short form: Gabon
Int’l long form: Gabonese Republic
ISO Country Code: ga
Local Time = UTC +1h
Country Calling Code: +241
Capital City: Libreville (pop. 450 000)
Other Cities: Port-Gentil (120 000), Lambaréné, Franceville, Mouila, Tchibanga, Makokou, Koulamoutou, Port-Gentil, Oyem.
Type: Republic; multiparty presidential regime.
Independence: 17 August 1960 (from France).
Location: Western central Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean at the Equator, between Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea
Area: 267,667 km² (103,347 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Narrow coastal plain; hilly and heavily forested interior (about 80% forested); some savanna regions in east and south.
Climate: Hot and humid with two rainy (February – May main rainy season)
and two dry seasons (May – September main dry season).
Population: 1.5 million (2010 UN estimate)
Ethnic groups: Over 40 ethnic groups: Fang (34%), Bapounou (22%), M’Bete (14%), Bandjabi (11%), Bakota (6%), and Myene (5%).
Religions: Christianity, Muslim, animist.
Languages: French (official), Fang, Myene, Bateke, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi.
Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, diamond, niobium, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore, hydropower.
Agriculture products: Cocoa, coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber; cattle; okoume (a tropical softwood); fish.
Industries: Petroleum extraction and refining; manganese, and gold mining; chemicals; ship repair; food and beverage; textile.
Exports partners: USA 52.9%, China 8.5%,France 7.3% (2004)
Imports partners: France 43.8%, USA 6.3%, UK5.9%, Netherlands 4% (2004)
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine Francs CFA (XAF)
Only two autocratic presidents have ruled Gabon since independence from France in 1960. Gabon’s current President, El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba – one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world – has dominated Gabon’s political scene for almost four decades. President BONGO introduced a nominal multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s. However, the low turnout and allegations of electoral fraud during the most recent local elections in 2002-03 have exposed the weaknesses of formal political structures in Gabon. Presidential elections scheduled for 2005 are unlikely to bring change since the opposition remains weak, divided, and financially dependent on the current regime. Despite political conditions, a small population, abundant natural resources, and considerable foreign support have helped make Gabon one of the more prosperous and stable African countries.