The African continent is comprised of 54 nations, each with its own independent government and sovereignty, GDP, culture, natural resources, language(s), military, and religion. The treasure trove of mineral and raw material wealth has scarcely been touched and the continent's largely untapped fertile lands could feed the world. Herewith is Jewel of Africa, an interactive adventure in the cradle of mankind, an exploration of nations from A-Z in alphabetical order.
Equatorial Guinea: Third leading oil producer
Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, is a country on the west coast of Central Africa, covering a total area of 11,000 square miles. Formerly the Spanish colony of Guinea, the nation is comprised of two regions—an insular and mainland.
The insular region is comprised of the islands of Bioko, formerly Fernando Pó in the Gulf of Gui- nea, and Annobón, a small volcanic island—the only part of the country south of the equator. Bioko Island is the northernmost part of Equatorial Guinea and is home of the capital, Malabo.
The Portuguese-speaking island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe is located between Bioko and Annobón. The mainland, Río Muni, is bordered by Cameroon on the north and Gabon on the south and east. It is the home of Bata, Equatorial Guinea's largest city. Rio Muni also includes several small offshore islands—Corisco, Elobey Grande, and Elobey Chico. Equatorial Guinea is a member of the African Union, Francophonie, OPEC and the CPLP.
Equatorial Guinea has become one of Africa's largest oil producers. It has subsequently become the richest country per capita in Africa, and its gross domestic product adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita ranks 43rd in the world. But the wealth is distributed unevenly, with only a few benefiting economically. The country ranks 144th on the 2019 Human Development Index, with less than half the population having access to clean drinking water and approximately 1 in 12 children dying before the age of five.
Independence from Spain was gained on Oct. 12, 1968, in the capital, Malabo. The new country became the Republic of Equatorial Guinea (the date is celebrated as the nation's Independence Day.
In 1995 Mobil Oil discovered oil in Equatorial Guinea. The country subsequently experienced rapid economic development, but earnings from the country's oil wealth have not trinkled down to the majority population and the country ranks low on the UN human development index. The current head of state since February 2016, President Teodoro Obiang, is Africa's second-longest serving dictator after Cameroon's Paul Biya. President Obiang’s personal wealth was estimated by Forbes to be $600 million.
Government and politics
1982 constitution of Equatorial Guinea gives President 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. Prime Minister Francisco Pascual Obama Asue was appointed by Obiang and operates under powers delegated by the president. During the four decades of his rule, Obiang has shown little tolerance for opposition. While the country is nominally a multi-party democracy.
In November 2011, a new constitution was approved. Under the constitution the president s limited to a maximum of two seven-year terms and is now the head of state and head of government, therefore eliminating the prime minister. The new constitution also introduced the position of vice president and called for the creation of 70-member senate with 55 senators elected by the people and the 15 remaining designated by the president.
The Armed Forces of Equatorial Guinea is comprised of approximately 2,500 service members—
The port City of Bata (top) is the largest in Equatorial Guinea. With an estimated population of 173,046, it is the largest city in the country, while Malabo (below), located on Bioko island, also serves the nation as an import/export port city and is the capital.
Equatorial Guinea is as beautiful as any of the many countries on the Africa. Bata is the bustling business center and Malabo is the nation's capital located on the island of Bioko. The mainland on the Atlantic Ocean on the West coast of Africa showcases some of the most idyllic white-sand beaches in the world with tall palms hugging the surf. But the beauty of Equatorial Guinea does not end there. Like many countries on the continent, natural beauty is abundant in the nation's verdant interior rainforests below, home to rivers, lakes, and waterfalls.
Equatorial Guinea is deeply fertile. Most of the land here, as is true for most of Africa has been scarcely touched by agriculture. Anything can grow here in the nutrient-rich soil that retains the richness it had in antiquity.
The discovery of large oil reserves in 1996 and its subsequent exploitation contributed to a dramatic increase in government revenue. Equatorial Guinea is the third-largest oil producer in Africa. Its oil production has risen to 360,000 barrels per day, up from 220,000 only two years earlier. But those reserves are expected to exhaust in the near future and the government is not sitting on its hands waiting for that to happen.
According to a goverment study in 2016, planning ahead, African agriculture and agribusiness is estimated to be worth $1 trillion by 2030. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in African agriculture is projected to grow from less than $10 billion in 2010 to more than $45 billion in 2021. This demonstrates the potential of agriculture to generate significant income for Equatorial Guinea. Fores- try, farming, and fishing are also major components of GDP. Subsistence farming predominates. Agriculture is 52 percent of the workforce in Equatorial Guinea today, its largest employer.
Equatorial Guinea is a haven for beauti- ful women, another of its secrets, which dispels the long-held stereotypes by Hollywood and the Western media. African women with their darker hues are stepping up and vying for international beauty titles. Miss Universe 2019 was Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa (far left).
A large complement of wildlife populate the Equatorial Guinea rainforest, rivers, lakes, and savanna. Though shy and rarely seen, the western lowland gorilla is the most numerous and widespread of all gorilla subspecies. Populations can be found in Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, and Gabon.
army, 1,400 soldiers; navy, 200 sailors; air force, 120 personnel; and police. 400 personnel. There is also a gen- darmerie, but whose numbers are undetermined. The gendarmerie is a new branch of service in which training and education supported by the French Military Cooperation in Equatorial Guinea.
Equatorial Guinea is a Central African country situated on the west coast of the continent, comprising the Rio Muni mainland and five volcanic offshore—Bioko, Corisco, Annobón, Elobey Chico, and Elobey Grande. The capital is Malabo, located on Bioko Island. The country is bordered by Cameroon to the north, Gabon to the east and south, and the five islands to the west.
The current population is 1.4 million people. The country is adorned in beautiful Spanish colonial architecture and is a hub for the country’s prosperous oil industry. Its Arena Blanca beach draws dry-season butterflies. The tropical forest of the mainland’s Monte Alen National Park is home to gorillas, chimpanzees, and elephants. 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 96 miles south of the equator.
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 a gradual transition. Rain or mist occurs daily on Annobón, where a cloudless day has never been registered. The temperature at Malabo, Bioko, ranges from 61-91 degrees Fahrenheit. In Río Muni, the average temperature is about 81 degrees. Annual rainfall varies from 76 inches at Malabo to 430 inches at Ureka on Bioko Island.
Equatorial Guinea spans several eco-regions. Río Muni region lies within the Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests eco-region, except for patches of Central African mangroves on the coast, especially in the Muni River estuary. The Cross-Sanaga-Bioko coastal forests eco-region covers most of Bioko and the adjacent portions of Cameroon and Nigeria on the African mainland. The Mount Cameroon and Bioko mountain forests eco-region covers the highlands of Bioko and nearby Mount Cameroon. The São Tomé, Príncipe, and Annobón moist lowland forests eco-region covers all of Annobón, as well as São Tomé and Príncipe.
Mammals are found throughout Equatorial Guinea. Gorillas, leopards, chimpanzees, a diminutive population of elephants, hippopotamus, cape buffalo, crocodiles, various monkeys, and many varieties of snakes, including pythons, are numbered among the wildlife. Gorillas here are a subspecies of the western lowland gorilla, and chimpanzees are the common chimpanzee species. There are two species of African elephants in Equatorial Guinea — the African forest elephant, and African bush elephant. Despite poaching, the leopard is widespread in Equatorial Guinea and is found even in the suburbs of some major cities.
Equatorial Guinea is divided into eight provinces, including their capitals in parentheses are: Annobón (San Antonio de Palé), Bioko Norte (Malabo), Bioko Sur (Luba), Centro Sur (Evinayong), Djibloho (Ciudad de la Paz), Kié-Ntem (Ebebiyín), Litoral (Bata), and Wele-Nzas (Mongomo). The provinces are further divided into 19 districts and 37 municipalities.
Before independence Equatorial Guinea exported cocoa beans, coffee beans, and timber, mostly to its former colonizer, Spain, and to Germany and the UK. In January 1985, the nation became the first non-Francophone African member of the franc zone, adopting the CFA franc as its currency. The national currency, the ekwele, had previously been linked to the Spanish peseta. The discovery of large oil reserves in 1996 and its subsequent exploitation contributed to a dramatic increase in government revenue. Equatorial Guinea is the third-largest oil producer in Africa. Its oil production has risen to 360,000 barrels per 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 has diminished any potential for agriculture-led growth. Agriculture is the country's main source of employment, providing income for 57 percent of rural households and employment for 52 percent of the workforce.
According to a government study in 2016, planning ahead, African agriculture and agribusiness is estimated to be worth $1 trillion by 2030. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in African agriculture is projected to grow from less than $10 billion in 2010 to more than $45 billion in 2021. This demonstrates the potential of agriculture to generate significant income for Equatorial Guinea.
In addition, it is projected that existing oil and gas reserves will exhaust themselves in the near future, but Equa- torial Guinea’s soil and its ecosystems, including rivers and forests, will remain. Agriculture offers a sustainable source of income. The study says oil revenue should be reinvested into agriculture to ensure food production, consumption and export, and employment creation well into the future. From 2000 to 2010, Equatorial Guinea had the highest average annual increase in GDP at 17 percent. Equatorial Guinea is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), and of the Central African Monetary and Economic Union (CEMAC), a sub-region that comprises of more than 50 million people.
According to the World Bank, Equatorial Guinea has the highest GNI (Gross National Income) per capita of any African country, 83 times larger than the GNI per capita of Burundi, the poorest country. The economy of Equatorial Guinea is expected to grow about 2.6 percent in 2021, a projection based on the successful completion of a large gas project and the recovery of the world economy by the second half of the year. But the country is expected to return to recession in 2022, with a real GDP decline of about 4.4 percent.
Due to the large oil industry in the country, internationally recognized carriers fly to Malabo International Airport which, in May 2014, had several direct connections to Europe and West Africa. There are three airports in Equatorial Guinea—Malabo International Airport, Bata Airport, and the new Annobón Airport on the island of Annobón. Malabo International Airport is the only international airport. Every airline registered in Equatorial Guinea appears on the list of air carriers prohibited in the European Union, which means that they are banned
The majority of the people of Equatorial Guinea are of Bantu origin. The largest ethnic group, the Fang, is indig- enous 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 percent of the population and comprise approximately 67 clans. Those in the northern part of Río 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 and Gabon. These dialects, while still intelligible, are more distinct.
The Bubi, who constitute 15 percent 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. 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 comprise five percent of the population. Europeans of Spanish or Portuguese descent — some with partial African ancestry, also live in the country. But most ethnic Spaniards left after independence.
A growing number of foreigners from neighboring Cameroon, Nigeria, and Gabon have immigrated to the country. According to the Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations (2002) seven percent of Bioko islanders were Igbo, an ethnic group from southeastern Nigeria. Equatorial Guinea received Asians and native Africans from other countries as workers on cocoa and coffee bean plantations. Other Africans came from Liberia, Angola, and Mozambique. Most of the Asian population is Chinese, with small numbers of Indians. Equatorial Guinea has also been a destination for fortune-seeking European immigrants from Britain, France and Germany. Israelis, and Moroccans also live and work in the country.
Oil extraction since the 1990s has contributed to a doubling of the population in Malabo. After independence, thousands of Equatorial Guineans went to Spain. Another 100,000 went to Cameroon, Gabon, and Nigeria because of the dictatorship of Francisco Macías Nguema. Some Equatorial Guinean communities are also found in Latin America, the US, Portugal, and France.
For years the official languages were Spanish (the local variant is Equatoguinean Spanish) and French. Portu- guese was also adopted as an official language in 2010. Spanish has been an official language since 1844. It is still the language of education and administration, as 67.6 percent of Equatorial Guineans can speak it, especially those living in the capital, Malabo. French was only made official in to join the Francophonie and it is not locally spoken, except in some border towns.
Aboriginal languages are recognized as integral parts of the "national culture" (Constitutional Law No. 1, Jan. 21, 1998). Indigenous languages include Fang, Bube, Benga, Ndowe, Balengue, Bujeba, Bissio, Gumu, Igbo, Pichinglis, Fa d'Ambô. and the nearly extinct Baseke. Most African ethnic groups speak Bantu languages Fa d'Am-
bô, a Portuguese creole lingo, is widely spoken in Annobón Province, in Malabo, and by limited numbers in mainland Equatorial Guinea. Many residents of Bioko can also speak Spanish, particularly in the capital, and the local trade language, Pichinglis, an English-based creole. Spanish is not spoken much in Annobón. except in government and education. Non-creolized Portuguese is used as liturgical language by local Catholics.
Due to historical and cultural ties, in 2010 the legislature amended article four of the Constitution of Equatorial Guinea, to establish Portuguese as an official language of the Republic. This was instituted by the Equatorial Guinea to improve the nation’s communications, trade, and historical bilateral ties with Portugal and Portuguese-speaking countries like Brazil, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Cape Verde.
Some of the motivations for Equatorial Guinea's pursuit of membership in the Community of Portuguese Lang- uage Countries (CPLP) included access to several professional and academic exchange programs and facilitated cross-border circulation of citizens. The adoption of Portuguese as an official language was the primary require- ment for application to CPLP. In addition, the country was told it must adopt political reforms allowing effective democracy and respect for human rights. In February 2012, Equatorial Guinea's foreign minister signed an agreement with the IILP on the promotion of Portuguese in the country.
In July 2012, the CPLP refused Equatorial Guinea full membership, primarily because of its continued serious violations of human rights. The government responded by legalizing political parties, declaring a moratorium on the death penalty, and starting a dialog with all political factions. Additionally, the IILP secured land from the government for the construction of Portuguese language cultural centers in Bata and Malabo. At its 10th summit in Dili in July 2014, Equatorial Guinea was admitted as a CPLP member. Abolition of the death penalty and the promotion of Portuguese as an official language were preconditions of the approval.
Religion, Health, education
The principal religion in Equatorial Guinea is Christianity—the faith of 93 percent of the population. Roman Catholics make up the majority (88 percent), while a minority are Protestants (5 percent); 2 percent of the pop- ulation follows Islam (mainly Sunni). The remaining 5 percent practice Animism, Baháʼi, and other beliefs.
Equatorial Guinea's innovative malaria programs in the early 21st century achieved success in reducing malaria infection, disease, and mortality. Prevention is comprised of twice-yearly indoor residual spraying, the introduction of artemisinin combination treatment, use of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnant women, and introduc- tion of very high coverage with long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Their efforts resulted in a reduction in under-five mortality from 152 to 55 deaths per 1,000 live births (down 64 percent), that coincided with the launch of the program.
Under Francisco Macias, education was neglected, and few children received any type of education. Under President Obiang, the illiteracy rate dropped from 73 to 13 percent, and the number of primary school students rose from 65,000 in 1986 to more than 100,000 in 1994. Education is free and compulsory for children 6-14 years of age. 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.
Equatorial Guinea was chosen to co-host the 2012 African Cup of Nations in partnership with Gabon, and hosted the 2015 edition. 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.
Equatorial Guinea was chosen to host the 12th African Games in 2019. The nation is famous for its swimmers Eric Moussambani, nicknamed "Eric the Eel"; and Paula Barila Bolopa, " who competed the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Jarrette Fellows, Jr. / Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License