Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea


The Republic of Equatorial Guinea is a country in Central Africa. It is one of the smallest countries in continental Africa, and comprises two regions: a Continental Region (Ro Muni); and an Insular Region containing Annobn island, Bioko island (formerly Fernando Po) where the capital of Malabo is situated, and several offshore islands like Corisco.


Background History

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 Nguemba Mbasogo has ruled the country since 1979 when he seized power in a coup. 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.

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

Capital:

  • name: Malabo
  • population: 128,000
  • geographic coordinates: 3 45 N, 8 47 E
  • time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Independence:

  • 12 October 1968 (from Spain)

Government Type:

  • republic

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 Ignacio Milam Tang (since 8 July 2008)
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral House of People's Representatives

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Tribunal

People & Society

Population:

  • 685,991 (global rank: 166)
  • growth rate: 2.607% (global rank: 24)

Nationality:

  • noun: Equatorial Guinean(s) or Equatoguinean(s)
  • adjective: Equatorial Guinean or Equatoguinean

Major Cities:

  • Bata: 173,000; Malabo (capital): 128,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • Fang 85.7%, Bubi 6.5%, Mdowe 3.6%, Annobon 1.6%, Bujeba 1.1%, other 1.4%

Religions:

  • nominally Christian and predominantly Roman Catholic, pagan practices

Languages:

  • Spanish (official) 67.6%, other (includes French (official), Fang, Bubi) 32.4%

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 62.75 years (global rank: 180)
  • male: 61.75 years
  • female: 63.78 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 75.18 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 15)
  • male: 76.25 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 74.08 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS:

  • adult prevalence rate: 5% (2009 est.) (global rank: 15)
  • people living with AIDS: 20,000 (2009 est.) (global rank: 76)

Literacy:

  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 87%
  • male: 93.4%
  • female: 80.5%

Economy

The discovery and exploitation of large oil and gas reserves have contributed to dramatic economic growth but fluctuating oil prices have produced huge swings in GDP growth in recent years. Forestry and farming are also minor components of GDP. Subsistence farming is the dominate form of livelihood. 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. The government has been widely criticized for its lack of transparency and misuse of oil revenues; however, in 2010, under Equatorial Guinea's candidacy in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the government published oil revenue figures for the first time. Undeveloped natural resources include gold, zinc, diamonds, columbite-tantalite, and other base metals. Growth remained strong in 2008, when oil production peaked, but fell in 2009-10, as the price of oil and the production level dropped. Growth returned in 2011 stimulated by higher oil prices and large investments in public infrastructure and hotels.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $26.11 billion (global rank: 113)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $19,300 (global rank: 65)
  • real growth rate: 7.1% (global rank: 17)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 3.4%, industry: 91.7%, services: 4.9%

Currency:

  • currency: Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale Francs
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 466.2

Poverty:

  • population below poverty line: NA
  • unemployment rate: 22.3%

Agricultural Products:

  • coffee, cocoa, rice, yams, cassava (tapioca), bananas, palm oil nuts; livestock; timber

Industries:

  • petroleum, natural gas, sawmilling

Exports Commodities:

  • petroleum products, timber

Imports Commodities:

  • petroleum sector equipment, other equipment, construction materials, vehicles

Geography

Location:

  • Central Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Cameroon and Gabon

Area:

  • total: 28,051 sq km (global rank: 146)
  • land: 28,051 sq km
  • water: 0 sq km
  • comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland

Climate:

  • tropical; always hot, humid

Land Use:

  • arable land: 4.63%
  • permanent crops: 3.57%
  • other: 91.8%

Natural Resources:

  • petroleum, natural gas, timber, gold, bauxite, diamonds, tantalum, sand and gravel, clay

Current Environmental Issues:

  • tap water is not potable; deforestation

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: 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
  • human trafficking: Equatorial Guinea is primarily a destination country for children trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and possibly for the purpose of sexual exploitation; children have been trafficked from nearby countries for domestic servitude, market labor, ambulant vending, and possibly sexual exploitation; women may also be trafficked to Equatorial Guinea from Cameroon, Benin, other neighboring countries, and China for sexual exploitation


Published: Thursday, September 04, 2008