The Gabonese Republic (or “Gabon” for short) is a country located along the Atlantic coast of Equatorial Africa between the Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea. It borders Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, the Gulf of Guinea to the west and the Republic of the Congo to the east and south.
The Republic of Gabon covers a total land area of about 267,667 squared kilometers (about 10,000sqkm of which is covered by water) with about 885 kilometers of coastline. Gabon is a relatively small country by population size.
The Republic of Gabon has an estimated population of 2.5 million people with the population growth rate hovering around 1.9%. A greater part of Gabon’s population (about 87.5% of the total population) lives in urban areas in major cities and towns such as Libreville the capital.
Libreville, the capital of Gabon, has an estimated metropolititan area population of 880,000 people. Port-Gentil, the second largest city in Gabon, is home to about 137,000 people. Other cities and towns such as Franceville, Owendo, Oyem, Moanda, Ntoum, Lambarene, Mouila and Akanda are also home to significant portions of the population.
Although there are several ethnic and racial groups living in Gabon today, Bantu tribes, including the four major tribal groups (Fang, Bapounou, Nzebi, Obamba) form the greater part of the population. Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, and Bandjabi are some of the ethnic and tribal languages spoken in Gabon today. French is the official language of the Gabonese Republic.
The Republic of Gabon is mostly Christian with over 85% of the population being Christians. Catholics make up about 41.9% of the total population followed by Protestants (about 13.7% of the population). Other Christian groups together make up about 32.4% of the total population. Muslims make up just about 6.4% of the population according to a recent survey. The rest of the population mostly identify as Traditional African believers.
The Republic of Gabon is a very rich country in terms of natural resources. Gabon is blessed with abundance of natural resources including natural gas, diamond, niobium, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore and hydropower. In fact, Gabon is one of the major oil producers in Africa today.
The Republic of Gabon has a literacy rate of about 83% for the total population with the female literacy rate hovering around 81%. In other words, about 81% of all females above the age 15 can read and write in Gabon today which is great compared to most other African countries.
Despite all these, Gabon remains one of the poorest countries in the world today. In terms of GDP figures alone, Gabon is one of the richest countries in Africa. In fact, Gabon is the 2nd richest country on mainland Africa in terms of GDP figures alone. In reality however, Gabon isn’t that rich. This is another example of why GDP figures alone are not always good indication of how rich a country truly is. There is a similar situation in Equatorial Guinea. Gabon's neighboring country, Equatorial Guinea, is the richest country on mainland Africa today in terms of GDP figures. However, Equatorial Guinea, just like Gabon, remains one of the poorest countries in Africa today ruled by a dictator.
Gabon is a major oil producer and considering its small population size, one would think the living conditions would be far better than in other African countries today. In reality however, this isn’t the case. Although the living conditions in Gabon today are somehow better than in some other African countries, Gabon isn’t far better like one would expect. According to a recent World Bank statistics, over a third of Gabon’s population lives in extreme poverty. The question therefore is, where does the money go?
Gabon has not fully escaped the grips of dictatorship rule. Since independence from France in 1960, Gabon has had just three presidents. The Late corrupt President Omar Bongo ruled Gabon for more than four decades until his death in 2009. The sad thing is that, Ali Bongo Ondimba (the son of Omar Bongo), took over the presidency after the death of his father in 2009 continuing the family’s brutal legacy.
According to an official report, about 47,500 people were living with HIV/AIDS in Gabon in 2014 with about 1500 officially recorded HIV/AIDS deaths in the same year. Gabon’s HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate hovers around 3.91%. Besides the deadly HIV/AIDS, the deadly malaria, bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever, dengue fever, schistosomiasis, rabies, etc. continue to threaten several lives in Gabon today.
Rampant deforestation and poaching remain some of the major environmental issues facing the Republic of Gabon today.
Just like in most other African countries today, corruption and poor governance continue to tear Gabon into pieces. Almost all political figures and governmental agencies in Gabon today engage themselves in corrupt activities.