Equatorial Guinea (2012 est. pop. More than one million people) 10,830 sq mi (28,051 sq km) is located in central Africa. It includes the islands of Bioko, Annobón, Corisco, Elobey Grande, and Elobey Chico in the Gulf of Guinea, and Río Muni on the African mainland. Río Muni, which includes about 93% of the nation’s land area and 75-80% of its population, is bordered by Cameroon to the north, by Gabon to the east and south, and by the Gulf of Guinea to the west.
Equatorial Guinea has undergone deep economic and social changes since oil production in the mid-1990s. From being an impoverished, mainly agricultural economy, it has become the foremost oil producer of the Economic Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) zone and third largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa with 340 000 b/d, after Angola and Nigeria. Its GDP has increased tenfold in ten years (1999-2009).
Oil income has helped to improve basic infrastructure including roads, schools, hospitals and social housing, making construction the second greatest contributor to the GDP (6% of GDP). Meanwhile, the weight of other activities (agriculture, fisheries, forestry) has significantly declined but is key to the government’s current and forward looking efforts.
The country’s main challenge is to use these substantial revenue inflows efficiently to diversify the economy. Equatorial Guinea’s political and economic stability is attracting growing interest from foreign businesses, especially to extract oil deposits. This provides a favorable medium-term outlook, particularly in natural-gas extraction projects.
The country also has unexploited deposits of titanium, iron ore, manganese, uranium, and gold. Both Río Muni and Bioko have substantial road networks. Malabo, situated on Bioko island, is Equatorial Guinea’s main port as well as its capital and largest city. A new capital, Oyala, is under construction on the mainland. In addition to Malabo, other important cities include Luba (also on Bioko) and Bata and Ebebiyín (in Río Muni).
The value of Equatorial Guinea’s exports is considerably higher than the cost of its imports. The United States is the country’s largest trading partner, followed by China, Spain, Italy, and France. The main exports are petroleum, methanol, timber, and cocoa; the chief imports are petroleum equipment and other machinery, foodstuffs, and beverages. Equatorial Guinea continues to depend heavily on foreign investment.