Equatorial Guinea Basic FactsEquatorial Guinea is a small Central African nation with vast offshore oil reserves making it one of Africa's wealthier countries, on paper. Unfortunately much of the population still struggles with poverty and lack of access to decent schools. Most international visitors tend to be on business, but in 2012 the small country will have filled up every hotel space it has with soccer teams and fans. The Africa Cup of Nations will be played out in several stadiums across the country (as well as in neighboring Gabon) from January 21 - February 12. Equatorial Guinea is the only African country where Spanish is widely spoken and is the official language.
Location: Equatorial Guinea is in fact not on the equator, but lies sandwiched between Gabon and Cameroon in Central Africa --(see map).
Area: Equatorial Guinea is a small country, covering 28,051 sq km, a little smaller than Belgium. Its territory is composed of a little chunk of mainland and five inhabited islands.
Capital City: Malabo (located offshore on Bioko Island).
Population: 670,000 people call Equatorial Guinea home
Language: Both Spanish and French are official languages, but most people speak native languages as their mother tongue, including Fang, and Bubi.
Religion: Roman Catholic and indigenous beliefs.
Climate: - Equatorial Guinea has a tropical climate with one dry season that usually lasts from December - February. Temperatures remain constant throughout the year, averaging between 84 - 88 Fahrenheit (29 - 32 Celsius). The wettest months are May and June.
Best time to Visit: The dry months between December and February is the best time to visit Equatorial Guinea. It is warm year round.
Currency: Central African Franc (XAF)
Equatorial Guinea's Attractions
- 2012 Africa Cup of Nations - Africa's biggest sporting event comes to Equatorial Guinea in 2012, matches will play out in Malabo and Bata (mainland).
- Malabo - the capital city is home to some Spanish buildings leftover from colonial days. The Presidential palace is vast but off limits. There is a small biodiversity center in Moka that is worth a visit. If you enjoy hiking, check out the Pico Malabo volcano.
- Bata - the country's largest city, Bata is situated on the mainland and is a port city (not to be confused with the popular Bata shoe shops common in munch of Africa). Bata has some decent hotels, a popular market and good nightclubs (but watch your valuables).
- Monte Alen National Park - A protected wildlife park where visitors can enjoy tropical forests that are home to gorillas, chimpanzees, leopards, forest elephants, crocodiles and many other species of animals, birds and butterflies.
- Beaches and Markets - One of the best ways to enjoy a day in any town, is to head for the local market, followed by the beach. Beaches are lovely (see Luba and Mbini) but can also used as general rubbish tips, so check out private beaches, or more remote beaches if you want to walk barefoot.
Equatorial Guinea Travel InformationEquatorial Guinea does not have a developed tourism industry, but with the oil discovery and associated business traffic that resulted, there are decent hotels (but expensive) in Malabo and Bata. Roads are in disrepair beyond the main cities and you will need a 4x4 if you plan to head into the countryside.
Getting To and From Equatorial Guinea - 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. See more flight information .... A smaller airport in Bata offers some regional flights as well as ferries to Cameroon. A paved road from Gabon to mainland Equatorial Guinea (Bata) is the best way to reach the country overland.
Embassies/Visa Information - List of Equatorial Guinea Embassies Abroad
Brief Political and Historical Overview
Equatorial Guinea gained independence in 1968 after 190 years of Spanish rule. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has ruled the country since 1979 when he seized power in a coup. The previous government led by Macías Nguema led a near-genocide of the country's Bubi minority, and tried to replace them with his own Fang tribe. Although nominally a constitutional democracy since 1991, the 1996, 2002, and 2009 presidential elections - as well as the 1999, 2004, and 2008 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, improvements in the population's living standards have been slow to develop.