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Equatorial Guinea - People

The U.S. government estimates the total population at 741,000 (July 2015 estimate). The local 2015 census conducted in collaboration with the UN, however, puts the total population at 1.2 million.

What makes the Equatorial Guineans interesting people is the fact that they are the only Afro-Latinos on the continent. Equatorial Guinea was colonized by the Spaniards, and this island state, with the mainland, is a very complicated situation because Equatorial Guinea, in many ways, is a land where the history of the pygmy and the history of the people linguists call Bantu-speaking groups, who are now very much a part of the area, and the people who came out of the West African background. They were Ebos in the 18th century who came from the mainland into Equatorial Guinea, and several other groups migrated from neighboring areas like Gabon, who are part of that enclave.

Spanish, French, and Portuguese are the official languages, though use of Spanish predominates. The Roman Catholic Church has greatly influenced both religion and education. It is impossible to calculate exactly the proportion of Equatorial Guineans who are reasonably fluent in Spanish, given the lack of official data, but on Fernando Poo and the urban areas of Rio Muni this percentage is almost certainly around 90%, and even in the interior of Rio Muni a figure of around 60%-70% would probably not be unrealistic.

Equatoguineans tend to have both a Spanish first name and an African first and last name. When written, the Spanish and African first names are followed by the father's first name (which becomes the principal surname) and the mother's first name. Thus people may have up to four names, with a different surname for each generation.

The population in 1963 included 4,500 Europeans and Levantines and about 50,000 Nigerian contract workers and their families. The Bubis, a Bantu people, was the major tribal group on Fernando Po, where approximately 2,000 Spaniards also reside. The largest tribal group in Rio Muni is the Fang. Rio Muni had less than 2,000 Europeans in l960. Spanish is the official language. In l96l, l9,5l4 pupils were enrolled in the l2l primary schools, and the 3 secondary schools had 422 pupils. Data on the size of the labor force and the number of wage and salary earners are unavailable. Agriculture, fishing (in Annob6n and Rio Muni), and stockraising are the chief occupations of the Africans. Contract labor from Nigeria is used extensively in both Fernando P6o and Rio Muni to augment the labor supply on European-owned plantations. In l963, approximately 40,000 Nigerians were engaged in such work on Fernando P6o and l0,000 were in Rio Muni under a l963 treaty between the Governments of Nigeria and Spain. The treaty provides for the recruitment of Nigerian adult male workers (over l7 years of age) under 3-year contracts with an option of renewal for l% years.

Equatorial Guinea, formerly known as Spanish Guinea, is composed of the territories of Fernando Poo and Rio Muni on the west coast of Africa. Fernando Poo has an area of 785 square miles and had a population of 62,6l2 in l960. Rio Muni has an area of 6,730 square miles and had a population of l83,377 in l960. The Fang ethnic group of the mainland constitutes the great majority of the population and dominates political life and business. The Bubi group comprises about 50,000 people living mainly in Bioko Island. The Annobonese on the island of Annobon are estimated at about 3,000 in number. The other three ethnic groups are found on the coast of Rio Muni and include the Ndowe and Kombe (about 3,000 each) and the Bujebas (about 2,000). The Pygmy populations have long been integrated into the dominant Bantu-speaking cultures. Europeans number around 2,000, primarily Spanish and French. There is a thriving Lebanese community, other Arabs (primarily Egyptians and Moroccans), a large number of Filipinos, and a rapidly expanding Chinese presence. Many guest workers from other African countries have been drawn to service industry jobs boosted by the countrys oil boom.

The majority of the Equatoguinean people are of Bantu origin. The largest tribe, the Fang, is indigenous to the mainland, but substantial migration to Bioko Island has resulted in Fang dominance over the earlier Bubi inhabitants. The Fang constitute 80% of the population and are themselves divided into 67 clans. Those in the northern part of Rio Muni speak Fang-Ntumu, while those in the south speak Fang-Okah; the two dialects are mutually unintelligible. The Bubi, who constitute 15% of the population, are indigenous to Bioko Island. In addition, there are coastal tribes, sometimes referred to as "Playeros," consisting of Ndowes, Bujebas, Balengues, and Bengas on the mainland and small islands, and "Fernandinos," a Creole community, on Bioko. Together, these groups comprise 5% of the population. There are also a growing number of foreigners from neighboring Cameroon, Nigeria, and Gabon.

Police raids continued on immigrant communities, who make up 17 percent, or more than 200,000, of the countrys 1.2 million people. Reliable sources reported many legal as well as irregular immigrants were abused, extorted, or detained during such raids. Police occasionally used excessive force to detain and deport immigrants. Many embassies in the country criticized the government for its harassment, abuse, extortion, and detention of foreign nationals and for not renewing residence and work permits in a timely manner, making foreign nationals vulnerable to such abuse. Unlike in previous years, by 2015 authorities did not require deportees to pay for transportation to their country of citizenship.

While the constitution provides for equality between men and women, the country applies the Spanish civil code as it was when Equatorial Guinea adopted it upon gaining its independence in 1968. The code discriminates against women in matters of nationality, real and personal property, and inheritance. According to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the prevalence of negative stereotypes and adverse cultural norms and customs resulted in discrimination against women. Lack of legislation regulating traditional marriages and other aspects of family law also permitted discrimination against women, particularly with respect to polygyny, inheritance, and child custody. The culture was conservative and maintained a societal bias against women. Custom confined women in rural areas largely to traditional roles. There was less overt discrimination in urban areas, although women sometimes experienced discrimination in access to employment and credit and did not always receive equal pay for similar work.

Equatorial Guinea's human development index ranking has deteriorated in recent years, with a wide poverty gap despite massive oil revenues. There continues to be insufficient transparency and accountability, with wealth concentrated in the hands of the few. One of the biggest inhibitors to improved economic performance is the lack of educated or skilled personnel, stemming from years of under-funding for education.





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Page last modified: 28-11-2016 19:40:06 ZULU