Equatorial Guinea Country Facts

By | June 6, 2024
Equatorial Guinea
Capital city Blurry
Surface 28.051 km²
Population 1.221.000
Road network length 2.880 km
Length of highway network 205 km
First highway N/A
Motorway name N/A
Traffic drives To the right
License plate code GQ

Equatorial Guinea (Spanish: Guinea Ecuatorial, French: Guinée équatoriale, Portuguese: Guiné Equatorial), formally the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, is a small country in Central Africa. The country consists of an island and a part of the mainland around the Gulf of Guinea and is about the size of two thirds of the Netherlands. The country has 1.2 million inhabitants and the capital is Malabo, although the new capital Ciudad de la Paz (formerly known as Oyala) is under construction. The largest city is Bata.

Geography

The country of Equatorial Guinea consists of two parts, the island of Bioko, where the former capital Malabo is located, and a part on the African mainland that borders Cameroon and Gabon and measures 220 by 130 kilometers. The new capital Ciudad de la Paz (formerly: Oyala) is located here, as well as the traditional city of Bata. The island is located 160 kilometers northwest of the mainland in the Gulf of Guinea.

The island of Bioko is mountainous and consists largely of dense jungle. The 3,011 meter high volcano Pico Basilé is the highest point. The island has several volcanoes. The town of Malabo is located on the north side of the island. The island of Bioko measures approximately 70 by 30 kilometers. It is located 35 kilometers off the coast of Cameroon.

The mainland of Equatorial Guinea is also called río Muni and consists of a square piece of land that has very dense jungle and was hardly reclaimed before 2015. This area is slightly hilly, with the land gradually rising further inland. Although this area has no real mountain ranges, the country is partly higher than 1000 meters. On the Atlantic coast is the city of Bata, in the east is the new capital Ciudad de la Paz.

Equatorial Guinea has a tropical climate with a dry and wet season, with the seasons on the island of Bioko and the mainland being reversed in terms of precipitation. There is a lot of precipitation, mostly 2000 to 3000 mm per year, moreover there is often dense fog, in some places a cloudless day has never been recorded. This ensures that the country has a very clammy climate. The average maximum temperature in Bata is between 29 and 31°C all year round.

Demographics

In 1950, Equatorial Guinea had only 200,000 inhabitants. This steadily grew to over a million in 2010.  The country has two larger cities, Bata on the mainland and Malabo on the island. Malabo used to be the capital, but in the interior of río Muni the new capital Ciudad de la Paz has been constructed, which in the planning phase was also known as Oyala. This city is built in the middle of the impenetrable jungle.

Most of the country’s inhabitants belong to the Bantu, of which the Fang are the largest ethnic group. They originally lived only on the mainland, but in the 20th century they migrated in large numbers to the island of Bioko. The official languages ​​of the country were Spanish and French, Portuguese was added in 2010. However, French is not spoken by the population, this language only became official so that the country could join the organization Francophonie. In addition, many indigenous languages ​​are spoken.

Economy

Equatorial Guinea has traditionally been one of the least developed areas of Africa, but the sharp increase in oil revenues since the mid-1990s has resulted in large government budgets. However, the local population hardly benefits from this prosperity, although the GDP per inhabitant is $32,800, one of the highest in Africa, the majority of the population is penniless. Income inequality in Equatorial Guinea is the highest in the world. The government was able to finance major projects thanks to oil revenues, such as new infrastructure in the old capital Malabo and the construction of a completely new capital in the jungle of río Muni, the city of Ciudad de la Paz. As a result, Equatorial Guinea built many kilometers of motorway in a short time after 2010, which is mainly used by the government and companies.

History

The island of Bioko was first visited by a Portuguese explorer in 1472. The island was colonized by Portugal two years later. This was one of the first European colonies in this part of Africa. In 1778 the colony was ceded to Spain. Between 1778 and 1810, the colony was governed from Buenos Aires, as part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, despite being 8,000 kilometers away on another continent. In the first half of the 19th century, the United Kingdom had a base on Bioko because of the slave trade.

However, the Spaniards barely developed the mainland part and later in the 19th century France began to colonize the interior of Africa, at the expense of Spain’s original rights over this area. After a treaty in Paris in 1900, Spain kept control of the río Muni region, just 26,000 km² of the original 300,000 km² ceded by Portugal to Spain in the 15th century. In the early 20th century, Spain attempted to develop plantations in the area, but one problem was a shortage of workers. The island of Bioko and río Muni were not merged until 1926 as one colony called Guinea Española. The economy was based on the production of coffee, run by migrant workers from Liberia, Nigeria andCameroon.

After the Second World War, the status changed three times. In 1959 it was given the status of a province, in 1960 the status of Spanish territory and in 1968 it gained independence from Spain. Shortly after independence, Macias Nguema declared himself president for life and severed ties with the west. Equatorial Guinea then tightened ties with the Soviet Union, Cuba, and China, but rejected Marxism, unlike a number of other African countries at the time. The dictator Nguema maintained a brutal regime under which almost a third of the population was killed in a few years. In 1979, Teodoro Obiang staged a coup, deposed his uncle Nguema and took power.

In 1995, oil was discovered by the American company Mobil. Government revenues increased strongly thereafter, but the country was only developed to a limited extent, most of the revenues flowed to President Obiang and his loved ones. As of 2016, it became the longest-reigning dictator in Africa.

Road Network

The continental part of Equatorial Guinea has a network of highways.

In 2002 Equatorial Guinea had 0 kilometers of paved road. Since then, this has greatly improved, about 80% of the 2,800 kilometers of roads in the country are now asphalted. The road network is of course limited due to the small population size. A ring road runs across the island of Bioko, which only does not serve the southern part. On the mainland, a main road runs from Rio Benito via Bata to the border with Gabon at Mongomo. There is also a border crossing with Cameroon at Ebebiyin. In Equatorial Guinea there are several highways, which are called an autovía or autopista. These motorways have been constructed according to the Spanish model, complete with Spanish signage and signage. The road network in Bata is not particularly developed, nor in Malabo. There is a new ring road around Bata. Around the new inland cities are extensive networks of multi-lane roads and motorways, with a complete ring road around Mongomo running almost into Gabon, as well as a grid structure around Ciudad de la Paz. Satellite images show that the major roads in these cities have virtually no traffic.

A highway has been built on the African mainland from Bata to the border with Gabon in the east, the Autovía Bata – Mongomo. This has 2×2 lanes and has the appearance of a Spanish autovía. Few details are known. A branch line from Mengomeyén to Ebebiyin on the border with Cameroon has also been constructed, which is signposted as the AP-1. It is unclear when it was opened. A third planned motorway is the Autovía Bata – Mbini. The maximum speed on the AP-1 is 100 km/h.

Few details are known about the road network of Equatorial Guinea. The country is a dictatorship where few foreigners come. Good satellite images of Equatorial Guinea are rare, due to its location on the equator, the country is almost permanently covered in cloud.

Toll roads

Many roads in Equatorial Guinea are toll roads. There are toll gates on all paved access roads of the capital Malabo, as well as in the coastal city of Bata.

Road numbering

Very little is known about road numbering in Equatorial Guinea. The highway from Bata to Mongomo is signposted as the AP-1. Between Mengomeyen and Ciudad de la Paz, the autovía is indicated as the ‘AV’ on kilometer markers.

Signage

The signage is after the Spanish model, with white signs with black letters. The exact same signage as in Spain is used on motorways, both for directional signage and kilometer markers and signs with ‘Red de Carreteras del Estado’ and the name of autovías. This makes the country the only one in Africa to have signage based on the Spanish model.

 

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