Spanish Guinea

Spanish Guinea

Spanish Guinea: see Equatorial Guinea.
officially Republic of Equatorial Guinea formerly Spanish Guinea

Country, on the western coast of equatorial Africa and including Bioko Island. Area: 10,831 sq mi (28,051 sq km). Population (2005 est.): 504,000. Capital: Malabo. The majority of the mainland population are Bantu-speaking Fang people, with a minority of other Bantu-speaking ethnic groups (see Bantu languages). The majority on Bioko are Bubi, descendants of Bantu migrants from the mainland. Languages: Spanish, French (both official), Pidgin English (commonly spoken). Religions: Christianity (predominantly Roman Catholic, also other Christians, Protestant); also Islam, traditional beliefs. Currency: CFA franc. Bordered by Cameroon and Gabon, Equatorial Guinea's mainland region is separated by the Bight of Biafra from the island of Bioko to the northwest. The mainland has a coastal plain some 12 mi (20 km) wide, with a long stretch of beach, low cliffs to the south, and hills and plateaus to the east. The Benito River divides the region. Bioko consists of three extinct volcanic cones and has several crater lakes and rich lava soils. Dense tropical rainforest prevails throughout the mainland and includes valuable hardwoods. Animal life has been decimated by overhunting. Cacao, timber, and coffee are exported from the country, but since the 1990s petroleum is the major export. Equatorial Guinea is a republic with one legislative house; its chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. The first inhabitants of the mainland appear to have been Bantu-speaking people. The now-prominent Fang and Bubi reached the mainland in the Bantu migrations of the late 19th and the early 20th century. Equatorial Guinea was ceded by the Portuguese to the Spanish in the late 18th century; it was frequented by slave traders, as well as by British and other merchants. Bioko was administered by British authorities (1827–58) before the official takeover by the Spanish. The mainland was not effectively occupied by the Spanish until 1936. Independence was declared in 1968, followed by a reign of terror and economic chaos under the dictatorial president Macías Nguema, who was overthrown by a military coup in 1979 and later executed. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo became leader of the country in 1979. A new constitution was adopted in 1982, but political unrest persisted into the 21st century despite the country's oil wealth.

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Spanish Guinea was an African colony of Spain that became the independent nation of Equatorial Guinea.


The Portuguese explorer, Fernão do Pó, seeking a route to India, is credited with having discovered the island of Bioko in 1472. He called it Formosa ("Beautiful"), but it quickly took on the name of its European discoverer. The islands of Fernando Pó and Annobón were colonized by Portugal in 1474. The Portuguese retained control until 1778, when the island, adjacent islets, and commercial rights to the mainland between the Niger and Ogoue Rivers were ceded to Spain in exchange for territory in the American continent (Treaty of El Pardo, between Queen Maria I of Portugal and King Charles III of Spain). From 1827 to 1843, Britain established a base on the island to, supposedly, combat the slave trade. However human trafficking continue through existing networks of slave trade established long before Europeans arrived. The mainland portion, Rio Muni, became a protectorate in 1885 and a colony in 1900. Conflicting claims to the mainland by France and Spain were settled in 1900 by the Treaty of Paris, and periodically, the mainland territories were united administratively under Spanish rule. Between 1926 and 1959 they were united as the colony of Spanish Guinea. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the nationalist side from Fernando Poo (who rebeled on September 19, 1936) overtook the Republican forces of Río Muni on October 14, 1936.

The population of the colony was stratified as:

  1. Whites, whose immigration was regulated by the Spanish government.
  2. Emancipados, black population assimilated to the Whites. They had a Christian Spanish education. Some of them descended from freed Cuban slaves , brought to Africa by Royal Orders of 13 September 1845 (voluntary) and 20 June 1861 (deportation). This group included mestizos (mulattoes) acknowledged by the White father.
  3. "Individuals of colour" under patronage, the majority of the black indigenous people, of different ethnic groups, mostly Bantus. They were not allowed to own property and were liable to forced labour. They included unacknowleged mestizos.
  4. Nigerian and Cameroonian, Chinese and Indian.


See also

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