Elusive Equatorial Guinea

It caught my attention that the Spanish airline Iberia is to fly into Equatorial Guinea, on the West Coast of Africa. Being somewhat curious to learn about places of which I have very little knowledge, I decided to do a bit of research about Equatorial Guinea, and found it to be quite an interesting place, although one that is certainly well off the mainstream tourist trail.

The reason why Iberia is so keen to fly there is because it was once colonised by Spain, and Spanish is its official language. As well as Spanish influence, the Portuguese and British also had a presence in the country for some time.

As countries go, its geography is a little weird because it does have a mainland, which is firmly wedged between Cameroon and Gabon, but Equatorial Guinea’s two main ports, and its capital Malabo are both located on the island of Bioko which is situated off Cameroon in the Bight of Biafra.

At once stage the land now called Equatorial Guinea was a land of pygmies, but their lands were overrun by other invading tribes sp that now there are only a few pockets of pygmies left.
Today the country is an oil-rich nation as it is Sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest oil producing nation. This oil has brought wealth to some, but not the majority of citizens.
With an area of just 28,000 square kilometres (11,000 sq miles) Equatorial Guinea is one of Africa’s smallest countries. It also has a shocking record for human rights, which led it to becoming a pariah nation for many years, and was basically ignored by many first world countries.

Readers with long memories, and those who take an interest in African politics, may remember that in November, 2004, Mark Thatcher, the son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was involved in an unsuccessful coup in Equatorial Guinea.

From a tourist perspective, Equatorial Guinea has some beautiful beaches, plenty of natural forest and jungle, and much significant natural beauty. The capital, Malabo still returns much of its Spanish colonial architecture, open plazas and bustling markets. The Monte Alen National Park is home to gorillas, elephants, chimpanzees, and many other creatures, and finding guides to arrange treks through the park is quite easy.

Equatorial Guinea also has a number of volcanoes, with the easiest to climb being Pico Malabo which, as the name suggests, is within easy reach of the capital.

This is a country that is perfect for those who like a sense of adventure, and who don’t mind wandering off the beaten track. A number of airlines, apart from Iberia, now fly to Malabo, and they include Air Europa, Air France, Lufthansa and Kenya Airways. There is also a ferry service between Malabo and Doula in Cameroon, and taxi services between Equatorial Guineas, Cameroon and Gabon on the mainland.

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