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 FERNÃO DO PÓ
Bioko was claimed by (and until 1972 named after) Fernão do Po, a Portuguese navigator, in 1472, and Annobón was also claimed. During the 17th cent. the mainland's indigenous pygmy peoples were displaced by other groups, principally the Fang, who now inhabit the area. In 1778, Portugal ceded the islands, and also the commercial rights to a part of the African coast that included present-day Río Muni, to the Spanish. Hoping to export Africans as slaves to their American possessions, the Spanish sent settlers to the islands, but they died of yellow fever, and by 1781 the region was abandoned by the Europeans.

 

History

The mainland was originally inhabited by Pygmies. The Fang and Bubi migrated there in the 17th century and to the main island of Fernando Po (now called Bioko) in the 19th century. In the 18th century, the Portuguese ceded land to the Spanish that included Equatorial Guinea. From 1827 to 1844, Britain administered Fernando Po, but it was then reclaimed by Spain. Río Muni, the mainland, was not occupied by the Spanish until 1926. Spanish Guinea, as it was then called, gained independence from Spain on Oct. 12, 1968. It is Africa's only Spanish-speaking country.

From the outset, President Francisco Macías Nguema, considered the father of independence, began a brutal reign, destroying the economy of the fledgling country and abusing human rights. Calling himself the “Unique Miracle,” Nguema is considered one of the worst despots in African history. In 1971, the U.S. State Department reported that his regime was “characterized by abandonment of all government functions except internal security, which was accomplished by terror; this led to the death or exile of up to one-third of the population.”

On Aug. 3, 1979, Nguema was overthrown and executed by his nephew, Lieut. Col. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Obiang has been gradually modernizing the country but has retained many of his uncle's dictatorial practices, including the amassing of personal wealth by siphoning it from the public coffers.

 

 

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