Learn more about Bioko
Bioko (spelled also Bioco) is an island off the west coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea, part of Equatorial Guinea. In colonial times it was known as Fernando Pó or Fernando Póo, and under the Africanization policy of dictator Masie Nguema Biyogo it was renamed Masie Ngueme Biyogo Island; on his overthrow in 1979 it was named Bioko. It is known as Otcho to the Bubi people.
Bioko has a total area of 2,017 square kilometers. It is 70 km long from NNE to SSW and about 32 km across. It is volcanic and very mountainous with highest peak Pico Basile (3012 m) and in this way resembles neighboring islands such as São Tomé and Príncipe.
The island was inhabited in the middle of the first millennium C.E. by Bantu tribes from the mainland which formed the ethnic group Bubi. The first European discovery of the island was made in 1472, by the Portuguese navigator Fernão do Pó. It was at first named Formosa Flora ('Beautiful Flower'), but in 1494 was renamed for its discoverer (Fernando Pó or Fernando Póo). Unlike other islands in the area, Bioko had an indigenous (African) population. Still a distinct ethnic group on the island today, these indigenous people, the Bubi, speak a Bantu language; the island was probably inhabited by this or other Bantu-speaking groups since before the 7th century BC.
In 1642 the Dutch Indian Company established its trade bases on the island without Portuguese consent, temporarily centralizing from there the trade of slaves in the Gulf of Guinea, although the Portuguese appeared once again on the island in 1648, replacing the Dutch Company by one of their own dedicated to the same trade and established in its neighbour island Corisco. Parallel with this establishment began the slow process of establishing the core of a new kingdom on the island formed by Bubi clans, especially after the activity of some local chiefs like Molombo (approx. 1700–1760) during a period of harsh enslavement in the region, a situation that forced local clans to abandon their coastal settlements and settle in the safer interior of the island.
Portugal ceded to Spain Fernando Póo, Annobón and the Guinea coast (modern Equatorial Guinea) in 1778, with the Treaty of El Pardo, signed between Queen Mary II of Portugal and King Charles III of Spain, in exchange for territory in the American continent. Spain then mounted an expedition to Fernando Póo, led by the Conde de Argelejos and stayed for four months. In October 1778 Spain installed a governor on the island that stayed till 1780 when the Spanish mission left the island.
Molambo was succeeded by another local chief, Lorite (1760-1810) who was succeeded by Lopoa (1810-1842). From 1827 to 1843 the British leased bases at Port Clarence (modern Malabo) and San Carlos for their anti-slavery patrols. Juan José Lerena in March 1843 put the Spanish flag in Malabo, ending British influence on the island. Madabita (1842-1860) and Sepoko (1860-1875) were principal local chiefs during reestablishment of Spanish rule on the island. This period was also marked by immigration of several hundred Afro-Cubans as well as tens of Spanish scholars and politicians.
 Postal history
 In Popular Culture
- Fernando Poo (without the accent) is the site of a fictional coup d'état and nuclear crisis in Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's The Illuminatus! Trilogy, where it is an integral part of the first book (The Eye in the Pyramid). The second book (The Golden Apple) reveals that Fernando Poo is one of the last surviving remants of the sunken continent of Atlantis.
 See also
- Room, Adrian (1994). African placenames. Jefferson, NC (USA): McFarland. ISBN 0-89950-943-6
- Sundiata, Ibrahim K. (1990). Equatorial Guinea: Colonialism, State Terror, and the Search for Stability. Boulder, CO (USA): Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-0429-6
 External links