Gabon, a country along the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, has significant areas of protected parkland. The forested coastal terrain of its famed Loango National Park shelters a diversity of wildlife, from gorillas and hippos to whales. Lopé National Park consists of mostly rainforest. Akanda National Park is known for its mangroves and tidal beaches.
Gabon is easily divided into three distinct regions: a narrow coastal plain, a hilly mountainous interior, and a savanna in the far-east and south. Of note, rainforests cover nearly 85% of the country.
The coastal plains form a large section of the World Wildlife Fund’s Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests ecoregion and contain patches of Central African mangroves. Significant mountains include the Cristal Mountains in the northeast and the central Chaillu Massif (a large mountain mass). The country also has hundreds of caves located in the dolomite and limestone rocks formations in the east-central areas. Gabon is drained by numerous rivers; the largest is the Ogooué which is 746 miles, (1,200 km) long. The highest point of the country is Mont Iboundji at 2,534 ft. (1,575 m), and the lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean (0 m).
Key cities in Gabon include Libreville, Port-Gentil, Franceville, Oyem, and Moanda.
Historical, Cultural facts & Religion
Little is known of the history of Gabon prior to European contact. Bantu migrants settled the area beginning in the 14th century. Portuguese explorers and traders arrived in the area in the late 15th century. In 1910 Gabon became part of French Equatorial Africa and in 1960, Gabon became independent.
History and Culture. Gabon’s history is similar to that of other former French colonies in Africa. The culture is highly influenced, not only by its ethnic background and proximity to other West African nations but also by French control. Dance, song, myths, and poetry are important elements of Gabonese life.
Major religions practiced in Gabon include Christianity (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism), Islam, and traditional indigenous religious beliefs. Many people practice elements of both Christianity and traditional indigenous religious beliefs.
Brief Country History
Babinga or Pygmies are believed to be the earliest humans in the land of Gabon and their existence can be dated back to 7000 B.C. Bantu groups later on found settlements from the southern and eastern areas of Africa. Gabon is composed of tribal groups and among the largest tribe are the Fang people. They constitute 25% of the population.
The first exploration of Gabon was conducted by the Portuguese navigator Diego Cam in the 15th century. Gabon’s etymology was coined in 1942 when the Portuguese explorers who encountered the mouth of the Como River named the river of Gabon as “Rio de Gabao”. In 1953, the Dutch arrived in Gabon followed by the French in 1630.
In 1839, the French successfully established their presence in the land of Gabon. They settled on the left bank of Gabon estuary. Slowly, the French conquered the hinterland and in the second half of the 19th century. In 1888, Gabon was officially identified as a French territory also known as an autonomous republic under the French Union after World War II. In 1910, the country was one of the four territories of French Equatorial Africa, a known federation that lasted until 1959. On August 17, 1960, Gabon gained its independence and became an independent republic along with the other three territories of the French Equatorial Union.
The first president of Gabon elected in 1961 was Léon M’ba and Omar Bongo Ondimba was the vice president. In 1967, M’ba died and was replaced by Bongo, who continued to become the head of state until his death in 2009. Bongo served for three consecutive seven-year terms.
Language (s) Written & Spoken
The official language is French. The principal African language is Fang. Eshira is spoken by a tenth of the population. Bantu dialects spoken include Bapounou, Miene and Bateke. French is the official language of Gabon and it is also the medium of instruction.
Important Types of Commerce in Gabon
Central African nation of Gabon spans an area of 100,000 square miles, while the population is about 2 million inhabitants. The largest city, which is also the country’s capital city is Libreville. Gabon attained its independence in 1960 from France, and so far it is had, three presidents. Gabon has huge deposits of petroleum and has attracted foreign investment, which has helped the country to prosper compared to other sub-Saharan African countries. Currently, the country has the 7th highest human development index and the 4th highest GDP per capita based on PPP in the region. Between 2010 and 2012, the country’s GDP grew by more than 6% annually, but due to inequality in income distribution, a large part of the country’s population is still poor. According to 2010 estimates Gabon had a GDP of $22.5 billion, and in 2015, the GDP growth rate was 3.9% while in 2016 it grew by 2.1%. The GDP per capita in 2010 was estimated at $14,600. The economy of Gabon is heavily reliant on its natural resources with the leading industries being agriculture, forestry, petroleum, tourism, and mining, among others.
Language Services US and others will provide working with Gabon
With around 80% of local residents speak French, at least the language should be a big problem for many ex-pats. An individual or business would in various field including medicine, law, constructions, tourism, marketing, engineering and so on require professional language services. Nowadays, science and technology are ever-present. This is why technical documents, and consequently their translations, have become indispensable. Technical translation in French is now a critical issue for any company wishing to expand internationally.
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