Equatorial Guinea Gained Independence In 1968

By: Douglas Scott

Equatorial Guinea in West Africa is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon and the Gulf of Guinea.

The country also comprises the island of Bioko, formerly Fernando Poo, 34km off the coast of Cameroon and the small offshore islands of Corisco, Great Elobey, Small Elobey and Annobon.

The mainland province, Rio Muni, is mainly forest, with plantations on the coastal plain and some mountains.

Bioko rises steeply to two main peaks in the north and south. The southern area is rugged and inaccessible. The beaches around the islands are extremely beautiful. Equatorial Guinea is a country of luscious vegetation and much beautiful scenery, including tropical forests and volcanoes.

The capital, Malabo, is a rather rundown but attractive town, with pleasant Spanish colonial architecture, a striking volcanic setting and a lively market.

Most restaurants serve Spanish or continental cuisine. Beer is usually expensive, though a local sugar cane brew, malamba, can be sampled very cheaply.

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 OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO has ruled the country for over two decades since seizing power from his uncle, then President MACIAS, in a 1979 coup. Although nominally a constitutional democracy since 1991, the 1996 and 2002 presidential elections as well as the 1999 legislative elections were widely seen as being flawed. The president controls most opposition parties through the judicious use of patronage.

Despite the countries economic windfall from oil production resulting in a massive increase in government revenue in recent years, there have been few improvements in the countries living standards.

The discovery and exploitation of large oil reserves have contributed to dramatic economic growth in recent years. Forestry, farming, and fishing are also major components of GDP. Subsistence farming predominates. 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. No longer eligible for financing because of large oil revenues, the government has been unsuccessfully trying to agree on a shadow fiscal management program with the World Bank and IMF.

Businesses, for the most part, are owned by government officials and their family members. Undeveloped natural resources include titanium, iron ore, manganese, uranium, and alluvial gold. Growth presumably remained strong in 2004, led by oil.

Equatorial Guinea is just one African country providing a range of exciting holiday opportunities for both the adventurous and the lazy sun seeker.

Africa is a great place to organise a business event, whether a major exhibition and conference with a cast of thousands or a more intimate strategy planning session for your subordinates.

In combination with a safari to one of Africas game parks, a cruise down the Nile or rounds of golf at Victoria Falls, for instance, it also provides the ideal way to reward the achievers in your company while building the team for tomorrow.

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