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By Referrals > Visit Detail > Country Facts for Gabon
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Map of Gabon
IntroductionTop
Background:Only two autocratic presidents have ruled Gabon since independence from France in 1960. Gabon's current President, El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba - one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world - has dominated Gabon's political scene for almost four decades. President BONGO introduced a nominal multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s. However, the low turnout and allegations of electoral fraud during the most recent local elections in 2002-03 have exposed the weaknesses of formal political structures in Gabon. Presidential elections scheduled for 2005 are unlikely to bring change since the opposition remains weak, divided, and financially dependent on the current regime. Despite political conditions, a small population, abundant natural resources, and considerable foreign support have helped make Gabon one of the more prosperous and stable African countries.
GeographyTop
Location:Western Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean at the Equator, between Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea
Geographic coordinates:1 00 S, 11 45 E
Map references:Africa
Area:total: 267,667 sq km
land: 257,667 sq km
water: 10,000 sq km

Area - comparative:slightly smaller than Colorado
Land boundaries:total: 2,551 km
border countries: Cameroon 298 km, Republic of the Congo 1,903 km, Equatorial Guinea 350 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 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:arable land: 1.26%
permanent crops: 0.66%
other: 98.08% (2001)

Irrigated land:150 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:NA
Environment - current issues:deforestation; poaching
Environment - international agreements:party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
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
PeopleTop
Population:1,389,201
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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2005 est.)

Age structure:0-14 years: 42.1% (male 293,668/female 291,816)
15-64 years: 53.8% (male 372,134/female 374,850)
65 years and over: 4.1% (male 23,551/female 33,182) (2005 est.)

Median age:total: 18.57 years
male: 18.34 years
female: 18.8 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:2.45% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:36.24 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:11.72 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:total: 53.64 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 63.21 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 43.79 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:total population: 55.75 years
male: 54.21 years
female: 57.34 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:4.77 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:8.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:48,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:3,000 (2003 est.)
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
Religions:Christian 55%-75%, animist, Muslim less than 1%
Languages:French (official), Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 63.2%
male: 73.7%
female: 53.3% (1995 est.)

GovernmentTop
Country name:conventional long form: Gabonese Republic
conventional short form: Gabon
local long form: Republique Gabonaise
local short form: Gabon

Government type:republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized in 1990)
Capital:Libreville
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:Founding of the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), 12 March (1968)
Constitution:adopted 14 March 1991
Legal system:based on French civil law system and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:21 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba (since 2 December 1967)
head of government: Prime Minister Jean-Francois NTOUTOUME-EMANE (since 23 January 1999)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 6 December 1998 (next to be held NA 2005); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba reelected; percent of vote - El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba 66.6%, Pierre MAMBOUNDOU 16.5%, Fr. Paul M'BA-ABESSOLE 13.4%

Legislative branch:bicameral legislature consists of the Senate (91 seats; members elected by members of municipal councils and departmental assemblies) and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (120 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: National Assembly - last held 9 and 23 December 2001 (next to be held December 2006); Senate - last held 26 January and 9 February 2003 (next to be held by January 2009)
election results: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PDG 86, RNB-RPG 8, PGP 3, ADERE 3, CLR 2, PUP 1, PSD 1, independents 13, others 3; Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PDG 53, RNB 20, PGP 4, ADERE 3, RDP 1, CLR 1, independents 9

Judicial branch:Supreme Court or Cour Supreme consisting of three chambers - Judicial, Administrative, and Accounts; Constitutional Court; Courts of Appeal; Court of State Security; County Courts
Political parties and leaders:Circle of Liberal Reformers or CLR [General Jean Boniface ASSELE]; Congress for Democracy and Justice or CDJ [Jules Aristide Bourdes OGOULIGUENDE]; Democratic and Republican Alliance or ADERE [Divungui-di-Ndinge DIDJOB]; Gabonese Democratic Party or PDG, former sole party [Simplice Nguedet MANZELA]; Gabonese Party for Progress or PGP [Pierre-Louis AGONDJO-OKAWE]; National Rally of Woodcutters-Rally for Gabon or RNB-RPG (Bucherons) [Fr. Paul M'BA-ABESSOLE]; People's Unity Party or PUP [Louis Gaston MAYILA]; Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP [Pierre EMBONI]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Pierre Claver MAGANGA-MOUSSAVOU]; Union for Democracy and Social Integration or UDIS [leader NA]; Union of Gabonese People or UPG [Pierre MAMBOUNDOU]
Political pressure groups and leaders:NA
International organization participation:ACCT, ACP, AfDB, AU, BDEAC, CEMAC, FAO, FZ, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICFTU, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, ONUB, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO
Flag description:three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and blue
EconomyTop
Economy - overview:Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most of sub-Saharan African nations. This has supported a sharp decline in extreme poverty; yet because of high income inequality a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for 50% of GDP. Gabon continues to face fluctuating prices for its oil, timber, and manganese exports. Despite the abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management hobbles the economy. Devaluation of its currency by 50% in January 1994 sparked a one-time inflationary surge, to 35%; the rate dropped to 6% in 1996. The IMF provided a one-year standby arrangement in 1994-95, a three-year Enhanced Financing Facility (EFF) at near commercial rates beginning in late 1995, and stand-by credit of $119 million in October 2000. Those agreements mandate progress in privatization and fiscal discipline. France provided additional financial support in January 1997 after Gabon had met IMF targets for mid-1996. In 1997, an IMF mission to Gabon criticized the government for overspending on off-budget items, overborrowing from the central bank, and slipping on its schedule for privatization and administrative reform. The rebound of oil prices in 1999-2000 helped growth, but drops in production hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. In December 2000, Gabon signed a new agreement with the Paris Club to reschedule its official debt. A follow-up bilateral repayment agreement with the US was signed in December 2001. Gabon signed a 14 month Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF in May 2004, and received Paris Club debt rescheduling later that year. Short-term progress depends on an upbeat world economy and fiscal and other adjustments in line with IMF policies.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $7.966 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:1.9% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $5,900 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:agriculture: 7.4%
industry: 46.7%
services: 45.9% (2004 est.)

Labor force:650,000 (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:agriculture 60%, industry 15%, services 25%
Unemployment rate:21% (1997 est.)
Population below poverty line:NA
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA

Inflation rate (consumer prices):1.5% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):21.8% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:revenues: $2.129 billion
expenditures: $1.64 billion, including capital expenditures of $310 million (2004 est.)

Public debt:29.3% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:cocoa, coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber; cattle; okoume (a tropical softwood); fish
Industries:petroleum extraction and refining; manganese, and gold mining; chemicals; ship repair; food and beverage; textile; lumbering and plywood; cement
Industrial production growth rate:1.6% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:1.161 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel: 34.5%
hydro: 65.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:1.08 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production:264,900 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:13,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:NA
Oil - imports:NA
Oil - proved reserves:2.022 billion bbl (2004 est.)
Natural gas - production:80 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:80 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:66.47 billion cu m (2004)
Current account balance:$196.8 million (2004 est.)
Exports:$3.71 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:crude oil 77%, timber, manganese, uranium (2001)
Exports - partners:US 51.9%, China 9.1%, France 7.7% (2004)
Imports:$1.225 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, construction materials
Imports - partners:France 46.1%, US 6.8%, UK 6% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$268.6 million (2004 est.)
Debt - external:$3.804 billion (2004 est.)
Currency (code):Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States
Currency code:XAF
Exchange rates:Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XAF) per US dollar - 528.29 (2004), 581.2 (2003), 696.99 (2002), 733.04 (2001), 711.98 (2000)
Fiscal year:calendar year
CommunicationsTop
Telephones - main lines in use:38,400 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:300,000 (2003)
Telephone system:general assessment: adequate service by African standards and improving with the help of the growing mobile cell system
domestic: adequate system of cable, microwave radio relay, tropospheric scatter, radiotelephone communication stations, and a domestic satellite system with 12 earth stations
international: country code - 241; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); fiber optic submarine cable (SAT-3/WASC) provides connectivity to Europe and Asia

Radio broadcast stations:AM 6, FM 7 (and 11 repeaters), shortwave 4 (2001)
Radios:208,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:4 (plus four low-power repeaters) (2001)
Televisions:63,000 (1997)
Internet country code:.ga
Internet hosts:93 (2004)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):1 (2001)
Internet users:35,000 (2003)
TransportationTop
Railways:total: 814 km
standard gauge: 814 km 1.435-m gauge (2004)

Highways:total: 8,464 km
paved: 838 km
unpaved: 7,626 km (2000 est.)

Waterways:1,600 km (310 km on Ogooue River) (2003)
Pipelines:gas 210 km; oil 1,385 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:Gamba, Libreville, Lucinda, Owendo, Port-Gentil
Airports:56 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:total: 11
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2004 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:total: 45
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
914 to 1,523 m: 15
under 914 m: 23 (2004 est.)

MilitaryTop
Military branches:Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie, National Police
Military manpower - military age and obligation:18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service (2001)
Military manpower - availability:males age 18-49: 276,310 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:males age 18-49: 156,632 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:males: 15,150 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:$184.8 million (2004)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:2% (2004)
Transnational IssuesTop
Disputes - international:UN presses Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to resolve the sovereignty dispute over Gabon-occupied Mbane Island and to establish a maritime boundary in hydrocarbon-rich Corisco Bay; only a few hundred out of the 20,000 Republic of the Congo refugees who fled militia fighting in 2000 remain in Gabon



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