General issues: Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea, Spanish colonies 1909-1926, Spanish Guinea, Spanish colony 1926-1956, Spanish Gulf Of Guinea, Spanish province 1956-1959
Country name on general issues: Territorios Españoles del Golfo de Guinea, Terrs Españoles del Golfo de Guinea, Guinea Española, Golfo de Guinea
Currency: 1 Peseta = 100 Centimos 1909-1959
Population: 137 000 in 1900, 239 000 in 1959
Note: In the Michel catalog the major entity of the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea covers the existence of these Spanish possessions for the period of 1909 until 1959. Issues for the colony of Spanish Guinea between 1902 and 1909 are listed with the separate major stamp issuing entity of Spanish Guinea. Scott, Stanley Gibbons and Yvert & Tellier list all the issues, from 1902 until 1959, under the major entity of Spanish Guinea. As I follow the Michel catalog in the definition of major entities, e.g. countries, you will find two separate profiles on this site, one for Spanish Guinea and one for the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea.
Political history Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea
The Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea are located in central Africa. 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 from the Niger River to the Ogooué River. By treaties in 1777 and 1778, the Portuguese trade part of the islands – Fernando Poo and Annobón – 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.
Establishing colonial rule
As the ‘Scramble for Africa’ required the colonial powers to assert their authority over their rights – or claims – to the African continent, the Spanish took a new interest in their possessions in the Gulf of Guinea. The Spanish settled on the islands of Fernando Poo in the 1840’s and on Annobón in the 1880’s. The Spanish claim to the mainland was discussed at the Berlin conference in 1885 where the colonial powers divided their respective spheres of interest in Africa. At the conference, the territory known as Rio Muni was awarded to Spain. The Spanish, subsequently, in 1885, established the protectorate of Spanish Guinea. By 1890, the Spanish had established themselves around the Corisco Bay, including Corisco Island and the Elobey Islands. Extended negotiations with the French led to finalization of the mainland borders in 1900, upon which the protectorate became the colony of Spanish Guinea. Corisco and the Elobey Islands were made part of the separate colony of Elobey, Annobón & Corisco – also established in 1900.
Consolidation and the road to independence
In the following years, the Spanish possessions went through a number of administrative changes. In 1909, the three colonies – Fernando Poo, Elobey, Corisco & Annobón and Spanish Guinea – were de facto grouped together at the level of the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea. In 1926, the three colonies were de jure integrated into one colony, also called Spanish Guinea. As national and international pressure for the independence of the possessions grew, the colony, in 1956, was given the status of an overseas province as the Spanish Gulf of Guinea province.
A further change came when the Spanish Equatorial Region was formed in 1959 – divided into two provinces: Fernando Poo – including Annobón – and Rio Muni – including Corisco and the Elobey Islands. The Spanish Equatorial Region, in 1963, gained self government as Spanish Equatorial Guinea. Finally, in 1968, independence was achieved as the republic of Equatorial Guinea as we know it until today.
People of different origin
The different parts of the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea have different population characteristics. The mainland part of Rio Muni is populated by the Fang – a Bantu people also living in neighboring Cameroon and Gabon. The indigenous population of Fernando Poo are the Bubi – also a Bantu people. The Bubi have, though, become a minority on the island as, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, large numbers of workers from the African continent were brought to Fernando Poo to man the plantationss that were developed. Annobón had been uninhabited. During the years of Portuguese settlement, a creole population of mixed African and Portuguese offspring had developed. This still is the majority of the population on the island.
Economic and social development
The Spanish have, economically, developed the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea mainly through the development of large cocoa plantations. Towards the end of Spanish rule, social institutions, such as education and health care, had been developed to a level higher than in many other African countries.
Postal history Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea
The first stamps used in the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea are the stamps issued by Fernando Poo from 1868. The stamps of Fernando Poo are valid in all Spanish possessions until the colonies of Elobey, Annobón & Corisco and Spanish Guinea start to issue stamps of their own in 1903 and 1902 respectively.
The issues from the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea supersede the issues of the individual colonies from 1909. The first set issued is a set of definitives showing the portrait of king Alfonso XIII. The political changes in Spain are reflected when – as the republic is established in Spain – sets are issued overprinted ‘Republica’ in 1931, and again in 1938 when a set of stamps issued by Nationalist Spain is overprinted for use in the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea. In the 1950’s, pictorials are issued resembling the contemporary issues from Spain and other Spanish overseas possessions.
The issues from the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea are inscribed ‘Territorios Españoles del Golfo de Guinea’, from 1909 until around 1950, with the exception of a few overprinted sets of Spanish stamps where the overprint reads ‘Guinea Española’ or ‘Golfo de Guinea’. From around 1950, stamps are inscribed ‘Guinea Española’.
For an overview of the political and postal developments in the form of a diagram, please refer to the country diagram of Spanish Africa – Gulf of Guinea.