Equatorial Guinea

Introduction Equatorial Guinea gained independence in 1968 after 190 years of Spanish rule. This tiny country, composed of a mainland portion plus five inhabited islands, is one of the smallest on the African continent. President Teodoro OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO has ruled the country since 1979 when he seized power in a coup. Although nominally a constitutional democracy since 1991, the 1996 and 2002 presidential elections - as well as the 1999 and 2004 legislative elections - were widely seen as flawed. The president exerts almost total control over the political system and has discouraged political opposition. Equatorial Guinea has experienced rapid economic growth due to the discovery of large offshore oil reserves, and in the last decade has become Sub-Saharan Africa's third largest oil exporter. Despite the country's economic windfall from oil production resulting in a massive increase in government revenue in recent years, there have been few improvements in the population's living standards.

The first inhabitants were of the continental region that is now Equatorial Guinea are believed to have been labelabes, of whom only isolated pockets remain in northern Río Muni. Bantu migrations between the 17th and 19th centuries brought the coastal tribes and later the Fang. Elements of the latter may have generated the Bubi, who emigrated to Bioko from Cameroon and Rio Muni in several waves and succeeded former Neolithic populations. The Bubi were the very first human inhabitants of Bioko Island. The Annobon population, native to Angola, was introduced by the Portuguese via São Tomé Island (São Tomé and Príncipe).

The Portuguese explorer, Fernão do Pó, seeking a path to India, is credited with having discovered 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 and Ogoue Rivers were ceded to Spain in exchange for territory in the American continent (Treaty of El Pardo, between Queen Maria I of Portugal and King Charles III of Spain). Between 1778 and 1810, the territory of Equatorial Guinea depended administratively on the viceroyalty of Rio de la Plata, with seat in Buenos Aires. From 1827 to 1843, Britain established a base on the island to combat the slave trade[2], 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. Conflicting claims to the mainland were settled by the Treaty of Paris (1900), and periodically, the mainland territories were united administratively under Spanish rule. Between 1926 and 1959 they were united as the colony of Spanish Guinea.

Geography Location: Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Cameroon and Gabon
Geographic coordinates: 2 00 N, 10 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 28,051 sq km
land: 28,051 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries: total: 539 km
border countries: Cameroon 189 km, Gabon 350 km
Coastline: 296 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; always hot, humid
Terrain: coastal plains rise to interior hills; islands are volcanic
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pico Basile 3,008 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, timber, gold, bauxite, diamonds, tantalum, sand and gravel, clay
Land use: arable land: 4.63%
permanent crops: 3.57%
other: 91.8% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Total renewable water resources: 26 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.11 cu km/yr (83%/16%/1%)
per capita: 220 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: violent windstorms, flash floods
Environment - current issues: tap water is not potable; deforestation
Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: insular and continental regions widely separated

The current president of Equatorial Guinea is Retired Brig. Gen. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. The 1982 constitution of Equatorial Guinea gives 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 calling legislative elections. Obiang retains his role as commander in chief of the armed forces and minister of defence, and he maintains close supervision of the military activity. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and operates under powers designated by the President. The Prime Minister coordinates government activities in areas other than foreign affairs, national defense and security.

On December 15, 2002,[3] Equatorial Guinea's four main opposition parties withdrew from the country's presidential election. Obiang won an election widely considered fraudulent by members of the Western press.

Diplomats and even ministers have been caught smuggling drugs, sometimes using diplomatic bags and even the president's baggage on state trips. The incumbent president has never equalled the bloodthirsty reputation of former dictator Francisco Macías Nguema, whom he overthrew. On Christmas of 1975, Macías had 150 alleged coup plotters executed to the sound of a band playing Mary Hopkin's tune Those Were the Days in a national stadium.[4]

Francisco Macías Nguema has commonly and incorrectly been identified as Obiang's uncle; however, this is as a result of western misunderstanding of tribal naming conventions. In Equatorial Guinea's tribal culture, all members of a tribe use familial terms to refer to fellow tribe members. People refer to their tribal elders as their aunts and uncles. Likewise non-sibling peers are cousins and those who are younger but not biologically related are nieces or nephews. Obiang is a member of the Fang Tribe which represents 85% of the country’s population. Thus, by tribal custom, an overwhelming majority of the nation is “related” to President Obiang. This fact has been recognized by the CIA[5] and US State Department.[6]

Furthermore, neither Teodoro Obiang's father nor his mother have any siblings with the last name Macias. The name Nguema, the only name that Obiang and Macias share, is a very common name in Equatorial Guinea—similar to Smith in the United States or Lee in China.

A huge proportion of the £370 million revenue is confiscated by the president while most of the 500,000 subjects subsist on less than a dollar a day, sewage runs through the streets of the capital Malabo, and there is no public transport and little drinking water or electricity.[7]

According to a March 2004 BBC profile,[8] politics within the country are currently dominated by tensions between Obiang's son, Teodorin, and other close relatives with powerful positions in the security forces. The tension may be rooted in power shift arising from the dramatic increase in oil production which has occurred since 1997.

A November 2004 report[9] named Mark Thatcher as a financial backer of a March 2004 attempt to topple Obiang, organized by Simon Mann. Various accounts also name Britain's MI6, America's CIA, and Spain as having been tacit supporters of the coup attempt.[10] Nevertheless, the Amnesty International report released in June 2005[11] on the ensuing trial of those allegedly involved highlighted the prosecution's failure to produce conclusive evidence that a coup attempt had actually taken place.

People Population: 551,201 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 41.5% (male 114,816/female 113,688)
15-64 years: 54.8% (male 145,740/female 156,097)
65 years and over: 3.8% (male 8,957/female 11,903) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 18.8 years
male: 18.3 years
female: 19.4 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.015% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 35.16 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 15.01 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.934 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.752 male(s)/female
total population: 0.957 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 87.15 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 93.17 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 80.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 49.51 years
male: 48.11 years
female: 50.95 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.48 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 3.4% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 5,900 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 370 (2001 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria (2008)
Nationality: noun: Equatorial Guinean(s) or Equatoguinean(s)
adjective: Equatorial Guinean or Equatoguinean
Ethnic groups: Fang 85.7%, Bubi 6.5%, Mdowe 3.6%, Annobon 1.6%, Bujeba 1.1%, other 1.4% (1994 census)
Religions: nominally Christian and predominantly Roman Catholic, pagan practices
Languages: Spanish 67.6% (official), other 32.4% (includes French (official), Fang, Bubi) (1994 census)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.7%
male: 93.3%
female: 78.4% (2003 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Equatorial Guinea
conventional short form: Equatorial Guinea
local long form: Republica de Guinea Ecuatorial/Republique de Guinee equatoriale
local short form: Guinea Ecuatorial/Guinee equatoriale
former: Spanish Guinea
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Malabo
geographic coordinates: 3 45 N, 8 47 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 7 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Annobon, Bioko Norte, Bioko Sur, Centro Sur, Kie-Ntem, Litoral, Wele-Nzas
Independence: 12 October 1968 (from Spain)
National holiday: Independence Day, 12 October (1968)
Constitution: approved by national referendum 17 November 1991; amended January 1995
Legal system: partly based on Spanish civil law and tribal custom
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Teodoro OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO (since 3 August 1979 when he seized power in a military coup)
head of government: Prime Minister Ricardo Mangue Obama NFUBEA (since 14 August 2006); First Deputy Prime Minister Mercelino Oyono NTUTUMU (since 15 June 2004)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (no term limits); election last held 15 December 2002 (next to be held in December 2009); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
election results: Teodoro OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO reelected president; percent of vote - Teodoro OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO 97.1%, Celestino Bonifacio BACALE 2.2%; elections marred by widespread fraud
Legislative branch: unicameral House of People's Representatives or Camara de Representantes del Pueblo (100 seats; members directly elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 25 April 2004 (next to be held in 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PDGE 98, CPDS 2
note: Parliament has little power since the constitution vests all executive authority in the president
Judicial branch: Supreme Tribunal
Political parties and leaders: Convergence Party for Social Democracy or CPDS [Placido MICO Abogo]; Democratic Party for Equatorial Guinea or PDGE (ruling party) [Teodoro OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO]; Party for Progress of Equatorial Guinea or PPGE [Severo MOTO]; Popular Action of Equatorial Guinea or APGE [Avelino MOCACHE]; Popular Union or UP
Political pressure groups and leaders: NA
International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AU, BDEAC, CEMAC, FAO, FZ, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OAS (observer), OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Purificacion ANGUE ONDO
chancery: 2020 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 518-5700
FAX: [1] (202) 518-5252
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Donald C. JOHNSON
embassy: adjacent to the golf course at the base of Mont Febe; note - relocated embassy is opened for limited functions; inquiries should continue to be directed to the US Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon
mailing address: B.P. 817, Yaounde, Cameroon; US Embassy Yaounde, US Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-2520
telephone: [237] 220 15 00
FAX: [237] 220 16 20
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red with a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side and the coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms has six yellow six-pointed stars (representing the mainland and five offshore islands) above a gray shield bearing a silk-cotton tree and below which is a scroll with the motto UNIDAD, PAZ, JUSTICIA (Unity, Peace, Justice)

Several cultural dispersion and literacy organizations are located in the country, founded chiefly with the financial support of the Spanish government. 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. The Bata Medical School is supported principally by the government of Cuba and staffed by Cuban medical educators and physicians.

Mass media

The most dominant form of mass media in the country is the three state-operated FM radio stations. There are also five shortwave radio stations.

A July 2003 article from the BBC[18] points out there are no daily newspapers in the country and described how a Fang program called "Bidze-Nduan" ("Bury the Fire") on a widely listened-to state radio station declared that Obiang was "in permanent contact with the Almighty"; a presidential aide on the show also said:“ He [Obiang] can decide to kill without anyone calling him to account and without going to hell because it is God himself, with whom he is in permanent contact, and who gives him this strength. ”

Most of the media companies practice heavy self-censorship, and are banned by law from criticising public figures. The state-owned media and the main private radio station are under the directorship of Teodorin Nguema Obiang, the president's son. Some media-related statistics from The World Factbook are summarized in a section on communications in Equatorial Guinea

Economy Economy - overview: The discovery and exploitation of large oil reserves have contributed to dramatic economic growth in recent years. Forestry, farming, and fishing are also major components of GDP. Subsistence farming predominates. Although pre-independence Equatorial Guinea counted on cocoa production for hard currency earnings, the neglect of the rural economy under successive regimes has diminished potential for agriculture-led growth (the government has stated its intention to reinvest some oil revenue into agriculture). A number of aid programs sponsored by the World Bank and the IMF have been cut off since 1993, because of corruption and mismanagement. No longer eligible for concessional financing because of large oil revenues, the government has been trying to agree on a "shadow" fiscal management program with the World Bank and IMF. Government officials and their family members own most businesses. Undeveloped natural resources include titanium, iron ore, manganese, uranium, and alluvial gold. Growth remained strong in 2007, led by oil. Equatorial Guinea now has the fourth highest per capita income in the world, after Luxembourg, Bermuda, and Jersey.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $25.69 billion (2005 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $9.512 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 12.7% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $44,100 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 2.8%
industry: 92.5%
services: 4.6% (2007 est.)
Labor force: NA
Unemployment rate: 30% (1998 est.)
Population below poverty line: NA%
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5.5% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 39.2% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $4.849 billion
expenditures: $2.481 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 2.7% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - products: coffee, cocoa, rice, yams, cassava (tapioca), bananas, palm oil nuts; livestock; timber
Industries: petroleum, fishing, sawmilling, natural gas
Industrial production growth rate: 14.1% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 28 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 94.3%
hydro: 5.7%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 26.04 million kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 396,100 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 1,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports: 371,700 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 1,026 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves: 563.5 million bbl (1 January 2002 est.)
Natural gas - production: 1.247 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 1.247 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 35.31 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $250 million (2007 est.)
Exports: $10.03 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: petroleum, methanol, timber, cocoa
Exports - partners: China 30.9%, US 22.2%, Spain 12.6%, Taiwan 10.6%, Portugal 6.1% (2006)
Imports: $3.219 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: petroleum sector equipment, other equipment
Imports - partners: US 37.7%, Spain 9.8%, Cote d'Ivoire 7.9%, France 6.1%, South Korea 6.1%, UK 5.8%, Italy 5% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $39 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $3.928 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $288 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Currency (code): Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States
Currency code: XAF
Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XAF) per US dollar - 481.83 (2007), 522.4 (2006), 527.47 (2005), 528.29 (2004), 581.2 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 10,000 (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 96,900 (2005)
Telephone system: general assessment: digital fixed-line network in most major urban areas and good mobile coverage
domestic: fixed-line density is about 2 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular subscribership has been increasing and in 2005 stood at about 20 percent of the population
international: country code - 240; international communications from Bata and Malabo to African and European countries; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 0, FM 3, shortwave 5 (2001)
Radios: 180,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 1 (2001)
Televisions: 4,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .gq
Internet hosts: 81 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2002)
Internet users: 8,000 (2006)
Transportation Airports: 5 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 2 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2006)
Pipelines: condensate 42 km; condensate/gas 5 km; gas 80 km; oil 54 km (2007)
Roadways: total: 2,880 km (1999)
Merchant marine: total: 1 ship (1000 GRT or over) 1,745 GRT/3,434 DWT
by type: cargo 1 (2007)
Ports and terminals: Bata, Malabo
Military Military branches: National Guard (Guardia Nacional (Army), with Coast Guard (Navy) and Air Wing) (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age (est.) (2004)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 104,563
females age 18-49: 109,923 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 56,462
females age 18-49: 59,260 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 0.1% (2006 est.)
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: in 2002, ICJ ruled on an equidistance settlement of Cameroon-Equatorial Guinea-Nigeria maritime boundary in the Gulf of Guinea, but a dispute between Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon over an island at the mouth of the Ntem River and imprecisely defined maritime coordinates in the ICJ decision delay final delimitation; UN urges Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to resolve the sovereignty dispute over Gabon-occupied Mbane and lesser islands and to create a maritime boundary in the hydrocarbon-rich Corisco Bay
Trafficking in persons: current situation: Equatorial Guinea is mainly a destination country for children trafficked for forced labor, involuntary domestic servitude, and commercial sexual exploitation from surrounding countries - primarily Benin, Nigeria, Gabon, and Cameroon; victims work in the agricultural and commercial sectors of Malabo and Bata, where demand is high due to a booming oil sector and a flourishing expatriate business community; children work as farmhands, street vendors, or household servants; girls are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation
tier rating: Tier 3 - failed to demonstrate the political commitment to address its human trafficking problem; despite efforts to raise awareness of trafficking problems, in 2006 the government failed to investigate and prosecute traffickers or protect victims