History of Equatorial Guinea

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The History of Equatorial Guinea is diverse and varied.


Pre-colonial history

The first inhabitants of the region that is now Equatorial Guinea are believed to have been Pygmies, of whom only isolated pockets remain in northern Rio Muni. Bantu migrations between the 17th and 19th centuries brought the coastal tribes and later the Fang. Elements of the latter may have generated the Bubi, who emigrated to Bioko from Cameroon and Río Muni in several waves and succeeded former Neolithic populations. It is said the Igbo of Nigeria (mostly Aro) slave traders arrived and founded very few tiny settlements in Bioko and Rio Muni which expanded the Aro Confederacy in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Annobon population, native to Angola, was introduced by the Portuguese via São Tomé.

The Portuguese explorer, Fernão do Pó, seeking a route to India, is credited with having discovered the island of Bioko in 1471. He called it Formosa ("beautiful [isle]", a name later applied to Taiwan), but it quickly took on the name of its European discoverer, albeit spelt "Fernando Po". The islands of Fernando Po and Annobón were colonized by the Portuguese in 1474. The Portuguese retained control until 1778, when the island, adjacent islets, and commercial rights to the mainland between the Niger and Ogooué Rivers were ceded to Spain in exchange for territory in South America (Treaty of El Pardo).

From 1827 to 1843, Britain established a base on the island to combat the slave trade. The mainland portion, Río Muni, became a protectorate in 1885 and a colony in 1900. Conflicting claims to the mainland were settled in 1900 by the Treaty of Paris, and periodically, the mainland territories were united administratively under Spanish rule. Between 1926 and 1959 they were united as the colony of Spanish Guinea. During the First World War, German troops retreated into this territory from Kamerun because Spain was neutral during the war.

Colonial era

Spain developed large cacao plantations for which thousands of Nigerian workers were imported as laborers.

At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War the colony remained loyal to the Republican government. On July 24, 1936, the Republican cruiser Méndez Núñez arrived at Santa Isabel; on its way back to Spain the officers planned to join the rebellion, but the Spanish government, knowing this, ordered the ship to go back to the colony; on August 14 the Méndez Núñez was back in Fernando Poo, where the sailors took control of her; on September 21 the ship arrived in Málaga (Republican Spain). On September 19 the Colonial Guard and the Civil Guard began the rebellion and took control of the island of Fernando Poo, while the rest of the colony remained loyal to the Republic. On September 22 a clash took place between a rebel group from Kogo and a loyal detachment from Bata. Finally, on October 14 a force of 200 rebels arrived in the merchant Ciudad de Mahón and took control of Bata and the rest of the colony.

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