Equatorial Guinea

 

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 and 2002 presidential elections – as well as the 1999 and 2004 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, there have been few improvements in the population’s living standards.

 

Geography:
Location: Western Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra, between Cameroon and Gabon
Geographic coordinates: 2 00 N, 10 00 E
People:
Population: 685,991 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years:  41.5% (male 140,946/female 136,294)

15-64 years: 54.4% (male 179,141/female 184,358)

65 years and over: 4.1% (male 11,880/female 15,606) (2011 est.)

Median age: Total:  19.2 years

male: 18.7 years

female: 19.7 years (2012 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Equatorial Guinea

conventional short form: Equatorial Guinea

local long form: Republica de Guinea Ecuatorial/Republique de Guineeequatoriale

local short form: Guinea Ecuatorial/Guineeequatoriale

former: Spanish Guinea

Government type: republic
Capital: name: Malabo

geographic coordinates: 3 45 N, 8 47 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 13,500 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 399,300 (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 7 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 6

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

under 914 m: 2 (2012)

Pipelines:  gas 37 km (2010)
Military:
Military branches: National Guard (Guardia Nacional (Army), with Coast Guard (Navy) and Air Wing) (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age (est.) for compulsory military service (2011)
Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 151,147

females age 16-49: 150,345 (2010 est.)

Economy:

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 concessional financing because of large oil revenues, the government has been trying to agree on a “shadow” fiscal management program with the World Bank and IMF. Government officials and their family members own most businesses. Undeveloped natural resources include titanium, iron ore, manganese, uranium, and alluvial gold. Growth remained strong in 2007, led by oil. Equatorial Guinea now has the fourth highest per capita income in the world, after Luxembourg, Bermuda, and Jersey.

Transnational Issues:

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.