Equatorial Guinean Lifestyle and Culture

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Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience and, should you choose Equatorial Guinea, our RocApply tips and guides will enhance what will already be a wonderful trip.

We understand the pertinence of knowing the culture and lifestyle of your country of destination for a semester abroad and therefore have made this guide to equip you on what to expect in Equatorial Guinea.


In the late 15th century, the Portuguese colonized the area that makes up what is known today as Equatorial Guinea. The Bantu migrated there in the 17th and 19th centuries.

The Portuguese eventually handed the territory to the Spanish in 1788, and until 1959, the country was run as the protectorate of Spanish Guinea. The colony was granted full independence in 1968.

Equatorial Guinea’s first decade of freedom was dark because of the incompetent and crude rule of the president, Macias Nguema. In 1979, Lieutenant Colonel Teodoro Obiang, his nephew, overthrew President Nguema through a military coup. Conditions initially improved after international aid was administered and the region became a part of the Franc Zone of the CFA!

Culture and Lifestyle

The mainland’s culture is primarily influenced by ancient rituals and songs, while Bioko Island is ruled by colonial Spanish traditions. Music and dance are at the core of Equatoguineans, and they are treated by the natives as religiously significant.

Traditional musical instruments include xylophones, big drums, the small thumb bamboo-made piano called sanza, the harp, and the wooden trumpet. The literary culture is mainly about legends and myths passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation.

The country has no official religion, but its people are mostly Roman Catholic, while a small percentage of the population practices animism. Many ancient customs have been preserved by the Bubi people.

One of the country’s most famous celebrations is the abira, which is performed to drive evil away by cleansing the society. Traditional dances like balele can be seen throughout the year and on special occasions like Christmas days.

Equatorial Guinea boasts a wide selection of Atlantic-caught seafood and tropical produce. Spanish colonial influences also play a part in what's eaten as some locals prefer to use imported ingredients and cooking techniques.

However, Equatorial Guinean cuisine for the most part stems from the local tribes, particularly of West African ethnicities from Bantus and the pygmies. Even city dwellers use yams, plantains, and cassava as main ingredients for every meal.

Nowadays, it is common to find a range of European and Spanish dishes, including marinated meats and tapas in food shops across the country. Cocoa and coffee help drive the nation’s economy, but Equatorial Guineans prefer palm wine, Osang (African tea), and malamba, which is local sugar mixed with alcohol. The people are warm and welcoming in almost every part of the country.


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