Equatorial Guinea

one of THE smallest and least developed countries in Africa, Equatorial Guinea was formerly the colony of Spanish Guinea, in central Africa, with the mainland bordering with Gabon and the Cameroon, and the capital, Malabo, located on the island of Bioko (formerly Fernando Po) in the Bight of Biafra. It has a land area of 10,828 sq. mi. (28,051 sq. km.), with a population of 504,000 (2005 est.), and a population density of 47 people per sq. mi. (18 people per sq. km.). Located in the tropics, only 5 percent of the country's land is arable, with much of it used for subsistence farming, and growing cocoa and coffee; another 4 percent is used for meadows and pasture. In addition, 46 percent of the land is forested, some of it covered in dense tropical jungle, especially in the south. The country remains undeveloped, although oil deposits have recently been found offshore, promising prosperity for the ruling class in the country.

Approximately 91 percent of the Equatorial Guinea's electricity production comes from fossil fuels, with 9 percent from hydropower. In 1990, the country's per capita carbon dioxide emissions were 0.3 metric tons, rising to 0.35 metric tons in 2003. All the country's carbon dioxide emissions come from liquid fuel, since the country has a very poor public transportation network. Transportation from one part of the country to another is undertaken mainly by minibus or bush taxi along badly maintained roads, except on Bioko, where many of the roads are sealed. The discovery of oil is likely to lead to a higher demand for electricity and greater private ownership of automobiles.

The effects of climate change and global warming on Equatorial Guinea involve a greater risk of flooding, with much of the coast of the mainland low-lying. This would not only damage the coastal infrastructure, but could also lead to increased breeding grounds for mosquitoes, leading to increased prevalence of malaria, dengue fever, and other insect-borne diseases. The Equatorial Guinea government ratified the Vienna Convention in 1988, and took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992. It accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on August 16, 2000, which took effect on October 16, 2005.

sEE ALso: Diseases; Floods; Transportation.

BIBLioGRApHY. Max Liniger-Goumaz, Small is Not Beautiful: The Story of Equatorial Guinea (Hurst, 1989); Livestock Breeding in Equatorial Guinea (Food and Agricultural Organization, 1970); World Resources Institute, "Equatorial Guinea—Climate and Atmosphere," www.earthtrends.wri. org (cited October 2007).

JUSTIN CORFIELD Geelong Grammar School, Australia

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