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Gabon (; ), officially the Gabonese Republic (french: République gabonaise), is a country on the west coast of
Central Africa Central Africa is a subregion of the Africa, African continent comprising various countries according to different definitions. Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic ...

Central Africa
. Located on the
equator The Equator is a , about in circumference, that divides into the and hemispheres. It is an located at 0 degrees , halfway between the and poles. In , as applied in , the equator of a rotating (such as a ) is the parallel (circle of l ...

equator
, Gabon is bordered by
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea ( es, Guinea Ecuatorial; french: Guinée équatoriale; pt, Guiné Equatorial), officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea ( es, link=no, República de Guinea Ecuatorial, french: link=no, République de Guinée équatoriale, ...

Equatorial Guinea
to the northwest,
Cameroon Cameroon (, french: Cameroun), officially the Republic of Cameroon (french: République du Cameroun, links=no), is a country in west 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West or Occident is one of the four cardinal direc ...

Cameroon
to the north, the
Republic of the Congo The Republic of the Congo ( french: République du Congo, mkw, Repubilika ya Kôngo), also known as Congo-Brazzaville, the Congo Republic or simply either Congo or the Congo, is a country located in the western coast of Central Africa ...
on the east and south, and the
Gulf of Guinea pt, Golfo da Guiné , native_name_lang= , image= Gulf of Guinea (English).jpg , caption = Gulf of Guinea map showing the chain of islands formed by the Cameroon line The Cameroon line (, ) is a chain of volcanoes. It includes islands in the G ...
to the west. It has an area of nearly and its population is estimated at million people. There are three distinct regions: the coastal plains, the mountains (the Cristal Mountains and the Chaillu
Massif In geology, a massif ( or ) is a section of a planet's Crust (geology), crust that is demarcated by geologic fault, faults or Lithospheric flexure, flexures. In the Plate tectonics, movement of the crust, a massif tends to retain its internal st ...
in the centre), and the
savanna A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ' woods), a low-density forming open s with plenty of sunlight and li ...

savanna
in the east. Gabon's capital and largest city is
Libreville Libreville is the capital and largest city of . Occupying in the northwestern province of , Libreville is a on the , near the . As of the 2013 census, its population was 703,904. The area was inhabited by the before the French acquired the l ...

Libreville
. The official language is
French
French
. Originally settled by
Pygmy peoples In anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowin ...
, they were largely replaced and absorbed by
Bantu Bantu may refer to: *Bantu languages, constitute the largest sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages *Bantu peoples, over 400 peoples of Africa speaking a Bantu language *Afro-textured hair#Styling, Bantu knots, a type of African hairstyle *Blac ...
tribes as they migrated. By the 18th century, a Myeni-speaking kingdom known as the Kingdom of Orungu formed in Gabon. It was able to become a powerful trading center mainly due to its ability to purchase and sell slaves. The kingdom fell with the demise of the slave trade in the 1870s. Since its independence from France in 1960, the
sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social relation, social relatio ...
of Gabon has had three
presidents President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *President (government title) President may also refer to: Automobiles * Nissan President, a 1966–2010 Japanese full- ...
. In the early 1990s, Gabon introduced a multi-party system and a new democratic constitution that allowed for a more transparent electoral process and reformed many governmental institutions. Abundant petroleum and foreign private investment have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
, with the fifth highest
HDI The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, its current age, and ot ...
in the region (after
Mauritius Mauritius ( ; french: Maurice, link=no ; mfe, label=, Moris ]), officially the Republic of Mauritius, is an in the about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent, east of . It includes the main isla ...

Mauritius
,
Seychelles Seychelles (; ), officially the Republic of Seychelles (french: link=no, République des Seychelles; Creole: ''La Repiblik Sesel''), is an archipelagic island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country ...

Seychelles
,
Botswana Botswana (, also ), officially the Republic of Botswana ( tn, Lefatshe la Botswana, label=Setswana; Kalanga language, Kalanga: ''Hango yeBotswana''), is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 ...

Botswana
and
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 60 million people, it is the world's List of countries by population, 23rd-most ...

South Africa
) and the fifth highest GDP per capita (PPP) in all of Africa (after Seychelles, Mauritius,
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea ( es, Guinea Ecuatorial; french: Guinée équatoriale; pt, Guiné Equatorial), officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea ( es, link=no, República de Guinea Ecuatorial, french: link=no, République de Guinée équatoriale, ...

Equatorial Guinea
and Botswana). Its GDP grew by more than 6% per year from 2010 to 2012. However, because of
inequality Inequality may refer to: Economics * Attention inequality Attention inequality is a term used to target the inequality of distribution of attention across users on social networks, people in general, and for scientific papers. Yun Family Foundat ...
in income distribution, a significant proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon is rich in
folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...

folklore
and
mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the ca ...

mythology
. "Raconteurs" keep traditions alive such as the mvett among the Fangs and the ingwala among the Nzebis. Gabon is also known for its masks, such as the n'goltang (Fang) and the reliquary figures of the Kota. Musically, Gabon boasts an array of folk styles, as well as singers who perform in non-traditional styles like
Patience Dabany Patience Marie Josephine Kama Dabany (born 22 January 1941; member of the Order of Gabriela Silang Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness, a desire for organization * Categorization, the process in which ideas and objects are rec ...
and Annie-Flore Batchiellilys. Also known are guitarists like Georges Oyendze, La Rose Mbadou and Sylvain Avara, and the singer Oliver N'Goma. Gabonese folk instruments include the obala, the
ngombi
ngombi
, the
balafon The balafon (, ) is a gourd-resonated xylophone, a type of struck idiophone. It is closely associated with the neighbouring Mandé peoples, Mandé, Senufo people, Senoufo and Gur languages, Gur peoples of West Africa, particularly the Guinean br ...

balafon
and traditional drums.


Etymology

Gabon's name originates from ''gabão'',
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
for "cloak", which is roughly the shape of the
estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed Coast, coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime envir ...

estuary
of the
Komo River The Komo is a river of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. It flows for . It ...
by Libreville.


History


Pre-Colonial Era (pre-1885)

The earliest inhabitants of the area were
Pygmy peoples In anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowin ...
. They were largely replaced and absorbed by
Bantu Bantu may refer to: *Bantu languages, constitute the largest sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages *Bantu peoples, over 400 peoples of Africa speaking a Bantu language *Afro-textured hair#Styling, Bantu knots, a type of African hairstyle *Blac ...
tribes as they migrated. In the 15th century, the first Europeans arrived. By the 18th century, a Myeni-speaking kingdom known as Orungu formed in Gabon. Through its control of the slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was able to become the most powerful of the trading centers that developed in Gabon during that period. On 10 February 1722,
Bartholomew Roberts ) , type=Pirate , birth_place = Casnewydd Bach, near Puncheston Puncheston ( cy, Cas-mael or Casmael) is a village, parish and Community (Wales), community in Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales. It sits below the mountain known as Castlebythe ( en, C ...

Bartholomew Roberts
, Barti Ddu, a Welsh pirate known in English as Black Bart, died at sea off
Cape Lopez Cape Lopez () is a headland on the coast of Gabon, west central Africa. The westernmost point of Gabon, it separates the Gulf of Guinea from the South Atlantic Ocean. Cape Lopez is the northernmost point of a low, wooded island between two mouths ...
. He raided ships off the Americas and West Africa from 1719 to 1722.


Colonial Era (1885–1960)

French explorer
Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza Pietro Paolo Savorgnan di Brazzà, later known as Pierre Paul François Camille Savorgnan de Brazza; 26 January 1852 – 14 September 1905), was an Italian-born, naturalized French explorer Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of ...

Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza
led his first mission to the Gabon-Congo area in 1875. He founded the town of
Franceville Franceville is one of the four largest cities in Gabon Gabon (; ), officially the Gabonese Republic (french: République gabonaise), is a country on the west coast of Central Africa. Located on the equator, Gabon is bordered by Equatoria ...

Franceville
, and was later colonial governor. Several Bantu groups lived in the area that is now Gabon when France officially occupied it in 1885. In 1910, Gabon became one of the four territories of
French Equatorial Africa French Equatorial Africa (french: link=no, Afrique-Équatoriale française), or the AEF, was the federation of French colonial possessions in Equatorial Africa Equatorial Africa is an ambiguous term that sometimes is used to refer either to ...

French Equatorial Africa
, a federation that survived until 1958. In
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, the Allies
invaded An invasion is a Offensive (military), military offensive in which large numbers of combatants of one geopolitics, geopolitical Legal entity, entity aggressively enter territory (country subdivision), territory owned by another such entity, gene ...
Gabon in order to overthrow the pro-
Vichy France Vichy France (french: Régime de Vichy; 10 July 1940 – 9 August 1944) is the common name of the French State (') headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Pétain (24 April 1856 – 23 July 1951), generally known a ...
colonial administration. On 28 November 1958, Gabon became an autonomous republic within the
French Community The French Community (french: Communauté française) was an association of former French colonies, most of which in French Africa. In 1958 it replaced the French Union, which had itself succeeded the French colonial empire in 1946. The Commu ...
, and on 17 August 1960, it became fully independent.


Post-Independence (1960–present)

The first president of Gabon, elected in 1961, was Léon M'ba, with
Omar Bongo Ondimba El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba (born Albert-Bernard Bongo; 30 December 1935 – 8 June 2009) was a Gabonese politician who was the second Heads of state of Gabon, President of Gabon for 42 years, from 1967 until his death in 2009. Omar Bongo was prom ...
as his vice president. After M'ba's accession to power, the press was suppressed, political demonstrations banned,
freedom of expression Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom Freedom, generally, is having the ability to act or change without constraint. Something is "free" if it can change easily and is not constrained in its present state. In philosop ...
curtailed, other political parties gradually excluded from power, and the Constitution changed along French lines to vest power in the Presidency, a post that M'ba assumed himself. However, when M'ba dissolved the
National Assembly In politics, a national assembly is either a unicameral In government, unicameralism (Latin , "one" and , "chamber") is the practice of having a single legislative or legislative chamber, parliamentary chamber. Thus, a ''unicameral parliam ...
in January 1964 to institute one-party rule, an army coup sought to oust him from power and restore parliamentary democracy. French paratroopers flew in within 24 hours to restore M'ba to power. After a few days of fighting, the coup ended and the opposition was imprisoned, despite widespread protests and riots. French soldiers still remain in the Camp de Gaulle on the outskirts of Gabon's capital to this day. When M'Ba died in 1967, Bongo replaced him as president. In March 1968, Bongo declared Gabon a one-party state by dissolving the BDG and establishing a new party—the Parti Democratique Gabonais (PDG). He invited all Gabonese, regardless of previous political affiliation, to participate. Bongo sought to forge a single national movement in support of the government's development policies, using the PDG as a tool to submerge the regional and tribal rivalries that had divided Gabonese politics in the past. Bongo was elected president in February 1975; in April 1975, the position of vice president was abolished and replaced by the position of prime minister, who had no right to automatic succession. Bongo was re-elected President in both December 1979 and November 1986 to 7-year terms. In early 1990 economic discontent and a desire for political liberalization provoked violent demonstrations and strikes by students and workers. In response to grievances by workers, Bongo negotiated with them on a sector-by-sector basis, making significant wage concessions. In addition, he promised to open up the PDG and to organize a national political conference in March–April 1990 to discuss Gabon's future political system. The PDG and 74 political organizations attended the conference. Participants essentially divided into two loose coalitions, the ruling PDG and its allies, and the United Front of Opposition Associations and Parties, consisting of the breakaway Morena Fundamental and the
Gabonese Progress Party The Gabonese Progress Party (french: Parti gabonais du progrès, PGP) is a political party in Gabon. History The PGP was established as a left-leaning party in March 1990, at the beginning of the wave of democratization that swept Africa in the e ...
. The April 1990 conference approved sweeping political reforms, including creation of a national
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
, decentralization of the budgetary process, freedom of assembly and press, and cancellation of an
exit visa A visa (from the Latin ''charta visa'', meaning "paper that has to be seen") is a conditional authorization granted by a polity to a foreigner that allows them to enter, remain within, or to leave its territory. Visas typically include limits ...
requirement. In an attempt to guide the political system's transformation to multiparty democracy, Bongo resigned as PDG chairman and created a transitional government headed by a new Prime Minister,
Casimir Oye-Mba Casimir is classically an English, French and Latin form of the Polish name Kazimierz. Feminine forms are Casimira and Kazimiera. List of variations *Belarusian: Казімір *Catalan: Casimir *Croatian: Kazimir, Kažimir *Czech: Kazimír * ...
. The Gabonese Social Democratic Grouping (RSDG), as the resulting government was called, was smaller than the previous government and included representatives from several opposition parties in its cabinet. The RSDG drafted a provisional constitution in May 1990 that provided a basic
bill of rights A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against Civil and political rights, infringement fr ...
and an independent judiciary but retained strong executive powers for the president. After further review by a constitutional committee and the National Assembly, this document came into force in March 1991. Opposition to the PDG continued after the April 1990 conference, however, and in September 1990, two
coup d'état A coup d'état (; French for "blow of state"), often shortened to coup in English, (also known as an overthrow) is a seizure and removal of a government and its powers. Typically, it is an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a politic ...
attempts were uncovered and aborted. Despite anti-government demonstrations after the untimely death of an opposition leader, the first multiparty National Assembly elections in almost 30 years took place in September–October 1990, with the PDG garnering a large majority. Following President
Omar Bongo El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba (born Albert-Bernard Bongo; 30 December 1935 – 8 June 2009) was a Gabonese politician who was the second Heads of state of Gabon, President of Gabon for 42 years, from 1967 until his death in 2009. Omar Bongo was pro ...
's re-election in December 1993 with 51% of the vote, opposition candidates refused to validate the election results. Serious civil disturbances and violent repression led to an agreement between the government and opposition factions to work toward a political settlement. These talks led to the Paris Accords in November 1994, under which several opposition figures were included in a government of national unity. This arrangement soon broke down, however, and the 1996 and 1997 legislative and municipal elections provided the background for renewed partisan politics. The PDG won a landslide victory in the legislative election, but several major cities, including
Libreville Libreville is the capital and largest city of . Occupying in the northwestern province of , Libreville is a on the , near the . As of the 2013 census, its population was 703,904. The area was inhabited by the before the French acquired the l ...

Libreville
, elected opposition mayors during the 1997 local election. Facing a divided opposition, President Omar Bongo coasted to easy re-election in December 1998, with large majorities of the vote. While Bongo's major opponents rejected the outcome as fraudulent, some international observers characterized the results as representative despite many perceived irregularities, and there were none of the civil disturbances that followed the 1993 election. Peaceful though flawed legislative elections held in 2001–2002, which were boycotted by a number of smaller opposition parties and were widely criticized for their administrative weaknesses, produced a National Assembly almost completely dominated by the PDG and allied independents. In November 2005 President Omar Bongo was elected for his sixth term. He won re-election easily, but opponents claim that the balloting process was marred by irregularities. There were some instances of violence following the announcement of his win, but Gabon generally remained peaceful. National Assembly elections were held again in December 2006. Several seats contested because of voting irregularities were overturned by the
Constitutional Court A constitutional court is a high court High court usually refers to the superior court In common law systems, a superior court is a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Ad ...
, but the subsequent run-off elections in early 2007 again yielded a PDG-controlled National Assembly. On 8 June 2009, President Omar Bongo died of cardiac arrest at a Spanish hospital in Barcelona, ushering in a new era in Gabonese politics. In accordance with the amended constitution, Rose Francine Rogombé, the President of the Senate, became Interim President on 10 June 2009. The first contested elections in Gabon's history that did not include Omar Bongo as a candidate were held on 30 August 2009, with 18 candidates for president. The lead-up to the elections saw some isolated protests, but no significant disturbances. Omar Bongo's son, ruling party leader
Ali Bongo Ondimba Ali Bongo Ondimba (born Alain Bernard Bongo; 9 February 1959),"Bongo Ali", ''Gabon: Les hommes de pouvoir'', number 4Africa Intelligence 5 March 2002 . sometimes known as Ali Bongo, is a Gabon Gabon (; ), officially the Gabonese Republic ...

Ali Bongo Ondimba
, was formally declared the winner after a 3-week review by the Constitutional Court; his inauguration took place on 16 October 2009. The court's review had been prompted by claims of fraud by the many opposition candidates, with the initial announcement of election results sparking unprecedented violent protests in
Port-Gentil Port-Gentil or Mandji is the second-largest city of Gabon, and its leading seaport. It is the center of Gabon's petroleum and timber industries. The city is located on a River delta, delta island in the Ogooue delta with no bridges to the mainland ...
, the country's second-largest city and a long-time bastion of opposition to PDG rule. The citizens of Port-Gentil took to the streets, and numerous shops and residences were burned, including the French Consulate and a local prison. Officially, only four deaths occurred during the riots, but opposition and local leaders claim many more. Gendarmes and the military were deployed to Port-Gentil to support the beleaguered police, and a curfew was in effect for more than three months. A partial legislative by-election was held in June 2010. A newly created coalition of parties, the Union Nationale (UN), participated for the first time. The UN is composed largely of PDG defectors who left the party after
Omar Bongo El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba (born Albert-Bernard Bongo; 30 December 1935 – 8 June 2009) was a Gabonese politician who was the second Heads of state of Gabon, President of Gabon for 42 years, from 1967 until his death in 2009. Omar Bongo was pro ...
's death. Of the five hotly contested seats, the PDG won three and the UN won two; both sides claimed victory. In January 2019, there was an attempted coup d'état led by soldiers against the President ; the coup ultimately failed.


Government and politics

Gabon is a republic with a presidential form of government under the 1961 constitution (revised in 1975, rewritten in 1991, and revised in 2003). The president is elected by universal suffrage for a seven-year term; a 2003 constitutional amendment removed presidential term limits and facilitated a presidency for life. The president can appoint and dismiss the prime minister, the cabinet, and judges of the independent Supreme Court. The president also has other strong powers, such as authority to dissolve the National Assembly, declare a state of siege, delay legislation, and conduct referenda. Gabon has a
bicameral legislature Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, political entity such as a Sovereign state, country or city. They are often contraste ...
with a National Assembly and Senate. The National Assembly has 120 deputies who are popularly elected for a 5-year term. The Senate is composed of 102 members who are elected by municipal councils and regional assemblies and serve for 6 years. The Senate was created in the 1990–1991 constitutional revision, although it was not brought into being until after the 1997 local elections. The President of the Senate is next in succession to the President. Despite the democratic system of government, the ''
Freedom in the World ''Freedom in the World'' is a yearly survey and report by the U.S.-based non-governmental organization A non-governmental organization, or simply an NGO, is an organization that is, generally, formed independent from government. They ar ...

Freedom in the World
'' report lists Gabon as "not free", and elections in 2016 have been disputed.


Political culture

In 1990, the government made major changes to Gabon's political system. A transitional constitution was drafted in May 1990 as an outgrowth of the national political conference in March–April and later revised by a constitutional committee. Among its provisions were a Western-style bill of rights, creation of a National Council of Democracy to oversee the guarantee of those rights, a governmental advisory board on economic and social issues, and an independent judiciary. After approval by the National Assembly, the PDG Central Committee, and the President, the Assembly unanimously adopted the constitution in March 1991. Multiparty legislative elections were held in 1990–91, despite the fact that opposition parties had not been declared formally legal. In spite of this, the elections produced the first representative, multiparty National Assembly. In January 1991, the Assembly passed by unanimous vote a law governing the legalization of opposition parties. After President Omar Bongo was re-elected in 1993, in a disputed election where only 51% of votes were cast, social and political disturbances led to the 1994 Paris Conference and Accords. These provided a framework for the next elections. Local and legislative elections were delayed until 1996–97. In 1997, constitutional amendments put forward years earlier were adopted to create the Senate and the position of vice president, as well as to extend the president's term to seven years. In October 2009, newly elected President Ali Bongo Ondimba began efforts to streamline the government. In an effort to reduce corruption and government bloat, he eliminated 17 minister-level positions, abolished the vice presidency and reorganized the portfolios of numerous ministries, bureaus and directorates. In November 2009, President Bongo Ondimba announced a new vision for the modernization of Gabon, called "Gabon Emergent". This program contains three pillars: Green Gabon, Service Gabon, and Industrial Gabon. The goals of Gabon Emergent are to diversify the economy so that Gabon becomes less reliant on petroleum, to eliminate corruption, and to modernize the workforce. Under this program, exports of raw timber have been banned, a government-wide census was held, the work day has been changed to eliminate a long midday break, and a national oil company was created. In provisional results, the ruling
Gabonese Democratic Party The Gabonese Democratic Party (french: Parti Démocratique Gabonais, abbreviated PDG), is the ruling and dominant political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a country's elections. It is c ...
(PDG) won 84 out of 120 parliamentary seats. On 25 January 2011, opposition leader André Mba Obame claimed the presidency, saying the country should be run by someone the people really wanted. He also selected 19 ministers for his government, and the entire group, along with hundreds of others, spent the night at UN headquarters. On January 26, the government dissolved Mba Obame's party. AU chairman
Jean Ping Jean Ping (; born 24 November 1942 in Omboué, Gabon Gabon (; ), officially the Gabonese Republic (french: République gabonaise), is a country on the west coast of Central Africa. Located on the equator, Gabon is bordered by Equatorial ...
said that Mba Obame's action "hurts the integrity of legitimate institutions and also endangers the peace, the security and the stability of Gabon." Interior Minister Jean-François Ndongou accused Mba Obame and his supporters of
treason Treason is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Cr ...
. The UN Secretary-General, , said that he recognized Ondimba as the only official Gabonese president. The
2016 presidential election This national electoral calendar for 2016 lists the national/Federation, federal direct elections that were held in 2016 in all List of sovereign states, sovereign states and their Dependent territory, dependent territories. By-elections are ex ...
was disputed, with very close official results reported. Protests broke out in the capital and met a brutal repression which culminated in the alleged bombing of opposition party headquarters by the presidential guard. Between 50 and 100 citizens were killed by security forces and 1,000 arrested. International observers criticized irregularities, including unnaturally high turnout reported for some districts. The country's supreme court threw out some suspect precincts, but a full recount was not possible because ballots had been destroyed. The election was declared in favor of the incumbent Ondimba. European Parliament issued 2 resolutions denouncing the unclear results of the election and calling for an independent investigation on the human rights violations.


Foreign relations

Since independence, Gabon has followed a nonaligned policy, advocating dialogue in international affairs and recognizing each side of divided countries. In inter-African affairs, Gabon espouses development by evolution rather than revolution and favors regulated private enterprise as the system most likely to promote rapid economic growth. Gabon played an important leadership role in the stability of Central Africa through involvement in mediation efforts in
Chad Chad (; ar, تشاد , ; french: Tchad, ), officially known as the Republic of Chad ( ar, جمهورية تْشَاد, link=no '; ), is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an oce ...

Chad
, the
Central African Republic The Central African Republic (CAR; sg, Ködörösêse tî Bêafrîka; french: République centrafricaine, RCA; , or , ) is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or ...
,
Angola , national_anthem = "Angola Avante "Angola Avante" (, ) is the national anthem A national anthem is a song that officially symbolizes a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often r ...

Angola
, the
Republic of the Congo The Republic of the Congo ( french: République du Congo, mkw, Repubilika ya Kôngo), also known as Congo-Brazzaville, the Congo Republic or simply either Congo or the Congo, is a country located in the western coast of Central Africa ...
, the
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly Zaire Zaire (, ), officially the Republic of Zaire (frenc ...

Democratic Republic of the Congo
(D.R.C.), and
Burundi Burundi (, ), officially the Republic of Burundi ( rn, Repubulika y’u Burundi, ; Swahili: Jamuhuri ya Burundi; french: link=no, République du Burundi, or ), is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is ...

Burundi
. In December 1999, through the mediation efforts of President Bongo, a peace accord was signed in the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) between the government and most leaders of an armed rebellion. President Bongo was also involved in the continuing D.R.C. peace process, and played a role in mediating the crisis in
Ivory Coast Ivory Coast, also known as Côte d'Ivoire, officially the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, is a country located on the south coast of West Africa. Côte d'Ivoire's political capital is Yamoussoukro in the centre of the country, while its largest ...
. Gabonese armed forces were also an integral part of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) mission to the Central African Republic. Gabon is a member of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
(UN) and some of its specialized and related agencies, as well as of the
World Bank The World Bank is an international financial institution An international financial institution (IFI) is a financial institution that has been established (or chartered) by more than one country, and hence is subject to international law. Its o ...
; the
IMF The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international financial institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monu ...
; the
African Union The African Union (AU) is a continental union A continental union is a regional organization which facilitates pan-continental integration. Continental unions vary from collaborative intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental organiza ...

African Union
(AU); the Central African Customs Union/Central African Economic and Monetary Community (UDEAC/CEMAC); EU/ACP association under the
Lomé ConventionThe Lomé Convention is a trade and aid agreement between the European Economic Community, European Economic Community (EEC) and 71 ACP countries, African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries, first signed in February 1975 in Lomé, Togo. Histor ...
; the Communaute Financiere Africaine (CFA); the
Organization of the Islamic Conference The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC; ar, منظمة التعاون الإسلامي, Munaẓẓama at-Taʿāwun al-ʾIslāmiyy; french: Organisation de la coopération islamique), formerly the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, ...
(OIC); the
Nonaligned Movement The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 developing world Image:Imf-advanced-un-least-developed-2008.svg, 450px, Example of Older Classifications by the International Monetary Fund, IMF and the United Nations, UN from 2008 A devel ...
; and the
Economic Community of Central African States The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS; french: Communauté Économique des États de l'Afrique Centrale, CEEAC; es, Comunidad Económica de los Estados de África Central, CEEAC; pt, Comunidade Económica dos Estados da Áfri ...
(ECCAS/CEEAC), among others. In 1995, Gabon withdrew from the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC, ) is an intergovernmental organization or cartel of countries. Founded on 14 September 1960 in Baghdad by the first five members (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela) ...
(OPEC), rejoining in 2016. Gabon was elected to a non-permanent seat on the
United Nations Security Council The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed ...

United Nations Security Council
for January 2010 through December 2011 and held the rotating presidency in March 2010.


Military

Gabon has a small, professional
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...
of about 5,000 personnel, divided into
army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch Military branch ...
,
navy A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense ...
, air force,
gendarmerie Wrong info! --> A gendarmerie () is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between ...

gendarmerie
, and police force. A 1,800-member guard provides security for the president.


Administrative divisions

Gabon is divided into nine provinces, which are further subdivided into 50
departments Department may refer to: * DepartmentalizationDepartmentalization (or departmentalisation) refers to the process of grouping activities into departments. Division of labour creates Expert, specialists who need :wikt:coordination, coordination. This ...

departments
. The president appoints the provincial governors, the prefects, and the subprefects. The provinces are (capitals in parentheses): # Estuaire (
Libreville Libreville is the capital and largest city of . Occupying in the northwestern province of , Libreville is a on the , near the . As of the 2013 census, its population was 703,904. The area was inhabited by the before the French acquired the l ...

Libreville
) # Haut-Ogooué (
Franceville Franceville is one of the four largest cities in Gabon Gabon (; ), officially the Gabonese Republic (french: République gabonaise), is a country on the west coast of Central Africa. Located on the equator, Gabon is bordered by Equatoria ...

Franceville
) # Moyen-Ogooué (
Lambaréné Lambaréné is a town and the capital of Moyen-Ogooué in Gabon. It has a population of 38,775 as of 2013, and is located 75 kilometres south of the equator. Lambaréné is based in the Central African Rainforest at the river Ogooué River, Ogoou ...
) # Ngounié (
Mouila Mouila is the capital of the Ngounié region of Gabon. It lies on the Ngounié River and the N1 road (Gabon), N1 road and has a population of about 20,000 people. Its main sight is Lac Bleu, Gabon, Lac Bleu, a lake known for its bright blue water ...
) # Nyanga (
Tchibanga Tchibanga is a city in the Nyanga Province of southern Gabon, situated on the Nyanga River. It has an estimated population of 24,000 (2008). The town lies on the N6 road and is home to Tchibanga Airport and a Market (place), market. It lies near ...
) # Ogooué-Ivindo (
Makokou Makokou is the regional capital of the Ogooué-Ivindo province in Gabon. Its coordinates are . Its altitude is 308 m. Its population in 2004 is around 16,600. The city lies on the Ivindo River and the N4 road (Gabon), N4 road. It grew around ...
) # Ogooué-Lolo (
Koulamoutou Koulamoutou is the capital of Ogooué-Lolo Province in east-central Gabon, with a population of around 16,000 people. It lies at the Confluence (geography), confluence of the Lolo River and the River Bouenguidi and on the N6 road (Gabon), N6 road ...

Koulamoutou
) # Ogooué-Maritime (
Port-Gentil Port-Gentil or Mandji is the second-largest city of Gabon, and its leading seaport. It is the center of Gabon's petroleum and timber industries. The city is located on a River delta, delta island in the Ogooue delta with no bridges to the mainland ...
) #
Woleu-Ntem Woleu-Ntem is the northernmost of Gabon Gabon (; ), officially the Gabonese Republic (french: République gabonaise), is a country on the west coast of Central Africa. Located on the equator, Gabon is bordered by Equatorial Guinea to the ...
(
Oyem Oyem is the capital of Woleu-Ntem province in northern Gabon, lying on the N2 road (Gabon), N2 road and the River Ntem. Geography The town lies on a plateau at an elevation of about . It is the administrative and transport center for the surround ...
)


Geography

Gabon is located on the coast of central Africa on the
equator The Equator is a , about in circumference, that divides into the and hemispheres. It is an located at 0 degrees , halfway between the and poles. In , as applied in , the equator of a rotating (such as a ) is the parallel (circle of l ...

equator
, between latitudes 3°N and 4°S, and longitudes and 15°E. Gabon generally has an
equatorial climate A tropical rainforest climate or equatorial climate is a tropical climate usually found within 10 to 15 degrees latitude of the equator. They experience high mean annual temperatures, small temperature ranges, and rain that falls throughout the yea ...
with an extensive system of
rainforests Rainforests are forest A forest is an area of land dominated by trees. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing and ecological func ...

rainforests
, with 89.3% of its land area forested. There are three distinct regions: the coastal plains (ranging between from the ocean's shore), the mountains (the Cristal Mountains to the northeast of Libreville, the Chaillu Massif in the centre), and the
savanna A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ' woods), a low-density forming open s with plenty of sunlight and li ...

savanna
in the east. The coastal plains form a large section of the
World Wildlife Fund In its most general sense, the term "world" refers to the totality of entities, to the whole of reality or to everything that is. The nature of the world has been conceptualized differently in different fields. Some conceptions see the worl ...
's
Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests The Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests, also known as the Congolian coastal forests, are a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an ecology, ecologically and geographically ...
ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an ecologically Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including h ...
and contain patches of
Central African mangroves The Central African mangroves ecoregion consists of the largest area of mangrove swamp in Africa, located on the coasts of West Africa, mainly in Nigeria. Location and description These mangroves are found in fertile rivermouths and lagoons and c ...
especially on the Muni River estuary on the border with
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea ( es, Guinea Ecuatorial; french: Guinée équatoriale; pt, Guiné Equatorial), officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea ( es, link=no, República de Guinea Ecuatorial, french: link=no, République de Guinée équatoriale, ...

Equatorial Guinea
. Geologically, Gabon is primarily ancient
Archean The Archean Eon ( , also spelled Archaean or Archæan) is one of the four geology, geologic eon (geology), eons of Earth, Earth's history, occurring (4 to 2.5 Billion years, Gya). During the Archean, the Earth's Crust (geology), crust had ...

Archean
and
Paleoproterozoic The Paleoproterozoic Era (;, also spelled Palaeoproterozoic), spanning the time period from (2.5–1.6 Year, Ga), is the first of the three sub-divisions (era (geology), eras) of the Proterozoic Eon. The Paleoproterozoic is also the longest ...
igneous and metamorphic basement rock, belonging to the stable continental crust of the
Congo Craton The Congo Craton, covered by the Palaeozoic The Paleozoic (or Palaeozoic) Era ( ; from the Greek ''palaiós'' (), "old" and ''zōḗ'' (), "life", meaning "ancient life") is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon. It is ...
, a remnant section of extremely old continental crust. Some formations are more than two billion years old. Ancient rock units are overlain by marine
carbonate In chemistry, a carbonate is a salt Salt is a mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride (NaCl), a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of Salt (chemistry), salts; salt in its natural form as a crystallinity, crystalline mi ...

carbonate
, lacustrine and continental sedimentary rocks as well as unconsolidated sediments and soils that formed in the last 2.5 million years of the
Quaternary The Quaternary ( ) is the current and most recent of the three periods of the Cenozoic The Cenozoic ( ; ) is Earth's current geological era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology or historiography, as in the regnal ...
. The rifting apart of the
supercontinent In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers sim ...
Pangaea Pangaea or Pangea () was a supercontinent In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí G ...

Pangaea
created rift basins that filled with sediments and formed the hydrocarbons which are now a keystone of the Gabonese economy. Gabon is notable for the Oklo reactor zones, the only known
natural nuclear fission reactor A fossil natural nuclear fission reactor is a uranium mineral deposit, deposit where self-sustaining nuclear chain reactions have occurred. This can be examined by analysis of isotope ratios. The conditions under which a natural nuclear reactor co ...
on Earth which was active two billion years ago. The site was discovered during uranium mining in the 1970s to supply the French nuclear power industry. Gabon's largest river is the which is long. Gabon has three
karst Karst is a topography Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an area could refer to the surface forms and features themselves, or a description (especially their depiction in maps). Topography ...
areas where there are hundreds of caves located in the dolomite and limestone rocks. Some of the caves include Grotte du Lastoursville, Grotte du Lebamba, Grotte du Bongolo, and Grotte du Kessipougou. Many caves have not been explored yet. A National Geographic Expedition visited the caves in the summer of 2008 to document them. Gabon is also noted for efforts to preserve the natural environment. In 2002, President Omar Bongo Ondimba designated roughly 10% of the nation's territory to be part of its
national park system The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mecha ...
(with 13 parks in total), one of the largest proportions of
nature park A nature park, or sometimes natural park, is a designation for a protected natural area A nature reserve (also known as a natural reserve, wildlife refuge, wildlife sanctuary, biosphere reserve or bioreserve, natural or nature preserve, or ...

nature park
land in the world. The National Agency for National Parks manages Gabon's national park system. Gabon had a 2018
Forest Landscape Integrity Index The Forest Landscape Integrity Index (FLII) is an annual global index of forest A forest is an area of land dominated by trees. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree ...
mean score of 9.07/10, ranking it 9th globally out of 172 countries. Natural resources include petroleum, magnesium, iron, gold, uranium, and forests.


Wildlife


Economy

Gabon's economy is dominated by oil. Oil revenues constitute roughly 46% of the government's budget, 43% of the gross domestic product (GDP), and 81% of exports. Oil production is currently declining rapidly from its high point of 370,000 barrels per day in 1997. Some estimates suggest that Gabonese oil will be expended by 2025. In spite of the decreasing oil revenues, planning is only now beginning for an after-oil scenario.Background note: Gabon
. U.S. Department of State (4 August 2010).
The Grondin
Oil Field A petroleum reservoir or oil and gas reservoir is a subsurface accumulation of hydrocarbons In organic chemistry Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry that studies the structure, properties and reactions of organic compounds, which contain ...
was discovered in water depths offshore, in 1971 and produces from the Batanga
sandstone Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock of a clast (sand grain), derived from a basalt Basalt (, ) is a fine-grained extrusive igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of low-viscosity lava rich in magnesium and iron ('' mafic ' ...

sandstone
s of
Maastrichtian The Maastrichtian () is, in the ICS ICS may refer to: Computing * Image Cytometry Standard, a digital multidimensional image file format used in life sciences microscopy * Industrial control system, computer systems and networks used to contr ...
age forming an
anticline In structural geology, an anticline is a type of Fold (geology), fold that is an arch-like shape and has its oldest Bed (geology), beds at its core, whereas a syncline is the inverse of a anticline. A typical anticline is convex curve, conv ...

anticline
salt
structural trap In petroleum geology Petroleum geology is the study of origin, occurrence, movement, accumulation, and exploration of hydrocarbon fuels. It refers to the specific set of geological disciplines that are applied to the search for hydrocarbons (oil ex ...
which is about deep. Gabonese public expenditures from the years of significant oil revenues were not spent efficiently. Overspending on the
Trans-Gabon Railway The Trans-Gabon Railway (french: Transgabonais) is the only railway in Gabon. It runs east from Owendo port station in Libreville to Franceville via numerous stations, the main ones being Ndjolé, Lopé, Gabon, Lopé, Booué, Lastoursville and ...
, the CFA franc devaluation of 1994, and periods of low oil prices caused serious debt problems that still plague the country. Gabon earned a poor reputation with the
Paris Club The Paris Club (french: Club de Paris) is a group of officials from major creditor countries whose role is to find co-ordinated and sustainable solutions to the payment difficulties experienced by debtor countries. As debtor countries undertake ...

Paris Club
and the
International Monetary Fund The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international financial institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The ...

International Monetary Fund
(IMF) over the management of its debt and revenues. Successive IMF missions have criticized the government for overspending on off-budget items (in good years and bad), over-borrowing from the
Central Bank A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is an institution that manages the currency A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money ...

Central Bank
, and slipping on the schedule for
privatization Privatization (or privatisation in British English) can mean several different things, most commonly referring to moving something from the public sector into the private sector. It is also sometimes used as a synonym for deregulation when a heav ...
and administrative reform. However, in September 2005 Gabon successfully concluded a 15-month Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF. Another 3-year Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF was approved in May 2007. Because of the financial crisis and social developments surrounding the death of President Omar Bongo and the elections, Gabon was unable to meet its economic goals under the Stand-By Arrangement in 2009. Negotiations with the IMF were ongoing. Gabon's oil revenues have given it a per capita GDP of $8,600, unusually high for the region. However, a skewed income distribution and poor social indicators are evident. The richest 20% of the population earn over 90% of the income while about a third of the Gabonese population lives in poverty. The economy is highly dependent on extraction, but primary materials are abundant. Before the discovery of oil, logging was the pillar of the Gabonese economy. Today, logging and manganese mining are the next-most-important income generators. Recent explorations suggest the presence of the world's largest unexploited iron ore deposit. For many who live in rural areas without access to employment opportunity in extractive industries, remittances from family members in urban areas or subsistence activities provide income. Foreign and local observers have lamented the lack of diversity in the Gabonese economy. Various factors have so far limited the development of new industries: * the market is small, about a million * dependent on imports from France * unable to capitalize on regional markets * entrepreneurial zeal not always present among the Gabonese * a fairly regular stream of oil "rent", even if it is diminishing Further investment in the agricultural or
tourism Tourism is travel Travel is the movement of people between distant geographical location In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of th ...
sectors is complicated by poor infrastructure. The small processing and service sectors that do exist are largely dominated by a few prominent local investors. At World Bank and IMF insistence, the government embarked in the 1990s on a program of privatization of its state-owned companies and administrative reform, including reducing public sector employment and salary growth, but progress has been slow. The new government has voiced a commitment to work toward an economic transformation of the country but faces significant challenges to realize this goal.


Demographics

Gabon has a population of approximately million. Historical and environmental factors caused Gabon's population to decline between 1900 and 1940. Gabon has one of the lowest
population densities Population density (in agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise tr ...

population densities
of any country in Africa, and the fourth highest
Human Development Index The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, its current age, and ot ...
in
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
.


Ethnic groups

Almost all Gabonese are of
Bantu Bantu may refer to: *Bantu languages, constitute the largest sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages *Bantu peoples, over 400 peoples of Africa speaking a Bantu language *Afro-textured hair#Styling, Bantu knots, a type of African hairstyle *Blac ...
origin. Gabon has at least forty
ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousn ...
s with differing languages and cultures. Including
Fang A fang is a long, pointed tooth A tooth (plural teeth) is a hard, calcified Calcification is the accumulation of calcium salts in a Tissue (biology), body tissue. It normally occurs in the formation of bone, but calcium can be deposited ...
,
Myènè Myene is a cluster of closely related Bantu languages, Bantu varieties spoken in Gabon by about 46,000 people. It is perhaps the most divergent of the Narrow Bantu languages,Punu-Échira, Nzebi-Adouma, Teke-Mbete, Mèmbè, Kota, Akélé. There are also various indigenous
Pygmy In anthropology Anthropology is the scientific study of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, incl ...

Pygmy
peoples: the Bongo, and Baka. The latter speak the only non-Bantu language in Gabon. More than 10,000 native French live in Gabon, including an estimated 2,000 dual nationals. Ethnic boundaries are less sharply drawn in Gabon than elsewhere in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
. Most ethnicities are spread throughout Gabon, leading to constant contact and interaction among the groups, and there is no ethnic tension. One important reason for this is that intermarriage is extremely common and every Gabonese person is connected by blood to many different tribes. Indeed, intermarriage is often required because among many tribes, marriage within the same tribe is prohibited because it is regarded as incest. This is because those tribes consist of the descendants of a specific ancestor, and therefore all members of the tribe are regarded as close kin to each other. French, the language of its former colonial ruler, is a unifying force. The Democratic Party of Gabon (PDG)'s historical dominance also has served to unite various ethnicities and local interests into a larger whole.


Population centres


Languages

is the country's sole official language. It is estimated that 80% of Gabon's population can speak French, and that 30% of Libreville residents are native speakers of the language. Nationally, Gabonese people speak their various mother tongue according to their ethnic group. The 2013 census found that only 63.7% of Gabon's population could speak a Gabonese language, broken down by 86.3% in rural areas and 60.5% in urban areas speaking at least one national language. In October 2012, just before the 14th summit of the
Organisation internationale de la Francophonie The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF; sometimes shortened to the Francophonie, french: La Francophonie , but also called International Organisation of La Francophonie in English-language context) is an international organiz ...
, the country declared an intention to add English as a second official language, reportedly in response to an investigation by France into corruption in the African country, though a government spokesman insisted it was for practical reasons only. It was later clarified that the country intended to introduce English as a first foreign language in schools, while keeping French as the general medium of instruction and the sole official language.


Religion

Major religions practiced in Gabon include
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of ...

Christianity
(
Roman Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian r ...
and
Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a majority of the population in , and believe that is the , whose comin ...
),
Bwiti Bwiti is a spiritual discipline of the forest-dwelling Punu people and Mitsogo peoples of Gabon (where it is recognized as one of three official religions) and by the Beti-Pahuin peoples#Fang, Fang people of Gabon and Cameroon. Modern Bwiti incor ...
,
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
, and indigenous
animistic Animism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman R ...

animistic
religion.International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Gabon
. United States
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Affairs (DRL) is a bureau within the United States Department of State. The bureau is under the purview of the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. DRL's resp ...
(14 September 2007). ''This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the
public domain The public domain consists of all the creative work A creative work is a manifestation of creativity, creative effort including Work of art, fine artwork (sculpture, paintings, drawing, Sketch (drawing), sketching, performance art), dance, wr ...

public domain
.''
Many persons practice elements of both Christianity and traditional indigenous religious beliefs. Approximately 73 percent of residents practice at least some elements of Christianity, including the syncretistic Bwiti; 12 percent practice Islam; 10 percent practice traditional indigenous religious beliefs exclusively; and 5 percent practice no religion or are
atheists Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of Deity, deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that the ...
. A vivid description of taboos and magic is provided by Schweitzer.


Health

Most of the health services of Gabon are public, but there are some private institutions, of which the best known is the hospital established in 1913 in
Lambaréné Lambaréné is a town and the capital of Moyen-Ogooué in Gabon. It has a population of 38,775 as of 2013, and is located 75 kilometres south of the equator. Lambaréné is based in the Central African Rainforest at the river Ogooué River, Ogoou ...
by
Albert Schweitzer Ludwig Philipp Albert Schweitzer (; 14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965) was an Alsatian polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo universalis, "universal human") is an individual whose knowled ...

Albert Schweitzer
. Gabon's medical infrastructure is considered one of the best in
West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania ...

West Africa
. By 1985 there were 28 hospitals, 87 medical centers, and 312 infirmaries and dispensaries. , there were an estimated 29 physicians per 100,000 people, and approximately 90% of the population had access to health care services. In 2000, 70% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 21% had adequate sanitation. A comprehensive government health program treats such diseases as
leprosy Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease (HD), is a long-term Long-Term Capital Management L.P. (LTCM) was a hedge fund''A financial History of the United States Volume II: 1970–2001'', Jerry W. Markham, Chapter 5: "Bank Consolidation", M. E. ...

leprosy
, sleeping sickness,
malaria Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes symptoms Signs and symptoms are the observed or detectable signs, and experienced symptoms of an illness, injury, or condition. A sign fo ...

malaria
,
filariasis Filariasis is a parasitic disease A parasitic disease, also known as parasitosis, is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication ...

filariasis
,
intestinal worms An intestinal parasite infection is a condition in which a parasite Parasitism is a symbiotic relationship between species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank o ...
, and
tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the in ...

tuberculosis
. Rates for immunization of children under the age of one were 97% for tuberculosis and 65% for
polio Poliomyelitis, commonly shortened to polio, is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology ...

polio
. Immunization rates for DPT and
measles Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to ...
were 37% and 56% respectively. Gabon has a domestic supply of pharmaceuticals from a factory in Libreville. The
total fertility rate The total fertility rate (TFR) of a population is the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime if: # she was to experience the exact current age-specific fertility Fertility is the capability to produce offs ...
has decreased from 5.8 in 1960 to 4.2 children per mother during childbearing years in 2000. Ten percent of all births were low birth weight. The
maternal mortality rate Maternal death or maternal mortality is defined in slightly different ways by several different health organizations. The World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United N ...
was 520 per 100,000 live births as of 1998. In 2005, the
infant mortality rate Infant mortality is the death of young children under the age of 1. This death toll is measured by the infant mortality rate (IMR), which is the probability of deaths of children under one year of age per 1000 live births. The under-five mortalit ...
was 55.35 per 1,000 live births and life expectancy was 55.02 years. As of 2002, the overall mortality rate was estimated at 17.6 per 1,000 inhabitants. The
HIV/AIDS Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection An infection is the invasion of an organism's body by , their multiplication, and the reaction of ...
prevalence In epidemiology Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the distribution (who, when, and where), patterns and determinants In mathematics, the determinant is a Scalar (mathematics), scalar value that is a function (mathematics), function of ...

prevalence
is estimated to be 5.2% of the adult population (ages 15–49). , approximately 46,000 people were living with HIV/AIDS. There were an estimated 2,400 deaths from AIDS in 2009 – down from 3,000 deaths in 2003.


Education

Gabon's education system is regulated by two ministries: the Ministry of Education, in charge of pre-kindergarten through the last high school grade, and the Ministry of Higher Education and Innovative Technologies, in charge of universities, higher education, and professional schools. Education is compulsory for children ages 6 to 16 under the Education Act. Most children in Gabon start their school lives by attending nurseries or "Crèche", then kindergarten known as "Jardins d'Enfants". At age 6, they are enrolled in primary school, "École Primaire" which is made up of six grades. The next level is "École Secondaire", which is made up of seven grades. The planned graduation age is 19 years old. Those who graduate can apply for admission at institutions of higher learning, including engineering schools or business schools. In Gabon as of 2012, the literacy rate of its population ages 15 and above was 82%. The government has used oil revenue for school construction, paying teachers' salaries, and promoting education, including in rural areas. However, maintenance of school structures, as well as teachers' salaries, has been declining. In 2002 the gross primary enrollment rate was 132 percent, and in 2000 the net primary enrollment rate was 78 percent. Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. As of 2001, 69 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5. Problems in the education system include poor management and planning, lack of oversight, poorly qualified teachers, and overcrowded classrooms."Gabon"
''2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor''
.
Bureau of International Labor Affairs The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) is an operating unit of the United States Department of Labor which manages the department's international responsibilities. According to its mission statement: ''“The Bureau of International Lab ...
, U.S. Department of Labor (2006).


Culture

A country with a primarily
oral tradition Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication Human communication, or anthroposemiotics, is the field dedicated to understanding how human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of prima ...
up until the spread of literacy in the 21st century, Gabon is rich in
folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...

folklore
and
mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the ca ...

mythology
. "Raconteurs" are currently working to keep traditions alive such as the mvett among the Fangs and the ingwala among the Nzebis. Gabon also features internationally celebrated masks, such as the n'goltang (Fang) and the reliquary figures of the Kota. Each group has its own set of masks used for various reasons. They are mostly used in traditional ceremonies such as marriage, birth and funerals. Traditionalists mainly work with rare local woods and other precious materials.


Music

Gabonese music is lesser-known in comparison with regional giants like the
Democratic Republic of the Congo The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( french: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo, the DRC, the DROC, or the Congo, and formerly Zaire Zaire (, ), officially the Republic of Zaire (frenc ...

Democratic Republic of the Congo
and
Cameroon Cameroon (, french: Cameroun), officially the Republic of Cameroon (french: République du Cameroun, links=no), is a country in west 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West or Occident is one of the four cardinal direc ...

Cameroon
. The country boasts an array of folk styles, as well as pop stars like
Patience Dabany Patience Marie Josephine Kama Dabany (born 22 January 1941; member of the Order of Gabriela Silang Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness, a desire for organization * Categorization, the process in which ideas and objects are rec ...
and Annie-Flore Batchiellilys, a Gabonese singer and renowned live performer. Also known are guitarists like Georges Oyendze, La Rose Mbadou and Sylvain Avara, and the singer Oliver N'Goma. Imported rock and hip hop from the US and UK are popular in Gabon, as are
rumba The term rumba may refer to a variety of unrelated music styles. Originally, "rumba" was used as a synonym for "party" in northern Cuba Cuba ( , ), officially the Republic of Cuba ( es, República de Cuba, links=no ), is a country compri ...
,
makossa Makossa is a Cameroonian style of urban music. Like much other late 20th century music of Sub-Saharan Africa, it uses strong electric bass rhythms and prominent brass Brass is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal ...
and
soukous Soukous (from French '' secousse'', "shock, jolt, jerk") is a genre of dance music Dance music is music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dance, dancing. It can be either a whole musical piece or part of a larger musical arran ...
. Gabonese folk instruments include the obala, the , the
balafon The balafon (, ) is a gourd-resonated xylophone, a type of struck idiophone. It is closely associated with the neighbouring Mandé peoples, Mandé, Senufo people, Senoufo and Gur languages, Gur peoples of West Africa, particularly the Guinean br ...

balafon
and traditional drums.


Media

Radio-Diffusion Télévision Gabonaise (RTG), which is owned and operated by the government, broadcasts in and indigenous languages. Color television broadcasts have been introduced in major cities. In 1981, a commercial radio station, Africa No. 1, began operations. The most powerful radio station on the continent, it has participation from the French and Gabonese governments and private European media. In 2004, the government operated two radio stations and another seven were privately owned. There were also two government television stations and four privately owned. In 2003, there were an estimated 488 radios and 308 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 11.5 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 22.4 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 26 of every 1,000 people had access to the
Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consist ...

Internet
. The national press service is the Gabonese Press Agency, which publishes a daily paper, ''Gabon-Matin'' (circulation 18,000 as of 2002). '''' in Libreville, the government-controlled daily newspaper, had an average daily circulation of 40,000 in 2002. The weekly ''Gabon d'Aujourdhui'' is published by the Ministry of Communications. There are about nine privately owned periodicals which are either independent or affiliated with political parties. These publish in small numbers and are often delayed by financial constraints. The constitution of Gabon provides for free speech and a free press, and the government supports these rights. Several periodicals actively criticize the government and foreign publications are widely available.


Cuisine

Gabonese cuisine is influenced by French cuisine, but
staple foods A staple food, food staple, or simply a staple, is a food Food is any substance consumed to provide Nutrient, nutritional support for an organism. Food is usually of plant, animal or Fungus, fungal origin, and contains essential nutrients, ...
are also available.Foster, Dean (2002)
''The Global Etiquette Guide to Africa and the Middle East: Everything You Need to Know for Business and Travel Success''
. John Wiley & Sons. p. 177.


Sports

The
Gabon national football team The Gabon national football team (French: ''Équipe de football du Gabon'') represents Gabon Gabon (; ), officially the Gabonese Republic (french: République gabonaise), is a country on the west coast of Central Africa Central Af ...
has represented the nation since 1962. The Under-23 football team won the 2011 CAF U-23 Championship and qualified for the 2012 London Olympics. Gabon were joint hosts, along with
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea ( es, Guinea Ecuatorial; french: Guinée équatoriale; pt, Guiné Equatorial), officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea ( es, link=no, República de Guinea Ecuatorial, french: link=no, République de Guinée équatoriale, ...

Equatorial Guinea
, of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, and the sole hosts of the competition's 2017 tournament. The Arsenal striker
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Pierre-Emerick Emiliano François Aubameyang (born 18 June 1989) is a Gabonese professional Association football, footballer who plays as a Striker (association football), striker and is the Captain (association football), captain of both club Ar ...

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
plays for the Gabon national team. The Gabon national basketball team, nicknamed ''Les Panthères'', finished 8th at the
AfroBasket 2015 AfroBasket 2015 was the 28th edition of the AfroBasket, a men's basketball continental championship of Africa. It also served as the qualifying tournament for FIBA Africa at the Basketball at the 2016 Summer Olympics – Men's tournament, 2016 Summe ...
, its best performance ever.
Gabon Gabon (; ), officially the Gabonese Republic (french: République gabonaise), is a country on the west coast of Central Africa Central Africa is a subregion of the Africa, African continent comprising various countries according to dif ...
has competed at most Summer Olympics since 1972. The country's sole Olympic medalist is Anthony Obame, who won a silver medal in
taekwondo ''Taekwondo'', ''Tae Kwon Do'' or ''Taekwon-Do'' (; ko, 태권도/跆拳道 ) is a Korean Korean may refer to: People and culture * Koreans, ethnic group originating in the Korean Peninsula * Korean cuisine * Korean culture * Korean langua ...

taekwondo
at the
2012 Olympics The 2012 Summer Olympics (officially known as the Games of the XXX Olympiad and commonly known as London 2012) was an international multi-sport event A multi-sport event is an organized sporting Sporting may refer to: *Sport, recreational ...
, held in London. Gabon has excellent
recreational fishing Recreational fishing, also called sport fishing, is fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are , , -bearing animals that lack with . Included in this definition are the living , s, and and as well as various ...
and is considered one of the best places in the world to catch
Atlantic tarpon The Atlantic tarpon (''Megalops atlanticus'') is a ray-finned fish that inhabits coastal waters, estuary, estuaries, lagoons, and rivers. It is also known as the silver king. It is found in the Atlantic Ocean, typically in tropical and subtropic ...

Atlantic tarpon
.


See also

* Outline of Gabon * Index of Gabon-related articles * ISO 3166-2:GA


References


Bibliography

* * * * *


External links

*
Gabon
''
The World Factbook ''The World Factbook'', also known as the ''CIA World Factbook'', is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; ), known informally as the Agency and the Company, is a civilian ...
''.
Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; ), known informally as the Agency and the Company, is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States The federal government of the United States (U.S. fed ...
. *
Gabon
from the
BBC News BBC News is an operational business division of the British Broadcasting Corporation The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster Public broadcasting involves radio Radio is the technology of signali ...

BBC News
*
Key Development Forecasts for Gabon
from
International Futures International Futures (IFs) is a global integrated assessment model designed to help in thinking strategically and systematically about key global systems (economic, demographic, education, health, environment, technology, domestic governance, in ...

2009 report (PDF)
from
Direction générale de la statistique et des études économiquesThe Direction générale de la statistique et des études économique (DGSEE) is the official Statistics, statistical service of Gabon, established in its current form in 1976. Its activities are organized within the broader framework of the statisti ...
{{Authority control Central African countries Former French colonies French-speaking countries and territories Member states of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie Member states of the African Union Member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Member states of OPEC Member states of the United Nations Republics States and territories established in 1960 1960 establishments in Africa Countries in Africa