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Equatorial Guinea is a small country in West Africa, divided into two parts, the mainland and the islands. Unique among sub-Saharan countries, it was a former Spanish colony—the only colony Spain had south of Western Sahara. The mainland is wedged between Cameroon and Gabon. This country is one of the largest oil producing countries in Sub-Sahara, behind Angola and Nigeria. Since the discovery of oil, the country has—at least on paper—one of the highest per-capita incomes on the planet. Despite this, income and day-to-day life for many Equatorial Guineans has improved little, due the endemic corruption siphoning off oil revenue into the hands of a few wealth elite. Progress is moving along, though, and new infrastructure and modernization projects are under construction or even finished, especially on Bioko and around Malabo. And of course, what dictator's realm would be complete without a vast, lavish capital? In 2011, the government announced plans to build a new capital, called Djibloho, on the mainland between Bata and Mongomo. In spite of impressive looking new infrastructure, few Equatorial Guineans have access to it, and while the government throws billions of dollars on new construction, nearly half the country's population (of less than 700,000) have access to clean drinking water. Multi-lane highways and vast new squares In Malabo remain empty. Equatorial Guinea is nominally a police state, akin to Turkmenistan and North Korea (minus the minders and organized persecution of its inhabitants). As a result, tourist infrastructure is sparse (and certainly not a high priority for the government) and you are likely to face harassment by police forces curious of what you are doing in the country as a "tourist". Since the oil companies operating here are mostly American, Americans may receive marginally better treatment compared to other nationalities (e.g. visa-free entry, less suspicion by police). (less...) (more...)
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About Equatorial Guinea
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 by shooting. 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. The discovery of oil reserves offshore in 1996 has brought considerable wealth to the country, giving it one of the highest GDP per capita in the world, yet much of the money goes into the hands of a thuggish and corrupt government, with majority of the people remaining very 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.
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 Moroccan and other European food, try La Luna. Try An Equatorial Guinean Cuisine such a Smoked Beef with a black pepper. There is also a roast duck with cheese and onion leaf.
Ebebiyin is known for its large number of bars. They drink a lot of wine.
The Central African CFA franc (XAF) is used by Equatorial Guinea. It is also used by Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo and Gabon. While strictly a separate currency from the Western African CFA franc (XOF), the two currencies are used interchangeably at par throughout all CFA franc (XAF & XOF) using countries.
Both CFA francs are guaranteed by the French treasury and are pegged to the euro at 1 euro = 655.957 CFA francs.
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.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Equatorial Guinea on Wikivoyage.
Cities in Equatorial Guinea
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Malabo is the largest city in, and capital of, Equatorial Guinea. It is located on the island of Bioko.
- Cathedral de Malabo
- Malabo City Hall
- Universidad Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial (UNGE)
- Arena Blanca
- Estadio Internacional
Points of Interest in Equatorial Guinea
There are lots of beaches so that would be a good thing to take in mind when considering sight-seeing. It would be advised to take precautions listed in the 'Stay Safe' category.
Clock Square - Bata
Cathedral de Malabo - Malabo
Cataratas de Mosumo - Sevilla de Niefang
Malabo City Hall - Malabo
Bata City Hall - Bata
Universidad Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial (UNGE) - Malabo
Arena Blanca - Malabo
Monte Alen National Park - Sevilla de Niefang