in Annobón Province, in Malabo (the capital), and with some speakers in Equatorial Guinea's mainland. Many speakers on Bioko can also speak Spanish and the local trade language Pichinglis, an English creole. Spanish is not much spoken in Annobón. It is common in all domains except government and education where Spanish is used. Noncreolized Portuguese used as liturgical language by local Catholics.[67] The Annobonese ethnic community pressured for membership in the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP). The government financed an Instituto Internacional da Língua Portuguesa (IILP) sociolinguistic study in Annobon, which noticed strong links with the Portuguese creole populations in São Tomé and Príncipe, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau.[64]

Due to historical and cultural ties, the sovereign Afro-Iberian dimension of Equatorial Guinea as the territory was first explored by the Portuguese in the 15th century and a Portuguese possession until 1777 and the exceptional friendship ties with Brazil, São Tomé and Principe, Portugal and Cape Verde, a 2010 project of Constitutional Law amended article four of the Constitution of Equatorial Guinea was enacted by the Chamber of People's Representatives. It established Portuguese has an official language of the Republic. This was in an effort by the government to improve its communications, trade, and bilateral relations with Portuguese-speaking countries.[68][69][70] This upgrading from its 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.[65] The adoption of Portuguese followed an announcement on 13 July 2007, by President Obiang, in order to meet one of the requirements to apply for CPLP ascension, the other one being political reforms allowing for effective democracy and the respect for human rights. According to draft of the Constitutional Law: “This Constitutional Law will go into effect twenty days from its publication in the Official State Gazette”.[71] The national parliament discussed this law in October 2011.[72] Official Equatorial Guinean sources still do not treat Portuguese as an official language yet.[73] Although official,[63] introduction of Portuguese did not yet started, Equatorial Guinea plans to introduce television programming from Portuguese-speaking countries in the national television in 2014, supported by subtitles, as written Portuguese is significantly similar to Spanish. The country plans to introduce Portuguese first in primary schools and later in high schools.[64]

In February 2012, Equatorial Guinea's foreign minister signed an agreement with the IILP on the promotion of Portuguese in Equatorial Guinea.[74][75] However, in July 2012 the CPLP again refused Equatorial Guinea full membership, primarily because of its continued violations of human rights. Equatorial Guinea responded with the legalization of political parties, a moratory on the death penalty and started dialoguing with all political forces.[76][64] IILP secured land from the government for the construction of Portuguese language cultural centers in Bata and Malabo.[64] At its 10th summit in Dili in July 2014, Equatorial Guinea was admitted as CPLP member, with the abolition of the death penalty and the promotion of Portuguese as an official language as ascension recommendations.[77]

Culture[edit]

Port of Malabo

In June 1984, the First Hispanic-African Cultural Congress was convened to explore the cultural identity of Equatorial Guinea. The congress constituted the center of integration and the marriage of the Hispanic culture with African cultures.[53]

Education[edit]

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% to 13%[3] 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.[53]

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.[78] There are now 51 Model Schools. It is hoped the active pedagogy in the Model Schools will be a national reform.

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.[48] 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.[48]

Health[edit]

Equatorial Guinea’s innovative malaria control programs have had a remarkable impact on malaria infection, disease, and mortality in the population.[79] 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). 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.[80]

In June 2014 there were four cases of polio reported, the country's first outbreak of the disease.[81]

Transportation[edit]

Air transport[edit]

Due to the large oil industry in the country, internationally recognized carriers fly to Malabo International Airport which, as of May 2014, had several direct connections to Europe and West Africa. There are only three airports in Equatorial Guinea: Malabo International Airport, Bata Airport and the new Annobon Airport on the island of Annobon. Malabo International Airport is the only international airport in the country. It is very hard to travel around Equatorial Guinea by plane. It's more usual to use a bus, taxi, boat (to travel from one of the islands to Rio Muni) and car.

Every airline registered in the country appears on the list of air carriers prohibited in the European Union (EU) which means that they are banned for safety reasons from operating services of any kind within the EU.[82]

Communications[edit]

The principal means of communication within the country are three state-operated FM radio stations. BBC World Service, Radio France Internationale and Gabon-based Africa No 1 broadcast on FM in Malabo. There are also five shortwave radio stations. Television Nacional, the television network, is state operated.[3][83] The international TV programme RTVGE is available via satellites in Africa, Europa, and the Americas and worldwide via Internet.[84] There are two newspapers and two magazines.

The nation ranks at position 161 out of 179 countries in the 2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. The watchdog says the national broadcaster obeys the orders of the information ministry. A "news blackout" was imposed on reporting of uprisings in Arab states in North Africa in 2011, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. 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 the president's son, Teodor Obiang.

Landline telephone penetration is low, with only two lines available for every 100 persons.[3] There is one GSM mobile telephone operator, with coverage of Malabo, Bata, and several mainland cities.[85][86] As of 2009, approximately 40% of the population subscribed to mobile telephone services.[3] The only telephone provider in Equatorial Guinea is Orange.

There were more than 42,000 internet users by December 2011 (Internetworldstats.com).

Sports[edit]

Football[edit]

Equatorial Guinea was chosen to co-host the 2012 African Cup of Nations in partnership with Gabon, and won their first game against Libya 1-0 in Group A. The country was also chosen to host the 2008 Women's African Football Championship, which they won. The Women's National Team qualified for the 2011 World Cup in Germany.

In a shocking last minute arrangement with FIFA and CAF the Equatorial Guinea will also host the 2015 African cup after Morocco decided to abandon the commitment to host this much anticipated cup due to health scares.

Swimming[edit]

Equatorial Guinea is famous for the swimmers Eric Moussambani, nicknamed "Eric the Eel",[87] and Paula Barila Bolopa, "Paula the Crawler", who had astoundingly slow times at the 2000 Summer Olympics.[88]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Local pronunciation:

References[edit]

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  39. ^ "Presidential Decree". Republicofequatorialguinea.net. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  40. ^ Heather Layman, LPA (11 April 2006). "USAID and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea Agree to Unique Partnership for Development". Usaid.gov. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  41. ^ Organizational Reform & Institutional Capacity-Building. MPRI. Retrieved on 5 May 2013.
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  44. ^ Tension Builds in the Gulf of Guinea as Competition for Economic Resources Increases. Jutiagroup.com (5 April 2010). Retrieved on 5 May 2013.
  45. ^ L3 Communications coast surveillance contract with Equatorial Guinea could be worth $250M. Business.gaeatimes.com (24 February 2010). Retrieved on 5 May 2013.
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  50. ^ Ignacio Milam Tang, new Vice President of the Nation. guineaecuatorialpress.com. 22 May 2012.
  51. ^ Interview with President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea. CNN. 5 October 2012.
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  53. ^ a b c "Equatorial Guinea". equatorialguinea.org. Archived from the original on 3 October 1999. Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
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  63. ^ a b "Guiné Equatorial" (in Portuguese). CPLP. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
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  65. ^ a b Obiang convierte al portugués en tercer idioma oficial para entrar en la Comunidad lusófona de Naciones, Terra. 13 July 2007
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  72. ^ María Jesús Nsang Nguema (Prensa Presidencial) (15 October 2011). "S. E. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo clausura el Segundo Periodo Ordinario de Sesiones del pleno de la Cámara de Representantes del Pueblo" [President Obiang closes second session period of parliament] (in Spanish). Oficina de Información y Prensa de Guinea Ecuatorial (D. G. Base Internet). Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  73. ^ Oficina de Información y Prensa de Guinea Ecuatorial, Ministerio de Información, Cultura y Turismo: El Español es la lengua oficial administrativa y de enseñanza. El francés es la segunda lengua oficial y casi todas las etnias hablan las denominadas lenguas bantúes. In English: "Spanish is the official administrative language and that of education. French is the second official language and nearly all the ethnic groups speak the languages referred to as Bantu."
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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

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Coordinates: 1°30′N 10°00′E / 1.500°N 10.000°E / 1.500; 10.000