Equatorial Guinea
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  • The Republic of Equatorial Guinea was a territory of Portugal from 1471 to 1778. It later became Spanish Guinea, and then received its independence from Spain on October 12, 1968.

  • Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish-speaking nation in Africa. The country retained Spanish as its official language upon gaining independence from Spain. Other commonly spoken languages are pidgin English, Fang, Bubi, Combe, Bissio and Annabones.

  • For more than 10 years after independence, the country was under the dictatorship of former President Francisco Macias Nguema. He was overthrown in 1979 in a coup d'‚tat organized by Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

  • Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was named President in 1982. Upon taking office, he promised to restore human rights, resume economic development in the country and re-establish ties with traditionally friendly nations.

  • Equatorial Guinea has a land area of 17,433 square miles -- slightly larger than the state of Maryland. The country consists of a mainland territory, Rio Muni, which is bordered by Cameroon to the north and Gabon to the east and the south. Five small islands, Bioko, Corisco, Annobon, Small Elobey and Great Elobey, are also part of the country.

  • Equatorial Guinea has a population of 522,400. The capital is Malabo, which is located on the island of Bioko.

  • The three mayor ethnic groups that exist in Equatorial Guinea are Fang, Bubi and Ndow‚. The Bubi group beongs to the island the the other two originate from the mainland.All three belong to the mother group Bantu and they are all divided into small tribal clans or small ethnic subdivisions composed of various tribes that speak the same language with a small phonetic variation.

  • Equatorial Guinea remains culturally rooted to Spain and participates in several aspects of Spanish life. While the country is predominantly Roman Catholic, some pagan practices are exercised. The country registers about 20 other religious affiliations, including Adventists, Baptists, Evangelicals and Methodists.

  • In June 1984, the First Hispanic-African Cultural Congress was convened to explore the cultural identity of Equatorial Guinea. The Congress constituted the center of integration and the marriage of the Hispanic culture with African cultures.

  • As of January 1, 1985, Equatorial Guinea became the first non-Francophone African member of the franc zone, adopting the CFA as its currency. The national currency, the ekwele, was previously linked to the Spanish peseta.

  • Education was significantly neglected under the regime of Francisco Macias, with few children receiving any type of education. The illiteracy rate has dropped from 73 percent to 43 percent under President Obiang's tenure. The number of primary school students has risen from 65,000 in 1986 to more than 100,000 in 1994. Education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14.

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