Equatorial Guinea

Language

Language

The official languages are Spanish (the local variant is Equatoguinean Spanish) and French. Portuguese was considered for adoption as an official language in 2010 but has not yet been fully recognized.  Spanish has been an official language since 1844 and is the language of education and administration. 67.6% of Equatorial Guineans can speak it, especially those living in the capital, Malabo. Aboriginal languages are recognized as integral parts of the "national culture" (Constitutional Law No. 1/1998 January 21). Indigenous languages include Fang, Bube, Benga, Ndowe, Balengue, Bujeba, Bissio, Gumu, Pichinglis, Fa d’Ambô and the nearly extinct Baseke. Most African ethnic groups speak Bantu languages."

Fa d’Ambô, a Portuguese creole, has vigorous use in Annobón Province, in Malabo (the capital), and among some speakers in Equatorial Guinea's mainland. Many residents of Bioko can also speak Spanish, particularly in the capital, and the local trade language Pichinglis, an English-based creole. Spanish is not spoken much in Annobón. In government and education Spanish is used. Noncreolized Portuguese is used as liturgical language by local Catholics. The Annobonese ethnic community tried to gain membership in the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP). The government financed an Instituto Internacional da Língua Portuguesa (IILP) sociolinguistic study in Annobón. It documented strong links with the Portuguese creole populations in São Tomé and Príncipe, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau.

Due to historical and cultural ties, in 2010 the legislature amended article four of the Constitution of Equatorial Guinea, to establish Portuguese as an official language of the Republic. This was an effort by the government to improve its communications, trade, and bilateral relations with Portuguese-speaking countries. Nevertheless, the government still has yet to ratify official recognition of Portuguese as an official language.

The proposed adoption of Portuguese by the government was in order to gain membership into the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), in which the country would be able to gain additional access to several professional and academic exchange programs and the facilitate cross-border circulation of citizens. In addition, the nation has been told it has to adopt political reforms allowing for effective democracy and the respect for human rights. The national parliament discussed this law in October 2011.

In February 2012, Equatorial Guinea's foreign minister signed an agreement with the IILP on the promotion of Portuguese in the country.

But in July 2012 the CPLP again refused Equatorial Guinea full membership, primarily because of its continued serious violations of human rights. The government responded by legalizing political parties, declaring a moratorium on the death penalty, and starting a dialog with all political forces. IILP secured land from the government for the construction of Portuguese language cultural centers in Bata and Malabo. At its 10th summit in Dili in July 2014, Equatorial Guinea was admitted as a CPLP member. Abolition of the death penalty and the promotion of Portuguese as an official language were recommendations of that approval.

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Equatorial Guinea - Travel guide

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