Gabon [Country Flag of Gabon]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Gabon]



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

Geographic coordinates: 1 00 S, 11 45 E

Map references: Africa

total: 267,670 sq km
land: 257,670 sq km
water: 10,000 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than Colorado

Land boundaries:
total: 2,551 km
border countries: Cameroon 298 km, Republic of the 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

Climate: tropical; always hot, humid

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Iboundji 1,575 m

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

Land use:
arable land: 1%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 18%
forests and woodland: 77%
other: 3% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 40 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: NA

Environment—current issues: deforestation; poaching

Environment—international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements


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Population: 1,207,844 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 33% (male 202,364; female 202,249)
15-64 years: 61% (male 372,157; female 364,806)
65 years and over: 6% (male 32,718; female 33,550) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.48% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 28 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 13.23 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.97 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 85.43 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 56.51 years
male: 53.55 years
female: 59.56 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.81 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Gabonese (singular and plural)
adjective: Gabonese

Ethnic groups: Bantu tribes including four major tribal groupings (Fang, Eshira, Bapounou, Bateke), other Africans and Europeans 154,000, including 6,000 French and 11,000 persons of dual nationality

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

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

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 63.2%
male: 73.7%
female: 53.3% (1995 est.)


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

Data code: GB

Government type: republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized 1990)

National 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: Independence Day, 17 August (1960) (Gabon granted full independence from France)

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)
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
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 5 December 1993 (next to be held NA 1998); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President Omar BONGO reelected; percent of vote—Omar BONGO 51%

Legislative branch: bicameral legislature consists of a Senate (91 seats) and a National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (120 seats); members are elected by direct popular vote to serve five-year terms
elections: National Assembly—last held in December 1996 (next to be held in December 2001); Senate—last held 12 January 1997 (next to be held in January 2002)
election results: National Assembly—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party - PDG 100, Morena-Bucherons/RNB 8, PUP 3, CLR 3, FAR 1, UPG 1, USG 2, PGP 2; Senate—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—PDG 51, RNB 17, PGP 4, ADERA 3, RDP 1, others 15
note: the provision of the constitution for the establishment of a senate was implemented in the 12 January 1997 elections

Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Cour Supreme consisting of three chambers—Judicial, Administrative, and Accounts; Constitutional Court; Courts of Appeal; Court of State Security; County Courts

Political parties and leaders: Action Forum for Renewal or FAR [Leon MBOU-YEMBI, secretary general]; Circle of Liberal Reformers or CLR [General Jean Boniface ASSELE]; Gabonese Democratic Party or PDG, former sole party [Simplice Guedet MANZELA, secretary general]; Gabonese Party for Progress or PGP [Pierre-Louis AGONDJO-OKAWE, president]; Gabonese People's Union or UPG [Pierre MAMBOUNDOU]; Gabonese Socialist Union or USG [Dr. Serge Mba BEKALE]; National Recovery Movement—Lumberjacks or Morena-Bucherons/RNB [Fr. Paul M'BA-ABESSOLE]; People's Unity Party or PUP [Louis Gaston MAYILA]; ADERA; Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP [Akexandre SAMBAT, president]

International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, BDEAC, CCC, CEEAC, ECA, FAO, FZ, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, UDEAC, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Paul BOUNDOUKOU-LATHA
chancery: Suite 200, 2034 20th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 797-1000
FAX: [1] (202) 332-0668
consulate(s): New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Elizabeth RASPOLIC
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 description: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and blue


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Economy—overview: Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most nations of sub-Saharan Africa. This has supported a sharp decline in extreme poverty but because of high income inequality a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for 50% of GDP. Gabon continues to face fluctuating prices for its oil, timber, manganese, and uranium exports. Despite the 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% on 12 January 1994 sparked a one-time inflationary surge, to 35%; the rate dropped to 6% in 1996. The IMF provided a one-year standby arrangement in 1994-95 and a three-year Enhanced Financing Facility (EFF) at near commercial rates beginning in late 1995. Those agreements mandate progress in privatization and fiscal discipline. France provided additional financial support in January 1997 after Gabon had met IMF targets for mid-1996. In 1997, an IMF mission to Gabon chastened the government for overspending on off-budget items, overborrowing from the central bank, and slipping on its schedule for privatization and administrative reform (such as reduced public sector employment and salary growth).

GDP: purchasing power parity—$6 billion (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 3% (1996 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$5,000 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 7.1%
industry: 54.6%
services: 38.3% (1996)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 6.2% (1996 est.)

Labor force: NA
by occupation: agriculture 65%, industry and commerce, services

Unemployment rate: 10%-14% (1993 est.)

revenues: $1.5 billion
expenditures: $1.3 billion, including capital expenditures of $302 million (1996 est.)

Industries: food and beverage; textile; lumbering and plywood; cement; petroleum extraction and refining; manganese, uranium, and gold mining; chemicals; ship repair

Industrial production growth rate: 2.3% (1995)

Electricity—capacity: 310,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 925 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 800 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: cocoa, coffee, sugar, palm oil; rubber; okoume (a tropical softwood); cattle; small fishing operations (provide a catch of about 30,000 metric tons)

total value: $3.1 billion (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: crude oil 81%, timber 12%, manganese 5%, uranium (1996)
partners: US 50%, France 16%, Japan 8%, China, Spain, Germany (1996)

total value: $969 million (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, petroleum products, construction materials
partners: France 39%, Cote d'Ivoire 13%, US 6%, Netherlands 5%, Japan

Debt—external: $3.9 billion (1996)

Economic aid: $NA

Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: CFA francs (CFAF) per US$1—608.36 (January 1998), 583.67 (1997), 511.55 (1996), 499.15 (1995), 555.20 (1994), 283.16 (1993)
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


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Telephones: 22,000 (1991 est.)

Telephone system:
domestic: adequate system of cable, microwave radio relay, tropospheric scatter, radiotelephone communication stations, and a domestic satellite system with 12 earth stations
international: satellite earth stations—3 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 6, shortwave 0

Radios: 250,000 (1993 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 3 (repeaters 5)

Televisions: 40,000 (1993 est.)


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total: 649 km Gabon State Railways (OCTRA)
standard gauge: 649 km 1.435-m gauge; single track (1994)

total: 7,670 km
paved: 629 km (including 30 km of expressways)
unpaved: 7,041 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: 1,600 km perennially navigable

Pipelines: crude oil 270 km; petroleum products 14 km

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

Merchant marine:
total: 3 bulk (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 37,003 GRT/60,663 DWT (1997 est.)

Airports: 64 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 10
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 54
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 18
under 914 m: 26 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Republican Guard (charged with protecting the president and other senior officials), National Gendarmerie, National Police

Military manpower—military age: 20 years of age

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 277,850 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 142,334 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:
males: 11,352 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $154 million (1993)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 2.4% (1993)

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: maritime boundary dispute with Equatorial Guinea because of disputed sovereignty over islands in Corisco Bay