28,051 sq km (10,831 sq miles).
25.7 per sq km.
Head of state:
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo since 1979.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Vicente Ehate Tomi since 2012.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are used.
Perhaps best known as the inspiration for Frederick Forsyth’s coup-laden thriller The Dogs of War, the political situation of hot and humid Equatorial Guinea leaves a lot to be desired. Corruption, human rights abuses and political violence are frequently recorded, and despite huge oil wealth little has trickled down to the people, where real poverty still exists.
This means the country, which occupies a slice of mainland Africa and five offshore islands, is not set up with tourism in mind. Travel can be hard and hotel rooms both limited in number and expensive compared to neighbouring states. However, Equatorial Guinea offers a rare opportunity to experience central Africa’s colonial history and unspoiled natural beauty.
Large areas of Rio Muni, mainland Equatorial Guinea, have been set aside as protected zones. Noted internationally for their biodiversity and hiking opportunities, the country’s rainforests are the habitat of various endangered primates including mandrills, chimpanzees and gorillas, as well as forest elephants.
The capital, Malabo, lacks the frenetic energy of some cities on the continent, with nothing happening very fast. Its tranquillity and the laidback air of its people perhaps results from lying on the steamy island of Bioko. It’s atmospheric sides streets are the best place in the country to encounter the architectural splendours left by Spain’s colonial regime.
Outside the capital, Bioko Island is also the location of the crater lakes of Lago Lorento and Lago Biao. Idyllic spots for relaxation, even the least interested birdwatcher will suddenly become the most ardent ornithologist: the sheer diversity of avian wildlife is staggering.
Its natural wonders and hospitable inhabitants should have put Equatorial Guinea on the map years ago, but a reputation for political instability means this remains an untapped mine for now.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Compared to other countries in the region, the level of violent crime in Equatorial Guinea is low and there have been very few cases of British nationals needing consular assistance. However, there have been recent reports of robberies against people travelling by taxi in both Malabo and Bata including a serious incident of robbery and assault in a shared taxi in Bata. Avoid taking taxis with groups of strangers, particularly at night.
There are regular reports of petty theft affecting both visitors and expatriates. Take sensible personal security precautions. Don’t carry valuables or wear jewellery in public and avoid isolated or poorer areas of town. Don’t walk around Malabo and Bata at night and avoid travelling by road after dark.
Unless you have an EG resident permit, you will need to inform Protocol Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Francophonie in advance if you wish to travel outside Malabo on the island of Bioko, and outside Bata on the mainland.
Land borders often close with little or no notice. Check the situation with the local authorities before travelling to border areas.
Most major roads on Bioko Island are now paved. In rural areas the condition of the roads is likely to be poor. During the rainy season, many roads are accessible only with a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Police and military roadblocks are common. You may be asked to show your passport, driving licence or vehicle registration documents and explain your reason for being in the area. Failure to comply can lead to detention.
There are regular reports of extortion by police and uniformed security forces at roadblocks. You are advised not to pay bribes but to ask for a ticket, detailing alleged offences or violations, which can be paid at a local court.
Public transport facilities, particularly on the mainland, are extremely limited.
Equatorial Guinean-registered aircraft are banned from EU airspace on safety grounds. British government employees do not use these aircraft unless this is unavoidable.
There have been attacks of armed robbery on commercial shipping vessels in the Gulf of Guinea. Take extreme care when travelling in coastal waters.
The political situation has been calm in recent years but you should be aware that political events can lead to increased presence of police, military or security forces on the streets. Avoid any political rallies, demonstrations or large public gatherings.
There is no British Embassy. In an emergency, you can get consular assistance from the British Honorary Consul in Malabo:
Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
telephone: 00240 222277502 / 00447775996895
The nearest British Diplomatic Mission is in Yaoundé, Cameroon (see contact details).
email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone:+237 22 222 07 96 / +237 22 222 05 45
If you’re unable to contact the British Honorary Consul in Malabo or the British High Commission in Yaoundé, then in an emergency call the FCO in London:
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 008 1500.
There have been occasions when expatriate staff of foreign companies have been confined to the country for prolonged periods when commercial disputes have arisen.