Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea

Facts & figures

Full name: The Republic of Equatorial Guinea

Population: 740,000 (UN, 2012)

Capital: Malabo

Area: 28,051 sq km (10,830 sq miles)

Major languages: Spanish, French

Major religion: Christianity

Life expectancy: 50 years (men), 53 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes

Main exports: Petroleum, timber, cocoa

GNI per capita: US $15,670 (World Bank, 2011)

Internet domain: .gq

International dialling code: +240





Mr Obiang Nguema is Africa's longest serving leader and has been in power for three decades.

In 1979 he seized power from President Francisco Macias Nguema, who was the leader at independence and whose rule prompted a mass exodus and thousands of deaths. The former leader was tried and executed.


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  • Best period

The weather is tropical, with heavy rainfall for most of the year. Flash floods can make travel difficult in the city

  • Safety

Crime levels in Equatorial Guinea are relatively low for the region.



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 1844, Britain administered Fernando Po, but it was then reclaimed by Spain. Río Muni, the mainland, was not occupied by the Spanish until 1926. Spanish Guinea, as it was then called, gained independence from Spain on Oct. 12, 1968. It is Africa's only Spanish-speaking country.

Arts & Culture

  • Music

The national anthem of Equatorial Guinea was written by Atanasio Ndongo Miyone, and adopted in 1968, when the country gained independence from Spain [2]. Equatorial Guinea was carved out of three former Spanish colonies: Rio Muni, a strip of land between Cameroon and Gabon, Bioko, an island near Cameroon, and Annobón, an island in the Atlantic Ocean far from the mainland. The largest ethnic group are the Fang (85.7% (1994 census) of a total 704,001 (July 2013 est.)), with 6.5% Bubi and smaller populations of Mdowe (3.6%), Annobónese (1.6%) and Bujeba (1.1%),[1] including smaller groups such as the Ndowe, the Bisio and the Combe.

The Fang are known for their mvet, a cross between a zither and a harp. The mvet can have up to fifteen strings. The semi-spherical part of this instrument is made of bamboo and the strings are attached to the center by fibers. Music for the mvet is written in a form of musical notation that can only be learned by initiates of the bebom-mvet society. Music is typically call and response with a chorus and drums alternating. Musicians like Eyi Moan Ndong have helped to popularize folk styles.

A three- or four- person orchestra consisting of some arrangement of sanza, xylophone, drums, zithers and bow harps accompanies the many dances in Equatorial Guinea, such as the balélé and the risque ibanga.[2]

Another popular instrument is the tam-tam, which is a wooden box covered with animal skin. In its center, there are bamboo keys installed with complete musical scales. A second type of tam-tam has two different levels of musical keys. Generally, wooden musical instruments are decorated with fauna images and geometric drawings. Drums are covered with animal skins or animal drawings.[

There is little popular music coming out of Equatorial Guinea. Pan-African styles like soukous and makossa are popular, as are reggae and rock and roll. Acoustic guitar bands based on a Spanish model are the country's best-known indigenous popular tradition, especially national stars Desmali y su Grupo Dambo de la Costa.

Other musicians from Equatorial Guinea include Malabo Strit Band, Luna Loca, Chiquitin, Dambo de la Costa, Ngal Madunga, Lily Afro and Spain-based exiles like Super Momo, Hijas del Sol and Baron Ya Buk-Lu.

  • Literature

The literature of Equatorial Guinea in Spanish is relatively unknown, unlike African literature in English, French, and Portuguese. For example, M'bare N'gom, a professor at Morgan State University, searched 30 anthologies of literature in Spanish published between 1979 and 1991 and did not find a single reference to Equatoguinean writers. The same thing occurs in anthologies of African literature in European languages published in the 1980s and in specialized journals such as Research in African Literatures, African Literature Today, Présence Africaine or Canadian Journal of African Studies. This began to change in the late 1990s with the publication of a monograph in the journal Afro-Hispanic Review, and with the conferences Spain in Africa and Latin America: The Other Face of Literary Hispanism at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri in May 1999 and Primer Encuentro de Escritores africanos en Lengua Española (First Encounter with African Writers in the Spanish Language) in Murcia, Spain in November 2000.

  • Film industry

The film industry in Equatorial Guinea is practically non-existent at the moment. No recent filmmakers of international repute have come from the country so far. Allthough the country houses a few cinema, the only news worth mentioning is an assasination in the surroundings of a cinema. Another film related piece of information considered Rafael Ekiri Obama, a local who visited Germany and bought some screening equipment. He apparently vanished while he was setting up his projector in an old cinema building. Equatorial Guinea is multi languaged, Spanish, French, English and some African languages, a major barrier in funding and producing films. Being impoverished and in a constant state of military restlessness, developing a cinema to preserve and maintain cultural heritage is a fiction. 

  • Famous places


Bata is the second city of E.G. and the first one in the Rio Muni mainland. If you arrive to Bata from Malabo the flight will take you 45min.


Just a two-hour taxi ride from Bata, Monte Alen National Park is a 540-square-mile nature reserve with some of Africa's biggest animals. The park is home to forest elephants, gorillas and chimpanzees, plus crocodiles, birds and insects. Trips depart from Bata regularly; catch a ride on a route taxi (a small bus, basically) labeled for Evinayong and get off at the "EcoFac."

  • Architecture history

Thirty-seven percent of the population is urban and 63 percent is rural. On the mainland, the population is dispersed fairly evenly, with the exception of Bata, which is the largest city in the country. Many of its buildings are in the Spanish colonial style and are less than perfectly maintained. Bata is a busy commercial center, with markets, bars, and restaurants. The second-largest town in Río Muni is Ebebiyin in the northeast, near the Cameroon border.

On Bioko, the majority of the population lives in Malabo, which is Equatorial Guinea's capital. The city is fairly clean, and its architecture exhibits Spanish influence. There are shantytowns as well as upper-class neighborhoods, often in close proximity to each other. Luba, with a population of one thousand, is the second-largest town on Bioko.


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