VENTURES AFRICA – If you’re fascinated by nature, Equatorial Guinea is your Utopia. Located between Gabon and Cameroon, this island country captivates visitors with its white sand beaches and flamboyant vegetation.
The country’s capital, Malabo, has about 85,000 inhabitants and is located on the Island of Bioko, while Rio Muni contains the bulk of economic activity with precious wood (its offshore oil reserves has profoundly changed the country). The two islands of Bioko and Annobon are separated by the smallest state in Africa, Sao Tome & Principe.
Bioko Island is a peninsula with volcanic traits. With an area of just over 2,000 km2, it is located in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Cameroon and Gabon. Two main seasons are observed in this region: the dry season (November to March) and the rainy season (April to October). The average annual temperature is 250 C, and rainfall varies from 1930 mm to 10990 mm in the North to the South. Approximately, 40 percent of the island is inaccessible due to the tropical rainforest.
Equatorial Guinea is characterized by the crumbling of its territorial build-up, split between a mainland area (Río Muni) and an insular element, itself scattered. Owing to its backing onto huge offshore oil reserves (as well as the fact of having the town of Malabo as the political capital of sub-Saharan country, which is also Africa’s third oil-producing country), Bioko – the largest in the Gulf of Guinea – has become a strategic insular space.
The equatorial climate varies with altitude and exposure (rainfall of 2000 mm / year in the north-east at 10 000 mm / year in the south-west). The capital Malabo is situated at the northern end of Bioko, and has low thermal amplitudes (25 ° C average temperature, 2183 mm / year, 199 days of rain, humidity 90 percent). The utilized agricultural area is localized in areas with annual rainfall of 2000 to 3 000mm, from March to November (especially in June), with permanently high humidity (90 perceny). The decomposition of volcanic material (ash) produces rich organic soils with high water holding capacity, which are well suited for cocoa crops (Theobroma cacao) and coffee (Coffea robusta liberica) present in the lower lying areas 700 meters after clearing the dense humid rainforest.
The country’s once thriving cocoa and coffee industry experienced decline after economic mismanagement under authoritarian rule. In 1969, cocoa and coffee production stood at an impressive 36,161 tons and 7,664 tons, respectively. But by the mid-1990s cocoa production had plummeted to less than 3,000 tons (1993) and coffee production to less than 200 tons (1996).
In the southern region of Moka the temperate altitude allows vegetable production and cattle breeding, creating an alpine landscape. The southern part of the island, exposed to the southwest monsoon, receives an average of 10 meters of water which maintains the rainforest.
Bioko Island is also an important biodiversity reserve. The endemic species (fauna and flora) is lower than in the islands of São Tomé and Annobón, due to its proximity to the continent and reduced isolation. On Bioko, 28 percent of mammals and 32 percent of endemic birds form subspecies. Two of the eight species of turtles living in the world’s oceans and nests were subject to a fish farm on the south coast of the island: the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). The Bubi people, in the south of Bioko, consume turtle meat; large quantities are shipped and sold in Bata.
Also the maritime areas of Equatorial Guinea are one of the centers of gravity of the offshore exploitation of hydrocarbons in the region that extends from Nigeria’s Niger Delta region in the North to Angola in the South.
Tips on Bioko Island
Despite the beauty and underground treasures, the vast majority of people are poor. This is also reflected in the road infrastructure which is often very old, unpaved and poorly maintained. The equatorial climate of the country also makes it humid. Drought extends generally between December and May. So plan your trip to Equatorial Guinea wisely.
Image via: europebudgetvacation