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World Mission

Gabon

Basic info

  • Area: 267,667 sq km
  • Population: 1,772,255
  • Infant mortality: 44.1 deaths/1,000 live birth
  • Life expectancy: 52.1 years
  • Urbanisation: 89.4% of total population
  • Literacy: 83.2%

History

Following, independence from France in 1960, El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba - one of the longest-ruling heads of state in the world - dominated the country's political scene for four decades (1967-2009). President BONGO introduced a nominal multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s. However, allegations of electoral fraud during local elections in December 2002 and the presidential election in 2005 exposed the weaknesses of formal political structures in Gabon. Following President BONGO's death in 2009, a new election brought his son, Ali BONGO Ondimba, to power. Despite constrained political conditions, Gabon's small population, abundant natural resources, and considerable foreign support have helped make it one of the more stable African countries. President Ali BONGO Ondimba’s controversial August 2016 reelection sparked unprecedented opposition protests that resulted in the burning of the parliament building. The election was contested by the opposition after fraudulent results were flagged by international election observers. Gabon’s Constitutional Court reviewed the election results but ruled in favor of President BONGO, upholding his win and extending his mandate to 2023.

Environment

The climate is tropical, always hot and humid. The terrain has a narrow coastal plain; hilly interior and savanna in the east and south.

Economy

Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most sub-Saharan African nations, but because of high income inequality, a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon relied on timber and manganese exports until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. From 2010 to 2016, oil accounted for approximately 80% of Gabon’s exports, 45% of its GDP, and 60% of its state budget revenues. Gabon faces fluctuating international prices for its oil, timber, and manganese exports. A rebound of oil prices from 2001 to 2013 helped growth, but declining production, as some fields passed their peak production, has hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. GDP grew nearly 6% per year over the 2010-14 period, but slowed significantly from 2014 to just 1% in 2017 as oil prices declined. Low oil prices also weakened government revenue and negatively affected the trade and current account balances. In the wake of lower revenue, Gabon signed a 3-year agreement with the IMF in June 2017. Despite an abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management and over-reliance on oil has stifled the economy. Power cuts and water shortages are frequent. Gabon is reliant on imports and the government heavily subsidizes commodities, including food, but will be hard pressed to tamp down public frustration with unemployment and corruption.

Ethnic groups

Ethnic Groups(%)

Fang

30

Pygmies

10

Religion

Religion(%)

Roman Catholic

42.3

other Christian

27.4

Protestant

12.3

Muslim

9.8

Animist

0.6

Languages

  • 60%

    French

  • 32%

    Fang