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Think. Discuss. Act. Africa

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(Download “Gabon Overview” as a PDF)

Basic Statistics

  • Total population: 1,221,175 (Ranked 151st in the world by the US Census Bureau).
  • National GDP: US $7.7 billion (1998).
  • GDP per capita: US $6,400.
  • Median Age: 24.1 years.


  • Location: Western coast of Central Africa.
  • Borders: Equatorial New Guinea, Cameroon and Congo.
  • Capital: Libreville.
  • Major cities and population: Libreville, 362,386.
  • Area: 103,300 square miles.
  • Topography: Ogooue River system flows through most of the thickly forested country. The terrain in the north, east, and south is primarily plateau where as in the north, southeast and center mountains dominate the landscape.
  • 9 Provinces: Estuaire, Haut-Ogooue, Moyen-Ogooue, Ngounie, Nyanga, Ogooue-Ivindo, Ogooue-Lolo, Ogooue-Maritime, Woleu-Ntem.


  • Population density: 12 per square mile.
  • Children 0-14: 33.3%-406,510.
  • Teenage 10-19: 19.8%-241,989.
  • Youth between 15-24: 18.4%-224,592.
  • Seniors Over 70: 3.2%-39,627.
  • Male to female ratio: 92.1 males per 1000 females.
  • Birth rate: 27.60 per 1000 people.
  • Life expectancy at birth: 54.4 years for males and60.6 for females.
  • Infant mortality rate: 80.77 per 1000 live births.
  • Official language: French.
  • Other important languages: Various Bantu dialects.
  • Ethnic Groups: Fang, Eshira, Bapounou, Bateke, other Bantu, other Africans and Europeans.
  • Religious affiliations: 55%-75% Christian.
  • Religious group representation: 86.9% Muslim (1,133,639), 7.8 % Ethno-religionist (102,191), 3.9% Christian (50,467). Less than 1%: Baha’i, Nonreligious and Hindu.
  • Education: Compulsory from 6-16.
  • Literacy rate: 63%.


  • Currency: CFA Franc.
  • GDP per capita: US $6,400.
  • National GDP: US $7.7 billion.
  • Major Industries: Oil products, textiles, food and beverages, wood products.
  • Chief crops: Cocoa, coffee, palm products.
  • Electricity production: 1.025 billion kWh (1998).
  • TV Sets: 35 per 1,000 people.
  • Radios: 173 per 1,000 people.
  • Telephones: 37,300 main lines (1997).
  • Daily newspaper circulation: 34 per 1,000 people.


  • Government type: Republic.
  • Head of state: President Omar Bongo.
  • Head of government: Prime Minister Jean-Fran├žois Ntoutoume-Emane.
  • International organization memberships: United Nations (UN) and Organization of African Unity (OAU).
  • Historical Background: Little is known about the first inhabitants of this region, but by the 13th century the Mpongwe people had settled themselves here. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, the Fang along with other people groups established a federation of Chiefdoms. Colonized by France in the 1800s, this territory was annexed to the French Congo in 1888. On August 7th, 1960, Gabon regained its independence. In 1990, a new constitution was ratified allowing for a multiparty political system, but with each subsequent election-one in 1993 and the other in 1998-some have raised questions as to the authenticity of the results. The long time President Omar Bongo has been continually re-elected.

Trends and Social Issues

Understanding the trends and social issues of a particular country should always take into consideration the opinions of persons within the country. The Center for Youth Studies is looking for contributors from each country to add to our appreciation and understanding of its culture, potential, trends and critical issues. If you have insight as to what is important to the Gabonese, please contact us.

We look forward to hearing the insights on what insiders consider the most important issues facing them. From an outsiders perspective current issues would include the AIDs epidemic, the political leadership, economic development with relation to its oil reserves, and educational reform. What are the most important issues for Ghana today? This will be added as we receive this information.



Barrett, D., Kurian, G., & Johnson, T. (2001). World Christian Encyclopedia 2nd Edition: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World. Oxford: University Press.

Turner, B. (2000). The World Today: Essential Facts in an Ever Changing World 2000. New York, NY: St. Marten’s Press.

McGeveran, Jr., W. (Ed.). (2001). The World Almanac and Book of Facts. Mahwah, NJ: World Almanac Books.


US Census Bureau, International Database.

United Nation Statistics Division.

US Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. How important do you see Gabon’s role in Africa and in the world?
  2. What most impresses you about the above information?
  3. Do you take issue with any of the above? If so, how would you express it differently?
  4. What strikes you most about the GDP of Gabon compared to its neighbors? Why?
  5. What do you see as the historical and cultural contributions of Gabon to the world?
  6. How has Gabon handled its part in AIDS crisis?
  7. What can we learn from Gabon and the Gabonese people?

Tammy Smith
© 2018 CYS

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