Independence Day falls on 12 October in Equatorial Guinea, looking back to the day in 1968 when the small central African nation gained its independence from the Spanish Empire.
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Although surrounded by the French African Empire, Equatorial Guinea was under Spanish control for hundreds of years. It consists of both a mainland “square” section on the Atlantic Coast and several large islands in the Gulf of Guinea. This area was very important for the slave trade and other commerce during the colonial age.
After centuries of slavery and oppression, an independence movement gained momentum in Equatorial Guinea after World War II. The culmination came in 1968, when independence leader Francisco Nguema was elected president and Spain relented and recognised the nation’s new independent status by October of that same year. After independence, there was much chaos, and a dictatorship was eventually set up that has dominated the nation since 1979.
On Independence Day, citizens of Equatorial Guinea remember their long history and their escape from the oppressive rule of Spain. They also celebrate the eradication of slavery and the slave trade in the homeland. There are festive gatherings in various towns throughout Equatorial Guinea on 12 October, including a particularly famous one in the mainland town of Evinayong.
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