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

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.

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