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Republic of Gabonaise
Gabonese Republic
Flag of Gabon
Coat of arms of Gabon
flag coat of arms
Motto : Union, Travail, Justice
(French, "unity, work, justice")
Official language French
Capital Libreville
Form of government republic
Government system Presidential system
Head of state President
Ali-Ben Bongo Ondimba
Head of government Prime Minister
Rose Christiane Raponda
surface 267,667 km²
population 2,067,561 estimate 2018
Population density 8 inhabitants per km²
Population development   +1.86% per year
gross domestic product
  • Nominal
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nominal)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 14.273 billion ( 117. )
  • $ 35.850 billion ( 119. )
  • 7,587 USD ( 77. )
  • 19,056 USD ( 67. )
Human Development Index 0.702 ( 115th ) (2019)
currency CFA franc BEAC (XAF)
independence August 17, 1960 (from France )
National anthem La Concorde
National holiday 17th August
Time zone UTC + 1
License Plate G
ISO 3166 GA , GAB, 266
Internet TLD .ga
Telephone code +241
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Gabon [ ɡaˈbuːn ] ( French Gabon ) is a state in Central Africa . It borders Cameroon , Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of the Congo, as well as the Gulf of Guinea . The equator runs through the country . Gabon has around two million inhabitants (as of 2017). In 2019, it was ranked 115th out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) , making it one of only two countries in sub-Saharan Africa that are among the countries with high human development in the HDI . Thanks to its oil reserves, it is one of the wealthier countries in Africa. The country has been ruled by the Bongo family since 1967 and is considered a dictatorship by many international observers. After 42 years, the current President Ali-Ben Bongo Ondimba took over rule from his father Omar Bongo in 2009 after a controversial election .


Gabon is located on the western Atlantic coast of Central Africa , from where it extends in an easterly direction to just before the Congo Basin . The coastline is 885 km. The western coastal lowlands rise in stages after about 200 kilometers to the Lower Guinea Sill in the east. The highest mountain in Gabon has not yet been determined. There are various (incorrect) details that differ from each other by up to 500 meters in altitude. The highest elevations in the northeast and south reach just over 1000 m above sea level. d. M. More than 70 percent of the land area is covered by tropical rainforest .

In some regions of Gabon there are very old rocks that can be dated to the Proterozoic (around 2 billion years ago). Gabonionta , early forms of multicellular life, and a total of 17 natural nuclear reactors were found in the corresponding formations , the most famous of which is the Oklo natural reactor .


The largest river in the country is the Ogooué (approx. 1200 km), which with its numerous tributaries has cut deeply into the terrain of the highlands . About of the country is drained through its catchment area. In addition, there is the Nyanga and several coastal rivers.

Flora and fauna

A high level of biodiversity can be found in the Gabonese region. It is estimated that 64,000 elephants, 25,000 gorillas and 35,000 chimpanzees live in Gabon. 680 species of birds have been identified, as well as 320 species of orchids. Rare and sometimes endemic species are lowland gorillas, mandrills, forest elephants , bongo antelopes and spotted rockhoppers .

Gabon's landscapes range from savannah and coast to dense tropical rainforest. In 2002 the government designated around 10% of the land area as national parks, which is one of the highest proportions in the world. The 13 national parks are administered and supervised by the National Agency for National Parks . The best known for tourists are the Reserve de la Lopé , but also the Ivindo National Park or the Loango National Park .


Gabon is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Africa. It has about three quarters of the area of ​​Germany, but only twice as many inhabitants as Cologne . About half of the population lives in and around the three largest cities: Libreville with 703,939, Port-Gentil with 136,462 and Franceville with 110,568 inhabitants. The center of the country and the north are largely deserted. The annual population growth of 1.8 percent is comparatively low by African standards.

The total fertility rate is 4.43 (as of 2016) and thus far below the African average. Women have a life expectancy of 64.1 and men of 63.2 years (as of 2010–2015). 42 percent of the population are under 15 and 3.7 percent over 65 years old. 87 percent of the population lives in cities.

In 2016, Gabon had the fourth highest human development index in Sub-Saharan Africa (behind Mauritius , Seychelles and Botswana ).

Population development in 1000 inhabitants
Age pyramid in 1000 inhabitants
Population development
year population
1950 0473,000
1960 0499,000
1970 0590,000
1980 0729,000
1990 0952,000
2000 1,231,000
2010 1,640,000
2017 2,025,000

Data: UN

Ethnic groups

About 40 different peoples or ethnic groups live on Gabon's national territory; the majority of the population are members of the Bantu peoples. Of these, by far the largest and most politically influential ethnic group are the Mpongwe-Fang , who make up around a third of the Gabonese (Mpongwe 31%, Fang 7%). Smaller groups are the Mbete (15.5%), the Bapunu (15%, with the Punu language ), the Tsabatis (14%), the Batazis (9.5%) and the Bateke (4%). There are also 1.5% pygmies - the indigenous people living in the northeast and south - and around 60,000 French (mostly in the cities). Foreigners - many of them employees of a multinational oil company - play a major role in education and the economy. In 2017, 13.8% of the population were born abroad.


The official language of French is spoken by around 80 percent of the total population, with a third of the inhabitants of the capital Libreville speaking it as their mother tongue. In everyday life, mostly Bantu languages ​​are spoken. The most important Bantu language is Fang , in addition to which Mbere , Punu , Teke and Njebi are also important. A total of 42 languages ​​and idioms are spoken.


Around 65 percent of the population describe themselves as Christians (around 60% as Catholics and around 5% as followers of various Protestant churches ). Many of them continue to practice certain forms of African religiosity . A large part of the rest of the population mostly adheres to the traditional folk religions, especially the Bwiti . A minority of around 12% professes Islam , including President Bongo and numerous foreigners.



There is officially ten years of compulsory education . About half of the schools in Gabon are denominational or privately owned.

The illiteracy rate, however, is still around 29%.


Development of child mortality (deaths per 1000 births)

The child mortality rate is 44 per 1,000 births and the maternal mortality rate is 291 per 100,000 births (as of 2017). 86% of births can be looked after medically (as of 2008). The AIDS rate is estimated at between 8.0% and 5.9% depending on the source ( see also: HIV / AIDS in Africa ). Medical care is often inadequate. In 2015, 7% of the population was malnourished, which is one of the lowest rates in Africa.

Lambaréné in Gabon houses the jungle hospital founded by Albert Schweitzer and managed by him until his death in 1965.

Development of life expectancy

Period Life expectancy in
Period Life expectancy in
1950-1955 37.0 1985-1990 60.7
1955-1960 39.0 1990-1995 61.0
1960-1965 40.5 1995-2000 60.0
1965-1970 44.7 2000-2005 59.1
1970-1975 48.8 2005-2010 61.3
1975-1980 52.9 2010-2015 64.5
1980-1985 57.0

Source: UN


European influence

The name Gabon is derived from the Portuguese word "Gabão", which means "cloak". When Portuguese seafarers reached the coast of the country in the 15th century, they gave the mouth of the Komo River the name Gabão because of its peculiar shape.

After the area was settled, the French settlers gained sovereignty over the area in 1839. In 1854 Gabon was united with Gorée and other French settlements, Gorée was reintegrated into Senegal in 1858 . In 1888 Gabon became part of the French Congo and in 1910 it was spun off as an independent part of French Equatorial Africa . On November 8th to 12th, 1940, known as campagne du Gabon or bataille de Libreville , the port of Gabon was captured by Forces françaises libres (FFL) under De Gaulle and British associations. The port, which had previously been held by troops loyal to Vichy and was now strategically important, fell to the Allies.

The loi-cadre Defferre was introduced in 1956 under French administration and with it the general active and passive right to vote for women .

As French Equatorial Africa was dissolved in 1958, gained as Gabon Gabonese Republic , the autonomy .

Independence and dictatorship of Omar Bongos

Omar Bongo, President of Gabon from 1967 to 2009

On August 17, 1960, Gabon gained independence from France under President Léon M'ba , who was succeeded by Omar Bongo after his death in 1967 . The women's suffrage was confirmed at independence. The Parti Démocratique Gabonais (PDG) was founded on March 12, 1968. With this unity party, he ruled the country with a hard hand for a long time. Gabon introduced a multiparty system in the 1990s and passed a new constitution that enabled reform of government organizations and more transparent elections. The relatively small population, the enormous reserves of raw materials and external help enabled Gabon to develop into a flourishing state in Africa over time.

President Omar Bongo was the longest ruling head of state in Africa; he died of cardiac arrest on June 8, 2009 in Barcelona.

Since the change of power in 2009

President Ali Bongo (2012)

The President of the Senate, Rose Francine Rogombé , was elected interim president with the task of organizing new elections within 45 days.

On August 30, 2009, Defense Minister Ali Bongo won the elections, succeeding his father as President. With 140,000 votes, it reached 41.73% of the votes cast out of 800,000 eligible voters. Former Interior Minister André Mba Obamé and another opposition candidate each received around 87,000 votes. On election day, there were local riots in the port city of Port-Gentil, a stronghold of the opposition, by supporters of the defeated candidate, in which around 600 people, mostly young men, were involved. A police station and prison were stormed and 300 prisoners were released. The opportunity was used to loot numerous shops, mainly those of Lebanese immigrants. The recounting of votes required of the losing candidates did not result in any change in the election result. Therefore, the result is still not recognized by them. However, since both European and African Union election observers have confirmed the legality and correctness of these elections, Ali Bongo was inaugurated on October 17, 2009.

In the 2016 presidential election , Bongo was confirmed in office with just under 49.8 percent compared to 48.23 percent for Jean Ping .

Bongo has been abroad because of an illness since October 2018. On January 7, 2019, an attempted coup "to restore democracy" by officers of the armed forces of Gabon was unsuccessful.



According to the constitution of March 28, 1991, Gabon is a presidential republic with a multi-party system . The President is head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces and is directly elected by the people for 7 years and can be re-elected indefinitely after a constitutional amendment of 2003. The executive body is the government chaired by the Prime Minister (appointed by the President). The President exercises executive power together with him and the Cabinet, which is responsible to the President. The legislature, however, lies with the bicameral parliament, which consists of the Senate (with 91 members who are elected for 6 years by the regional and municipal councils) and the National Assembly. The National Assembly has 120 members who are elected for 5 years.

In the 2019 democracy index of the British magazine The Economist, Gabon ranks 121st out of 167 countries, making it one of the authoritarian states. In the country report Freedom in the World 2017 by the US non-governmental organization Freedom House , the country's political system is rated as “not free”.

The current legal system includes elements of legal history with origins in the French colonial era as well as in traditional tribal law.

Most influential parties :

Human rights

Many children who were abducted from their homeland by human traffickers work in Gabon, especially girls aged 8 to 15 from Togo, Benin and Nigeria.

The prisons are overcrowded and the detention conditions are very harsh. Food, hygienic conditions and ventilation are poor. Medical care is almost non-existent.

Self-censorship is often undertaken in the press, as according to the information provided by the international non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders in the country, police violence against journalists is very frequent.

A civil society is increasingly developing in Gabon . One of the leading factors was the commitment of the activist Marc Ona, who received the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2009 .

Homosexuality is illegal in Gabon and is often viewed as a disease. "Openly presented commitments to homosexuality" are viewed by larger sections of the population as a "violation of good morals" and would not be understood, according to the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Foreign policy

US Embassy in Libreville

In 2010/11, the country was represented by a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council in New York and Geneva and at UNESCO in Paris. In addition, in the non-African world, embassies were set up in France, Great Britain, Italy, USA, Russia, Belgium (Brussels), Brazil, Canada, Saudi Arabia, China, Lebanon, South Korea and Japan.

Gabon is accredited to the Federal Republic of Germany in Berlin by the extraordinary and authorized ambassador, Marianne Odette Bibalou Bounda.

Germany, on the other hand, has set up an embassy in the capital, Libreville, which is also responsible for São Tomé and Príncipe , but not for legal and consular tasks. Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary is Pascal Richter .

Gabon is a member of the International Cocoa Organization .


The armed forces of Gabon are divided into army, air force and navy and have 5,000 men. Gabon spent almost 2.1 percent of its economic output or 299 million US dollars on its armed forces in 2017.


the provinces of Gabon
Gabon Political Map

The state is divided into nine provinces , which in turn are divided into 37 departments .

No. province Capital Area km² 1960 residents Population 1993 Residents 2005 Residents 2013
1 Estuaire Libreville 20,740 61,520 463.187 638.219 895.689
2 Haut-Ogooué Masuku ( Franceville ) 36,547 42,274 104,301 143,715 250,799
3 Moyen-Ogooué Lambaréné 18,535 34.193 42,316 58,307 69,287
4th Ngounié Mouila 37,750 79.010 77,781 107.173 100,838
5 Nyanga Tchibanga 21,285 37.503 39,430 54,330 52,854
6th Ogooué-Ivindo Makokou 46,075 36,126 48,862 67,326 63.293
7th Ogooué-Lolo Koulamoutou 25,380 36,792 43,915 60,510 65,771
8th Ogooué-Maritime Port Gentil 22,890 42,322 97.913 134.913 157,562
9 Woleu-Ntem Oyem 38,465 78.124 97.271 134.028 154,986
total Libreville 267,667 447.864 1,014,976 1,398,521 1,811,079

The largest cities are (as of 2013): Libreville 703,939 inhabitants, Port-Gentil 136,462 inhabitants, Franceville 110,568 inhabitants, Owendo 79,300 inhabitants, Oyem 60,685 inhabitants and Moanda 59,154 inhabitants.

Source: Direction Générale des Statistiques du Gabon


The only railway stretch of land connecting the capital Libreville with the city of Franceville inland.

In 2007, the entire road network comprised around 9170 km, of which 1097 km were asphalted. In addition, the country is criss-crossed by a network of trunk roads, the roads of which are assigned to three categories, namely national roads, regional roads and local roads.


Airplane of the former Gabon Airlines , the country's flag carrier at the time

Rich natural resources and a liberal economic policy favored Gabon's economic development. The gross domestic product in 2016 was 19,056 dollars ( PPP ) per inhabitant, which was comparable to the income level of Argentina . Gabon is thus one of the richest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa . Nevertheless, around 80 percent of the population live below the poverty line. About a third of the population lives in extreme poverty and in 2016 it was ranked 109th out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index . Over 90% of the gross domestic product is consumed by only 10% of the population. The unemployment rate is given as 28% in 2015 and is therefore very high. Most employment relationships are informal and underemployment is widespread.

The main trading partners are the United States , China and France . According to President Ali Bongo, there are concrete projects for the expansion of public transport, the national road network and sustainable agriculture, some of which are already being implemented.

Gabon is part of the regional government economic and currency organization CEMAC , which includes Gabon, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of the Congo, Chad and the Central African Republic. CEMAC is thus an economic area with around 55 million people. Gabon is pegged to the euro via the CFA franc BEAC with a fixed exchange rate.

In the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International , the country, along with Peru , the Philippines , Niger , Trinidad and Tobago , Thailand and East Timor, ranked 101st out of 176 countries (as of 2016).

In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Gabon was ranked 108th out of 138 countries (as of 2016-17). In 2017, Gabon was ranked 103rd out of 180 countries in the Economic Freedom Index .

Key figures

All GDP values ​​are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).

year GDP
( purchasing power parity )
GDP per capita
( purchasing power parity )
GDP growth
(in percent)
Public debt
(as a percentage of GDP)
1980 06.78 billion 09,056 ... 12.3% ...
1985 09.89 billion 11,853 5.8% 7.3% ...
1990 12.00 billion 12,903 5.1% 15.4% 90%
1995 15.76 billion 14,788 5.0% 9.6% 73%
2000 17.35 billion 14,395 −1.9% 0.5% 72%
2005 20.35 billion 14,923 −0.8% 1.2% 49%
2006 20.58 billion 14,720 −1.9% −1.4% 40%
2007 22.46 billion 15,601 6.3% −1.0% 39%
2008 23.30 billion 15,590 1.7% 5.3% 20%
2009 22.94 billion 14,789 −2.3% 1.9% 26%
2010 24.68 billion 15,326 6.3% 1.4% 21%
2011 26.97 billion 16,138 7.1% 1.3% 21%
2012 28.91 billion 16,665 5.3% 2.7% 21%
2013 31.00 billion 17,196 5.5% 0.5% 31%
2014 32.96 billion 18,020 4.4% 4.5% 34%
2015 34.61 billion 18,655 3.9% −0.1% 45%
2016 35.78 billion 19,017 2.1% 2.1% 64%
2017 36.73 billion 19,254 0.8% 3.0% 61%

Natural resources

Gabon is one of the most resource-rich countries in Africa, with considerable oil reserves off the coast. Accordingly, its main exports include crude oil and petroleum products, which account for around 82 percent of its export income. Manganese , uranium , iron ores and gold are mined inland . Manganese is the third most important export after oil and wood.

The formerly large uranium reserves at Franceville (including the deposit around Oklo ) are largely exhausted. It is the declared aim of the new president to use the existing income from the sale of raw materials to improve the national infrastructure .


Furthermore, Gabon is one of the largest tropical timber exporting countries in Africa - the extensive forest cover enables the extensive use of numerous timber. About two thirds of the country's area is still covered by tropical rainforest ; Gabon has the world monopoly for the precious wood okoumé . The national legislation, however, requires sustainable forest management and the export of untreated wood is subject to restrictions. Eleven percent of the national territory are already designated as reserves and are being looked after with the support of France, the EU and, more recently, the USA. Are also exported coffee , cocoa , rubber (the rubber manufacture ), palm oil , sugar and peanuts . About 25,000 tons of sugar are produced, the majority of which remains in the country itself. The cultivation of staple foods primarily serves the country's own needs, but cannot completely cover this.

Industry, energy

Oil refinery of the Societe Gabonaise de Raffinage (SOGARA)

Gabon's industry consists largely of wood and paper, as well as textile and food industries. Three agribusinesses have already been privatized. The country gets some of its energy from hydropower, mainly in the south of the country. In 1997 the Gabonese water and electricity supplier SEEG was handed over to private hands.

State budget

The state budget included expenditures in 2016 of the equivalent of 3.464 billion US dollars , which were income equivalent to 2.917 billion US dollar against. This results in a budget deficit of 3.8% of GDP .
The national public debt in 2016 was 62.0% of GDP.

In 2006, the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was as follows:


Since 2012 Gabon has been issuing the silver ounce African springbok collector and investment coin with a face value of 1000 francs CFA.


Mukudj mask of the Punu (Völkerkundemuseum in Vienna)


In the 2017 press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders , Gabon was ranked 108th out of 180 countries. According to the non-governmental organization, there are "recognizable problems" with the situation of press freedom in the country.

Gabon is home to the oldest pan-African radio station - Radio Africa No. 1 . The transmitter is also of great importance for the country's infrastructure, it enables schools to run and supports the management of areas that are often inaccessible for months due to rainforests and poor road connections.

The internet was used by 10.3% of the population in 2016.


The most popular sports in Gabon are basketball and soccer . Gabon hosted the African Cup of Nations in 2012 (together with Equatorial Guinea ) and 2017 . One of the most famous people in Gabon is the football player Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang , who is currently under contract with Arsenal FC .

Gabon has been taking part in the Olympic Games since 1972 . The only Olympic medalist from Gabon is Anthony Obame , who won silver in Taekwondo at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London .

Carving art

Some cultures of Gabon are known for their carving skills, especially the Fang , the Kota , the Punu and the Tsogo . From the area of ​​the Kota in the east of the country comes a special type of reliquary figures that symbolize the ancestor of the respective clan; They mostly consist of a wooden core from which an oval face, sometimes without a mouth, is sculpted and then covered with foil and lamellas made of precious metals (mostly copper foil). There is often a crescent-shaped attachment above the head , the neck rests on an upright rectangle.

These reliquary figures were models for the painter Pablo Picasso . He often used these figures for his works. In 1907 he painted a number of variations on this motif.

Web links

Commons : Gabon  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Gabon  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikimedia Atlas: Gabon  - geographical and historical maps
Wikivoyage: Gabon  - Travel Guide

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Coordinates: 1 °  S , 12 °  E