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Río Muni was ceded by Portugal to Spain in 1778 in the Treaty of El Pardo. The Spanish had hoped to collect slaves to work in their other overseas possessions, but their settlers died of yellow fever and the area was deserted. Cocoa and timber became major industries upon recolonization. Río Muni became a province of Spanish Guinea along with Bioko in 1959.
About 883,000 people live in this area. This is about 72% of Equatorial Guinea's population. The main languages spoken in Rio Muni are Fang-Ntumu, which is spoken in the north and Fang-Okah, which is spoken in the south. Spanish is also spoken, although as a second language.
Rio Muni comprises five provinces:
The largest city is Bata which also serves as the regional administrative capital. Other major towns include Evinayong, Ebebiyín, Acalayong, Acurenam, Mongomo, Sevilla de Niefang, Valladolid de los Bimbiles and Mbini.