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Sunday, February 05, 2006


Malabo is the capital city of Equatorial Guinea, located on the northern coast of Bioko Island (formerly Fernando Poo). It has a population of approximately 38,000. The city was first founded by the British in 1827, who leased the island from Spain during the colonial period. Named Port Clarence, it was used as a naval station in the effort to suppress the slave trade. Many newly freed slaves were also settled there, prior to the establishment of Sierra Leone as a colony for freed slaves. While many of them later relocated to Sierra Leone, some of their descendants, called Fernandinos, can still be found in Malabo and the surrounding area, where they constitute a distinct ethnic group, speaking their own Afro-Portuguese pidgin dialect. When the island reverted to complete Spanish control, Malabo was renamed Santa Isabel. It was chosen to replace the mainland town of Bata as the capital of the country in 1969, and was renamed Malabo in 1973 as part of President Francisco Mac�as Nguemas campaign to replace European place names with authentic African ones. During his reign of terror, Mac�as Nguema led a near-genocide of the countrys Bubi minority, which formed the majority on Bioko Island, and brought many of his own tribespeople, the Fang to Malabo. In the final years of his rule, when Equatorial Guinea was sometimes known as the Auschwitz of Africa, much of the citys population fled as, indeed, about one-third of the countrys population. Malabo has yet to recover from the scars of that period.

Changes since the discovery of oil

Malabo has been significantly affected by Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogos growing cooperation with the oil industry. The countrys production has reached 360,000 barrels/day as of 2004, an increase which had led to a doubling of the citys population Oil has also led to the first regularly-scheduled service between the United States and the city, a weekly flight 100 by Houston Express, a private charter air service formed by an agreement between SONANGOL, Economy of Angola national oil company, and World Airways


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