[Country map of Gabon]



Location: Western Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean at the Equator, between Congo and Equatorial Guinea

Map references: Africa

total area: 267,670 sq km
land area: 257,670 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Colorado

Land boundaries: total 2,551 km, Cameroon 298 km, 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

International disputes: maritime boundary dispute with Equatorial Guinea because of disputed sovereignty over islands in Corisco Bay

Climate: tropical; always hot, humid

Terrain: narrow coastal plain; hilly interior; savanna in east and south

Natural resources: petroleum, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore

Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 1%
meadows and pastures: 18%
forest and woodland: 78%
other: 2%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: deforestation; poaching
natural hazards: NA
international agreements: party to - Endangered Species, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea, Tropical Timber 94


Population: 1,155,749 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 34% (female 193,859; male 194,761)
15-64 years: 61% (female 347,839; male 359,997)
65 years and over: 5% (female 30,218; male 29,075) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.46% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 28.34 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 13.72 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 92.4 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 55.14 years
male: 52.31 years
female: 58.06 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.93 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Gabonese (singular and plural)
adjective: Gabonese

Ethnic divisions: Bantu tribes including four major tribal groupings (Fang, Eshira, Bapounou, Bateke), other Africans and Europeans 100,000, including 27,000 French

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

Languages: French (official), Fang, Myene, Bateke, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 61%
male: 74%
female: 48%

Labor force: 120,000 salaried
by occupation: agriculture 65.0%, industry and commerce 30.0%, services 2.5%, government 2.5%


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

Digraph: GB

Type: republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized 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: Renovation Day, 12 March (1968) (Gabonese Democratic Party established)

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; compulsory ICJ jurisdiction not accepted

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President El Hadj Omar BONGO (since 2 December 1967); election last held on 5 December 1993 (next to be held 1998); results - President Omar BONGO was reelected with 51% of the vote
head of government: Prime Minister Paulin OBAME Nguema (since 9 December 1994)
cabinet: Council of Ministers; appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president

Legislative branch: unicameral
National Assembly (Assemblee Nationale): elections last held on 5 December 1993 (next to be held by 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (120 total) PDG 62, Morena-Bucherons/RNB 19, PGP 18, National Recovery Movement (Morena-Original) 7, APSG 6, USG 4, CRP 1, independents 3

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Supreme)

Political parties and leaders: Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG, former sole party), Jaques ADIAHENOT, Secretary General; National Recovery Movement - Lumberjacks (Morena-Bucherons/RNB), Fr. Paul M'BA-ABESSOLE, leader; Gabonese Party for Progress (PGP), Pierre-Louis AGONDHO-OKAWE, President; National Recovery Movement (Morena-Original), Pierre ZONGUE-NGUEMA, Chairman; Association for Socialism in Gabon (APSG), leader NA; Gabonese Socialist Union (USG), leader NA; Circle for Renewal and Progress (CRP), leader NA; Union for Democracy and Development (UDD), leader NA; Rally of Democrats (RD), leader NA; Forces of Change for Democratic Union, leader NA


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Paul BOUNDOUKOU-LATHA
chancery: 2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007, Suite 200
telephone: [1] (202) 797-1000

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Joseph C. WILSON IV
embassy: Boulevard de la Mer, Libreville
mailing address: B. P. 4000, Libreville
telephone: [241] 76 20 03 through 76 20 04, 74 34 92
FAX: [241] 74 55 07

Flag: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and blue


Overview: Notwithstanding its serious ongoing economic problems, Gabon enjoys a per capita income more than twice that of most nations of sub-Saharan Africa. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for 50% of GDP. Real growth was feeble in 1992 and Gabon continues to face the problem of fluctuating prices for its oil, timber, manganese, and uranium exports. Despite an abundance of natural wealth, and a manageable rate of population growth, the economy is hobbled by poor fiscal management. In 1992, the fiscal deficit widened to 2.4% of GDP, and Gabon failed to settle arrears on its bilateral debt, leading to a cancellation of rescheduling agreements with official and private creditors. Devaluation of its Francophone currency by 50% in January 1994 did not set off an expected inflationary spiral but the government must continue to keep a tight reign on spending and wage increases.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $5.6 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 1.9% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $4,900 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 35% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $1.3 billion
expenditures: $1.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $311 million (1993 est.)

Exports: $2.1 billion (f.o.b., 1993 est)
commodities: crude oil 80%, timber 10%, manganese 6%, uranium 2%
partners: US 38%, France 26%, Japan, Germany

Imports: $832 million (c.i.f., 1993 est.)
commodities: foodstuffs, chemical products, petroleum products, construction materials, manufactures, machinery
partners: France 42%, African countries 23%, US, Japan

External debt: $3.3 billion (1993 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate -3% (1991)

capacity: 315,000 kW
production: 910 million kWh
consumption per capita: 757 kWh (1993)

Industries: food and beverages, lumbering and plywood, textiles, cement, petroleum refining, mining - manganese, uranium, gold, petroleum

Agriculture: cash crops - cocoa, coffee, palm oil; livestock raising not developed; importer of food; small fishing operations provide a catch of about 20,000 metric tons; okoume (a tropical softwood) is the most important timber product

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-90), $68 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-90), $2.342 billion; Communist countries (1970-89), $27 million

Currency: 1 CFA franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (CFAF) per US$1 - 529.43 (January 1995), 555.20 (1994), 283.16 (1993), 264.69 (1992), 282.11 (1991), 272.26 (1990)
note: beginning 12 January 1994, the CFA franc was devalued to CFAF 100 per French franc from CFAF 50 at which it had been fixed since 1948

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 649 km single track (Transgabonese Railroad)
standard gauge: 649 km 1.437-m gauge

total: 7,500 km
paved: 560 km
unpaved: crushed stone 960 km; earth 5,980 km

Inland waterways: 1,600 km perennially navigable

Pipelines: crude oil 270 km; petroleum products 14 km

Ports: Cape Lopez, Kango, Lambarene, Libreville, Owendo, Port-Gentil

Merchant marine:
total: 1 cargo ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 9,281 GRT/12,665 DWT

total: 69
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 28
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 8
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 23


Telephone system: 15,000 telephones; telephone density - 13/1,000 persons
local: NA
intercity: adequate system, comprising cable, microwave radio relay, tropospheric scatter, radiocommunication stations, and 12 domestic satellite links
international: 3 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth stations

broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 6, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 3 (repeaters 5)
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Presidential Guard, National Gendarmerie, National Police

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 272,025; males fit for military service 138,197; males reach military age (20) annually 10,516 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $154 million, 2.4% of GDP (1993)

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