Gabon

Only two autocratic presidents have ruled Gabon since independence from France in 1960. The current president of Gabon, El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba – one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world – has dominated the country’s political scene for four decades. President BONGO introduced a nominal multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s. However, allegations of electoral fraud during local elections in 2002-03 and the presidential elections in 2005 have exposed the weaknesses of formal political structures in Gabon. Gabon’s political opposition remains weak, divided, and financially dependent on the current regime. Despite political conditions, a small population, abundant natural resources, and considerable foreign support have helped make Gabon one of the more prosperous and stable African countries.

 

Geography:
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
People:
Population: 1,608,321 (July 2012 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)

Age structure: 0-14 years: 42.2% (male 333,746/female 330,959)

15-64 years: 54% (male 424,392/female 426,478)

65 years and over: 3.9% (male 25,687/female 35,403) (2011 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Gabonese Republic

conventional short form: Gabon

local long form: Republique gabonaise

local short form: Gabon

Government type: republic; multiparty presidential regime
Capital: name: Libreville

geographic coordinates: 0 23 N, 9 27 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use: 30,400 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 1.61 million (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 45 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 14

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 9

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 1 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie, National Police
Military service age and obligation: 20 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service (2009)
Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 350,640

females age 16-49: 351,718 (2010 est.)

Economy:

Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most of sub-Saharan African nations. 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, and manganese exports. Despite the abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management hobbles the economy.

 

The devaluation of the CFA franc – its currency – by 50% in 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, a three-year Enhanced Financing Facility (EFF) at near commercial rates beginning in late 1995, and stand-by credit of $119 million in October 2000. Those agreements mandated progress in privatization and fiscal discipline. France provided additional financial support in January 1997 after Gabon met IMF targets for mid-1996.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: UN urges Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to resolve the sovereignty dispute over Gabon-occupied Mbane Island and lesser islands and to establish a maritime boundary in hydrocarbon-rich Corisco Bay
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 7,665 (Republic of Congo) (2010)