Facts about Gabon

World Facts Index

GabonOnly 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 country's political scene for 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.

Geography of Gabon

Location:
Western Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean at the Equator, between Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea
Coordinates:
1 00 S, 11 45 E
Area:
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
Coastline:
885 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate:
tropical; always hot, humid
Terrain:
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
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

Population of Gabon

Population:
1,485,832 (July 2008 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)
Median age:
18.6 years
Growth rate:
2.13%
Infant mortality:
54.51 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 54.49 years
male: 53.21 years
female: 55.81 years
Fertility rate:
4.74 children born/woman
Nationality:
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
Religions:
Christian 55%-75%, animist, Muslim less than 1%
Languages:
French (official), Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 63.2%
male: 73.7%
female: 53.3% 

Government

Country name:
conventional long form: Gabonese Republic
local long form: Republique Gabonaise
Government type:
republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized in 1990)
Capital:
Libreville
Administrative divisions:
9 provinces; Estuaire, Haut-Ogooue, Moyen-Ogooue, Ngounie, Nyanga, Ogooue-Ivindo, Ogooue-Lolo, Ogooue-Maritime, Woleu-Ntem
Independence:
17 August 1960 (from France)
National holiday:
Founding of the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), 12 March (1968)
Constitution:
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
Suffrage:
21 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba (since 2 December 1967)
head of government: Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe NDONG (since 20 January 2006)
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 (no term limits); election last held 27 November 2005 (next to be held in 2012); prime minister appointed by the president.
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).
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

Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most of sub-Saharan African nations. but 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. The devaluation of the CFA franc - 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 since 1999 have helped growth, but drops in production have hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains, and will continue to temper the gains for most of this decade. 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:
$20.44 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
2.1%
GDP per capita:
$6,800
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 6.1%
industry: 59.2%
services: 34.8%
Inflation rate:
2.3% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
640,000
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 60%
industry: 15%
services: 25%
Budget:
revenues: $2.463 billion
expenditures: $1.618 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 34.5%
hydro: 65.5%
other: 0% 
nuclear: 0%
Industries:
petroleum extraction and refining; manganese, and gold mining; chemicals; ship repair; food and beverage; textile; lumbering and plywood; cement
Agriculture:
cocoa, coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber; cattle; okoume (a tropical softwood); fish
Exports:
crude oil, timber, manganese, uranium
Export partners:
US 53.3%, France 6.4%, China 6.3%, Trinidad and Tobago 4.2%
Imports:
machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, construction materials
Import partners:
France 40.6%, US 6.4%, Cameroon 4.4%, Netherlands 4.3%
Currency:
Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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