The official name is the Gabonese Republic (Ripublique Gabonaise).
Located in Central Africa. The area is 267.7 thousand km2, the population is 1233.4 thousand people. (2002). The official language is French. The capital is Libreville (661.1 thousand people, 2003). Public holiday – Foundation of the Gabonese Democratic Party (GDP) March 12 (since 1968). The monetary unit is the CFA franc (XAF).
Member of the UN (since 1960), IMF (since 1996), AfDB, FAO, UNCTAD, UNESCO, WTO, etc.
Geography of Gabon
It is located between 8°42′ and 14°32′ East longitude and 2°25′ North and 3°58′ South latitude. In the west it is washed by the Atlantic Ocean. The coast south of Cape Lopez is straight, devoid of natural harbors; to the north – more dissected, with convenient bays. It borders in the northwest with Equatorial Guinea, in the north with Cameroon, in the northeast, east, southeast and south with the Republic of the Congo.
The inner part of Gabon – plateaus and mountains (up to 1580 m, Mount Ibunji); along the coast of the ocean – lowlands.
Deposits: manganese ores 200-250 million tons (2000) – 1/3 of the world reserves, iron ore – 1 billion tons, gold placers in floodplains – 30-50 tons (1999), barites – 1 million tons, phosphates – 150 million t, deposits of marble – St. 10 million tons. Oil reserves – 423 million tons (1998).
The soils are predominantly red-yellow lateritic. The climate is subequatorial, equatorial in the north. Precipitation is 1500-2000 mm per year, in the north of the coastline up to 2500-3000 mm. The average temperatures in April are +25–27°С, in July +22–24°С.
The river network is dense and full of water. The main river is the Ogove (850 km); the largest tributaries are the Ivindo and the Ngunle. The coastal rivers Nyanga, Como and others are less significant.
80% of the territory is covered with dense moist evergreen forests. There are many species that provide valuable commercial timber – okume, osigo, limba, red, yellow, ebony, sandalwood, etc. In the south and southeast there are tall grass savannas. Along the coast are mangroves.
There are elephants, buffaloes, forest antelopes, numerous monkeys (including anthropoids), leopards, hyenas, etc.; in the rivers – hippos, crocodiles, there is a manatee; lots of birds, snakes, insects.
Population of Gabon
According to Countryaah, population grows by 0.97% per year (2002). Birth rate 27.24%, mortality 17.59%, infant mortality 93.5 people. per 1000 newborns (2002). Average life expectancy 49.11 years (2002).
Sex and age structure of the population: 0-14 years old – 33.3% (ratio of men and women 1); 15-64 years old – 60.6% (1.01); 65 years and older – 6.1% (0.97) (2002). Rural population 26%, urban 74% (2000). Among the population over 15 years of age, 63.2% are literate (men 73.7%; women 53.3%) (1995).
The main ethnic groups (%, 2002): Bantu (Banyabi) 30, Fang 28.8, Mpongwe 15.6, Bakota 12, Bateke 5.2. In addition, there are Maka, Bakongo, Bavili and other peoples. Non-Africans, mainly French, 21.7 thousand people. Languages – French (state), Fang, Banyabi, Bakota.
Christians – 55-75%, Muslims – less than 1%, the rest adhere to traditional beliefs.
History of Gabon
The territory of Gabon in the 19th century. was taken over by France. The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 recognized France’s right to a new colony. Since 1886, Gabon has been a separate French colony; in 1888 it was merged with the Congo into one colony; in 1910–58 it was part of French Equatorial Africa; in 1958–60 it became an autonomous state. Since August 1960 an independent republic. The first president, Leon Mba, proclaimed the creation of a one-party state led by the Gabonese Democratic Party (GDP). Social and political tension caused by the recession in the economy in the beginning. 1980s, led to the emergence of opposition – the Movement for National Revival (MORENA), which formed a government in exile in Paris. In 1990, a multi-party system was allowed in Gabon. In the local elections of 1996, the GDP won control in most of the municipalities and won the elections to the National Assembly and the Senate. The GPP refused to participate in the government.
In 1997, the Congress of Deputies and Senators adopted amendments to the Constitution, increasing the term of presidency to 7 years, approved the post of vice president, and the Senate was proclaimed the highest chamber of the bicameral parliament. Presidential elections were held in 1998, and a new Council of Ministers was approved in 1999.
In 1999-2001, mass student demonstrations and civil servants’ strikes took place in Gabon. In 2001, the GDP won the elections to the National Assembly.
Science and culture of Gabon
In Libreville there are: the Scientific and Technical Center of Tropical Forestry, the Research Institute of Agriculture and Livestock and a number of branches of scientific institutions in France. Higher educational institutions: University. Omar Bongo in Libreville, Masouru University of Science and Technology in Franceville. Many students receive university and technical education in France.
Compulsory free education for children from 6 to 16 years. In 1993 ca. 89% of children in the respective age group attended primary and secondary schools (90% boys, 88% girls).
Gabon has a high level of original culture. Traditional art is represented by the manufacture of ritual and sacral masks, figurines and objects (Bakot and Fang tribes). There is a National School of Arts that trains professional artists, designers and sculptors. Since the 1960s there is a National Theatre, funded by the state. Performances given by professional storytellers are popular in the villages. There is a School of Circus Arts and a Folk Dance Ensemble. Music is developed, common: harp, guitar with a curved neck, pipes made of clay, horns made of bone and wood.