Bioko is a volcanic island found off the west coast of Africa. Bioko is a relatively large land mass, and is one of the two principal areas that comprise the nation of Equatorial Guinea. Bioko covers nearly eight hundred square miles, and has a total population of about one hundred and thirty thousand residents. Bioko, which is also known as Fernando Po and Bioco, is located less than twenty miles off the coast of Africa, across from the nation of Cameroon. Bioko takes its European name, Fernando Po, from the Portuguese explorer and sailor Fernao do Po, who came upon the island in the late fifteenth century. Historians believe that Bioko was inhabited by an indigenous people known as the Bubi before heavy Bantu colonization. During the first millennium BC, Bantu Tribes migrated to the island from the African mainland. After Portuguese contact and colonization, the Dutch East India Company had a heavy influence on the island’s economy, which relied heavily on both the slave trade and agriculture. Bioko eventually came under the control of the Spanish Empire, the British Empire, and the Spanish Empire once again.
In the modern day, Bioko’s largest city, Malabo, is the capital city of Equatorial Guinea. The island’s reserves of natural gas have been discovered and tapped, opening a new chapter in Bioko’s economic history. Bioko’s climate is tropical, thanks to its location, and the majority of the island is blanketed with a lush, green rainforest. Bioko’s biodiversity have made it extremely popular among eco-tourists. The island lays claim to a significant number of endangered primate species, as well as other varieties of rare indigenous flora and fauna. Some of these include about two hundred different bird species, several dozen native plants, and even sea turtles. Although many of the island’s tourist attractions are concentrated in the city of Malabo, the southern parts of Bioko are home to acres of untouched rainforest that are increasingly becoming a hotbed for biological research. The Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program serves as an intermediary between researchers and the Equatorial Guinean government, and maintains an outpost in the enclave of Moka. Perhaps the best known environmental and natural points of interest on Bioko are Pico Basile, the Gran Caldera, the Southern Beaches, Arena Blanca, the Cascades, and Moeri.
The strong influence of African nationalism can be clearly seen in the streets of Bioko’s population center, Malabo, which boast names such as “Independence Avenue” in commemoration of the natino’s separation from colonial powers. Malabo is also home to the palatial presidential palace and palace grounds, which are found in the eastern portion of the city. Many parts of the city have maintained a considerable number of Spanish colonial structures, such as the colonial cathedral in Independence Place. Transportation to major African and European cities is provided primarily by Malabo International Airport, although a number of smaller destinations are accessible by boat or ferry. Some notable sites of interest in Malabo include the Malabo Government Building and the Sofitel Malabo President Palace as well as the Hotel Impala. Malabo is also home to the Colegio Nacional Enrique Nvo Okenve, where students study in year-round warm weather.