Equatorial Guinea By | Saturday, September 8  2012 at  15:15

Full Name
Republic of Equatorial Guinea
Origins of name: Equatorial signals the country’s location near the Equator, Guinea is probably from the word aguinaoui, which means "black
Formerly: Spanish Guinea

Current Leader
President Brig. Gen. (Rtd) Theodoro Obiang’ Nguema Mbasogo

Overview
It is one of the tiniest countries in Africa with mainland and five Islands.
At around 1472, Portuguese navigator Fernão do Pó arrived at the spot that has become Malabo
Area and surrounding coast mainly visited by Portuguese traders.
Portugal offered Spain a foothold to conduct slave trade.
In the 50s, Spain started to establish their presence in the colony.
Interests for the Spanish are mainly the fertile land with the country’s cocoa and coffee plantations.
In 1968 there was a constitution in place to formalise republican status.
Attained independence on October 12, 1968
In 1972, first president Francisco Macías Nguema changed constitution to allow him rule for life.
In 1979 Macías was toppled in a military coup led by his nephew, the Defence minister Theodoro Obiang’ Nguema.
Country has gone through major growth, especially after discovery of oil. The country is now sub-Saharan third largest oil exporter

Facts

Form of Government
Republic
Multiparty state
President elected by popular vote for a seven-year term, with no term limits

Government structure
President, Prime Minister, Unicameral parliament

Military Statistics
Manpower fit for service: Males 105,468, Females 107,919
Expenditures: 0.1% of GDP
Branches: National Guard (Guardia Nacional de Guinea Ecuatoria, GNGE (Army), with Coast Guard (Navy) and Air Wing) (2009)

Former Rulers
1968 – 1972 Francisco Macías Nguema
1979 - 1982: Theodoro Obiang’ Nguema Mbasogo
August 3, 1979 to August 25, 1979: Theodoro Obiang’ Nguema Mbasogo
1976 - 1979: Masie Nguema Biyogo Ñegue Ndong
1975 - 1976: Macías Nguema Biyogo Ñegue Ndong
1972 - 1975: Francisco Macías Nguema Biyogo
Note: Hitherto Francisco Macías Nguema Biyogo changed name to Masie Nguema Biyogo Ñegue Ndong

Capital
Malabo
Altitude: 70m
Population: 155,963 people

Population
Size: 720,000 (2011)
Life expectancy: 61.6 years
Gender Make-Up: 49.57 % males, 50.43 % females

GDP per capita
$ 19,600 (2011)

$ 18,800 (2010)

Geography
Area: 28,051sqkm
Land boundaries: border countries: Cameroon 189km, Gabon 350km

Major Languages
Spanish 67.6% (official), other 32.4% (includes French (official), Fang, Bubi) (1994 census)

Religious portfolio
Christianity (88.48%), Islam (4.048%), Ethnic Religions (1.937%), Baha''i' Faith (0.5117%), Hinduism

National Make-up
Fang 85.7%, Bubi 6.5%, Mdowe 3.6%, Annobon 1.6%, Bujeba 1.1%, other 1.4% (1994 census)

Natural Resources
Oil, alluvial gold

Main exports
Petroleum, Methanol, Timber, Cocoa

Land Use
Arable land: 4.63%
Permanent crops: 3.57%
Other: 91.8%

Monetary Unit/Currency
CFA (Central African CFA franc)

Dialling Code
+240

Internet Code
.gq

Transport
Main Port: Malabo
Airport: Malabo International Airport located 9km east of Malabo

Modern issues

Environmental
Insufficient good quality water
Deforestation
Violent windstorms
Flash floods

Political
Mr Obiang Nguema is Africa's longest serving leader and has been in power for three decades. In 2011, in what was seen as steps to becoming more democratic, Obiang’s government called for a referendum over a new constitution that seeks to introduce a presidential term limit and a vice presidency position. The opposition however described the process as a sham. With more than three-fifths of votes counted, 99% of voters were said to have backed the referendum.

As for the constitutional changes, critics say they will allow Mr. Obiang to hand-pick his successor. There is a worry that his eldest son, Teodoro, is being groomed to take up this role despite being accused of using his ministerial position to plunder his nation's wealth - the US Government says it is seeking to recover assets worth more than $70m from him

Economic
Thanks to copious oil, Equatorial Guinea has one of the highest per capita incomes on the entire continent! Its capital Malabo is one of Africa's fastest growing cities with new skyscrapers emerging each day – the question is; who benefits?

Majority in the population are sustained by agriculture supplemented by hunting and fishing
Bartering is the major aspect of the market
Country has no railway network
Exile and imprisonment of working population have drained the country’s workforce
Government has been able to sustain itself due to rivalries of the countries benefiting from Equatorial Guinea resources.
Discovery of oil reserves has boosted country’s growth in the recent years

Social
To illustrate the stronghold the President has on his country, in February 2011, President Obiang’s government imposed a news blackout on the political protests in North Africa, and later denied its own citizens the right to hold peaceful demonstrations

A destination country for women and children traffickers for forced labour and sexual exploitation
Non-violent street crime on the rise
Widening income gap

Foreign Affairs
Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are yet to resolve the sovereignty dispute over Gabon-occupied Mbane and lesser islands
Equatorial Guinea has gradually shifted towards its Francophone neighbours
USA has become the country's largest foreign investor, especially due to investments in the oil exploration sector.

The Major Conflicts

Bloody Coup
When: August 3, 1979
Who: Francisco Macías
Why: Take over power
Outcome: the coup was successful

What to see
Tropical forests and snow capped mountains
Spanish colonial architecture
The beaches

Sports
Popular Sports
Football
Swimming

Famous Sportsmen and Sportswomen
Eric Moussambani: Participated in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing (swimming).

Quirks
The country’s two presidents (one current the other former) changed their names at some point