Annobón (or Annabon or Anabon; from Ano bom Portuguese for Good Year), also known as Pagalu or Pigalu, is an island of Equatorial Guinea. It is located in the South Atlantic Ocean at Coordinates: , about 220 miles (350 km) west of Gabon and 110 miles (180 km) south west of São Tomé Island. It measures about 4 miles (6.4 km) long by 2 miles (3.2 km) wide (6.4 by 3.2 km), with an area of about 6¾ square miles (17.5 km²). It has a population of around 5,000. The island's main industries are fishing and timber.
Annobón is an extinct volcano of which just the 598 m (1961 ft) peak (called Quioveo) rises above sea level. It is characterised by a succession of lush valleys and steep mountains, covered with rich woods and luxuriant vegetation. It has a central crater lake named Lago A Pot. A number of tiny rocky islets lie off the main island, including Santarém to the south.
The island constitutes the small Annobón Province, one of the provinces of Equatorial Guinea. Its capital is the northern village of San Antonio de Palé, and the island's other main settlement is the similarly named San Antonio. The roadstead is relatively safe, and some passing vessels take advantage of it in order to obtain water and fresh provisions, of which Annobon offers an abundant supply. However, there is no regular shipping service to the rest of Equatorial Guinea, and ships call as infrequently as every few months.
Annobón is often described as being "in the Gulf of Guinea" like the neighbouring islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, but the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) boundary line for the Gulf of Guinea actually runs north of it.
The island was discovered by the Portuguese on January 1, 1473 – its name arises from its discovery on New Year's Day. It was apparently uninhabited until colonised under the Portuguese from 1474, primarily by Africans from Angola via São Tomé Island.
The island was passed to Spain in 1778 by the First Treaty of San Ildefonso, together with Fernando Pó (now Bioko) and the Guinea coast as part of an exchange in which Portugal received territory in Brazil. Spain wished to acquire territory in Africa, while Portugal wanted to further enlarge what they called "New Portugal" (Brazil). The Spanish colony thus formed came to be known as Spanish Guinea.
The island's populace was opposed to the arrangement and hostile toward the Spaniards. The islanders revolted against their new masters and a state of anarchy ensued, leading, it is said, to an arrangement by which the island was administered by a body of five natives, each of whom held the office of governor during the period that elapsed until ten ships landed at the island. In the latter part of the 19th century the authority of Spain was re-established. The island briefly became part of the Elobey, Annobón, and Corisco colony until 1909.
In 1968, Spanish Guinea, including the island of Annobon, achieved independence from Spain as the state of Equatorial Guinea.
During the final years of the rule of Francisco Macías Nguema, the first President of Equatorial Guinea, the island was called Pigalu or Pagalu (Parrot), which is the name by which it is known in Portuguese.
Today, Spanish is the official language. The island's inhabitants are of mixed Portuguese, Spanish, and Angolan descent. Nevertheless, the early anti-Spanish sentiment, combined with the isolation from mainland Equatorial Guinea and the proximity of São Tomé and Príncipe — which is just 175 km (about 110 miles) from the island — has helped preserve the island's cultural ties with Portugal.
Flora and fauna
Originally, this small equatorial island 335 km (about 210 miles) from the Gabonese coast was uninhabited and had great biological diversity. With colonisation, islanders used rafts or "cayucos" (canoe-like boats), and hunted humpback whales, whale calves, and other Cetaceans with harpoons near to the island.
Today the Ojo Blanco (Annobón White-eye, Zosterops griseovirescens) and the Monarca del Paraíso de Annobón (Annobón Paradise-flycatcher, Terpsiphone smithii) are endemic passeri (songbirds), as is the São Tomé Island or Malherbi pigeon (Columba malherbii). There are 29 species of bird on the island as well as 2 bat species (1 endemic); reptiles (5 species endemics): 1 snake, 3 geckos, 2 scincid lizards, 3 marine turtles; river fish: 18 species (1 endemic); mosquitoes, scorpions and huge centipedes. Introduced domestic animals include: fish, guinea fowl, rats, dogs and cats. The island has no indigenous mammalian predators. Sharks are found in the surrounding sea.
The island's main language is the Annobonese language (Fá d'Ambô), a Portuguese creole. Spanish, the official language, is also widely spoken, especially by schoolchildren and those working in tourism. Spanish is also a second language of the majority of residents.
Annobon is of strategic importance to Equatorial Guinea as through its ownership the Equatorial Guinean government claims to extensive maritime territory to the south of its neighbour, São Tomé and Príncipe (which itself lies to the south of Equatorial Guinea's main land mass). Oil in the Gulf of Guinea represents more than 80% of Equatorial Guinea's economy, though supplies from current reserves are predicted by some sources to run out before 2020. Although no drilling is currently taking place in São Tomé, there are estimated to be 34 billion barrels (5.4×109 m3) of oil within its marine borders. Equatorial Guinea claims the right to explore for and produce hydrocarbons in a huge area of sea surrounding Annobón that stretches from 1°N to almost 5°S, and from 2°E to 7°E; an area larger than the entire land and sea borders of the rest of Equatorial Guinea.
The German edition of Der Spiegel of 28 August 2006 reported that the government of Equatorial Guinea uses the island of Annobón to bury radioactive waste.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. Cite has empty unknown parameter:
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- Gulf of Guinea Conservation Group
- Ghuty Mamae: La esencia de Annobón
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