General issues: Spanish colony 1868-1869, Spanish colony 1879-1909, Spanish Equatorial Region, province 1960-1963, Spanish Equatorial Guinea, province 1963-1968
Country name on general issues: Fernando Poo
Special issues: Postal region 1929
Currency: 1 Escudo = 100 Centimos 1868-1869, 1 Peseta = 100 Centimos 1879-1882, 1 Peso = 100 Centavos = 1000 Milesimas 1882-1901, 1 Peseta = 100 Centimos 1901-1968
Population: 23 800 in 1910, 61 200 in 1960
Political history Fernando Poo
Fernando PooAlso spelled Fernando Po. is located in the Gulf of Guinea off the central African coast. The indigenous people are the Bubi – a Bantu people. 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. By treaties in 1777 and 1778, 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.
Fernando Poo: colony
In the early 19th century – from 1817 to 1843 – Fernando Poo is leased to the British as a naval base to combat slavery. The Spanish reclaim the island in 1843 and subsequently establish a colonial administration. In the second part of the 19th century the Spanish start to develop Fernando Poo economically. Cocoa is introduced as a successful cash crop. To man the plantations that are set up, large numbers of workers are brought from the African continent. The descendants of these workers will, eventually, outnumber the indigenous Bubi that become a minority on the island.
In 1909, Fernando Poo becomes part of the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea, together with the colonies of Elobey, Annobón & Corisco and Spanish Guinea that the Spanish have established in 1900. In 1926, the separate colonies are de jure integrated into one colony, also called Spanish Guinea.
Fernando Poo: province
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 1956, Spanish Guinea gains the status of a province as the Spanish Gulf of Guinea province. In 1959, the Spanish Equatorial Region is formed, now split up in two provinces: Fernando Poo – of which the island of Annobón is also a part – and Rio Muni. In 1963, self government is gained as Spanish Equatorial Africa – still consisting of the two provinces of Fernando Poo and Rio Muni. Finally, in 1968 full independence is achieved as the republic of Equatorial Guinea. Currently Fernando Poo is called Bioko and is administratively split to form two provinces of Equatorial Guinea.
Postal history Fernando Poo
Fernando Poo: colony
The first stamp used on Fernando Poo is a single stamp issued in 1868. Shortly after, in 1869, Fernando Poo is grouped together with the Spanish overseas possessions in the Caribbean to use the stamps issued for the Spanish West Indies and Cuba. From 1879, stamps are again issued for Fernando Poo. The stamps of Fernando Poo are valid in all Spanish possessions in the Gulf of Guinea until the colonies of Elobey, Annobón & Corisco and Spanish Guinea start to issue stamps of their own in 1903 and 1902 respectively. From 1874 to 1877, British stamps are used at a British post office in Santa Isabel.
Fernando Poo: special issue
The stamps of Fernando Poo are, from 1909, superseded by the issues of the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea. A special issue will appear in 1929 to commemorate the international exhibition in Barcelona and Seville – Spanish stamps overprinted ‘Fernando Poo’. A similar set was issued overprinted ‘Guinea’ – presumably for use in the mainland part of Spanish Guinea – and for other Spanish possessions – Spanish Morocco and Spanish Sahara.
Fernando Poo: province
When, in 1959, the provinces of Fernando Poo and Rio Muni are created, the postal administration is also organized on a provincial level. Thus, the provinces of Fernando Poo and Rio Muni have issued stamps from 1960. Provincial issues continue when self government is gained in 1963. The issues resemble the contemporary issues from Spain. Most are inscribed ‘España’ in a larger font, ‘Fernando Poo’ in a smaller font. When we compare the Fernando Poo issues with the Rio Muni issues, we find that many are issued on the same occasions, that they are very similar in style but all of a different design. The provincial issues from 1968 are superseded by the issues of the republic of Equatorial Guinea.