Gabon

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El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba - one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world - dominated the country's political scene for four decades (1967-2009) following independence from France in 1960. President BONGO introduced a nominal multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s. However, allegations of electoral fraud during local elections in December 2002 and the presidential election in 2005 exposed the weaknesses of formal political structures in Gabon. Following President BONGO's death in 2009, a new election brought Ali BONGO Ondimba, son of the former president, to power. Despite constrained political conditions, Gabon's small population, abundant natural resources, and considerable foreign support have helped make it one of the more stable African countries.

Geography

Location

Central Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean at the Equator, between Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea

Geographic coordinates

1.00° S, 11.45° E

Area 77/257

total: 267,667 sq km

land: 257,667 sq km

water: 10,000 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Colorado

Land boundaries

total: 3,261 km

border countries (3): Cameroon 349 km, Republic of the Congo 2,567 km, Equatorial Guinea 345 km

Coastline

885 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate

tropical; always hot, humid

Terrain

narrow coastal plain; hilly interior; savanna in east and south

Elevation

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

highest point: Mont Iboundji 1,575 m

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, diamond, niobium, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 18.1%

arable land 1.2%; permanent crops 0.6%; permanent pasture 17.2%

forest: 81%

other: 0% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

40 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

164 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 0.14 cu km/yr (61%/10%/29%)

per capita: 97.68 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards

NA

Environment - current issues

deforestation; poaching

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

a small population and oil and mineral reserves have helped Gabon become one of Africa's wealthier countries; in general, these circumstances have allowed the country to maintain and conserve its pristine rain forest and rich biodiversity

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Gabonese (singular and plural)

adjective: Gabonese

Ethnic groups

Bantu tribes, including four major tribal groupings (Fang, Bapounou, Nzebi, Obamba); other Africans and Europeans, 154,000, including 10,700 French and 11,000 persons of dual nationality

Languages

French (official), Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi

Religions

Catholic 41.9%, Protestant 13.7%, other Christian 32.4%, Muslim 6.4%, animist 0.3%, other 0.3%, none/no answer 5% (2012 est.)

Population 154/238

1,705,336

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 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 42.06% (male 360,412/female 356,787)

15-24 years: 20.29% (male 173,395/female 172,678)

25-54 years: 29.66% (male 253,304/female 252,493)

55-64 years: 4.2% (male 34,561/female 37,108)

65 years and over: 3.79% (male 27,621/female 36,977) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 73.1%

youth dependency ratio: 64.3%

elderly dependency ratio: 8.8%

potential support ratio: 11.3% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 18.6 years

male: 18.4 years

female: 18.8 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 53/233

1.93% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 25/224

34.49 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 17/225

13.12 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 168/222

-2.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 87.2% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 2.7% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

LIBREVILLE (capital) 707,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female

total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

20.3

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2012 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 50/184

291 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 43/224

total: 46.07 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 53.11 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 38.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 217/224

total population: 52.04 years

male: 51.56 years

female: 52.53 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 29/224

4.46 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

31.1% (2012)

Health expenditures 173/191

3.8% of GDP (2013)

Hospital bed density

6.3 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 97.2% of population

rural: 66.7% of population

total: 93.2% of population

unimproved:

urban: 2.8% of population

rural: 33.3% of population

total: 6.8% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 43.4% of population

rural: 31.5% of population

total: 41.9% of population

unimproved:

urban: 56.6% of population

rural: 68.5% of population

total: 58.1% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

3.91% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

47,500 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

1,500 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 124/191

15.8% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 79/138

6.5% (2012)

Education expenditures

NA

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 35.7%

male: 30.6%

female: 41.9% (2010 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Gabonese Republic

conventional short form: Gabon

local long form: Republique Gabonaise

local short form: Gabon

etymology: name originates from the Portuguese word "gabao" meaning "cloak," which is roughly the shape that the early explorers gave to the estuary of the Komo River by the capital of Libreville

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)

Administrative divisions

9 provinces; Estuaire, Haut-Ogooue, Moyen-Ogooue, Ngounie, Nyanga, Ogooue-Ivindo, Ogooue-Lolo, Ogooue-Maritime, Woleu-Ntem

Independence

17 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday

Independence Day, 17 August (1960)

Constitution

previous 1961; latest drafted May 1990, adopted 15 March 1991, promulgated 26 March 1991; amended several times, last in 2011

Legal system

mixed legal system of French civil law and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Gabon

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Ali BONGO Ondimba (since 16 October 2009)

head of government: Prime Minister Daniel ONA ONDO (since 27 January 2014)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 7-year term (no term limits); election last held on 30 August 2009 (next to be held in 2016); prime minister appointed by the president

election results: Ali BONGO Ondimba elected president; percent of vote - Ali BONGO Ondimba (PDG) 41.7%, Andre MBA OBAME (independent) 25.9%, Pierre MAMBOUNDOU (UPG) 25.2%, Zacharie MYBOTO (UGDD) 3.9%, other 3.3%; note

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of the Senate or Senat (102 seats; members indirectly elected by municipal councils and departmental assemblies by absolute majority vote in two rounds; members serve 6-year terms) and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (120 seats; members elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote in two rounds if needed; members serve 5-year terms)

elections: Senate - last held on 18 January 2009 (next to be held in January 2015); National Assembly - last held on 17 December 2011 (next to be held in December 2016)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PDG 75, RPG 6, UGDD 3, CLR 2, PGCI 2, PSD 2, UPG 2, ADERE 1, independent 9; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PDG 114, RPG 3, other 3

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (organized into Judicial, Administrative, and Accounts chambers and consists of NA judges); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 judges)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointment and tenure NA; Constitutional Court judges appointed - 3 by the national president, 3 by the president of the Senate, and 3 by the president of the National Assembly; judges serve 7-year, single renewable terms

subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; Court of State Security; county courts; military courts

Political parties and leaders

Circle of Liberal Reformers or CLR [General Jean-Boniface ASSELE]

Democratic and Republican Alliance or ADERE [DIDJOB Divungui di Ndinge]

Gabonese Democratic Party or PDG [Ali BONGO Ondimba]

Independent Center Party of Gabon or PGCI [Luccheri GAHILA]

National Rally of Woodcutters-Democratic or RNB-D [Pierre Andre KOMBILA]

Social Democratic Party or PSD [Pierre Claver MAGANGA-MOUSSAVOU]

Union for the New Republic or UPRN [Louis Gaston MAYILA]

Union of Gabonese People or UPG [Richard MOULOMBA]

Political pressure groups and leaders

NA

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, BDEAC, CEMAC, FAO, FZ, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and blue; green represents the country's forests and natural resources, gold represents the equator (which transects Gabon) as well as the sun, blue represents the sea

National symbol(s)

black panther; national colors: green, yellow, blue

National anthem

name: "La Concorde" (The Concorde)

lyrics/music: Georges Aleka DAMAS

note: adopted 1960

Economy

Economy - overview

Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most sub-Saharan African nations, but because of high income inequality, a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon relied on timber and manganese exports until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. In 2010, the economy depended on oil for about 50% of its GDP, 70% of revenues, and 90% of goods exports.

Gabon faces fluctuating prices for its oil, timber, and manganese exports. A rebound of oil prices from 2001 to 2013 helped growth, but declining production, as some fields passed their peak production, has hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. GDP grew nearly 6% per year over the 2010-14 period but slowed significantly in 2015 as oil prices declined. Low oil prices also weakened government revenue and negatively affected the trade and current account balances.

Despite an abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management has stifled the economy. There are frequent power cuts and water shortages. However, President BONGO has made efforts to increase transparency and is taking steps to make Gabon a more attractive investment destination to diversify the economy. BONGO has attempted to boost growth by increasing government investment in human resources and infrastructure.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 122/230

$34.41 billion (2015 est.)

$33.23 billion (2014 est.)

$31.86 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$13.8 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 73/225

3.5% (2015 est.)

4.3% (2014 est.)

5.6% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 83/230

$21,700 (2015 est.)

$21,000 (2014 est.)

$20,100 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 50/179

25.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

35% of GDP (2014 est.)

38.7% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 43.8%

government consumption: 21%

investment in fixed capital: 27.2%

investment in inventories: 3%

exports of goods and services: 38%

imports of goods and services: -33%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3.7%

industry: 39.1%

services: 57.2% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

cocoa, coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber; cattle; okoume (a tropical softwood); fish

Industries

petroleum extraction and refining; manganese, gold; chemicals, ship repair, food and beverages, textiles, lumbering and plywood, cement

Industrial production growth rate 194/202

-8% (2015 est.)

Labor force 153/233

653,700 (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 60%

industry: 15%

services: 25% (2000 est.)

Unemployment rate 170/207

21% (2006 est.)

Population below poverty line

NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.5%

highest 10%: 32.7% (2005)

Budget

revenues: $3.563 billion

expenditures: $3.944 billion (2015 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 116/219

25.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 102/220

-2.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 100/176

44.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

28.5% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 52/226

0.5% (2015 est.)

4.7% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 107/156

3% (31 December 2010)

4.25% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 37/184

15.3% (31 December 2015 est.)

15% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 130/192

$1.872 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$2.448 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 135/193

$4.545 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$4.421 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 147/191

$1.594 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$2.3 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$NA

Current account balance 120/197

-$967 million (2015 est.)

$1.51 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 106/224

$5.561 billion (2015 est.)

$8.872 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

crude oil, timber, manganese, uranium

Exports - partners

China 15.8%, Japan 14.6%, Australia 11%, US 7.9%, India 7.8%, South Korea 6.3%, Trinidad and Tobago 4.6%, Spain 4.4% (2014)

Imports 156/223

$2.429 billion (2015 est.)

$3.089 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, construction materials

Imports - partners

France 20%, Cote d'Ivoire 15.3%, China 9.6%, US 9.3%, Algeria 5.1%, Belgium 4.5% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 121/170

$1.825 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$2.495 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 133/206

$4.736 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$4.316 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Exchange rates

Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs (XAF) per US dollar -

596.3 (2015 est.)

494.42 (2014 est.)

494.42 (2013 est.)

510.53 (2012 est.)

471.87 (2011 est.)

Energy

Electricity - production 138/220

2.111 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 146/219

1.68 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 142/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 153/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 144/214

415,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 137/214

59% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 96/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 58/214

41% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 175/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 36/214

240,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 30/214

226,800 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 194/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 36/215

2 billion bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 94/214

18,750 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 132/212

18,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 91/214

5,678 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 161/213

5,042 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 71/216

384 million cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 101/215

384 million cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 103/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 200/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 70/212

28.32 billion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 125/212

5.437 million Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 190/219

total subscriptions: 17,200

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 128/217

total: 3.6 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 215 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: adequate system of cable, microwave radio relay, tropospheric scatter, radiotelephone communication stations, and a domestic satellite system with 12 earth stations

domestic: a growing mobile cellular network with multiple providers is making telephone service more widely available with mobile cellular teledensity exceeding 100 per 100 persons

international: country code - 241; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2011)

Broadcast media

state owns and operates 2 TV stations and 2 radio broadcast stations; a few private radio and TV stations; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are accessible; satellite service subscriptions are available (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 6, FM 7 (plus 11 repeaters), shortwave 4 (2001)

Television broadcast stations

4 (plus 4 repeaters) (2001)

Internet country code

.ga

Internet hosts 205/232

127 (2012)

Internet users 161/217

total: 164,800

percent of population: 9.9% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 99/236

44 (2013)

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 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 30

1,524 to 2,437 m: 7

914 to 1,523 m: 9

under 914 m: 14 (2013)

Pipelines

gas 807 km; oil 1,639 km; water 3 km (2013)

Railways 106/136

total: 649 km

standard gauge: 649 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)

Roadways 139/223

total: 9,170 km

paved: 1,097 km

unpaved: 8,073 km (2007)

Waterways 49/107

1,600 km (310 km on Ogooue River) (2010)

Merchant marine 140/156

registered in other countries: 2 (Cambodia 1, Panama 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Libreville, Owendo, Port-Gentil

oil terminal(s): Gamba, Lucina

Military and Security

Military branches

Gabonese Defense Forces (Forces de Defense Gabonaise): Land Force (Force Terrestre), Gabonese Navy (Marine Gabonaise), Gabonese Air Forces (Forces Aerienne Gabonaises, FAG) (2012)

Military service age and obligation

20 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2012)

Military expenditures 76/132

1.34% of GDP (2012)

NA% (2011)

1.34% of GDP (2010)

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