Gabon Map

Gabon    Plants and Animal Back to Top

Cassava, plantains, sugarcane, yams, and taro are grown for home consumption, and small amounts of cacao, coffee, palm oil, peanuts, and pepper are grown for export. Surplus sugarcane is also refined and exported.

Gabon    Communications Back to Top

Domestic: adequate system of cable, microwave radio relay, tropospheric scatter, radiotelephone communication stations, and a domestic satellite system with 12 earth stations international: satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat

Gabon    Culture Back to Top

A great deal of the cultural life of Gabon continues to be derived from or influenced by France. Gabon's contemporary writers express themselves almost exclusively in French. At the same time, there has been continued interest in the precolonial history and traditions of Gabon's peoples. Examples are the research on the Fang epic (mvet) and the art of the Mpongwe, Fang, and Kota. In 1983 the International Centre for Bantu Civilizations (Centre International des Civilisations Bantu; CICIBA) was created, with its headquarters at Libreville.

Gabon has newspapers in French, national and provincial radio stations broadcasting in French and local languages, and television broadcasting from Libreville that can be received as far away as Lambaréné. French publications circulate extensively, and television programs are relayed from France.

Gabon    Defence Back to Top

Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Republican Guard (charged with protecting the president and other senior officials), National Gendarmerie, National Police
Military manpower - military age: 20 years of age
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 281,218 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49: 145,062 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males: 11,304 (2001 est.)

Gabon    International Disputes Back to Top

Maritime boundary dispute with Equatorial Guinea because of disputed sovereignty over islands in Corisco Bay.

Gabon    Economy Back to Top

The economy of Gabon is largely dependent on the exploitation of mineral and forest resources, particularly oil. While Gabon’s gross domestic product of $3,600 per capita in 1999 was the highest in Africa, the economy fluctuates with world petroleum prices. The national budget in 1993 included revenues of $1.3 billion and expenditures of 1.6 billion.

Gabon's economy has more links with European and American markets than with those in neighbouring states (with the exception of Cameroon) or elsewhere in Africa. The economy shares some of the characteristics of those of other tropical African states: strong links with the former colonial ruler, a large degree of foreign investment and control, dependence on foreign technicians, and the decline of agriculture. Gabon differs from these states in its reliance on thousands of wage earners from other African countries to supplement its own sparse supply of workers in retailing, artisanship, and domestic transport.

Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most nations of sub-Saharan Africa. This has supported a sharp decline in extreme poverty; yet because of high income inequality a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for 50% of GDP. Gabon continues to face fluctuating prices for its oil, timber, manganese, and uranium exports. Despite the abundance of natural wealth, the economy is hobbled by poor fiscal management. In 1992, the fiscal deficit widened to 2.4% of GDP, and Gabon failed to settle arrears on its bilateral debt, leading to a cancellation of rescheduling agreements with official and private creditors. Devaluation of its Francophone currency by 50% on 12 January 1994 sparked a one-time inflationary surge, to 35%; the rate dropped to 6% in 1996. The IMF provided a one-year standby arrangement in 1994-95, a three-year Enhanced Financing Facility (EFF) at near commercial rates beginning in late 1995, and stand-by credit of $119 million in October 2000. Those agreements mandate progress in privatization and fiscal discipline. France provided additional financial support in January 1997 after Gabon had met IMF targets for mid-1996. In 1997, an IMF mission to Gabon criticized the government for overspending on off-budget items, overborrowing from the central bank, and slipping on its schedule for privatization and administrative reform. The rebound of oil prices in 1999-2000 helped growth, but drops in production hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. An expected decline in oil output may lead to contraction in GDP in 2001-02.

Gabon    Education Back to Top

Schooling is officially compulsory in Gabon for all children between the ages of 6 and 16, though not all children in that age group actually attend schools. In the 1995 school year 250,700 pupils attended primary schools, and 80,600 students were enrolled in secondary schools. The country has technical institutions and teachers colleges, as well as a university, the Université Omar Bongo (founded in 1970). An estimated 71 percent of adults in Gabon are literate.

Gabon    Government Back to Top

Under the 1961 constitution, as amended, the president of Gabon was directly elected for a seven-year term, serving as both chief of state and head of government. The unicameral National Assembly comprised 111 elected and 9 appointed members. The Gabonese Democratic Party was the sole legal political party. Gabon entered a period of political transition as the 1990s began. In 1990 the ban on multiparty politics was lifted. A new constitution was adopted in March 1991. Under this constitution, a president serves as Gabon’s head of state. The president is directly elected to a seven-year term.

Gabon    History Back to Top

Discoveries of tools from the end of the Old Stone Age and the New Stone Age indicate early settlements in what is now Gabon, but little is known about the first inhabitants. By the 13th century ad the Mpongwe people were established in the country. The first contact with Europeans was with the Portuguese in the 1470s. During the following 350 years, first the Portuguese and later the French, Dutch, and English carried on a lucrative trade in slaves. The first permanent European settlement was made by the French, with the agreement of the Mpongwe ruler, in 1839. Libreville was founded a decade later by freed slaves. Over the next several years the French extended their rule inland, and in 1866 they appointed a governor to Gabon, which was then attached to the French Congo; it became part of French Equatorial Africa in 1910.

During World War II (1939-1945) Gabon was held by the Free French, and in 1946 it became an overseas territory of France. The first Gabonese government council was formed in 1957, and Léon Mba became president of the council in 1958. Also in 1958, Gabon voted to become an autonomous republic in the French Community. Mba then became prime minister. The country declared its independence on August 17, 1960, and in 1961 Mba was elected president.

A military coup overthrew President Mba’s government in 1964, but French troops, in accordance with a Franco-Gabonese defense agreement, intervened and restored him to power; he was reelected president in 1967. Upon Mba’s death later that year, Vice President Albert-Bernard Bongo succeeded to the presidency. Bongo, who later assumed the Islamic first name Omar, was reelected in 1973. During the mid-1970s Gabon began to loosen its ties with France and the French-speaking regional organizations. With Gabonization, the government became a partner in many foreign firms, and native Gabonese filled management positions once held by foreigners.

Gabon    Introduction Back to Top

Gabon, officially Gabonese Republic (in French, République Gabonaise), independent nation in central Africa, located astride the Equator, and bounded on the north-west by Equatorial Guinea, on the north by Cameroon, on the east and south by the Republic of Congo, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. A former French colony, Gabon achieved independence on August 17, 1960. The area of Gabon is 267,667 sq km (103,347 sq mi). The capital of the country is Libreville.

Official Name -The Gabonese Republic
Capital City- Libreville
Population- 1,210.000
Languages- French (official), and others
Official Currency -CFA Franc
Religions- Muslim, Christian, others
Land Area- 257,670 sq km (99,486 sq miles)
Gabon    Land Back to Top

N/A

Gabon    Languages Back to Top

About 60 percent of the population is Christian, primarily Roman Catholic; most of the remainder follow traditional beliefs; and about 1 percent is Muslim. The official language is French.

Gabon    Life Back to Top

Mineral production in Gabon has kept pressure off the forests as a source of revenue. As a result, about 69.3 percent (1995) of Gabon remains covered in forest, and wildlife is abundant. Protected areas cover 2.8 percent (1997) of the country, and hunting is prohibited. However, enforcement is weak, and some species of wildlife are under threat from poaching.

Gabon    organization Back to Top
International organization Member

ACCT, ACP, AfDB, BDEAC, CCC, CEEAC, CEMAC, ECA, FAO, FZ, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (associate), ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO.

Gabon    People Back to Top

Gabon has a population (2001 estimate) of 1,221,175. The overall population density is 5 persons per sq km (12 per sq mi). Some 54 percent of the people live in urban areas. Much of the country’s interior is uninhabited.

All of Gabon's 40 or so ethnic groups, except the few thousand Pygmies, speak Bantu languages and, on that basis, can be classified into 10 larger groups. The Myene group (including the Mpongwe and Orungu), though only a small part of the population today, has played an important role in the history of the country as a result of its location along the northern coasts. The Fang, who belong to the larger Ewondo or Pahouin group also found in southern Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, account for one-third of the population; they live north of the Ogooué River. The largest groups south of the Ogooué are the Sira (including the Eshira and Punu), the Nzebi (Njabi), and the Mbete; these groups together form close to half the population. Less numerous peoples include the Benga and Seke (Sheke) in the far northwest, the Kota and Teke in the east, and the Vili along the far southern coast.

Gabon    Politics Back to Top

African Forum for Reconstruction or FAR [Leon MBOU-YEMBI]; Circle of Liberal Reformers or CLR [General Jean Boniface ASSELE]; Democratic and Republican Alliance or ADERE [Divungui-di-Ndinge DIDJOB]; Gabonese Democratic Party or PDG, former sole party [Simplice Nguedet MANZELA, secretary general]; Gabonese Party for Progress or PGP [Pierre-Louis AGONDJO-OKAWE, president]; Gabonese People's Union or UPG [Pierre MAMBOUNDOU]; Gabonese Socialist Union or USG [Serge MBA BEKALE]; National Rally of Woodcutters (Bucherons) or RNB [Fr. Paul M'BA-ABESSOLE]; People's Unity Party or PUP [Louis Gaston MAYILA]; Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP [Pierre EMBONI]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Pierre Claver MAGANGA-MOUSSAVOU].

Gabon    Provinces Back to Top

9 provinces; Estuaire, Haut-Ogooue, Moyen-Ogooue, Ngounie, Nyanga, Ogooue-Ivindo, Ogooue-Lolo, Ogooue-Maritime, Woleu-Ntem.

Time and Date in Libreville