Equatorial Guinea consists of Rio Muni, located on the African mainland between Cameroon and Gabon, and the islands of Bioko (formerly Fernando Poo), Annobon (located south of São Tomé y Principe), Coriso and the Elobey Group (located off the mouth of the Rio Muni). The country gained its independence from Spain on 12 October 1968.
Between 1968 and 1979, Equatorial Guinea was ruled in a highly dictatorial manner by Francisco Macías Nguema. He was overthrown in a bloody coup in August 1979 by Theodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who promised to put an end to the dictatorship, but has done little to date. In 1991, a constitution was adopted that guaranteed political pluralism in name only. The elections held since then - including the presidential election in December 2002 and the parliamentary elections in April 2004 - have all been won by the ruling party Partido Democrático de Guinea Equatorial (PDGE). In March 2004, following tips from South Africa, 64 men were arrested in Zimbabwe on charges of preparing a coup in Equatorial Guinea. Shortly afterwards, 15 alleged mercenaries were arrested in Malabo. They, too, were accused of preparing a coup at the behest of opposition leader Severo Moto, who resided in Spain, and most were given long prison sentences. In January 2005, Mark Thatcher, son of the former British Prime Minister, confessed to financing the coup attempts.
The government resigned en masse in August 2006 after allegations of corruption by the president, but most of the ministers were reappointed. In July 2008, President Obiang accepted the resignation of the government following further accusations of corruption and mismanagement on his part. He appointed Ignacio Milam Tang as the new prime minister. In February 2009, 15 people were arrested for an armed attack on the presidential palace. The government accused Nigerian rebels, who denied involvement. President Obiang wins the presidential election. In November 2011, a referendum was held on the constitution; critics consider it a power grab. In May 2012, the president steps up his efforts and his son Theodorin takes over as vice president. In May 2013, several opposition leaders are imprisoned as a prelude to parliamentary elections. The government wins all but one of the seats. In April 2016, President Obiang wins the presidential election again. The next elections are scheduled for 1923.
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