Information about Gabon - a Country at the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, with amazing National Parks and wildlife -

Gabon Facts

 

Map of Gabon

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Gabon, officially the Gabonese Republic, is a sovereign state on the west coast of Central Africa. Located on the equator, Gabon 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 1.5 million people. Its capital and largest city is Libreville.

Since its independence from France in 1960, Gabon has had three presidents. In the early 1990s, Gabon introduced a multi-party system and a new democratic constitution that allowed for a more transparent electoral process and reformed many governmental institutions. Gabon was also a temporary member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2010–2011 term.

Abundant petroleum and foreign private investment have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the 4th highest HDI and the third highest GDP per capita (PPP) (after Equatorial Guinea and Botswana) in the region. GDP grew by more than 6% per year from 2010 to 2012. However, because of inequality in income distribution, a significant proportion of the population remains poor.

Population

Gabon has an area of nearly 270,000 square kilometres (100,000 sq mi) and its population is estimated at 1.98 million  people (2016). Its capital and largest city is Libreville. Since its independence from France in 1960, Gabon has had three presidents.

Languages

French is the official language of the republic. The Fang language is spoken in northern Gabon, and other Bantu languages (Myene, Batéké, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi) are spoken elsewhere in the country.

Currency

The Central African CFA franc is the currency of six independent states in central Africa: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

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Geography

Situated on the west coast of Africa and straddling the equator, Gabon has an area of 267,667 sq km (103,347 sq mi), extending 717 km (446 mi) nne–ssw and 644 km (400 mi) ese–wnw. Comparatively, the area occupied by Gabon is slightly smaller than the state of Colorado. It is bordered on the n by Cameroon, on the e and s by the Republic of the Congo (ROC), on the w by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the nw by Equatorial Guinea, with a total boundary length of 3,436 km (2,135 mi), of which 885 km (550 mi) is coastline.

Gabon’s capital city, Libreville, is located on the country’s northwestern coast.

Climate

Gabon has the moist, hot climate typical of tropical regions. The hottest month is January, with an average high at Libreville of 31°c (88°f) and an average low of 23°c (73°f). Average July temperatures in the capital range between 20° and 28°c (68° and 82°f). From June to September there is virtually no rain but high humidity; there is occasional rain in December and January. During the remaining months, rainfall is heavy. The excessive rainfall is caused by the condensation of moist air resulting from the meeting, directly off the coast, of the cold Benguela Current from the south and the warm Guinea Current from the north. At Libreville, the average annual rainfall is more than 254 cm (100 in). Farther north on the coast, it is 381 cm (150 in).

Flora and FaunaNA

Plant growth is rapid and dense. About 85% of the country is covered by heavy rain forest. The dense green of the vegetation never changes, since the more than 6,000 species of plants flower and lose their leaves continuously throughout the year according to species. Tree growth is especially rapid; in the more sparsely forested areas, the trees tower as high as 60 m (200 ft), and the trunks are thickly entwined with vines. There are about 300 species of trees. In the coastal regions, marine plants abound, and wide expanses are covered with tall papyrus grass.

Most tropical fauna species are found in Gabon. Wildlife includes elephants, buffalo, antelope, situtungas, lions, panthers, crocodiles, and gorillas. As of 2002, there were at least 190 species of mammals and 156 species of birds throughout the country.

Religion

About 73% of the total population are Christian, with a majority of the people being Roman Catholic. About 12% are Muslim; with a majority of these being foreigners. About 10% practice traditional indigenous religions exclusively, but it is believed that a large number of Christians and Muslims also incorporate some elements of traditional religions within their practice. About 5% of the population are atheists or claim no religious affiliation.

The constitution provides for freedom of religion and this right is generally respected in practice. While religious organizations are not required to register with the government, many do so in order to be assured of full protection of their constitutional rights. The government has banned the registration of Jehovah’s Witnesses since 1970, but the government has allowed the group to assemble and practice their faith. Certain Christian and Muslim holidays are celebrated as national holidays.

Transportation

Until the 1970s, Gabon had no railroads. A 936-km (582-mi) railroad construction program, the Trans-Gabon Railway, began in October 1974. In its first stage, completed in 1983, the project linked the port of Owendo with the interior city of Booué (332 km/206 mi). The second stage, completed in December 1986, linked Booué with Franceville (357 km/222 mi) via Moanda, thus facilitating exports of manganese from the southeast and forestry exploitation in the same region. A proposed third stage would continue the line from Booué to Belinga in the northeast, where there are iron ore deposits. As of 2004, Gabon State Railways totaled 814 km (506 mi) of standard-gauge track.

Main roads connect virtually all major communities, but maintenance work is difficult because of heavy rainfall. In 2002, the road network comprised 8,454 km (5,253 mi), of which 838 km (521 mi) were paved, including 30 km (19 mi) of expressways. A north-south road runs the length of the country, from Bitam to Ndendé. This main north-south link continues into Cameroon in the north and the Congo in the south. An east–west road connects Libreville and Mékambo. Farther south, another road runs from Mayumba to Lastoursville and Franceville. In 1995 there were about 23,000 automobiles and 10,000 commercial vehicles in use.

The busiest ports are Port-Gentil, the center for exports of petroleum products and imports of mining equipment, and Owendo, a new port that opened in 1974 on the Ogooué estuary, 10 km (6 mi) north of Libreville. Owendo’s capacity, initially 300,000 tons, reached 1.5 million tons in 1979, when the port was enlarged to include timber-handling facilities. The smaller port at Mayumba also handles timber, and a deepwater port is planned for the city. In 1998, Gabon’s merchant marine owned two vessels totaling 13,613 GRT. As of 2002, there was no merchant marine. As of 2003, Gabon had 1,600 km (994 mi) of perennially navigable waterways, including 310 km (193 mi) on the Ogooué River.

Gabon had an estimated 56 airports in 2004, but only 11 of which had paved runways as of 2005. There are three international airports: Libreville (Leon M’Ba), Port-Gentil, and Franceville. Air Gabon is the national airline, serving European, West and Central African, and domestic destinations. Numerous other airlines also provide international flights. Air Affaires Gabon handles scheduled domestic service. In 2003, about 386,000 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

Economy

Gabon’s per capita income is over four times that of most sub-Saharan African countries. Over 50% of Gabon’s GDP comes from petroleum and mining production. The petroleum industry generates 80% of export earnings and more than 50% of government revenues. The manufacturing sector accounts for 60% of GDP overall and services account for 30%. Inefficient parastatal enterprises restrain private sector growth. Gabon received close to 22% of its total revenues from state-owned enterprises and government ownership of property in 2000. As of 2005, fewer than 10 stateowned enterprises had been completely privatized since 1997.

Gabon imports the majority of its food; it is densely forested and only a fraction of the arable land is cultivated. Yet, in 2005, 60% of its population gained their livelihood in the agricultural sector, where the staple food crops are cassava, plantains, and yams.

Gabon’s cash crops are palm oil, cocoa, coffee, and sugar. Palm oil is the most important of the four. The coffee sector was hard hit in the 1980s by low world prices and lower producer prices; coffee prices strengthened again in the mid-1990s but sank again in the early 2000s. Gabon is self-sufficient in sugar, which it exports to the United States and other countries. Rubber production has been promoted in recent years.

Health 

Most of the health services are public, but there are some private institutions, of which the best known is the hospital established in 1913 in Lambaréné by Albert Schweitzer. The hospital is now partially subsidized by the Gabonese government.

Gabon’s medical infrastructure is considered one of the best in West Africa. By 1985 there were 28 hospitals, 87 medical centers, and 312 infirmaries and dispensaries. As of 2004, there were an estimated 29 physicians per 100,000 people. Approximately 90% of the population had access to health care services. In 2000, 70% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 21% had adequate sanitation.

A comprehensive government health program treats such diseases as leprosy, sleeping sickness, malaria, filariasis, intestinal worms, and tuberculosis. Rates for immunization of children under the age of one were 97% for tuberculosis and 65% for polio. Immunization rates for DPT and measles were 37% and 56% respectively. Gabon has a domestic supply of pharmaceuticals from a large, modern factory in Libreville.

The total fertility rate has decreased from 5.8 in 1960 to 4.2 children per mother during childbearing years in 2000. Ten percent of all births were low birth weight. The maternal mortality rate was 520 per 100,000 live births as of 1998. In 2005, the infant mortality rate was 55.35 per 1,000 live births and life expectancy was 55.02 years. As of 2002, the overall mortality rate was estimated at 17.6 per 1,000 inhabitants.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 8.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 48,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 3,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.

World Health Organization specialists and the government of Gabon took immediate action against the mid-1990s reemergence of the Ebola virus.

Education

The educational system is patterned on that of France, but changes are being introduced gradually to adapt the curriculum to local needs and traditions. The government gives high priority to education, especially the construction of rural schools. Education is free and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16. Primary school covers five years of study. Students then choose either general secondary courses or a technical school program, each of which cover seven years. The academic year runs from October to June. The primary language of instruction is French.

In 2001, about 13% of children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2001 was estimated at about 78% of age-eligible students. The same year, enrollment in secondary schools was at less than 50% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about 74% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 49:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 28:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 29% of primary school enrollment and 30% of secondary enrollment.

Omar Bongo University, at Libreville, includes faculties of law, sciences, and letters; teachers’ training schools; and schools of law, engineering, forestry and hydraulics, administration, and management. In 1999, about 7% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 1995 was estimated at about 63.2%, with 73.7% for men and 53.3% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3.9% of GDP.

Tourism, Travel, and Recreation

Gabon’s tourist attractions include fine beaches, ocean and inland fishing facilities, and scenic sites, such as the falls on the Ogooué River and the Crystal Mountains. Many visitors come to see the hospital founded by Albert Schweitzer at Lambaréné. In addition, there are two national parks and four wildlife reserves. Hunting is allowed in certain areas except during October and November.

Tourism accommodations are limited. In 2002 there were only 2,450 hotel rooms with a 70% occupancy rate. An estimated 222,257 tourists arrived in Gabon in 2003. Visitors must have a valid passport, visa, and evidence of yellow fever immunization.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily expenses of staying in Libreville at $246. Elsewhere, expenses were as low as $135 per day.

 

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