A small country in equatorial West Africa on the Gulf of Guinea.
Equatorial Guinea includes the plateau of Río Muni bounded by Cameroon and Gabon, and the more mountainous and fertile, but smaller, island of Bioko (Fernando Póo).
Equatorial Guinea has a mainly agricultural economy, the main exports being timber and cocoa. There are deposits of gold, iron ore, copper, manganese, uranium, silica, and titanium. Although the exploitation of offshore oil produced rapid economic growth in the early 2000s, equatorial Guinea remains one of Africa's poorest countries; political upheaval has led to extensive emigration and agricultural neglect, with widespread food shortages. The economy is heavily dependent on foreign aid, largely from Spain.
Formerly a Spanish colony, it was a haunt of slave-traders and merchants. The mainland was not effectively occupied by Spain until 1926. Declared independent in 1968, a reign of terror followed until President Macias Nguema was overthrown and executed (1979) by his nephew, Obiang Nguema. The new regime pursued less repressive domestic policies with some degree of success. A referendum in November 1991 appeared to give overwhelming approval for multiparty politics, and in January 1992 an amnesty was granted by President Nguema to returning exiles; but in February a number of opposition leaders were arrested and some later died in prison. The Spanish government announced that promised economic aid was dependent upon implementation of democratization. Multiparty elections were planned, but opposition parties claimed they were not allowed to campaign freely, and called for a boycott of the elections. Few people voted in the elections, which were held in 1993 and were reported as being unfair by international observers. Nguema's ruling party officially won and remained in power, as it has done in subsequent elections. In 1995 the UN reiterated its concern about serious violations of human rights in the country.
Source: MAPS IN MINUTES™ © RH Publications (1997)
28,051 sq km (10,831 sq miles)
1 CFA franc = 100 centimes
Roman Catholic 80.1%; other Christian 6.8%; Muslim 4.0%
Fang 72.0%; Bubi 14.7%; Duala 2.7%; Ibibio 1.3%; Maka 1.3%
Spanish, French (both official); Fang, Bubi, and local languages
UN; AU; Non-Aligned Movement; Franc Zone