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aka Fernando Po; main island portion of Equatorial Guinea
Bioko lies about 26 miles off Cameroon, and about 130 miles from Rio Muni, the mainland portion of Equatorial Guines. It has an area of 778 square miles. Of volcanic origin, the island is quite mountainous and is home to the highest peak in Equatorial Guinea, 9,869-foot-high Pico Basile. Very fertile soils support large cacao, coffee, and banana plantations, and much of what land isn't farmed is covered by tropical forests rich in mahogany and ebony.
Bioko is home to 334,463 people, the majority of whom are Bubi. Other major ethnic groups include Fang, Nigerian (primarily Ibo) and other African immigrants, and European immigrants. The largest city is Malabo, the capital city of Equatorial Guinea.
Bioko was discovered by Portuguese navigator Fernão Po in 1471. A Portuguese settlement was subsequently established on the island, but formal colonization of the island did not occur until 1648, when Portugal established slave trading bases. Fernando Po, as the island was then called, along with the island of Annobón and certain commercial rights on the Guinea coast, were ceded to Spain in 1778. Spain intended to use the island as a slaving station from which to provide labor for its American colonies, but never established a permanent settlement and lost interest in the island when the slave trade was outlawed. In 1827, Spain truned administration of the island over to the British Slave Commission, which operated it as a base from which to suppress slave trading. Spain resumed control in 1843, the same year it occupied Rio Muni, but did not send out a Governor until 1858. True Spanish interest in the island did not come, however, until after the Spanish-American War, during which Spain lost its West Indian and Pacific colonies. Fernando Po was administered as a part of Spanish Guinea until 1960, when it and became the Overseas Province of Fernando Po. A 1963 plebiscite voted in favor of self-government, and Spain granted it administrative autonomy, effective January 1, 1964. It became part of the independent Republic of Equatorial Guinea on October 12, 1968, and was given its current name in 1979 (in honor of politician Cristino Seriche Bioko).
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This page was last updated on 01/06/2018.