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Gabon

Gabon, lies along the equator in western Africa. It borders the South Atlantic Ocean, the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. Since gaining independence from the French in 1960, Gabon has only had two presidents. The current president, Omar Bongo, has been in power since 1967, making him one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world. Gabon is considered one of the more prosperous and stable African countries. Thankfully, Gabon has been saved the strife affecting various other African states, despite it having more than 40 ethnic groups. Gabon’s long coastal strip is filled with bays, lagoons and estuaries. Tropical vegetation makes up much of Gabon’s interior. Gabon is well

drained by the Gabon River/Estuary and other rivers. It is along these rivers that many settlements have grown. Many of the Bantu people of Gabon are concentrated in the coastal strip and in the villages along the banks of these rivers. The capital city of Gabon, Libreville, lies beside the ocean. Home to many white buildings, Libreville is filled with green from the nearby equatorial forest. Some attractions of this city include the art-craft village (Village des Artisans), the National Museum, which is known for its woodcarvings, Peyrie Gardens, the harbor, the Presidential Palace, the Mount Bouet Market and the Cathedral of St Michael. The name Gabon comes from the Portuguese word of ‘gabao,’ which means ‘hooded cloak.’ This was in reference to the shape of the estuary they found in this region.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Demographics
Country Flag: Gabon's Flag

Three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and blue

Nationality: Gabonese

Capital: Libreville

Population: 1,424,906 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 42.1%
  • 15-64 years: 53.9%
  • 65 years and over: 4% (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: 2.13% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 63.2% of the population is literate (male: 73.7%, female: 53.3%) (1995 est.)

Major religions: Christian 55%-75%, animist, Muslim less than 1%

Languages: French (official), Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi

Quick Facts
Area:
  • total: 267,667 sq km
  • land: 247,667 sq km
  • water: 10,000 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: half the size of the Yukon Territory

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, diamond, niobium, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore, hydropower

Environmental Issues: deforestation; poaching

Economy

Gabon’s per capita income is four times that of many sub-Saharan African nations. However, because of high income inequality, a high percentage of the population is poor. In the early 1970s, oil was discovered and this oil sector now accounts for 50% of GDP. Gabon faces irregular prices for its timber, manganese and oil exports. Although Gabon has plenty of natural wealth, poor fiscal management is the main problem for this economy. In 1997, the government of Gabon was criticized by an IMF mission concerning the overspending on off-budget items and over-borrowing from the central bank. In 2004, Gabon signed a 14-month Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF and received Paris Club debt rescheduling as well.


Major industries:

  • petroleum extraction and refining
  • manganese and gold
  • chemicals
  • ship repair
  • food and beverages
  • textiles
  • lumbering and plywood
  • cement

Agricultural products:

  • cocoa
  • coffee
  • sugar
  • palm oil
  • rubber
  • cattle
  • okoume (a tropical softwood)
  • fish

Oil production: 268,900 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Railways: 814 km

Road map: 32,333 km (paved: 6,247 km, unpaved: 26,086 km)

Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc

Communications

Telephone lines in use: 38,700 (2004)

Cellular lines in use: 489,400 (2004)

Television Stations: 4 (plus four low-power repeaters) (2001)

Radio Stations: AM 6, FM 7 (and 11 repeaters), shortwave 4 (2001)

Internet users: 40,000 (2005)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 8.1% (2003 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 48,000 (2003 est.)

More Information

For more informaiton, please visit:
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/gb.html