Republic. Declared independence from Spain in 1968.
Head of state:
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo since 1979.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Vincente Ehate Tomi since 2012.
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Equatorial Guinea is a country of luscious vegetation and beautiful scenery, including tropical forests and snow-capped volcanoes. The capital, Malabo, is a rather rundown but attractive town, with pleasant Spanish colonial architecture, a striking volcanic setting and a lively market. The white-sand beaches around the islands are stunning. No wonder the country was first of all named 'Formosa', meaning 'beautiful', by the Portuguese.
The area was first colonised by the Portuguese in the late 15th century and handed over to the Spanish in 1788. Self-government was granted in 1959, followed by full independence in 1968.Its economy has expanded rapidly following the discovery of oil and gas deposits in the Gulf of Guinea, though little of this wealth has trickled down to the general population. The government has been described by a variety of human rights organisations as among the worst abusers of human rights in Africa.