Title: The Republic of Equatorial Guinea

Population: 857,008

Population Change: 3.47

National Average Age: 22

Urban Percentage: 73

Christian Population: 683,000

Christian Percentage: 88.7

Introduction: Equatorial Guinea is a Central African country comprising the Rio Muni mainland and 5 volcanic offshore islands. Capital Malabo on Bioko Island has Spanish colonial architecture and is a hub for the country’s prosperous oil industry. Its Arena Blanca beach draws dry-season butterflies. The tropical forest of the mainland’s Monte Alen National Park is home to gorillas chimpanzees and elephants.

Overview: Equatorial Guinea gained independence in 1968 after 190 years of Spanish rule. This tiny country composed of a mainland portion plus five inhabited islands is one of the smallest on the African continent. President Teodoro Obiang NGUEMA MBASOGO has ruled the country since 1979 when he seized power in a coup. Although nominally a constitutional democracy since 1991 the 1996 2002 and 2009 presidential elections - as well as the 1999 2004 2008 and 2013 legislative elections - were widely seen as flawed. The president exerts almost total control over the political system and has discouraged political opposition. Equatorial Guinea has experienced rapid economic growth due to the discovery of large offshore oil reserves and in the last decade has become Sub-Saharan Africa's third largest oil exporter. Despite the country's economic windfall from oil production resulting in a massive increase in government revenue in recent years improvements in the population's living standards have been slow to develop.