REPUBLIC OF EQUATORIAL GUINEA
National name: Republica de Guinea Ecuatorial
Area: 10,830 aq. ml. (28,050 sq. km)
Population (1999 eat.): 465,746 (average annual rate of natural increase: 2.55%); birth rate: 38.5/1000; infant mortality rate: 91.2/1000; density per sq. mi.: 43 Capital and largest city (1983): Malabo, 30,418. Monetary unit: CFA Franc. Languages: Spanish (official), French (2nd official) pidgin English, Fang, Bubi, Creole. Ethnicity/race: Bioko (primarily Bubi, some Fernandinos), Rio Muni (primarily Fang), Europeans less than 1,000, mostly Spanish. Religions: Roman Catholic, Protestant, traditional. Literacy rate: 50% Economic summary: GOP/PPP (1997 eat.): $660 million; $1,500 per capita. Real growth rate: n.e. Inflation: 6% (1996 eat.). Unemployment: na Arable land: 5%. Agriculture: coffee, cocoa, rice, yams, csssava (tapioca), bananas, palm oil nuts, manioc, livestock, timber. Labor force: na. Industries: fishing, sawmilling, Natural resources: timber, petroleum, small unexploited deposits of gold, manganese, uranium. Exports: $197 million (fob., 1996 eat.): petroleum, timber, cocoa. Imports: $248 million (cit., 1996 eat.): petroleum, food, beverages, clothing, machinery. Major trading partners: U.S., Japan, Spain, China, Nigeria, Cameroon, France
Geography Equatorial Guinea, formerly Spanish Guinea, consists of Rio Muni (10,045 sq. mi.; 26,117 sq. km), on the western coast of Africa, and several islands in the Gulf of Guinea, the largest of which is Bioko (formerly Fernando P0) (785 sq. mi.: 2,033 sq. 1cm). The other islands are Annobdn, Corisco, Elobey Grande, and Etobey Chico. The total area is twice that of Connecticut.
Government President with a 17-member Supreme Mititar Council since a 1979 coup.
History The mainland was originally inhabited by Pygmies. The Fang and Bubi migrated there in the 17th century and to the main island of Fernando Po (now called Bioko) in the 19th century. In the 18th century, the Portuguese ceded land to the Spanish that included Equatorial Guinea. From 1827 to 1g44, Britain administered Fernando Po, but it was then reclaimed by Spain. Rio Muni, the mainland, was not occupied by the Spanish until 1926. Span ish Guinea, as it was then called, gained independence from Spain on Oct. 12, 1968. It is Africa’s only Spanish-speaking country.
From the outset, President Francisco Maclas Nguema, considered the father of independence, began a brutal reign, destroying the economy of the fledgling country and abusing human rights. Calling himself the “Unique Miracle,” Nguema is consid ered one of the Worst despots in African history. In 1971, the U.S. State Department reported that his regime was “characterized by abandonment of all government functions except internal security, which was accomplished by terror; this led to the death or exile of up to one-third of the population.”
On Aug. 3, 1979, Nguema was overthrown and executed by his nephew, Lieut. Col. Teodoro Obiang Nguerna Mbasogo. Obiang has been gradually mod ernizing the country, but has retained many of his uncle’s dictatorial practices, including the amassing of personal wealth by siphoning it from the public coffers. A recent petroleum bonanza promises to boost the country’s standard of living, but the presi dent’s family is believed to control the industry.
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