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Introduction

Equatorial Guinea is made up of a small area on the mainland of Africa, called Río Muni, and five islands: Bioko, Annobón, Corisco, Elobey Grande, and Elobey Chico. Together, these six parts comprise an area roughly the size of Maryland, USA. Bioko is the largest of the islands, and it is also home to the capital of the country, Malabo.

Originally, only Pygmies inhabited Equatorial Guinea. The islands of Bioko and Annobón was claimed by and named after the Portuguese navigator, Fernão do Po, in 1472. During the 1600's, the Fang and Bubi migrated to the area, displacing the pygmies. These two groups soon became the dominant ethnic groups in the country. In the 18th century, Portugal ceded Equatorial Guinea and other African land to the Spanish. Although there were about two decades of British administration, the Spanish maintained control of Equatorial Guinea until October 12, 1968, when it achieved independence. Francisco Macías Nguema was Equatorial Guinea's "father of independence," and first president, but he was also a brutal dictator that neglected almost all governmental functions, except internal security. His regime was responsible for the death or exile of one third of the country's population. In 1979, the President's nephew, Lieutenant Col. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo overthrew and executed his uncle to gain control of the country. Although he has somewhat modernized the country, his style of governing is reminiscent of his uncle's - very repressive, centralized, and marked by corruption and cronyism. In 1992, the country had its first of two multiparty elections, and both times, allegations of election fraud were rampant. In 1995, large offshore oil deposits were discovered, which meant incredible growth for the country: the country's real GDP grew by 71.2% in 1997 alone. More recently, growth has been about 20% to 25% each year - an unbelievable rate. The problem, however, is that corruption has prevented much of the petroleum revenues from improving the standards of living for most Equatorial Guineans. In 2004, the government prevented an apparent coup that implicated several South African mercenaries, and even Margaret Thatcher's son, Mark.

This country is home to about 536,000 people, and it is one of Africa's smallest countries. The part of Equatorial Guinea that is located on the African continent, Río Muni, is home to over 75% of the country's people, and it accounts for over 90% of the nation's land area. However, Malabo is the capital of Equatorial Guinea, and it is located Bioko, the largest of the five islands. Malabo is the most populated city in Equatorial Guinea, and Luba is another city located on Bioko. Bioko is actually made up of three extinct volcanoes. On the mainland, Bata and Ebebiyín are also important cities in this country. Despite its small size, Río Muni has three major rivers: the Campo to the north, the Benito in the middle, and the Río Muni, in the south. Along the rivers and coastal areas there are beautiful forests of mahogany, okume, and walnut. Today, most Equitorial Guineans speak a form of Bantu. Equatorial Guinea is the only African country whose official language is Spanish, however, Pidgin English, Bubi, Fang, and Igbo are also spoken.

The risk of acquiring an infectious disease in EG is very high, and travelers especially are at risk of getting malaria, bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever.


Introduction

Equatorial Guinea is made up of a small area on the mainland of Africa, called Río Muni, and five islands: Bioko, Annobón, Corisco, Elobey Grande and Elobey Chico. Bioko is the largest of the islands and it is also home to the capital, Malabo.

Pygmies first inhabited Equatorial Guinea, followed by the Fang and Bubi ethnic groups, who displaced the original inhabitants.  Portuguese arrived and later gave up the territory to the Spanish until independence was achieved in 1968. Francisco Macías Nguema was Equatorial Guinea's first leader and ruled with an iron fist. In 1979, his nephew, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo overthrew and executed his uncle. Although more mild than his predecessor, Nguema has presided over a single-party state that international observers say pays lip service to democracy and tolerates little dissent. Corruption remains a serious problem. Large offshore oil discoveries have failed to improve the lives of average Equatorial Guineans. Today, most Equitorial Guineans speak a form of Bantu. The country is the only African nation whose official language is Spanish, but Pidgin English, Bubi, Fang and Igbo are also spoken.

Equatorial Guinea is home to about 536,000 people. The continental slice of the country, Río Muni, is home to more than three-quarters of the country's people, and it accounts for over 90 percent of the nation's land area. Malabo is the most populated city in the country. The island of Bioko is actually made up of three extinct volcanoes. Despite its small size, Río Muni has three major rivers: the Campo to the north, the Benito in the middle and the Río Muni in the south. Along the rivers and coastal areas there are beautiful forests of mahogany, okume and walnut.


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