The One and Only Spanish Speaking Country in Africa
Did you know Equatorial Guinea is the only Spanish speaking country in Africa? With plenty of history, this country has amazed the world thanks to its resilience and resourcefulness.
Today, you’ll learn about the history of Equatorial Guinea and how it turned out to be the only Spanish speaking country in Africa. Ready to discover interesting facts that will amaze you?
History and Origin of Equatorial Guinea
Here’s a brief history of the only Spanish speaking country in Africa.
In 1471, Portuguese navigator Fernao do Po sighted the island of Bioko. Along with the island of Corisco, it became a hub for trading captured slaves, who the Portuguese sent to France, Spain, and England.
In 1777, through the Treaty of San Ildefonso, the Portuguese ceded the islands, as well as rights to the mainland coast, to Spain. However, due to the decline of Spain and problems with its colonies in South America in 1827, this Spanish speaking country in Africa didn’t receive a lot of interest.
Then, the British Crown authorized the colonization of the island. For years, the English and the Spanish fought for the control of the island.
In 1861, to regain control of the island and definitively colonize it, Spain sent a group of 260 emancipated Cubans who were forced to join another group of political prisoners. The island finally acceded to the official status of a Spanish colony. In those years, the island began to receive imports of coffee and cocoa plants.
20th Century History
In 1939, during franquismo (when Franco was the dictator of Spain), Equatorial Guinea saw a period of great prosperity, as many Spaniards went there to work due to Franco’s authoritarianism.
On October 12, 1968, Equatorial Guinea became independent. But this event wasn’t something to celebrate because the first president of the country, Francisco Macías Nguema, established a leftist dictatorship, forcing a third of the population to flee.
In 1996, Mobil Oil Corporation announced the discovery of sizable oil and gas reserves in the only Spanish speaking country in Africa, which provided a completely different hope for its future. The oil industry has kept the country afloat economically and helped it become the richest country in Africa in per capita income.
The Only Spanish Speaking Country in Africa: How?
So, how exactly did Equatorial Guinea become the only Spanish speaking country in Africa? Well, it all happened thanks to the aforementioned 18th century treaty between Spain and Portugal.
Equatorial Guinea became a territory of Spain, and therefore, its official language became Spanish. This distinguishes it from the rest of the countries in Africa, where languages such as Arabic, Amharic, Berber, Portuguese, Oromo, Igbo, Yoruba, Zulu, and Shona are spoken.
The Current State of the Only Spanish Speaking Country in Africa
Now that you’ve learned about Equatorial Guinea’s history, let’s take a look at its current affairs in the 21st century.
Equatorial Guinea is a presidential republic, where the president is both the head of state and head of government. The government exercises the executive power, and the legislative power is vested in both the government and the Chamber of People’s Representatives.
It’s both a unitary state (governed as a single entity in which the central government is ultimately supreme) and a one-party state (in which one political party has the right to form the government based on the existing constitution).
The ethnic composition of Equatorial Guinea is as follows:
Many Equatorial Guineans currently live according to ancient customs of the mainland. Among these, witchcraft, traditional music (in which people use the Fang harp, xylophone, great drums, and wooden trumpet), and storytelling still survive.
Each region and community of this remarkable Spanish speaking country in Africa has its own typical cuisine. Spanish cuisine also has influenced the cooking of the country. Commonly used ingredients include fish, shrimp, crayfish, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and vegetables. Chocolate is used in a variety of recipes as well.
Equatorial Guinea’s tourist attractions include the beaches and Monte Alen National Park, located in the continental portion of the country. The park’s tropical rainforest is home to gorillas, chimpanzees, and hundreds of species of birds.
If you’re looking for general information about the only Spanish speaking country in Africa, here’s what you need to know!
Map and location:
Located in Africa, it borders Cameroon and Gabon.
Regions: 4 provinces
Population: 1.356 million (2019)
Official currency: Central African Franc
GDP (2018): $13.4 billion
Main exports: crude petroleum ($3.65B), petroleum gas ($1.3B), acyclic alcohols ($377M), rough wood ($343M), gold ($17.5M)
If you’re craving more information, read all about the 21 countries that speak Spanish!
Interesting Facts about Equatorial Guinea
Let’s dig a little deeper and learn some interesting cultural tidbits about the only Spanish speaking country in Africa.
- The current capital of Equatorial Guinea is Malabo, which is located in the Bioko Norte province on the island of Bioko. The government is planning a new capital known as Oyala, which will become the new headquarters for the police, military, president, administration, government, and congress.
- Current president Teodoro Obiang is one of the longest-serving presidents in Africa. He has been accused of corruption by many and despite more than a dozen attempts to depose him, he’s still in power.
- Equatorial Guinea has the worst human rights record in the world. According to the annual Freedom in the World survey (which measures political and civil rights), this county has a ranking of 7 on a scale from 1 (most free) to 7 (least free).
- It’s the smallest African country to be a member of the United Nations, according to total land area.
- Equatorial Guinea is the richest country in Africa, as it’s a resource for mineral and oil.
- It has the highest adult literacy rate (95%) in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Mask and sculpture making are artisanal customs. The crafts from Equatorial Guinea are unique and beautiful.
- Last but not least, it’s the one and only Spanish speaking country in Africa!
Share Your Opinion
Have you learned about or visited Equatorial Guinea? Practice your Spanish by leaving a comment while letting others know what you think about the only Spanish-speaking country in Africa!
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