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Only two autocratic presidents have ruled Gabon since independence from France in 1960. Gabon's current President, El Hadj Omar BONGO - one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world - has dominated Gabon's political scene for almost four decades. President BONGO introduced a nominal multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s. However, the low turnout and allegations of electoral fraud during the most recent local elections in 2002-03 have exposed the weaknesses of formal political structures in Gabon. In addition, recent strikes have underscored the popular disenchantment with the political system. Presidential elections scheduled for 2005 are unlikely to bring change since the 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.
Geography Gabon
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
Map references:
total: 267,667 sq km
water: 10,000 sq km
land: 257,667 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Colorado
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 - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
contiguous zone: 24 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical; always hot, humid
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: 1.26%
permanent crops: 0.66%
other: 98.08% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
150 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Environment - current issues:
deforestation; poaching
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, 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 Gabon
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 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 42.2% (male 286,819; female 285,184)
15-64 years: 53.7% (male 362,311; female 365,132)
65 years and over: 4.1% (male 23,157; female 32,643) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 18.5 years
male: 18.3 years
female: 18.8 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.5% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
36.4 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
11.43 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 54.34 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 44.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 64.15 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 56.46 years
male: 54.85 years
female: 58.12 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.8 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
9% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
23,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
3,000 (2001 est.)
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.)
Government Gabon
Country name:
conventional long form: Gabonese Republic
conventional short form: Gabon
local short form: Gabon
local long form: Republique Gabonaise
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
Executive branch:
chief of state: President El Hadj Omar BONGO (since 2 December 1967)
head of government: Prime Minister Jean-Francois NTOUTOUME-EMANE (since 23 January 1999)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 6 December 1998 (next to be held NA 2005); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President El Hadj Omar BONGO reelected; percent of vote - El Hadj Omar BONGO 66.6%, Pierre MAMBOUNDOU 16.5%, Fr. Paul M'BA-ABESSOLE 13.4%
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: National Assembly - last held 9 and 23 December 2001 (next to be held NA December 2006); Senate - last held 26 January and 9 February 2003 (next to be held by January 2009)
election results: 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; Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PDG 53, RNB 20, PGP 4, ADERE 3, RDP 1, CLR 1, independents 9
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
Political parties and leaders:
Circle of Liberal Reformers or CLR [General Jean Boniface ASSELE]; Democratic and Republican Alliance or ADERE [Divungui-di-Ndinge DIDJOB]; Gabonese Democratic Party or PDG, former sole party [Simplice Nguedet MANZELA]; Gabonese Party for Progress or PGP [Pierre-Louis AGONDJO-OKAWE,]; National Rally of Woodcutters-Rally for Gabon or RNB-RPG (Bucherons) [Fr. Paul M'BA-ABESSOLE]; People's Unity Party or PUP [Louis Gaston MAYILA]; Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP [Pierre EMBONI]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Pierre Claver MAGANGA-MOUSSAVOU]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jules Marius OGOUEBANDJA
consulate(s): New York
FAX: [1] (202) 332-0668
telephone: [1] (202) 797-1000
chancery: Suite 200, 2034 20th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Kenneth P. MOOREFIELD
embassy: Boulevard de la Mer, Libreville
mailing address: Centre Ville, B. P. 4000, Libreville
telephone: [241] 76 20 03 through 76 20 04, after hours - 74 34 92
FAX: [241] 74 55 07
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and blue
Economy Gabon
Economy - overview:
Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most nations of sub-Saharan Africa. 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 Francophone currency by 50% on 12 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 mandate progress in privatization and fiscal discipline. France provided additional financial support in January 1997 after Gabon had 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. Short-term progress depends on an upbeat world economy and fiscal and other adjustments in line with IMF policies.
purchasing power parity - $7.301 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
1.2% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $5,500 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 15%
industry: 60%
services: 25% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.3% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
600,000 (1999 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 60%, services 25%, industry 15%
Unemployment rate:
21% (1997 est.)
revenues: $1.8 billion
expenditures: $1.8 billion, including capital expenditures of $310 million (2002 est.)
petroleum extraction and refining; manganese, and gold mining; chemicals; ship repair; food and beverage; textile; lumbering and plywood; cement
Industrial production growth rate:
1.6% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
798.4 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 34.5%
hydro: 65.5%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
742.5 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
301,300 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
13,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Oil - proved reserves:
2.45 billion bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
80 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
80 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
66.47 billion cu m (1 January 2002)
Agriculture - products:
cocoa, coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber; cattle; okoume (a tropical softwood); fish
$2.891 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil 77%, timber, manganese, uranium (2001)
Exports - partners:
US 50.9%, France 12.7%, China 7.1% (2002)
$1.079 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, construction materials
Imports - partners:
France 51%, US 6.3%, Netherlands 3.7% (2002)
Debt - external:
$3.8 billion (2002 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$331 million (1995)
Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XAF) per US dollar - 581.2 (2003), 696.99 (2002), 733.04 (2001), 711.98 (2000), 615.7 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Gabon
Telephones - main lines in use:
32,100 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
279,300 (2002)
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)
208,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
4 (plus four low-power repeaters) (2001)
63,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
79 (2002)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2001)
Internet users:
25,000 (2002)
Transportation Gabon
total: 814 km
standard gauge: 814 km 1.435-m gauge (2002)
total: 8,464 km
paved: 838 km
unpaved: 7,626 km (2000 est.)
1,600 km (perennially navigable)
gas 210 km; oil 1,426 km; water 3 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Cap Lopez, Kango, Lambarene, Libreville, Mayumba, Owendo, Port-Gentil
56 (2003 est.)
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 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 45
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 15
under 914 m: 23 (2003 est.)
Military Gabon
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie, National Police
Military manpower - military age:
20 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 314,434 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 162,847 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 13,462 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$149.3 million (2003)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2% (2003)
Transnational Issues Gabon
Disputes - international:
creation of a maritime boundary in hydrocarbon-rich Corisco Bay with Equatorial Guinea is hampered by dispute over Mbane Island, administered and occupied by Gabon since the 1970s