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Only two autocratic presidents have ruled Gabon since independence from France in 1960. The current president of Gabon, El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba - one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world - has dominated the contry's political scene for almost four decades. President BONGO introduced a nominal multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s. However, allegations of electoral fraud during local elections in 2002-03 and the presidential elections in 2005 have exposed the weaknesses of formal political structures in Gabon. Gabon's political opposition remains weak, divided, and financially dependent on the current regime. Despite political conditions, a small population, abundant natural resources, and considerable foreign support have helped make Gabon one of the more prosperous and stable African countries.


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


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


885 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical; always hot, humid


narrow coastal plain; hilly interior; savannah in east and south

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Iboundji 1,575 m

Natural resources:

petroleum, natural gas, diamond, niobium, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore, hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 1.21%
permanent crops: 0.64%
other: 98.15% (2005)

Irrigated land:

70 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; poaching

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


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 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 42.1% (male 300,914/female 299,141)
15-64 years: 53.9% (male 383,137/female 384,876)
65 years and over: 4% (male 23,576/female 33,262) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 18.6 years
male: 18.4 years
female: 18.8 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.13% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

36.16 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

12.25 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-2.65 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 54.51 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 63.65 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 45.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 54.49 years
male: 53.21 years
female: 55.81 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

4.74 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

8.1% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

48,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

3,000 (2003 est.)

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria (2005)


noun: Gabonese (singular and plural)
adjective: Gabonese

Ethnic groups:

Bantu tribes, including four major tribal groupings (Fang, Bapounou, Nzebi, Obamba), other Africans and Europeans 154,000, including 10,700 French and 11,000 persons of dual nationality


Christian 55%-75%, animist, Muslim less than 1%


French (official), Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 63.2%
male: 73.7%
female: 53.3% (1995 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Gabonese Republic
conventional short form: Gabon
local long form: Republique Gabonaise
local short form: Gabon

Government type:

republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized in 1990)



Administrative divisions:

9 provinces; Estuaire, Haut-Ogooue, Moyen-Ogooue, Ngounie, Nyanga, Ogooue-Ivindo, Ogooue-Lolo, Ogooue-Maritime, Woleu-Ntem


17 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday:

Founding of the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), 12 March (1968)


adopted 14 March 1991

Legal system:

based on French civil law system and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


21 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

bicameral legislature consists of the Senate (91 seats; members elected by members of municipal councils and departmental assemblies) and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (120 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 26 January and 9 February 2003 (next to be held by January 2009); National Assembly - last held 9 and 23 December 2001 (next to be held December 2006)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PDG 53, RNB 20, PGP 4, ADERE 3, RDP 1, CLR 1, independents 9; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PDG 86, RNB-RPG 8, PGP 3, ADERE 3, CLR 2, PUP 1, PSD 1, independents 13, others 3

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court or Cour Supreme consisting of three chambers - Judicial, Administrative, and Accounts; Constitutional Court; Courts of Appeal; Court of State Security; County Courts

Economy - overview:

Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most of sub-Saharan African nations. This has supported a sharp decline in extreme poverty; yet, because of high income inequality, a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for 50% of GDP. Gabon continues to face fluctuating prices for its oil, timber, and manganese exports. Despite the abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management hobbles the economy. Devaluation of its currency by 50% in January 1994 sparked a one-time inflationary surge, to 35%; the rate dropped to 6% in 1996. The IMF provided a one-year standby arrangement in 1994-95, a three-year Enhanced Financing Facility (EFF) at near commercial rates beginning in late 1995, and stand-by credit of $119 million in October 2000. Those agreements mandated progress in privatization and fiscal discipline. France provided additional financial support in January 1997 after Gabon met IMF targets for mid-1996. In 1997, an IMF mission to Gabon criticized the government for overspending on off-budget items, overborrowing from the central bank, and slipping on its schedule for privatization and administrative reform. The rebound of oil prices in 1999-2000 helped growth, but drops in production hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. In December 2000, Gabon signed a new agreement with the Paris Club to reschedule its official debt. A follow-up bilateral repayment agreement with the US was signed in December 2001. Gabon signed a 14-month Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF in May 2004, and received Paris Club debt rescheduling later that year. Short-term progress depends on an upbeat world economy and fiscal and other adjustments in line with IMF policies.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$8.047 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$7.154 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

2.1% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$5,800 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 6%
industry: 58.8%
services: 35.1% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

640,000 (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 60%
industry: 15%
services: 25%

Unemployment rate:

21% (1997 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

1.5% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

24.5% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $2.463 billion
expenditures: $1.618 billion; including capital expenditures of $325 million (2005 est.)

Public debt:

29.5% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

cocoa, coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber; cattle; okoume (a tropical softwood); fish


petroleum extraction and refining; manganese, gold; chemicals, ship repair, food and beverages, textiles, lumbering and plywood, cement

Industrial production growth rate:

1.6% (2002 est.)

Electricity - production:

1.487 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

1.383 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

268,900 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

12,250 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

1.921 billion bbl (2005 est.)

Natural gas - production:

90 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

90 million cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

33.98 billion cu m (2005)

Current account balance:

$1.11 billion (2005 est.)


$5.813 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

crude oil 77%, timber, manganese, uranium (2001)

Exports - partners:

US 53%, China 8.5%, France 7.3% (2004)


$1.533 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, construction materials

Imports - partners:

France 43.8%, US 6.3%, UK 5.9% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$525 million (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$3.857 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$331 million (1995)

Currency (code):

Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

38,700 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

489,400 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: adequate service by African standards and improving with the help of the growing mobile cell system
domestic: adequate system of cable, microwave radio relay, tropospheric scatter, radiotelephone communication stations, and a domestic satellite system with 12 earth stations
international: country code - 241; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); fiber optic submarine cable (SAT-3/WASC) provides connectivity to Europe and Asia

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 6, FM 7 (and 11 repeaters), shortwave 4 (2001)

Television broadcast stations:

4 (plus four low-power repeaters) (2001)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

310 (2005)

Internet users:

40,000 (2005)


56 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 11
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 45
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 15
under 914 m: 23 (2005)


gas 210 km; oil 1,385 km (2004)


total: 814 km
standard gauge: 814 km 1.435-m gauge (2004)


total: 32,333 km
paved: 6,247 km
unpaved: 26,086 km (2003)


1,600 km (310 km on Ogooue River) (2005)

Merchant marine:

registered in other countries: 1 (Cambodia 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Gamba, Libreville, Lucinda, Owendo, Port-Gentil

Military branches:

Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie, National Police

Disputes - international:

UN presses Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to resolve the sovereignty dispute over Gabon-occupied Mbane Island and to establish a maritime boundary in hydrocarbon-rich Corisco Bay; only a few hundred out of the 20,000 Republic of the Congo refugees who fled militia fighting in 2000 remain in Gabon