14 awesome photos from the only country in Africa where the official language is Spanish.

See the beauty of the untouched country of Equatorial Guinea.

Here’s a random fact you can use to impress people: Equatorial Guinea is the only sovereign state in Africa where Spanish is the official language.

Situated on the west coast of central Africa, Equatorial Guinea spans nearly 11,000 square miles, making it about the size of Massachusetts, and it’s home to only 1.2 million people. According to some reports, the country was the sixth least visited country in the world in 2015.

The country is gorgeous, too. It's one of many beautiful places around the world that you might not have heard of.

Don't believe me? Here are 14 photos that sum up what the country is all about:


1. Tiny fishing villages.

Every day, locals wait for the daily catch to be brought in at a beach in Annobón's Capital, San Antonio de Pale. Photo by Oscar Scafidi, used with permission.

2. 19th century colonial architecture.

La Casa Verde (“the green house”) is one of Malabo's architectural highlights and previously served as the Portuguese embassy. It was fully renovated in 2014. Photo by Oscar Scafidi, used with permission.

The country became known as the Republic of Equatorial Guinea ("Guinea Ecuatorial" in Spanish) when it declared independence from Spain in 1968. And although Spanish isn’t the only language spoken in Equatorial Guinea, years of Spanish education means the Spanish language and culture is still deeply entrenched in society.

3. Italian basilicas.

This is the Italian-designed Basílica de la Inmaculada Concepción in Mongomo. It is the second largest Catholic church in all of Africa. Photo by Oscar Scafidi, used with permission.

4. Lots of cathedrals.

The Santa Isabel Cathedral dominates the central Malabo skyline seen here from the port and was partially designed by renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Photo by Equatorial Guinea/Flickr, used with permission.

5. Ornate decorations.

The entryway leading to the interior of the Catedral de Santa Isabel in Malabo. Photo by @jbermudezm, used with permission.

6. Members of the indigenous Fang tribe.

The majority of the population is made of up the Fang tribe, but the buildings still have classic Spanish facades. This is one such example: the Cathedral in Bata. Photo by John and Melanie/Flickr, used with permission.

7. Ruins on ruins on ruins.

The remains of a Claretian mission house on Corisco, an island in the Rio Muni estuary. Photo by Oscar Scafidi, used with permission.

8. Tropical beaches with palm trees.

Malabo is tropical and lush, which means jungle-like vegetation grows alongside palm trees. Photo by John and Melanie/Flickr, used with permission.

9. Untouched white sandy beachscapes.

The luxury hotel Sofitel Sipopo Le Golf in Malabo has a quiet private beach on a botanical island, and it also houses a spa and 18-hole golf course, which are said to be the first on the island. Photo via @mary_gdsg.

The country’s landscape is made up of the mainland territory, Rio Muni, and five islands (some volcanic), including Bioko, the largest.

10. Waterfalls surrounded by lush jungles.

This is one of many waterfalls in the southern beaches of Ureca in the Gran Caldera. It’s on the southern coast of Bioko with black volcanic sand beaches, whcih is also known as a sea turtle nesting site. Photo by @janzieglerphotography, used with permission.

11. State-of-the-art city plazas.

Independence Plaza in the capital city of Malabo. Photo by @jbermudezm, used with permission.

Oscar Scafidi, the author of the Bradt travel guide to Equatorial Guinea, says his experiences visiting the country were both wild and quiet.

“To get [to new capital city, Oyala], I drove for two hours from Bata, the mainland capital on the Atlantic coastline. I approached the city on an eight lane highway, completely empty in both directions, and when I arrived I was amazed. It is very strange to find a huge, modern, empty city under construction in such a remote location.”

12. Awe-inspiring sunsets.

Arena Blanca's beach is famously beautiful with warm water and gentle currents and several hiking trails. It is the only white sand beach in Bioko island. Photo by @quineaecuatorial, used with permission.

13. Delicious snacks.

Plátanos are similar to bananas but less sweet; they are typically fried, which extracts the natural sugars. Photo by @quineaecuatorial, used with permission.

14. Incredible mountains.

Pico Basilé is the highest mountain on Bioko with an altitude of 9,879 feet. It is the summit of the largest and highest of the three shield volcanoes that form the island. Photo by @lovetwp, used with permission.

“There’s an incredible sort of mini Dubai being built in the middle of the jungle, and on the other hand it’s a paradise if you’re into animals — western lowland gorillas, forest elephants and a sea wildlife unique to the area,” Scafidi told The Guardian about his visit.

But this untouched corner of the world also reminds us that beauty is hiding behind every corner, beyond typical tourist destinations and marketing campaigns.

We just have to look for it.

Most Shared
True
Earth Day

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

Culture

Gerrymandering is a funny word, isn't it? Did you know that it's actually a mashup of the name "Gerry" and the word "salamander"? Apparently, in 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry had a new voting district drawn that seemed to favor his party. On a map, the district looked like a salamander, and a Boston paper published it with the title The GerryMander.

That tidbit of absurdity seems rather tame compared to an entire alphabet made from redrawn voting districts a century later, and yet here we are. God bless America.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Wikipedia

Women in country music are fighting to be heard. Literally. A study found that between 2000 and 2018, the amount of country songs on the radio by women had fallen by 66%. In 2018, just 11.3% of country songs on the radio were by women. The statistics don't exist in a vacuum. There are misogynistic attitudes behind them. Anyone remember the time radio consultant Keith Hill compared country radio stations to a salad, saying male artists are the lettuce and women are "the tomatoes of our salad"...? Air play of female country artists fell from 19% of songs on the radio to 10.4% of songs on the radio in the three years after he said that.

Not everyone thinks that women are tomatoes. This year's CMA Awards celebrated women, and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles saw the opportunity to bring awareness to this issue and "inspire conversation about country music's need to play more women artists on radio and play listings," as Nettles put it on her Instagram. She did it in a uniquely feminine way – by making a fashion statement that also made a statement-statement.

Keep Reading Show less
popular