Malabo mälä´bō [key], city (1997 est. pop. 50,000), capital of Equatorial Guinea, on Bioko island, in the Gulf of Guinea. It is the chief port and commercial center of Bioko. Fish processing is the city's main industry, and cacao and coffee are the leading exports. Malabo was founded in 1827 by the British on land leased from Spain as a base for the suppression of the slave trade and was called Port Clarence, or Clarencetown; the Spanish later called the town Santa Isabel. An international airport is on the city's outskirts. Much of the city's large European population left after rioting occurred in the late 1960s; in the 1970s, the population declined again as Nigerian workers returned to their own country.
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