In the Rio Muni region there is believed to have been a widespread pygmy population, of whom only isolated pockets remain in the north. Bantu migrations between the 17th and 19th centuries brought the coastal tribes and later the Fang.
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 River and Ogoue Rivers were ceded to the Spanish Empire in exchange for territory in the American continent. 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. Between 1926 and 1959 all three regions were united as the colony of Spanish Guinea.
Equatorial Guinea gained independence from Franco's Spain in October 1968. Since then, it has been ruled by two men. Francisco Macías Nguema, the first president, was a brutal dictator who despised intellectuals, killed a large number of the ethnic Bubi minority, banned fishing, and awarded himself a huge number of grandiose titles (including President for Life). He was overthrown by Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in 1979 and later captured and executed. Obiang's rule has seen less violence, but his regime is still brutally repressive. Political power is centralized in his small mainland clan, and most senior members of the government are related. Despite having one of the highest GDP per capita in the world, much of this income goes into the hands of government elites, with the majority of the people still being extremely poor.
Equatorial Guinea has two distinctive and very pronounced seasons: rainy and dry seasons. April to October are the wettest months of the year, and December to March are the driest.
The major ethnic groups are the Fang of the mainland and the Bubi of Bioko Island.
Equatorial Guinea recognizes the major Christian holidays. October 12 is Independence Day.
| Rio Muni (Bata)|
all of the mainland
| Bioko (Malabo)|
island in the Gulf of Guinea, includes the capital city
| Annobon |
small island between Sao Tome Island and Principe Island out in the Atlantic
- Malabo - the capital, on Bioko
- Bata - the major city on the mainland
- Ebebiyin - a major access point in the far northeast corner
- Luba - another town on Bioko
US citizens do not require a visa, but do need the following to present when entering EG: 2 visa applications, 2 passport photos, bank statement noting a minimum of $2,000 in your account, & proof of smallpox, yellow fever, & cholera vaccinations.
All others need to submit to an EG embassy all of the above (plus passport) in order to receive a visa. In Washington, the fee for the visa is US$100.
There are two paved airports, one a few miles from Malabo (SSG), and one in Bata (BSG). The country's main airline is Ecuato Guineana de Aviación, which operates national and international flights out of Malabo International Airport. Other airlines flying to Malabo airport include Iberia (from Madrid), JetAir (from Gatwick airport in London), Air France (from Paris) Swiss (from Zurich), and beginning April 1st, Lufthansa flies direct from Frankfurt to Malabo. Delta Air Lines planned to begin service to Malabo from Atlanta in June 2009, but has now postponed the start of this route due to the financial crisis, but it may start in September 2009.
The capital is on an island. However, the mainland may be accessed from Gabon via paved(tarmac) roads and from Cameroon via dirt tracks (inaccessible in rainy season). Roads in EG, however, are in a very dilapidated state(even for W. Africa) and 4x4 is necessary many months of the year.
The colonial language is Spanish, and the country is also a member of La Francophonie. There is an Anglophone population in Bioko that is historically linked to British commerce on the island.
Everything is extremely expensive in Equatorial Guinea. A decent room with very limited amenities (bring all the necessary stuff like towel, soap, shampoo, etc as the hotel may not have any) will be at the range of $75 to $300. A simple lunch will cost at least $20 (without drinks like wine, beer or softdrinks) in a clean and airconditioned restaurant.
There are several good places to go to eat particularly in Malabo. The coffee shop at Hotel Sofitel (located just across the Cathedral along the north coast) offers French cuisine. Hotel Bahia's main restaurant is also a favorite destination for both local and expats. If you like pizza and pasta, the Pizza Place is the best place in town. For Asian cuisine, Restaurante Bantu offers authentic Chinese cuisine. For Morrocan and other European food, try La Luna. Try An Equatorial Guinean Cuisine such a Smoked Beef with a black pepper also a roast duck with cheese and onion leaf.
Ebebiyin is known for its large number of bars. They drink a lot of wine.
Due to the influx of foreign workers and foreign investment in Malabo as well as in the continent, there is an ample choice of hotels.
Don't involve yourself in local politics.
Photos: Taking photos of any government properties is strictly prohibited without permission. Don't photograph airports, government buildings, or anything of military or strategic value. Local folks including children are generally averse to foreigners taking their picture. As a general rule, it is not advisable to bring a camera while walking around town as this can cause real trouble with the police.
Clothing: Equatorial Guinea has tropical weather and is normally very hot. It is best to wear lightweight clothing. Avoid wearing dark colors due to mosquito concerns.
Food/Water: There are no 'potable' or clean water sources in Equatorial Guinea. Travelers should drink only bottled water. Take care when consuming any fruits or vegetables that may have been washed or drinks that may contain ice cubes or 'water' additives such as coffee, tea, lemonade, etc.
Wear Shoes: Beaches in Malabo and Bata are beautiful however, due to discarded trash and unsafe sand bugs it is a good idea to always wear shoes. This applies to walking on carpeted areas as well.
Malaria Medicine: Malaria is a leading cause of death in this country. It is advised that visitors consult their doctor for malaria tablets.
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