General issues: Republic 1968-Present
Country name on general issues: Guinea Equatorial
Currency: 1 Peset = 100 Centimos 1968-1973, Ekwele 1981-1985, (CFA) Franc 1985-Present
Population: 281 000 in 1968, 757 000 in 2013
Political history Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea is located on the Gulf of Guinea in central Africa. Mbindi – the largest part of Equatorial Guinea – is to be found on the African mainland. The island of Bioko in the Gulf of Guinea is the second largest part. Furthermore, the islands of Annobón – south of São Tomé & Príncipe – and of Corsico and Elobey – off the coast of Gabon – are part of Equatorial Guinea.
The first Europeans to explore the Gulf of Guinea are the Portuguese in the 1470’s. The Portuguese settle on a number of islands in the Gulf and claim the rights to the coastal region on the mainland. By treaties in the 1770’s, the Portuguese trade part of the islands and the claim to the mainland with the Spanish for territories in the Americas. The Spanish, however, do not establish a permanent presence in the region until the 19th century. By 1900, the Spanish have established three colonies: Fernando Poo, Elobey, Annobón & Corsico and Spanish Guinea on the mainland. In 1909, these colonies are grouped together as the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea.
The call for independence in the 1950’s leads to a series of rapid changes in the administration of the Spanish possessions in the Gulf of Guinea. In 1959, the possessions are split up in the provinces of Fernando Poo and Rio Muni. In 1963, self government is gained as Spanish Equatorial Africa. Finally, in 1968 full independence is achieved as the republic of Equatorial Guinea.
The Spanish have, during their rule, developed an economy based on cocoa and timber production. Furthermore, social institutions such as education and health care have been developed to a higher level than in some other African countries. Thus, upon independence, Equatorial Guinea would seem to have been off to a relatively good start.
Upon independence, Francisco Macías Nguema was elected as president in multi party elections. In 1970, Francisco Macías Nguema dissolved the opposition parties, and in 1972 declared himself president for life. His reign has been described as a ‘reign of terror’. Human rights were widely violated, tens of thousands were killed, social institutions broken down. The reign led to an exodus of an estimated one third of the population. In 1979, Francisco Macías Nguema was ousted and succeeded by Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Nominally, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo made some changes for the good in the fields of human rights and democracy. De jure Equatorial Guinea is, since 1991, a multi party democracy. De facto human rights seem to still be widely violated and elections have been flawed. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is currently still in power.
Economically, the country has been saved by large oil finds off the coast in the 1990’s. Currently, over 95% of the exports are from oil production. This has made the country be in the top 20 of countries world wide in terms of per capita GDP. However, the wealth is unevenly distributed: in terms of the United Nations Human Development Index the country ranks 121 out of 177 (figures 2008).
Postal history Equatorial Guinea
The first stamps used in the future Equatorial Guinea are the issues of Fernando PooCurrently Bioko. from 1868. These issues were valid on Fernando Poo and in the other Spanish possessions in the Gulf of Guinea. When the colonies of Elobey, Annobõn & Corisco and Spanish Guinea were formed, they issued stamps of their own from 1903 and 1902 respectively. From 1909 until 1959, the stamps of the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea were used. These were superseded by the issues from provinces of Fernando Poo and Rio Muni from 1960 to 1968. Finally, the independent republic of Equatorial Guinea has issued stamps from 1968.
The first stamps issued commemorate independence. From 1970 until 1980, stamp production was put in the hands of a number of agents resulting in large numbers of stamps being issued for the thematic collectors market. The catalogs have no full listing for this period. Michel notes – among other things – that post offices were closed between 1972 and 1979 and the postal administration dissolved. Furthermore, the production of stamps was handed over to agencies and the postal validity of the stamps issued by these agencies cannot be ascertained. This being said, the Michel catalog value for the issues listed for this period is sometimes high to very high. Since 1980, stamp production has normalized – the subjects being a mix of national and of general interest subjects.