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SafetyTravel Safety: Africa: Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea: Republic of Equatorial Guinea
Capital: Malabo
Population: 498,144
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF)
Languages: Spanish (official), French (official), pidgin English, Fang, Bubi, Ibo
Religions: nominally Christian and predominantly Roman Catholic, pagan practices
Borders: Cameroon 189 km, Gabon 350 km

Equatorial Guinea is a developing country in central Africa. Its capital, Malabo, is located on the island of Bioko, off the coast of Cameroon. Its principal port, Luba, is also on Bioko. The mainland territory of Equatorial Guinea is located between Cameroon and Gabon. The principal city on the mainland is Bata. Facilities for tourism are limited. Official languages are Spanish, which is widely spoken, and French, which is sometimes used in business dealings and with government officials.

It is not uncommon for a uniformed member of the security forces to stop motorists on the pretext of minor or nonexistent violations of the local motor vehicle regulations in order to extort small bribes. Visitors are advised not to pay bribes, and to request that the officer provide a citation to be paid at the local court. Although large public demonstrations are uncommon, U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations.

Violent crime is rare and the overall level of criminal activity is low in comparison to other countries in the region. However, there has been a rise in non-violent street crime and residential burglaries.

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those of the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law in Equatorial Guinea can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Equatorial Guinea 's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Medical facilities are extremely limited. Pharmacies in Malabo and Bata stock basic medicines including antibiotics, but cannot be counted on to supply advanced medications. Outside of these cities, many medicines are unavailable. Travelers are advised to carry any special medication that they require. The sanitation levels in even the best hospitals are very low. Doctors and hospitals often require immediate payment for health services, and patients are expected to supply their own bandages, linen and toiletries.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Equatorial Guinea is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Condiitons/Maintenance: Fair To Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Nonexistent

Equatorial Guinea 's road networks, both paved and unpaved, are underdeveloped and unsafe. During the rainy season, many roads are passable only with four-wheel-drive vehicles. New road construction and repair is taking place in Malabo, Bata, and a few outlying areas, but only a fraction of the roadways have been affected. There are few road and traffic signs. Livestock and pedestrians create constant road hazards.

Travelers outside the limits of Malabo and Bata may expect to encounter occasional military roadblocks. These are in place largely for the control of illegal immigration and smuggling. Travelers should be prepared to show proper identification (for example, a U.S. passport) and to explain their reason for being at that particular location. The personnel staffing these checkpoints normally do not speak or understand English or French; travelers who do not speak Spanish would do well to have their reason for being in the country and their itinerary written down in Spanish before venturing into the countryside.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at

As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Equatorial Guinea by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Equatoguinean Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For further information, regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.

There are no navigational aids at Bata Airport. At Malabo Airport, there are navigational aids, and the airport accommodates night landings. Special clearances are required to land in or to overfly Equatoguinean territory.

Commercial air travel to and from Equatorial Guinea can be difficult, but is improving. The island of Bioko and the mainland are connected by several small airlines offering daily service. Malabo is served by European airlines that fly in and out of the country a few times per week from Madrid, Amsterdam, Paris and Zurich. The airlines of nearby Cameroon and Gabon also fly there, although their schedules are subject to change or cancellation without notice, and their flights tend to be extremely crowded.

Special permits from the Ministry of Information and Tourism (or from the local delegation if outside Malabo ) are required for virtually all types of photography. Police or security officials may charge a fine, attempt to take a violator into custody, or seize the camera and film of persons photographing the Presidential Palace and its environs, military installations, airports, harbors, government buildings, and other areas.

Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

February 9, 2004

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