The main island
of Equatorial Guinea
, containing the capital Malabo
(formerly Santa Isabel), population about 70 000. Other towns are Luba
. Its area is about 2000 km2
Lying in the Bight of Bonny, part of the Gulf of Guinea, it is basically one big volcano (still called Santa Isabel) part of the chain (the Cameroon Volcanic Line) that includes Mt Cameroon on the mainland. Santa Isabel erupted in 1898, 1903, and 1923. It has two calderas and three peaks, the highest exceeding 3000 m.
Bioko was called Fernando Poo before independence, or Fernando Po, which is not much of an improvement. The mad bloodcrazed dictator and founding president of Equatorial Guinea, Macias Nguema Biyogo, renamed it after himself. When he was overthrown and executed in 1979 it was renamed Bioko. When it was first seen by the Portuguese it was given the name Formosa (the beautiful).
The native people are a Bantu people called the Bubi. Archaeological evidence shows they arrived about 3000 years ago. Their legends say that they had been enslaved while living on the mainland coast, had prepared canoes in secret, and all in the space of a few months left for Bioko. In pre-colonial times they had a reputation for savagery to European explorers and slavers; but their own legends also speak of fierce intertribal rivalry.
It is the home of many endangered animals, including seven species of monkey (the greatest concentration in Africa), and three bushbaby species; it also has sea turtles, 200 species of birds, and fifty unique plants. There is a biodiversity protection program operating out of Beaver College in Glenside, PA.