Gabon

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République Gabonaise
Gabonese Republic
Image:Flag of Gabon.svg Image:Flag coa.png
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: La Concorde
Capital
(and largest city)
Libreville
0°23′N 9°27′E
Official languages French
Government Republic
 - President El Hadj Omar Bongo
 - Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong
Independence  
 - from France August 17 1960 
Area
 - Total 267,668 km²
103,347 sq mi 
 - Water (%) negligible
Population
 - July 2005 estimate 1,384,000 (150th)
 - Density 5.2/km² (216th)
13.5/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $9.621 billion (136th)
 - Per capita $7,055 (89th)
HDI  (2003) 0.635 (medium) (123rd)
Currency CFA franc (XAF)
Time zone WAT (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+1)
Internet TLD .ga
Calling code +241

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.

Contents

[edit] History

Main article: History of Gabon

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.

[edit] Government

Main articles on politics and government of Gabon can be found at the Politics and government of Gabon series.
Image:Bongo and Bush.jpg
President Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon (left) in Washington, USA
In March 1991 a new constitution was adopted. Among its provisions are a bill of rights, the creation of the National Council of Democracy that also oversees the guarantee of those rights and a governmental advisory board which deals with economic and social issues. Multi-party legislative elections were held in 1990-91 even though opposition parties had not been declared formally legal.

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.

[edit] Administrative divisions

Gabon is divided into 9 provinces and 37 departments.

The provinces include: Estuaire, Haut-Ogooué, Moyen-Ogooué, Ngounié, Nyanga, Ogooué-Ivindo, Ogooué-Lolo, Ogooué-Maritime, and Woleu-Ntem.

Further information: Departments of Gabon

[edit] Geography

Main article: Geography of Gabon
Image:Gabon sat.png
Satellite image of Gabon, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Image:Chancery.jpg
Chancery building, Libreville
Gabon is located on the Atlantic coast of central Africa. Clockwise from the northwest, it is bounded by Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and the Republic of Congo.

Gabon's largest river is the Ogooué. Gabon is also noted for efforts to preserve the natural environment with what may be the largest area of nature parks in the world.

Administratively, Gabon is divided into 9 provinces and further divided into 37 departments (départements).

Further information: List of places in Gabon.


Main article: Economy of 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.

[edit] Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Gabon

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.

[edit] Culture

Main article: Culture of Gabon

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.

[edit] Miscellaneous topics


[edit] External links

[edit] Government

[edit] News

[edit] Overviews

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[edit] Ethnic groups

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