10 things I wish I knew before going to Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea on the map, is located on the west coast of Africa. It consists of the Rio Muni (Continental Equatorial Guinea) on the mainland and five islands (collectively known as insular Equatorial Guinea). Bata is the administrative capital on the mainland of the country. Being a former Spanish colony called Spanish Guinea, the country gained independence in 1968. The capital of Equatorial Guinea is the city of Malabo. The old days depended on three commodities: cocoa (from the cocoa tree), coffee, and wood. After discovering and exploiting oil, the country's economic profile changed almost in the blink of an eye in the 1980s. Oil currently accounts for the vast majority of its income and accounts for more than four-fifths of its GDP. The Equatorial Guinea population is 1,300,000 inhabitants, among whom different ethnic groups co-exist and live together: Fang, Bubi, Ndove, Annobonese, Buheba, and Coriskeños. Like any other exotic corner of our planet, Equatorial Guinea also attracts a certain number of tourists every year. Each of you may be among them, so what you need to know before travelling to this country, now we will figure it out.
1. Where is Equatorial Guinea located?
Equatorial Guinea, as we already know, is located in the central part of West Africa. It borders the Gulf of Biafra (Atlantic Ocean) between Cameroon and Gabon and has maritime borders with Nigeria, Sao Tome, and Principe. With an area of 28,000 km2, the country is slightly smaller than Belgium or slightly smaller than the US state of Maryland. Pico Basili (formerly Pico de Santa Isabel) is the highest mountain in Equatorial Guinea with a height of 3011 meters; the volcano is located on the island of Bioko. The entire territory of the mainland, where is Equatorial Guinea located, resembles a roughly rectangular object in shape. Near the coast, there are small Islands of Corisco and the great and Small Elobey. By far the largest of the islands, Bioko is located off the coast of Cameroon in the Gulf of Biafra. Annobon, a volcanic island, is located south of the equator and almost 640 kilometers southwest of Bioko.
2. Capital outside the mainland
It is one of the few countries in the world — Equatorial Guinea, the Equatorial Guinea capital of which is not located on the mainland. Its current capital, Malabo, is one of the few capitals in the world that is located outside of the country's continental region. Portuguese colonists were the first to land here and tried unsuccessfully to organize the production of sugar cane. Later, control was transferred to the Spanish, although attempts at colonization were largely unsuccessful. Control of the city was then transferred to the British, who used the area to fight the ongoing African slave trade. Its population grew as a result of British efforts to free slaves. Many of the descendants of these freed slaves remained on the island and the city became the capital of the Spanish colony, founded here in 1855. It retained its importance as a capital city after Equatorial Guinea gained independence on the world map.
3. The climate of Equatorial Guinea
The climate of Equatorial Guinea, both continental and insular, is generally characterized by high temperatures, heavy rain, and heavy cloud cover most of the year. Local variations are due to the difference in altitude and proximity to the sea. The wet seasons in the continental region are from February to June and from September to December. There is more precipitation on the coast than on land. In the city of Bath, the rainiest months are September, October, and November. However, within the country, the rainfall decreases. Mycomeseng, for example, receives less than 1,500 mm annually. The temperature is fairly constant throughout the year, averaging around 26 °C. The dry season in Bioko lasts from November to March, and the rest of the year, it rains. The average annual temperature ranges from mid to 25 °C, and the temperature varies little throughout the year, reaching 32 °C in the afternoon and dropping to 21 °C at night. And if the next country you visit is Equatorial Guinea, the climate of Equatorial Guinea is defined by the hot sun. It would help if you stocked up on creams and substances from the sun.
4. What is the official language of Equatorial Guinea?
Do you know what is the official language of Equatorial Guinea? Each ethnic group speaks its Equatorial Guinea language; among them, the most famous languages are Fang and Bubi. Equatorial Guinea itself is the capital of a cluster of diverse languages in Central Africa. However, the official languages of the country are Spanish and French. Spanish is taught in schools and used by the press. It is the main means of communication common to both Bioko and the mainland. As a result of Equatorial Guinea's closer economic cooperation with French-speaking countries, which began in 1983, French became a compulsory subject in 1988 and an official Equatorial Guinea language in 1997. Besides, English-based Creole is widely used in small-scale trade and forms the "franca" language in Bioko, while Portuguese is spoken in both Bioko and Annobone. There are fifteen other languages spoken in Equatorial Guinea that do not have official or national status. These local or regional languages are restricted to certain areas and are spoken by a certain number of people. For example: kwasio (13,000), seki (11,000), and batanga (9,000). In a language such as the Yassa, melange and giele, say less than 2,000 people.
Despite where is Equatorial Guinea, most of the country's inhabitants are nominally Catholic, Bubi and mainland residents often retain traditional forms of worship. For example, the Mbwiti cult on the mainland, banned by the Spanish authorities, still has adherents. Under Francisco Macias Nguema's regime, most churches were closed by presidential decree in 1975, and the Roman Catholic Church was banned in 1978. These orders were revoked after the coup that brought Obiang to power in 1979, but many denominations, especially Jehovah's Witnesses, were banned again in 1986. There is a small but significant proportion of Sunni Muslims. Muslims make up 5-10% of the Equatorial Guinea population. Most of the country's Muslims live on the mainland. There is almost no Muslim presence on the islands. Islam first appeared in the region in the 11th century during the Almoravid rule-based in Morocco. Group of proselytism and preachers, which operated on the West coast of Africa in this period, moved to the South and reached the territory that is now called Equatorial Guinea.
6. Equatorial Guinea nature
For the most part, Equatorial Guinea on the map is covered with dense tropical forests, which the logging industry has long used. More than 140 types of wood have been found, of which the most important in industrial terms are okume, African walnut and various mahagani. Secondary forest replaced the virgin rainforest. Mangroves have populated long stretches of coast, as well as riverbanks. Bioko has a wide variety of tropical vegetation, including mangroves. Equatorial Guinea is rich in wildlife, including gorillas, chimpanzees, leopards, buffaloes, antelopes, elephants and crocodiles. Insects abound, including the tsetse fly and the malarial mosquito "Anopheles", and it is also a haven for various ants, beetles, spiders and termites. There is no big game in Bioko, but there are various monkeys, dwarf antelopes and rodents, and mosquitoes and other insects.
Compared to other countries in the region, the rate of serious crime in Equatorial Guinea is low, and there were very few cases where foreign citizens needed consular assistance. However, there is a growing number of robberies of people traveling by taxi, both in Malabo and Bath, including a serious robbery and assault incident in a minibus in Bath. Avoid using a taxi in the company of strangers, especially at night. You should also pay attention to the safety of your valuables and money. It is advisable to leave them in the hotel room if there is a safe. There are regular reports of minor thefts affecting both visitors and the local Equatorial Guinea population. Take reasonable precautions for your safety. Do not wear jewelry in public places and avoid isolated or poorer areas of the city. Do not walk in Malabo and Bath at night and avoid traveling on the roads after dark.
8. How to get around the country?
The roads in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea are mostly paved. The territory where is Equatorial Guinea has an enviable infrastructure compared to the nearest countries. But there are a lot of old roads in the countryside, and rain can get you in trouble. Despite this, under no circumstances can rain make any major road impractical. Taxis are available from 500 FCFA for the urban area in Malabo and from 300 FCFA in Bata. But be careful, as some illegal taxi drivers may raise prices for tourists. This is nothing new, and, unfortunately, it is happening in all countries, including developed ones. First, you should ask or negotiate a price before you set off. Secondly, the taxi may be shared. So don't be afraid if someone else gets in the taxi with you, it's normal. Minibuses are also available throughout the city, but it is not always advisable to use them. Since vans are the cheapest form of transport in Equatorial Guinea, they can be crowded, unsafe, and their route is not very clear. But if you are an exclusive tour, you may be interested in renting a car and a driver, who will be at your disposal 24 hours a day.
9. Health care
Equatorial Guinea is a country of endemic tropical diseases, such as malaria and typhoid fever. It is strongly recommended that you follow your doctor's preventive measures and use mosquito repellents every time you plan to leave the city for wilder areas. For any malaria symptoms, such as feeling unwell, fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, it is best to go to a medical center for a check-up. It is the key to timely detection and treatment of these diseases. Surprisingly, when detected early, these diseases do not cause serious health problems. But if left untreated, they can become fatal. Hospital facilities on Bioko Island and in the continental region are well prepared for this type of disease. Although many may think the opposite, they are quite effective in the treatment of local diseases.
In Equatorial Guinea capital, Malabo, you can contact the La Paz Hospital or the Guadalupe Clinic in case of an accident or illness. Besides, the Castro Verde Laboratory performs reliable analyses for most tropical diseases.
10. Where to buy it?
The possibilities of buying goods in Equatorial Guinea are endless. First, we can find public markets in almost every major city. Equatorial Guinea nature, which promotes the cultivation of fresh produce for the locals, is itself a major producer of rural produce. There you will find everything from vegetables to wild animal meat. Due to the high popularity of public markets, various stalls were opened in the area. These small shops sell everything else you need for your home. As for modern retail outlets, the following supermarkets stand out: "Martinez Hermanos", "EGTC in Malabo" and "Situka". Moreover, as a preventative measure against COVID19, several online platforms have recently been developed to buy your products online. These services definitely contribute to people living in remote areas or hard to reach, or you don't want to surround yourself with a crowd.
Anar has been promoting himself to tourism for several years now. He believes that the key to success can be obtained by starting to learn something new. And the surest way, in his opinion, is to travel, because nothing cheers us up as getting to know new people and their cultures. His interests also include cinematography and all its components, being another incentive to visit the places where his favourite films were shot. Working in hotels as a guest relations agent taught him not only the basic requirements of "conquering the horizons" but also the most critical lesson: "New places and experiences are better than old hobbies".