A republic in the Gulf of Guinea, in West Africa, comprising the former Spanish colonies of Fernando Po and Rio Muni. Equatorial Guinea became independent Oct. 12, 1968. In 1972, Masie Ngeuma Biyogo became president for life. He ruled by terror, reviving slavery, killing some 50,000 people and driving tens of thousands more into exile. The United States suspended relations with the Biyogo government in 1976. The Soviet Union, China and North Korea maintained close relations, and Cuba maintained a military advisory mission in the country. On Aug. 5, 1979, Masie was overthrown, and a junta assumed power. The coup halted the production of vast numbers of brightly colored stamps (perfs, imperfs, souvenir sheets, gold-foil sheets) that were issued by Equatorial Guinea in the 1970s.