Equatorial Guinea - Languages

Languages

The official languages are Spanish (for the local variety see Equatoguinean Spanish), French, and Portuguese. However, the government's official homepage states that: "Spanish is the official administrative language and that of education. French is the second official language and nearly all the ethnic groups speak the languages referred to as Bantu."

Indigenous languages include Fang, Bube, Benga, Pichinglis, Ndowe, Balengue, Bujeba, Bissio, Gumu, nearly extinct Baseke, and others, as well as Annobonese language (Fá d'Ambô) a Portuguese creole, and Fernando Poo Creole English. English and German are also studied as foreign languages.

Aboriginal languages are recognized as integral parts of the "national culture" (Constitutional Law No. 1/1998 January 21). The great majority of Equatorial Guineans speak Spanish, especially those living in the capital, Malabo. Spanish has been an official language since 1844.

Some media reported that in October 2011, the Constitutional Law that amends article four of the Constitution of Equatorial Guinea was enacted by Chamber of People's Representatives. This Constitutional Law established the third official language of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea – Portuguese (by that time only the Spanish and French had official status). This was in an effort by the government to improve its communications, trade, and bilateral relations with Portuguese-speaking countries. The adoption of Portuguese followed the announcement on 13 July 2007, by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of his government's decision for Portuguese to become Equatorial Guinea's third official language, in order to meet one of the requirements to apply for full membership in the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), the other one being political reforms allowing for effective democracy and the respect for human rights. This upgrading from its current Associate Observer condition would result in Equatorial Guinea being able to access several professional and academic exchange programs and the facilitation of cross-border circulation of citizens. Its application for membership of the CPLP is currently being assessed by the organisations' members. According to draft of the Constitutional Law: “This Constitutional Law will go into effect twenty days from its publication in the Official State Gazette”. In October 2011, the national parliament was discussing this law. So far no official confirmation of approving the decree by the Parliament nor published it in the Official State Gazette. Moreover, official Equatorial Guinean sources do not treat Portuguese as an official language yet.

In February 2012, Equatorial Guinea's foreign minister signed an agreement with the IILP (Instituto Internacional da Língua Portuguesa) on the promotion of Portuguese in Equatorial Guinea. However, in July 2012 the CPLP again refused Equatorial Guinea full membership, less because of insufficient progress in the introduction of Portuguese, and primarily because of the constant violations of human rights in the country.

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