Country Profiles:
Gabon

Gabon, located in central Africa, bordered by Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west; the islands of Sao Tome and Principe are situated off the coast. The country is one of the thirteen countries transected by the equator. The capital city of Gabon is Libreville. It is also the nation’s most populous urban settlement. Libreville is located on the banks of the Komo River near the river’s mouth at the Gulf of Guinea. It is a major port of Gabon.

Formerly under the control of Portuguese, hence the name; it became a French colony when the French took control as part of French Equatorial Africa. The country gained its independence on Aug. 17th. 1960. Since independence from France,  Gabon has had just three presidents. Late President Omar Bongo ruled for more than four decades until his death in 2009. His son Ali Bongo won a contested election in 2009. Ali Bongo was sworn in for a second seven-year term in September 2016.

UNESCO Heritage sites in Gabon include:

1. Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lopé-Okanda

The park features well-preserved tropical rain forests and savanna, resulting in a diverse ecosystem consisting of endangered, large mammals.

Gabon is a major oil producer contributing to about 80% of exports and over 40% of its GDP.

Gabon is the 9th largest oil producer in Africa and the 37th in the world with a daily production capacity of 210,000 BPD. Gabon has been facing declining oil output for more than a decade as a result of mature oil fields and absence of significant new finds. Gabon’s economy is reliant on its oil production; Oil revenue accounts for 56% of total government revenue. It is one of the more stable and one of the most economically developing countries on the continent. Gabon’s growing manufacturing and industry civil engineering projects are quite impressive. The most impressive engineering project is the Trans-Gabon Railway and runs 670 km east from Owendo port station in Libreville, the capital to Franceville via numerous stations. The railway is important for transporting timber and uranium in addition to being the only important public transport route in the nation. Gabon’s medical infrastructure is considered one of the best in West Africa. Approximately 90% of the population had access to health care services. The Hôpital Albert Schweitzer was established in 1913 by Albert Schweitzer and Helene Bresslau Schweitzer in Lambaréné, Gabon is regarded as one of the top research hospitals on the continent. Also the International Centre for Medical Research in Franceville (CIRMF) is among the only two maximum bio-safety level four containment labs  on the continent.

Gabon is the most sparsely populated country on the continent with 85% of land covered with equatorial rainforest making it the second most forested country on the continent. It’s heavily concentrated picturesque rainforest with myriads of plant and animal species, mountains and countless waterfalls formed on powerful streams. Notable waterfalls includes: Djidji Falls (Dji-Dji Falls) – Ogooué-Ivindo, Kongou Falls (celles de Kongou) – Ogooué-Ivindo, Mingouli Falls – Ogooué-Ivindo, Tchimbélé and Kinguélé – Woleu-Ntem. Other landmarks includes hundreds of caves; Lastourville Caves – Ogooué-Lolo, Ngounié, Nyanga, Bongolo Caves (Malibé Caves) – Ngounié, Kessipougou Cave, Paoun Caves. Also, the beautiful Mount Seni and Mbe (Crystal Mountains) – Woleu-Ntem, Doudou Mountains – Nyanga. Doudou Mountains – Nyanga, Bam Bam Amphitheatres – Estuaire. Several large rock amphitheatres with hoodoos. Lake Onague and the Ogooue the most important body of water in the country and was historically used as a means of transportation.

Except for a few thousand Pygmies, Gabon’s 40 or so peoples speak Bantu languages that are classified into 10 linguistic groups. The Fang, also found in southern Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, account for more than 30% of the population. The largest groups south of the Ogooué are the Sira (including the Punu), the Nzebi, and the Mbete, who together form about one-third of the population.

French cuisine is prevalent as a notable influence, and in larger cities various French specialties are available. In rural areas, food staples such as cassava, rice, Palm nut and yams are commonly used. Moreover, food in Libreville and other Gabonese tourism resorts are not restricted to traditional Gabonese delights. Cuisine from all over the world can be found in Gabon, including Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and other international tastes. Popular dishes include: Beignets (a deep fried pastry), Atanga (a firm fruit that is boiled and often used as a spread on bread. Atanga is sometimes called “bush butter.”), Fufu (a dish made from pounded cassava), Nyembwe, (chicken with pine nuts), Congo Chewies (originated in Congo, served as desert), Gari ( a cassava flour prepared as a porridge), Manioc (also known as yucca or cassava).

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