The Portuguese explorer Fernão do Pó, was the first European to discover the island of Bioko in 1472. He called it Formosa ("Beautiful"), but it ended up being named after Fernao himself and officially 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. As an important settlement, Malabo started life as Port Clarence in 1827, after the British leased Bioko island from the Spanish, to establish a naval station to help fight slavery along the coast. Newly freed slaves called Fernandinos settled in the town and their descendents can still be found in Malabo today, speaking an Afro-Portuguese dialect. When the Spanish regained control of the island, it was renamed Santa Isabel and finally Malabo in 1973 after independence. Malabo became the capital city of Equatorial Guinea in 1969, replacing Bata on the mainland, (which is still a larger city to this day).
Malabo lost much of its soul during the 1970's under the then President Macías Nguema, who led a reign of terror on the dominant tribe of Bioko island, the Bubi. Talk to anyone in Malabo today and you'll find out that this period of darkness still affects them.
Despite being an oil-rich town, Malabo has a fairly poor infrastructure. Paved streets are few and far between and the Spanish colonial buildings are somewhat faded along the main avenues. But the markets are lively and there are some worthwhile sights to keep visitors occupied. Attractions include the Cathedral and exhibits at the French and Spanish Cultural centers.
Best Time to Visit Malabo
The dry months between December and February is the best time to visit Equatorial Guinea. It is warm year round.
Getting to Malabo
Most visitors will fly into the Saint Isabel International airport in Malabo. Regular flights from Europe as well as Africa arrive daily. Airlines servicing the capital include: Ethiopian, Kenya Airways, Iberia, and Swissair. You can fly the local airline General Work - to Equatorial Guinea's larger city, Bata on the mainland (takes about 30 mins). See more flight information ...
Malabo is located on Bioko island, there are some ferries to the mainland, but they take a long time so it's best to fly to Bata, or neighbouring capitals in Cameroon (Douala) and/or Libreville (Gabon).
Sources and More about Malabo in Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea - Travellers Point
Africa Cup of Nations 2012
Equatorial Guinea - Facts and Travel Information
Malabo - Wikipedia
Lonely Planet Guide to Equatorial Guinea