macrohistory & world report


Map location of Gabon

Gabon (capital Libreville) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of October 2014: "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 depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The economy was reliant on oil for about 50% of its GDP, about 70% of revenues, and 87% of goods exports for 2010, although some fields have passed their peak production. A rebound of oil prices from 1999 to 2008 helped growth, but declining production has hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains... Despite the abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management has stifled the economy. However, President BONGO ONDIMBA has made efforts to increase transparency and is taking steps to make Gabon a more attractive investment destination to diversify the economy. BONGO ONDIMBA has attempted to boost growth by increasing government investment in human resources and infrastructure."

October 26, 2014: Terrible life expectancy and infant mortality figures for a high income country accompanies bad corruption figure and an annual population grown rate more than twice that of the United States: 1.94% vs 0.77%.


Economic growth rate
2013: 6.6%
2012: 5.6%
2011: 5.6%
2010: 5.7%

Labor force in agriculture
2000: 60%

Unemployment rate
2006: 21%

Exports vs Imports
2013: exports $9.777 billion, imports $3.934 billion.

Oil production:
2012: 242,000 barrels per day (ranked 37th)
2010: 227,900 barrrels per day (ranked 40th)

Public debt
2011: 18.3% of GDP

Health expenditures
2011: 3.2% of GDP
2009: 6% of GDP

Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
2005: 3.4%


Living in an urban area
2011: 86.2%
2010: 86%
2008: 85%

Net migration rate
2014: A net loss of 2.07 persons per 1,000 population
2012: A net loss of 2.16 persons per 1,000 population

Literacy (age 15 and older)
2011: male 92.3%, female 85.6%
1995: male 73.7%, femaie 53.3%

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

World Factbook: Christian 55%-75%, animist, Muslim less than 1%


Western Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. On the Equator. Slightly smaller than Colorado.


President is elected by popular vote for a seven-year term, without term limits. Bicameral legislature consists of the Senate (102 seats; members elected by members of municipal councils and departmental assemblies to serve six-year terms) and the National Assembly (120 seats; members elected by direct, popular vote to serve five-year terms).

Capital: Libreville.

Recent History

Independence from France in 1960.

In 1964 renegade soldiers kidnap Gabon's first president, Leon M'ba and arrest his vice president, Omar Bongo. French paratroopers rescue the abducted president and Mr Bongo, restoring them to power.

In 1967, M'ba dies and Omar Bongo becomes Gabon's second president, following the first president's death. Bongo is from "a tiny minority ethnic group" and has "no natural domestic support base, so he would have to rely on France to protect him." In 1967 the French places "several hundred paratroopers in a barracks in Libreville," and Bongo gives "French companies almost exclusive access to his country's minerals." (Treasure Islands, by Nicholas Shaxson, p. 3)

June 8, 2009: Bongo dies, ending his reign as president for 41 years, six months and six days – one of the longest serving rulers in history.

October 2009: Omar Bongo's son, Ali Bongo Ondimba, 49, is elected president. Official result have him winning 42% of the vote.

The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.