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Gabonese Republic

République gabonaise  (French)
Coat of arms of Gabon
Coat of arms
Motto: "Union, Travail, Justice" (French)
"Union, Work, Justice"
Anthem: "La Concorde" (French)
Gabon (orthographic projection).svgShow globe
Location Gabon AU Africa.svgShow map of Africa
and largest city
0°23′N 9°27′E / 0.383°N 9.450°E / 0.383; 9.450
Official languages French
Regional languages
Ethnic groups
  • Fang
  • Punu
  • Nzebi
  • Teke
  • Myene
  • Kota
  • Vili
  • Mbama
  • and 42 others
  • 75.6% Christianity
  • 12.2% Islam
  • 5.9% No religion
  • 5.7% Traditional faiths
  • 0.6% Others
  • Gabonese
  • Gabonaise
Government Unitary presidential republic under a military junta
• Transitional President and CTRI Chairman
Brice Oligui
Legislature Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions
Independence from 
• Republic established
28 November 1958
• Granted
16–17 August 1960
30 August 2023
• Total
267,668 km2 (103,347 sq mi) (76th)
• Water (%)
• 2023 estimate
2,397,368 (146th)
• Density
7.9/km2 (20.5/sq mi) (216th)
GDP (PPP) 2022 estimate
• Total
Increase$39.0 billion (132nd)
• Per capita
Increase$18,080 (83rd)
GDP (nominal) 2022 estimate
• Total
Increase $22.2 billion (117th)
• Per capita
Increase$10,282 (75th)
Gini (2017) 38
HDI (2021) Increase 0.706
high · 112th
Currency Central African CFA franc (XAF)
Time zone UTC+1 (WAT)
Date format dd/mm/yyyy
Driving side right
Calling code +241
ISO 3166 code GA
Internet TLD .ga
Preceded by
French Equatorial Africa

Gabon ( -bon; Template:Lang-snq), officially the Gabonese Republic (French: République gabonaise), is a country on the Atlantic coast of Central Africa. Located on the equator, it is bordered by Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo on the east and south, and the Gulf of Guinea to the west. It has an area of nearly 270,000 square kilometres (100,000 sq mi) and its population is estimated at 2.1 million people. There are coastal plains, mountains (the Cristal Mountains and the Chaillu Massif in the centre), and a savanna in the east. The largest city, as well as the capital, is Libreville.

Gabon's original inhabitants are the pigmy peoples. Beginning in the 14th century, Bantu migrants began settling in the area as well. Since its independence from France in August 1960, the sovereign state of Gabon has had three presidents. In the 1990s, it introduced a multi-party system and a democratic constitution that aimed for a more transparent electoral process and reformed some governmental institutions. Despite this, the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) remains the dominant party.

The official language is French. Bantu ethnic groups constitute around 95% of the country's population, and Christianity is the most widespread religion, practiced by about 75% of the population. With petroleum and foreign private investment, it has the fourth highest HDI in the region (after Mauritius, Seychelles and South Africa) and the fifth highest GDP per capita (PPP) in all of Africa (after Seychelles, Mauritius, Equatorial Guinea and Botswana).


The first people who lived in the country were pygmies. Later, Bantu people took over the area. Bad weather did not let people form a local culture, as had happened in the south (Congo) or north (Benin).

In the 15th century, the first Europeans came to the area. Starting from the 16th century, the coast was used for slave trade.

In the 19th century, French explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza organized the first journey to the Gabon-Congo area in 1875. After 10 years, France took over the whole country. At that time a small amount of Bantu people lived in the country.

In 1910 Gabon was one of the French colonies which formed the French Equatorial Africa (together with Congo, Central African Republic and Chad). French Equatorial Africa lasted to 1959. On 17 August 1960, Gabon became a new country.

Since 1960, Gabon has only had 3 presidents. In 1961 Léon M'ba became the first president. In 1967 after his death Omar Bongo became the president and ruled the country to 2009. In 2009, Omar Bongo died and his son Ali Bongo Ondimba took over as president.


Kongou falls

Gabon is on the Atlantic coast of central Africa. It is on the equator. Gabon generally has an equatorial climate. Rainforests cover 85% of the country. There are three distinct regions: the coastal plains (ranging between 20 and 300 km from the ocean's shore), the mountains (the Cristal Mountains to the northeast of Libreville, the Chaillu Massif in the centre, culminating at 1575 m with Mont Iboundji), and the savanna in the east. The coastal plains form a large section of the World Wildlife Fund's Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests ecoregion and contain patches of Central African mangroves especially on the Muni River estuary on the border with Equatorial Guinea.

Gabon's largest river is the Ogooué which is 1200 km long. Gabon has three karst areas where there are hundreds of caves 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 (Expedition Website).


The presidential republic form of government is stated 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. The president can appoint and dismiss the prime minister, the cabinet, and judges of the independent Supreme Court. The president has other powers such as authority to dissolve the National Assembly, declare a state of siege, delay legislation, and conduct referendums. Gabon has a bicameral legislature with a National Assembly and Senate. The National Assembly has 120 deputies who are popularly elected for a five-year term. The Senate is composed of 102 members who are elected by municipal councils and regional assemblies and serve for six years. The Senate was created in the 1990–1991 constitutional revision, and was not brought into being until after the 1997 local elections. The President of the Senate is next in succession to the President.

In 1990, the government made 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, PDG Central Committee, and the President, the Assembly unanimously adopted the constitution in March 1991. Multiparty legislative elections were held in 1990–1991 when opposition parties had not been declared formally legal. In January 1991, the Assembly passed by unanimous vote a law governing the legalization of opposition parties.

A few days after the controversial presidential election in August 2023, a group of military officials declared that they had overthrown the government of Ali Bongo Ondimba. The announcement came hours after Ali Bongo was officially re-elected for a third term.


French is the sole official language. It is estimated that 80% of the population can speak French, and that 30% of Libreville residents are native speakers of the language.

Nationally, a majority of the Gabonese people speak indigenous languages, according to their ethnic group, while this proportion is lower than in most other Sub-Saharan African countries. The 2013 census found that 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.


Religions practised in Gabon include Christianity (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism), Islam, and traditional indigenous religious beliefs. Some people practice elements of both Christianity and indigenous religious beliefs. Approximately 79% of the population (53% Catholic) practice one of the denominations of Christianity; 10% practice Islam (mainly Sunni); the remainder practice other religions.

Provinces and departments

Gabon is divided into nine provinces. The provinces are divided into 37 departments.

The provinces are:

  1. Estuaire
  2. Haut-Ogooué
  3. Moyen-Ogooué
  4. Ngounié
  5. Nyanga
  6. Ogooué-Ivindo
  7. Ogooué-Lolo
  8. Ogooué-Maritime
  9. Woleu-Ntem


The soil of Gabon is rich in the metals uranium, manganese, and petrolium. Oil revenues constitute roughly 46% of the government's budget, 43% of the gross domestic product (GDP), and 81% of exports.

The economy is dependent on extraction. Before the discovery of oil, logging was the "pillar" of the Gabonese economy. Then, logging and manganese mining are the "next-most-important" income generators. Some explorations suggest the presence of the world's largest unexploited iron ore deposit. For some 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. Factors that have "limited the development of new industries" were listed as follows:

  • 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 sectors is "complicated by poor infrastructure". Some processing and service sectors 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. A government has voiced a commitment to work toward an economic transformation of the country.


Gabon has a wide culture. Before colonialism, Gabon's people believed their ancestral spirit as religion, like bwiti, mvett, djobi.

After colonialism, others religions such as Christianity and Islam came to be added to the first animist believers.

The Gabon national football team has represented the nation since 1962. Gabon were joint hosts, along with Equatorial Guinea, of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. They were the only hosts of the competition's 2017 tournament.

Gabon has excellent recreational fishing. It is considered one of the best places in the world to catch Atlantic tarpon.

Books about Gabon

  • Maria Petringa, Brazza, A Life for Africa (2006) ISBN: 978-1-4259-1198-0

Related pages

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Gabón para niños

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