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République Gabonaise
Flag of Gabon Coat of Arms of Gabon
Flag Coat of arms
National motto: None
Location of Gabon
Official language French
Capital Libreville
Capital's coordinates 0°30′N 9°32′E
President Omar Bongo
Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong
Area
- Total
- % water
Ranked 74th
267,667 km²
xx% / Negligible
Population
- Total (July 1995 est.)
- Density
Ranked 148th
1,155,749
4.6/km²
Independence
- Declared
- Recognised
(From France)
August 17, 1960
(Year)
Currency CFA franc
Time zone UTC +1 ( DST, yes or not)
National anthem La Concorde
Internet TLD .ga
Calling Code 241
The Gabonese Republic or Gabon, is a nation of west central Africa. It borders on Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo and the Gulf of Guinea. Since its independence from France on August 17, 1960, the Republic has been ruled by only two autocratic Presidents; the incumbent El Hadj Omar Bongo has been in power since 1967 and is currently (2005) Africa's longest-serving Head of State. Gabon introduced a multiparty system and a new democratic 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 countries in the region.

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Contents

History
Politics
Geography
Economy
Demographics



History - Contents

The earliest inhabitants of the area were Pygmy peoples. They were largely replaced and absorbed by Bantu tribes during Bantu migrations. Several Bantu groups occupied the area that is now Gabon when France occupied it in 1885. In 1910, Gabon became one of the four territories of French Equatorial Africa, a federation that survived until 1959. These territories became independent on August 17, 1960.The first president of Gabon, elected in 1961, was Léon M’ba, with Omar Bongo as his vice president. When M'Ba died in 1967, Bongo replaced him as president, and has been the head of state ever since winning each contested election with a substantial majority.


Politics - Contents

 President Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon (left) in Washington, USA
President Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon (left) in Washington, USA
In March 1991 a new constitution was adopted. Among its provisions are a Western-style bill of rights, the creation of the National Council of Democracy that also oversees the guarantee of those rights and a governmental advisory board which deals with economic and social issues. Multi-party legislative elections were held in 1990-91 even though opposition parties had not been declared formally legal.President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, in power since 1967 and the longest-serving African head of state, was re-elected to another 7-year term according to poll results returned from elections held on November 27, 2005. According to figures provided by Gabon's Interior Ministry, this was achieved with 79.1% of the votes cast. In 2003 the President amended the Constitution of Gabon to remove any restictions on the number of terms a president is allowed to serve. The president retains strong powers, such as authority to dissolve the National Assembly, declare a state of siege, delay legislation, conduct referenda, and appoint and dismiss the prime minister and cabinet members.In provisional results his ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) won 84 out of 120 parliamentary seats. As with previous Gabonese elections in which the opposition parties have contested, there were several accusations of electoral fraud, bribery, and calls for a boycott. There were also incidences of violence and protest, particularly in the first round of voting held two weeks prior. However, several international observers including the Economic Community of Central African States have reported that the election "met international standards" for democratic voting.See: List of Presidents of Gabon


Geography - Contents

Chancery building, Libreville
Chancery building, Libreville
Gabon is located on the Atlantic coast of central Africa. Clockwise from the northwest, it is bounded by Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and the Republic of Congo. Gabon's largest river is the Ogooué. Gabon is also noted for efforts to preserve the natural environment with what may be the largest area of nature parks in the world.Administratively, Gabon is divided into 9 provinces and further divided into 37 departments (départements).See: List of places in Gabon, Provinces of Gabon, Departments of Gabon


Economy - Contents

Map of Gabon
Map of Gabon
Gabon is more prosperous than most nearby countries, with a per capita income of four times the average for Sub-Saharan Africa. This is in large part due to offshore oil production that has produced substantial wealth, although the distribution of income from this industry is extremely unequal. Gabon was a full member of OPEC from 1975 to 1995.During the 1990s, devaluation of the CFA franc left Gabon struggling to pay its overseas debt; France and the IMF have provided further loans and aid in exchange for the implementation of changes to the economy.


Demographics - Contents

Almost all Gabonese are of Bantu origin. Gabon has at least 40 ethnic groups with separate languages and cultures. The largest is the Fang. Others include the Myene, Bandjabi, Eshira, Bapounou, 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: 1,208,436
note: Estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2000 est.)
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