The United States has been engaged in Equatorial Guinea as the country transformed from Africa’s poorest nation to its richest. The United States established diplomatic relations with Equatorial Guinea in 1968, following the country’s independence from Spain. U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Albert W. Sherer, Ambassador to Togo, also to serve as Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea on October 28, 1968. U.S. Embassy Santa Isabel (now Malabo) was established on August 1, 1969, with Albert N. Williams as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim. From 1970 until 1981 and from 1995 until 2006, the Ambassador to Cameroon also served as the Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea and was resident in Yaounde. On June 11 1981, Embassy Malabo was reopened with Joanne Thompson as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim. Diplomatic relations were suspended from March 14, 1976 until December 19, 1979, when Ambassador Mable Murphy Smythe presented her credentials as the American Ambassador and relations were reestablished.
The closure of Embassy Malabo in 1995 coincided with the discovery of large deposits of oil and gas there by American companies. A succession of ambassadors and staff from Yaounde maintained continuous contact with the country, the government, and its people. In 2003, Ambassador George Staples re-opened Embassy Malabo in a building in the neighborhood Caracolas. In 2005, the U.S. Embassy was moved to a more suitable building in the neighborhood Paraiso. U.S. Ambassador Donald J. Johnson presented his credentials on November 23, 2006, becoming the first resident ambassador in more than ten years. The building in Paraiso served as the U.S. Embassy until the New Embassy Building in Malabo II opened in 2013.