Bantu-speaking peoples, who lived mainly from migrant agriculture and cattle breeding, probably settled from around 1000 AD. the area of today’s Equatorial Guinea. In the second half of the 15th century, an island populated by the Bantu people of the Bubi (today: Bioko) was discovered by the Portuguese navigator Fernão do P¨®o, who called it Formosa because of its beauty. The island was later renamed Fernando P¨®o. In the following, the island was settled by Portuguese and the first branches were also established on the mainland coast. The hinterland remained untouched by the Europeans for a long time.
- COUNTRYAAH: See current national flag of Equatorial Guinea. Download high definition image, and learn flag meanings as well as the history of Equatorial Guinea flags.
In 1778 Portugal exchanged its possessions in what is now Equatorial Guinea (today’s Bioko and Pugalu and the coastal area on the mainland) for Spanish lands in Brazil. In 1827 the British established a base to combat the slave trade on what is now Bioko. It was only in the second half of the 19th century that major Spanish settlements were founded on the mainland. In 1900 Spain was granted ownership of the R¨ªo Muni (now Mbini) area by the other major European powers. In 1904 the administration of the mainland and the island of Fernando P¨®o (Bioko) were merged, in 1938 both together with the island of Annob¨®n (Pugalu) formed the colony “Spanish Guinea”.
In the late 1960s, the areas received the status of a Spanish overseas province with limited internal autonomy, and the population received Spanish civil rights. In 1963 the colony was granted self-government as Equatorial Guinea Province. In October 1968, after a referendum, the country became an independent republic with the capital Santa Isabel on the island of Fernando P¨®o. Francisco Mac¨ªas Nguema, who belongs to the Bantu people of Fang and became the first president of the country, subsequently established a dictatorship with the support of the military. In 1970, he founded the Partido Unico Nacional and, through a constitutional amendment, became president for life. The country was declared a People’s Democratic Republic (1973). The sole power holder was the President, political parties were not allowed.
According to AbbreviationFinder, large sections of the population fled the country before the reign of terror, including many plantation owners and plantation workers. The production of the main export goods, cocoa and coffee, decreased continuously over the next two decades, which further aggravated the already bad economic situation of the country and the population. Some of those who stayed in the country were obliged to do forced labor in their own country. In 1979, President Francisco Mac¨ªas Nguema was overthrown and imprisoned by a coup, later sentenced and executed. His nephew General Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo took over the leadership of the country and promised an early democratization. The first parliamentary elections were held in 1983, but the candidates standing for election were not representatives of the people (opposition parties were still prohibited), but presidential candidates. In 1991 the constitution was changed again (as in 1982), this time – under pressure from foreign lenders on the heavily indebted Equatorial Guinea – opposition parties were officially admitted. De facto regime opponents were also persecuted under Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
The first parliamentary elections were held in November 1993, in which several parties were admitted. However, only politicians who had lived in the country in the past ten years were able to stand for election, which prevented the opposition members who had returned from exile from running. The ruling party “Partido Democr¨¢tico de Guinea” (PDGE) of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo won the absolute majority and provided all members of the government. Opposition politicians in the country continued to be persecuted or detained. In 1996 and 2002, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was confirmed in office for another seven years. In 1999, the ruling party PDGE again won 75 out of a total of 80 seats, and from 2004 it even provided 98 of the 100 members of parliament.
In March 2004, an unsuccessful coup attempt resulted in the Briton Simon Mann being sentenced to 34 years in prison. It later emerged that Sir Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, also had been involved in the attempted coup. Simon Mann was pardoned by President Obiang in November 2009.
In 2006, President Mbasogo fired former Prime Minister Miguel Abia Biteo Borico for corruption and incompetence. His successor was Ricardo Mangue Obama Nfubea.
The government preferred the parliamentary elections to be held by April 2009 at the latest, and held them together with the local elections in May 2008. According to her own statements, she wanted to limit the effort and costs. Local observers – international were not allowed – criticized the election as neither free nor fair. The ruling party PDGE won 99 of the 100 seats in parliament.
The poor conditions at the turn of the millennium have improved somewhat in recent years thanks to the oil production in recent years, but the standard of living of the population has not risen as much as economic growth. In 2007, new oil and gas deposits were discovered east of the island of Bioko and underscored the country’s position as the third largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa.