Malabo

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Malabo (pronounced /məˈlɑːboʊ/) is the capital and the largest city of Equatorial Guinea, located on the northern coast of Bioko Island (formerly Fernando Pó) on the rim of a sunken volcano.[1].

Contents

History

The city was first founded by the British in 1827, who leased the island from Spain during the colonial period. Named Port Clarence, it was used as a naval station in the effort to suppress the slave trade. Many newly freed slaves were also settled there, prior to the establishment of Liberia as a colony for freed slaves. While many of them later relocated to Sierra Leone, some of their descendants, called Fernandinos, can still be found in Malabo and the surrounding area, where they constitute a distinct ethnic group, speaking their own Afro-Portuguese pidgin dialect.

When the island reverted to complete Spanish control, Malabo was renamed Santa Isabel. It was chosen to replace the mainland town of Bata as the capital of the country in 1969, and was renamed Malabo in 1973 as part of President Francisco Macías Nguema's campaign to replace European place names with "authentic" African ones.

During his "reign of terror," Macías Nguema led a near-genocide of the country's Bubi minority, which formed the majority on Bioko Island, and brought many of his own tribespeople, the Fang, to Malabo. In the final years of his rule, when Equatorial Guinea was sometimes known as the "Auschwitz of Africa," much of the city's population fled as, indeed, did about one-third of the country's population. Malabo has yet to recover from the scars of that period.

Climate

Despite its location near the equator, Malabo features a tropical wet and dry climate. Malabo sees on average 75 inches (1,900 mm) of rain per year. Malabo has a pronounced, albeit short dry season from December through February and a very lengthy wet season that covers the remaining nine months. Temperatures throughout the year are relatively constant in the city, averaging 25 °C.

Layout

Despite its status as the capital of Equatorial Guinea for several decades, Malabo's street network remains poorly developed. Malabo itself has few paved roads leading into it, and fewer than one hundred paved and developed streets. Many of the street names reflect an African nationalist or anti-colonial theme, with names such as "Independence Avenue" or "Patrice Lumumba Road" being main roads. The few large roads not named for an African nationalist ideal or person are named for cities in Equatorial Guinea or other places or countries in Africa, as well as the road leading to the presidential palace. The palace and grounds consume a substantial part of the eastern side of Malabo, and are off-limits. The heart of the city is the colonial cathedral at Independence Place. Many buildings in the city from the Spanish colonial era are still standing.

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