Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red with a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side and the coat of arms centred in the white band; the coat of arms has six yellow six-pointed stars (representing the mainland and five offshore islands) above a gray shield bearing a silk-cotton tree and below which is a scroll with the motto UNIDAD, PAZ, JUSTICIA (Unity, Peace, Justice).
Location: Western Africa, bordering the Bay of Biafra, between Cameroon and Gabon.
Geographic coordinates: 2 00 N, 10 00 E
Climate: tropical; always hot, humid.
Independence: 12 October 1968 (from Spain).
Nationality: Equatorial Guinean(s) or Equatoguinean(s).
Capital City: Malabo.
Population: 474,214 (July 2000 est.)
Head of State: President Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Teodoro OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO (since 3 August 1979 when he seized power in a military coup).
Area: 28,051 sq km.
Type of Government: republic.
Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes.
Major peoples: Bioko (primarily Bubi, some Fernandinos), Rio Muni (primarily Fang), Europeans less than 1,000, mostly Spanish.
Religion: nominally Christian and predominantly Roman Catholic, pagan practices.
Official Language: Spanish and French.
Principal Languages: Spanish (official), French (official), pidgin English, Fang, Bubi, Ibo.
Major Exports: petroleum, timber, cocoa.
History: The Portuguese, who claimed suzerainty over the territory about 1471, transferred their rights to Spain in 1778. Spain, however, did not seriously explore the area until the last half of the 19th century and did not effectively control the hinterland of Mbini until 1923.
The present provinces were established in 1959. Limited self-government was introduced in 1963, and independence was achieved on Oct. 12, 1968.
Following an abortive coup in 1969, President Francisco Macias Nguema, a Fang, turned the country into a one-party state. He was made president for life in 1972. His regime became increasingly repressive. An estimated 20% of the population died and an even larger number fled the country before he was overthrown in a coup (August 1979) led by Lt.-Col. Obiang Nguema and executed.
A supreme Military Council ruled until 1982 when a constitution was approved by voters providing for direct presidential elections after a 7-year transition under President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Uncontested parliamentary elections were held in 1983 and 1988, and Obiang Nguema was re-elected in 1989.