Learn more about Gabon
| République Gabonaise |
|Anthem: La Concorde|
(and largest city)
| Libreville |
|- President||El Hadj Omar Bongo|
|- Prime Minister||Jean Eyeghe Ndong|
|- from France||August 17 1960|
|- Total|| 267,668 km² |
103,347 sq mi
|- Water (%)||negligible|
|- July 2005 estimate||1,384,000 (150th)|
|- Density|| 5.2/km² (216th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2005 estimate|
|- Total||$9.621 billion (136th)|
|- Per capita||$7,055 (89th)|
|HDI (2003)||0.635 (medium) (123rd)|
|Currency|| CFA franc (|
|Time zone||WAT (UTC+1)|
|- Summer (DST)||not observed (UTC+1)|
Gabon, officially the Gabonese Republic, is a country in west central Africa. It borders on Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo and the Gulf of Guinea. Since its independence from France on August 17, 1960, the Republic has been ruled by only two autocratic Presidents; the incumbent El Hadj Omar Bongo has been in power since 1967 and is currently (2006) Africa's longest-serving Head of State. Gabon introduced a multiparty system and a new democratic constitution in the early 1990s that allowed for a more transparent electoral process and for reforms of governmental institutions. A small population, abundant natural resources, and foreign private investment have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in the region.
The earliest inhabitants of the area were Pygmy peoples. They were largely replaced and absorbed by Bantu tribes during Bantu migrations. Several Bantu groups occupied the area that is now Gabon when France occupied it in 1885. In 1910, Gabon became one of the four territories of French Equatorial Africa, a federation that survived until 1959. These territories became independent on August 17, 1960.
The first president of Gabon, elected in 1961, was Léon M’ba, with Omar Bongo as his vice president. When M'Ba died in 1967, Bongo replaced him as president, and has been the head of state ever since, winning each contested election with a substantial majority.
- Main articles on politics and government of Gabon can be found at the Politics and government of Gabon series.
President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, in power since 1967 and the longest-serving African head of state, was re-elected to another 7-year term according to poll results returned from elections held on November 27 2005. According to figures provided by Gabon's Interior Ministry, this was achieved with 79.1% of the votes cast. In 2003 the President amended the Constitution of Gabon to remove any restrictions on the number of terms a president is allowed to serve. The president retains strong powers, such as authority to dissolve the National Assembly, declare a state of siege, delay legislation, conduct referenda, and appoint and dismiss the prime minister and cabinet members.
In provisional results his ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) won 84 out of 120 parliamentary seats. As with previous Gabonese elections in which the opposition parties have contested, there were several accusations of electoral fraud, bribery, and calls for a boycott. There were also incidences of violence and protest, particularly in the first round of voting held two weeks prior. However, several international observers including the Economic Community of Central African States have reported that the election "met international standards" for democratic voting.
- Further information: List of Presidents of Gabon
Gabon has a small, professional military of about 5,000 personnel, divided into army, navy, air force, gendarmerie, and national police. Gabonese forces are oriented to the defense of the country and have not been trained for an offensive role. A well-trained, well-equipped 1,800-member guard provides security for the president.
 Administrative divisions
- Further information: Departments of Gabon
Administratively, Gabon is divided into 9 provinces and further divided into 37 departments (départements).
- Further information: List of places in Gabon.
Gabon is more prosperous than most nearby countries, with a per capita income of four times the average for Sub-Saharan Africa. This is in large part due to offshore oil production that has produced substantial wealth, although the distribution of income from this industry is extremely unequal. Gabon was a full member of OPEC from 1975 to 1995.
During the 1990s, devaluation of the CFA franc left Gabon struggling to pay its overseas debt; France and the IMF have provided further loans and aid in exchange for the implementation of changes to the economy.
Almost all Gabonese are of Bantu origin. Gabon has at least 40 ethnic groups with separate languages and cultures. The largest is the Fang. Others include the Myene, Bandjabi, Eshira, Bapounou, and Okande. Ethnic group boundaries are less sharply drawn in Gabon than elsewhere in Africa. French, the official language, is a unifying force. More than 10,000 French people live in Gabon, and France predominates foreign cultural and commercial influences. Historical and environmental factors caused Gabon's population to decline between 1900 and 1940. It is one of the least-densely inhabited countries in Africa, and a labor shortage is a major obstacle to development and a draw for foreign workers. The population is generally accepted to be just over 1 million but remains in dispute. Most inhabitants are Christians (55 - 77 %), mostly members of the Roman Catholic Church. Other minorities are animists and Muslims.
Gabonese music is little-known in comparison with regional giants like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cameroon. The country boasts an array of folk styles, as well as pop stars like Patience Dabany (who now lives in the US). Dabany's albums, though recorded in Los Angeles, have a distinctively Gabonese element and are popular throughout Francophone Africa. Other musicians include guitarists like Georges Oyendze, La Rose Mbadou and Sylvain Avara, and the singer Oliver N'Goma. Imported rock and hip hop from the US and UK are popular in Gabon, as are rhumba, makossa and soukous.
Gabonese folk instruments include the obala.
 Miscellaneous topics
- Communications in Gabon
- Foreign relations of Gabon
- List of Gabon-related topics
- List of Gabonese companies
- Military of Gabon
- Postage stamps and postal history of Gabon
- Transport in Gabon
- Fédération Gabonaise du Scoutisme
 External links
Image:Wiktionary-logo-en.png Dictionary definitions from Wiktionary
Image:Wikibooks-logo.svg Textbooks from Wikibooks
Image:Wikiquote-logo.svg Quotations from Wikiquote
Image:Wikisource-logo.svg Source texts from Wikisource
Image:Commons-logo.svg Images and media from Commons
Image:Wikinews-logo.png News stories from Wikinews
Image:Wikiversity-logo-Snorky.svg Learning resources from Wikiversity
- Le Gabon : official site of the Gabonese Republic
- Assemblée Nationale du Gabon official site
- Gabonese Embassy in London government information and links
- Le Sénat de la République Gabonaise official site (in French)
 Ethnic groups
- Baka Pygmies of Cameroon and Gabon Culture and music of the first inhabitants of Gabon
- Open Directory Project - Gabon directory category
- Stanford University - Africa South of the Sahara: Gabon directory category
- University of Pennsylvania - African Studies Center: Gabon directory category
- Yahoo! - Gabon directory category