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 NGUEMA 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.
Santa Isabel (elev. 3,007 m), which last erupted in 1923, is the country's only historically active volcano; Santa Isabel, along with two dormant volcanoes, forms Bioko Island in the Gulf of Guinea
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements
president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (no term limits); election last held on 29 November 2009 (next to be held in 2016); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
Convergence Party for Social Democracy or CPDS [Placido MICO Abogo]; Democratic Party for Equatorial Guinea or PDGE [Teodoro OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO] (ruling party); Electoral Coalition or EC; Party for Progress of Equatorial Guinea or PPGE [Severo MOTO]; Popular Action of Equatorial Guinea or APGE [Avelino MOCACHE]; Popular Union or UP [Daniel MARTINEZ Ayecaba]
KM-3, Carreterade de Aeropuerto (El Paraiso), Apartado 95, Malabo note - relocated embassy is opened for limited functions; inquiries should continue to be directed to the US Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon
B.P. 817, Yaounde, Cameroon; US Embassy Yaounde, US Department of State, Washington, DC 20521-2520
three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red, with a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side and the coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms has six yellow six-pointed stars (representing the mainland and five offshore islands) above a gray shield bearing a silk-cotton tree and below which is a scroll with the motto UNIDAD, PAZ, JUSTICIA (Unity, Peace, Justice); green symbolizes the jungle and natural resources, blue represents the sea that connects the mainland to the islands, white stands for peace, and red recalls the fight for independence
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 slowed in 2009-10, as the price of oil and the production level fell.
note:data are in 2010 US dollars; population figures are uncertain for Equatorial Guinea; these per capita income figures are based on a estimated population of less than 700,000; some estimates put the figure as high as 1.2 million people; if true, the per capita GDP figures would be significantly lower
state maintains control of broadcast media with domestic broadcast media limited to 1 state-owned TV station, 1 state-owned radio station, and 1 private radio station owned by the president's eldest son; satellite TV service is available; transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are accessible (2007)
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
current situation: 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
Tier 3 - Equatorial Guinea is not making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards on the elimination of trafficking; despite limited law enforcement action against suspected human smugglers and traffickers, including complicit public officials, the government has made no tangible efforts to provide victims of trafficking with the protective services mandated in its 2004 anti-trafficking law; prevention efforts have decreased, as the government did not hold any public awareness campaigns and its interagency commission on human trafficking took little, if any, action; the government's response to human trafficking has been inadequate, particularly given the government's substantial financial resources (2011)