The Spanish were great imperialists, and second to English, theirs is probably the most globally important language in current use. However in the heady days of the great European land grab the Spanish were surprisingly indifferent to the acquisition of African territory, and Equatorial Guinea was the only substantial territorial claim made by Spain in sub-Saharan Africa.
The word Guinea is an ancient corruption of the word Ghana. Equatorial Guinea is one of three republics in the region using that name, the other two being Guinea and Guinea Bissau. Equatorial Guinea is a rather reclusive republic, well provided for with oil revenues, and as a consequence somewhat indifferent to the outside world. Savage scars still exist in the national psyche from the sociopathic rule of the darkest African bad man of them all. In the 1960s and 1970s Francis Marcias Nguema set the standard for rampant abuse of power that many other African leaders would follow in the ensuring decades, but that few would ever surpass.
Nowadays Equatorial Guinea is a traveler’s destination for those looking for a touch of the unusual in a land of rainforest, brooding volcanoes, scattered islands and atmospheric if somewhat unfriendly cities. Apart from its beaches the nation has little in the way of developed tourist attractions. An intensely diverse natural heritage is still largely intact, and still worth seeing. Equatorial Africa is known mainly for a multiplicity of primate species, and if the bushmeat trade has cut deeply into this legacy, it has not yet by any means totally destroyed it.
Travel To & Within Equatorial Guinea
Why Travel To Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea has only one national park, but it is a good one. The Monte Alen National Park is situated some 50km inland and covers an area of 1400km². It has been spared the attentions of the logging industry thanks to its unforgiving terrain, and within the old growth gallery forest what once covered most of the mainland is marginally protected. Gorillas, chimpanzees, a diversity of reptiles and amphibians testify to how much life this frenetic eco-system can and does support.
There will be no disappointment in Equatorial Guinea for the lover of remote beach cultures. There is nothing canned about Equatorial Guinea’s coast. Bata is the jaded beach resort with just enough charm to feed the rat in a beachcomber’s soul, but not nearly enough to justify a Club Med facility. The beach town of Ureca is a protected sea turtle breeding habitat and little else.
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Cultural pursuits in Equatorial Guinea revolve around ancient ritual, song and dance. The country has a small population of a little over 400 000 mainly Christian souls, with little of the fantastic ethnic diversity common further west along the Gulf Of Guinea. Music has a strong following with a handful of regionally famous names.
When To Visit Equatorial Guinea
The name says it all. Equatorial implies layers of verdure and a fantastic diversity of plant, animal and human life. And that means rain. The heat, rain and humidity are ubiquitous in this region, and if you find this fact repellent then stay away. Rain can make travel in the interior difficult, and life anywhere uncomfortable. Between June and September there is some relief from high temperatures, and January and February are the months with the nearest to what in Equatorial Guinea can be described as a dry season, although watch out for the heat.
A nominal risk of terrorist attack and a low rate of crime are both pleasant factors about travel in Equatorial Guinea. Restrictions on travel outside the capital can be odious, and a requirement to inform the Protocol Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Francophonie in advance is an inconvenience but not any particular obstacle. The authorities simply like to know who you are and where you are going, but no serious effort is ever made to stop you.
Roads in and around the main cities are good, but beyond that they are poor. Roadblocks are frequent and petty extortion by the police is commonplace.
Drug trafficking is a serious crime and punishments severe. Equatorial Guinea is a local drug entrepot and caution in any dealings in this regard are definitely advised.
Do not linger at or photograph official facilities and emplacements, and treat police, military or government officials with caution and respect.
Medical facilities are poor. HIV/AIDS is not particularly serious in Equatorial Guinea, but caution is advisable. Malaria is widespread.