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Equatorial Guinea
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Brief History

Equatorial Guinea, officially known as the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, gained independence on October 12, 1968 after 190 years of Spanish rule. In July 1970, President Francisco Macías Nguema created a single-party state. Nguema’s reign of terror led to the death or exile of up to one third of the country's population. Teodoro Obiang deposed Francisco Macías Nguema on August 3, 1979, in a bloody coup. On November 17, 1991, a new constitution was adopted. Opposition parties began to be organized and sought official recognition in 1992, but the major opposition parties were boycotted. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is still the president of the country since 1979.

Geography

Equatorial Guinea, capital Malabo, is located in Western Central Africa covering an area of 28,051 square kilometers. It is one of the smallest countries in continental Africa. The country consists of a mainland territory, Rio Muni, which is bordered by Cameroon to the north and Gabon to the east and south. Five small islands belong to Equatorial Guinea. It has a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. Rivers include The Muni and Ntem rivers, as well as the Mbini River. Natural resources include petroleum, natural gas, timber, gold, bauxite, diamonds, tantalum, sand and gravel, and clay.

People

Equatorial Guinea has a population of 650,702 (2010). The largest ethnic group is the Fang, forming 85.7% of the population (1994). Other groups are Bubi, Mdowe, Annobon, Bujeba, etc… The official languages are Spanish and French. Other languages are Fang and Bubi. The literacy rate is 87% (2000) and the unemployment rate is 30% (1998). Its religions are distributed among mainly Christians, predominately Roman Catholics, while a minority are Protestants. The remaining are Muslims or followers of indigenous beliefs. Spanish people are a minority is Equatorial Guinea.

Government

The government of Equatorial Guinea is subject to a republic system. Its legal system is partly based on Spanish civil law and tribal custom. It has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. The current chief of state is President Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo that has been in power since August 3, 1979 when he seized power in a military coup. The head of government is Prime Minister Ignacio Milan Tang since July 8, 2008. The official currency is the Central African CFA franc, where are 534 francs equivalent to US$1.

Economy

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. Oil revenues account for about two-thirds of government revenue. Crude oil exports accounted for more than 90% of export earnings in 2000. The new found oil wealth allowed the government to avoid improving fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability. As a result, the GDP per capita is US$36,600 (2009). It ranks 121st out of 177 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index.

Other natural resources that are undeveloped are titanium, iron ore, manganese, uranium, and gold. Forestry, farming, and fishing are also major components of GDP. The country exports cocoa, coffee, and timber, and imports large quantities of foodstuffs. Although pre-independence Equatorial Guinea counted on cocoa production for hard currency earnings, the neglect of the rural economy has diminished the potential for agricultural growth.

On January 1, 1985, the country became the first non-Francophone African member of the franc zone, improving the economic situation. 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 concessional financing due to its large oil revenues, the government has been trying to agree on a "shadow" fiscal management program with the World Bank and IMF. Growth –led by oil- remained strong in 2008, but dropped a year later when the price of oil fell.

Infrastructure is generally old and in poor condition. The African Development Bank is helping to improve the paved roads. The Chinese are undertaking a project to link Mongomo to Bata on the mainland, and the European Union is financing an inter-states road network linking Equatorial Guinea to Cameroon and Gabon. Road maintenance is often inadequate. Water is only available in the major towns and is not always reliable because of poor maintenance and mismanagement.

Equatorial Guinea's manufacturing sector is very small. Its industries include sawmilling, natural gas, cement, bleach, tuna canning plants, and small-scale soap manufacturing and food processing.

The inflation rate is 7.5% (2009) and the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is estimated to be US$ 14,979.87 (2010).


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