The Portuguese-speaking African countries (Portuguese: Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa; PALOP), also known as Lusophone Africa, consist of six African countries in which the Portuguese language is an official language: Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe and, since 2011, Equatorial Guinea. The six countries are former colonies of the Portuguese Empire. From 1778 until independence, Equatorial Guinea was also a colony of the Spanish Empire.
In 1992, the five Lusophone African countries formed an interstate organisation called PALOP, a colloquial acronym that translates to "African Countries of Portuguese Official Language" (Portuguese: Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa). The PALOP countries have signed official agreements with Portugal, the European Union and the United Nations, and they work together to promote the development of culture, education and the preservation of the Portuguese language.
In 1996, together with Portugal and Brazil, the Portuguese-speaking African countries established the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (Portuguese: Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa, abbreviated to CPLP), which East Timor later joined in 2002 and Equatorial Guinea in 2014.
Equatorial Guinea adopted Portuguese as its third official language in October 2011. Originally a Portuguese colony before it was sold to Spain in 1778 as part of peace arrangements involving also the colony of Sacramento in the Southern Cone of the Americas, Equatorial Guinea has adopted Portuguese as the country's third official language in order to be allowed into the CPLP, despite its limited historical and cultural commonalities with the other countries.
Equatorial Guinea was traditionally not considered part of the PALOP, and it was not a founding member of FORPALOP in June 2014, a recently created institution that includes the PALOP, a forum for political-diplomatic cooperation to deepen historical friendship ties and solidarity between these African states. Portuguese is sparsely used throughout the country. However, it was admitted into the CPLP in 2014, and it subsequently became FORPALOP's sixth member.
The Lusophone Compact is an initiative championed by the African Development Bank to accelerate inclusive, sustainable, and diversified private sector growth in the Portuguese-speaking African countries. The primary objectives of the Lusophone Compact activities are to deploy technical assistance tools and programs, leverage the risk mitigation tools available to the parties and leverage the financing tools available to the parties.