The Gabonese Republic, or Gabon, is a nation of west central Africa. It borders on Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo and the Gulf of Guinea. Ruled by autocratic presidents since independence from France on August 17, 1960, Gabon introduced a multiparty system and a new 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 more prosperous countries in the region.
Main article: History of Gabon
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 and also winning relection.
Main article: Politics of Gabon
In March 1991 a new constitution was adopted, among its provisions are a Western-style bill of rights; creation of a National Council of Democracy, which oversees the guarantee of those rights; a governmental advisory board on economic and social issues; Multi-party legislative elections were held in 1990-91, despite the fact that opposition parties had not been declared formally legal.
President El Hadj Omar Bongo was re-elected in December 1998, with 66% of the votes cast. Although the main opposition parties claimed the elections had been manipulated, there was none of the civil disturbance that followed the 1993 election. 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.
See: List of Presidents of Gabon
Main article: Geography of Gabon
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.
See: List of places in Gabon, Provinces of 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.
About sixty percent of the workforce is engaged in agriculture.
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.
Main article: Demographics of Gabon
Main article: Culture of Gabon
- David E. Gardinier , Historical Dictionary of Gabon, 2nd ed. (The Scarecrow Press, 1994) - a comprehensive work, with a bibliography of 1,453 items
- James F. Barnes, Gabon: Beyond the Colonial Legacy (Boulder: Westview, 1992)
Last updated: 06-02-2005 04:39:56