Gabon. Officially the Gabonese Republic, it is a country in west central Africa. It borders Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, and the Gulf of Guinea. Since its independence from France on 17 of August of 1960, the Republic has been ruled by two presidents autocratic; incumbent El Hadj Omar Bongo has been in power since 1967 and was Africa’s longest-serving Head of State until his death.
According to Shopareview.com, the territory of Gabon was inhabited for 9,000 years, as evidenced by archeology. Apparently, the first ethnic group present in the area were the Pygmies, who some time later were followed by waves of various ethnic groups, including the Bantu.
Various Bantu groups lived in the area that is now Gabon when France occupied it in 1885. In 1910, Gabon became one of the four territories of French Equatorial Africa, a federation that survived until 1959. These territories became independent on August 17, 1960.
Gabon’s first president elected in 1961 was Léon M’ba, with El Hadj Omar Bongo as his vice president. When M’Ba passed away in 1967, Bongó replaced him as president according to a recent law according to which the vice president would immediately succeed the president in the event of his death. Bongo established a one-party system, the Democratic Party of Gabon (PDG), and has been the head of state ever since.
In 1990 the country was opened to a multiparty regime, and after the elections of that year, representatives of five parties opposed to the PDG entered the National Assembly. In 1993 Bongó was reelected, but under pressure from the French government, he agreed to call new elections.
Government and politics
With the independence of 1960 two parties appeared, the Gabonese Democratic Bloc (BDG) of León M’Ba, and the Gabonese Democratic and Social Union (UDSG), led by Aubame. After the first elections, neither party won a majority, and M’Ba won the post of prime minister with the support of independent deputies. However, it was concluded by both parties that a single party system was more appropriate for the country’s dimensions, so a single list was created for the February 1961 elections. M’Ba was appointed president, and Aubame minister of foreign affairs.
In February 1963, the BDG current tried to force the members of the UDSG to a complete merger or to resign from their positions. All the ministers of the UDSG resigned, and elections were called in February 1964, to which the UDSG could not attend because it did not present a list adequate to the law. Without actually holding the elections, a military coup against M’Ba took place on February 18, 1964, which caused the French troops to intervene. Elections were finally held in April, with several opposing parties, in which the BDG achieved a clear majority. In March 1967, León M’Ba was elected president, and Omar Bongo vice president. With the death of M’Ba that same year, Omar Bongo acceded to the presidency. In 1968 he returned to the one-party system, dissolving the BDG and creating the new Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG). Bongo was elected president consecutively in 1975, 1979 and 1986. After a national debate on the political situation, a multi-party system was reopened, with which Bongo was again elected president in 1990, 1993 and 1998, creating a new constitution that allowed a more transparent electoral process and reforms of government institutions.
Gabon is currently a multi-party democratic republic, with a president elected by popular vote and a term of seven years; a prime minister and a council of ministers appointed by the president.
Gabon is located on the Atlantic coast of central Africa. Clockwise from the northwest, it borders Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and the Republic of the Congo. Most of the interior of the country is covered by dense jungle.
There are three regions: the coastal plain, with many lakes and ponds; the mountainous region of the Crystal Mountains and the eastern rolling plateaus, the highest point of which is Mount Iboundji, at 1,575 m. Tall. There is an important hydrographic network that extends throughout the Gabonese territory. The longest river in Gabon is the Ogooué, which originates in the Western Congo. The Ogooué and its tributaries run westward, forming deep valleys through the rugged plateaus of Gabon. Then it widens to form a wide delta that crosses the coastal plain. South of the Ogooué, the terrain ascends to the Chaillu massif.
Gabon has large reserves of iron ore and very fine wood trees. Other important resources are oil, manganese and uranium. Its small population, abundant natural resources, and foreign private investment have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in the region, despite having an unemployment rate of 21% (2000). Its main exports are: oil, wood, manganese and uranium, which are destined for France (62%), Ivory Coast (7%), United Kingdom (2%) and the Netherlands (2%). Gabon imports agricultural machinery, food, metals, chemicals, construction materials, and transport equipment. They come from France (62%), Ivory Coast (7%) and the United Kingdom (2%). The annual inflation rate is 1.5% (2004), the GDP per capita amounts to $ 5,600 and the external debt was $ 3,804 million in 2004.
In 2007 Gabon had a population of one and a half million residents. The official language is French. Life expectancy is 65 years. 86.2% of the population is literate. The average number of children per woman is 4.71. It is estimated that 4% of the population is infected with HIV (AIDS). Main ethnic group: fang. The Myene consider themselves the aristocracy of Gabon. Education is based on a French system. The University of Libreville created in 1970, has more than 4,000 students. Oil revenues maintain significant investments in health, one of the best in Africa. The ethnic composition is: Fang (35%), Bantu (29%), Eshiras (25%), other Africans (1%), French whites (9%) and other whites (1%).
There is the Omar Bongó University in Libreville. This university has a Spanish Department, which is in charge of learning the Spanish language in Gabon, as well as the dissemination of Hispanic-American and Hispanic-African culture. Gabon already has 1.14% Hispanic, based mainly in the city of Cocobeach (to the Northwest), where Spanish is official along with French, as this city is also part of Equatorial Guinea.
Gabonese music is little known compared to regional giants like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cameroon. Some Gabonese artists are: Patience Dabany, Georges Oyendze, La Rose Mbadou, Sylvain Avara, Antombo Langangui (Prophets), Oliver N’Goma, Pierre Akendegue, Annie-Flore Batchiellilys and François Ngoua. Among the writers we find: Jean-Baptiste Abessolo and Angèle Rawiri. Among the filmmakers, Imunga Ivanga stands out, specializing in documentaries about the problems of her country.