Equatorial Guinea

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Equatorial Guinea is a developing country in Central Africa. Its capital, Malabo, is located on the island of Bioko, off the coast of Cameroon. The mainland territory of Equatorial Guinea is located between Cameroon and Gabon. Facilities for tourism are limited.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: U.S. citizens are not required to have visas to enter Equatorial Guinea. Travelers, however, should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Suite 405, 1511 K Street, N.W., Washington D.C. 20005, telephone (202) 393-0525, fax (202) 393-0348. Overseas inquiries should be made to the nearest Equatoguinean Embassy or Consulate.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are extremely limited. Many medicines are unavailable. Doctors and hospitals often require immediate payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The sanitation levels in even the best hospitals are low. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical service outside the U.S. In some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas and medical evacuation coverage has proven useful. For additional health information, travelers may contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at 1- 888-232-3228 or the toll-free CDC autofax at 1-888-232-3299, or via their Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Violent crime is rare and the overall level of criminal activity is low in comparison to other countries in the region. However, non-violent street crime and residential burglaries are on the rise. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Subsaharan Africa provide useful information on personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 20402.

Road Safety: Roads outside the major cities of Malabo and Bata are generally in poor condition, unpaved and may require a four-wheel drive vehicle. Pedestrians and livestock are often on the roadways. Nighttime travel on unfamiliar roads may be dangerous.

Aviation Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service at present, or economic authority to operate such service between the U.S. and Equatorial Guinea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Equatoguinean Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

Service of Regional Airlines: Equatorial Guinea is served by Iberia, Air Afrique, Cameroon Airways, Equatoguinea de Aviacion (EGA), GEASA, and Air Affaires Afrique. In addition to these scheduled carriers, a few small charter firms operate in the country. U.S. Government employees have used all scheduled carriers for official travel, but among these, only Iberia and Air Afrique fly to the U.S. and are subject to safety oversight by governments assessed by the FAA.

Currency Restrictions: The Government of Equatorial Guinea maintains stringent currency restrictions, applied upon arrival and departure from the country. Visitors bearing tourist passports must declare any currency in excess of 50,000 CFA (approximately $100) upon arrival. Although this requirement is not clearly posted, travelers who fail to declare their excess currency risk forfeiture of any amount over 50,000 CFA upon departure.

Photography Restrictions: Special permits may be needed for some types of photography. Police or security officials may charge a fine, attempt to take the person into custody or seize the camera and film of persons photographing the Presidential Palace and its environs, military installations, airports, harbors and other areas.

DRUG PENALTIES: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Business Activities: Caution is strongly recommended in pursuing joint business ventures and licensing arrangements in Equatorial Guinea, as the investment climate presents enduring high-risk factors. Business people interested in visiting Equatorial Guinea are encouraged to contact the American Business Services Center at the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde or at the Embassy's Douala Office.

U.S. Representation: The U.S. closed its Embassy in Malabo in November 1995. U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde. Travelers may also obtain updated travel and security information from this office. The address for the U.S. Embassy is B.P. 817, Yaounde, Cameroon. The telephone number is (237) 23-40-14 or (237) 22-17-94, and the fax number is (237) 23-07-53.

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