Equatorial Guinea – Spanish Language and Culture
Population: 676,000 (2009)
Area: 28,000 km² (11,000 sq mi)
Currency: franc (CFA)
National Holiday: 12th of October
Calling Code: +240
Time Zone: GMT +1
GDP: Total – US$ 14.547 billion
Per Capita – US$ 11,081
The Spanish Language in Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea is the only country in Africa that has Spanish as an official language. However, unlike the rest of the countries that make up the VeinteMundos, Spanish is not the first/primary language for the majority of the population (although it is still spoken by an estimated 89% of the country). Guinean Spanish is characterized by a strong influence from local tribal languages as well as from Pichininglish (pidgeon/pidgin English), French, and in some cases Portuguese and German. In some places the r is guttural similar to French. In general the language spoken here has a greater resemblance to Castillian Spanish than American Spanish; for example, the use of “vosotros” as 2nd person plural. Differences can be noted between the Spanish spoken by those of different ethnic groups.
Special words and expressions
- chapear – to remove weeds
Other languages spoken
- French (official)
- Portuguese (official)
- Pidgin English
- Fang, Bube, Annobonese, and other native languages.
- Aranese/Occitan (co-official) – spoken by approx. 7,000 people
Spanish dialects and variations
The dialect of Spanish spoken in Equatorial Guinea is referred to as “Equatoguinean Spanish”. As the size and population of the country is small, there are not great variations across the language. The main difference comes in the pronunciation of those that speak Spanish as either their first or their second language (which in turn, is related to geography). On top of African (and pidgin English) influences, descendants of either French, Portuguese, or German immigrants have also given distinct accents to the language.
Geography and Climate
Equatorial Guinea is made up of a mainland and an insular region made up of 5 islands. The climate is tropical and has wet and dry seasons depending on the geographical location. The islands are volcanic while the mainland is made up of plains and low hills.
History & Politics
In 1474, Equatorial Guinea was discovered by a Portuguese navigator and became a large source of slaves to the colonies. It was later ceded to Spain in 1778 at which point it depended administratively on the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata with its seat in Buenos Aires. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that the Spanish started settling on the mainland. The nation finally gained its independence in 1968 under the leadership of “President” Francisco Macías Nguema. This brutal dictator is considered to be one of the worst in African history and ruled with absolute control and power, allegedly leading to the death or exile of up to one third of the population during his reign. He was eventually deposed in a bloody coup d’etat in 1979 by his nephew, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo who remains in power as President today. The country has experienced considerable economic growth in recent years after the discovery of large oil reserves offshore. President Obiang’s rule, although officially a multiparty democracy, has been considered one of the most corrupt and brutal of Africa in the past decades. There have been many reports of human and civil rights violations and several attempted coups to oust the current government. Today the country is attempting to settle good relations with the United States.
¿Sabías qué….? On Christmas Day 1975, President Macías had 150 alleged coup plotters executed while blasting Mary Hopkin’s, Those Were the Days over the speakers in the national stadium.
Media is closely controlled by the state, causing the group Reporters without Borders to declare in 2002 that the press minister (and President’s son), Teodorin Nguema Obiang, was one of the 30 “predators” worldwide whose “actions threaten the principle of a free press.” The main broadcasts are government-owned radio and TV stations along with a private station that is owned by one of the elite. Some international transmissions are also available but in general there is heavy censoring and media companies are banned by law from criticizing public figures.
La Opinion (private)
La Nacion (private)
the Government’s official press site: http://www.guineaecuatorialpress.com/