Gabon Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Gabon > Map Economy

Lopé Reserve

Facts About Gabon

Background: Ruled by autocratic presidents since independence from France in 1960, Gabon introduced a multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s that allowed for a more transparent electoral process and for reforms of governmental institutions. A small population, abundant natural resources, and foreign private investment have helped make Gabon one of the more prosperous black African countries.
Government type: republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized in 1990)
Capital: Libreville
Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Geography of Gabon

Location: Western Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean at the Equator, between Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea
Geographic coordinates: 1 00 S, 11 45 E
Area:
total: 267,667 sq km
land: 257,667 sq km
water: 10,000 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 2,551 km
border countries: Cameroon 298 km, Republic of the Congo 1,903 km, Equatorial Guinea 350 km
Coastline: 885 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: tropical; always hot, humid
Terrain: narrow coastal plain; hilly interior; savanna in east and south
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Iboundji 1,575 m
Natural resources: petroleum, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 18%
forests and woodland: 77%
other: 3% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 40 sq km (1993 est.)
Environment - current issues: deforestation; poaching
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: a small population and oil and mineral reserves have helped Gabon become one of Africa's wealthier countries; in general, these circumstances have allowed the country to maintain and conserve its pristine rain forest and rich biodiversity.

People of Gabon

Almost all Gabonese are of Bantu origin. Gabon has at least 40 ethnic groups, with separate languages and cultures. The largest is the Fang. Other ethnic groups include the Myene, Bandjabi, Eshira, Bapounou, Bateke/Obamba, and Okande. Ethnic group boundaries are less sharply drawn in Gabon than elsewhere in Africa. French, the official language, is a unifying force. More than 10,000 French people live in Gabon, and France predominates foreign cultural and commercial influences. Historical and environmental factors caused Gabon's population to decline between 1900 and 1940. It is one of the least-densely inhabited countries in Africa, and a labor shortage is a major obstacle to development and a draw for foreign workers. The population is generally accepted to be just over 1 million but remains in dispute.

Population: 1,389,201 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  33.29%
15-64 years:  60.77%
65 years and over:  5.94%
Population growth rate: 1.02% 
Birth rate: 27.42 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 17.22 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 94.91 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  49.59 years
male:  48.47 years
female:  50.75 years 
Total fertility rate: 3.69 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Gabonese (singular and plural)
adjective: Gabonese
Ethnic groups: Bantu tribes including four major tribal groupings (Fang, Eshira, Bapounou, Bateke), other Africans and Europeans 154,000, including 10,700 French and 11,000 persons of dual nationality.
Religions: Christian 55%-75%, Muslim less than 1%, animist
Languages: French (official), Fang, Myene, Bateke, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 63.2%
male: 73.7%
female: 53.3% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Gabon > Map Economy