Gabon, a sparsely populated country known for its dense rainforests and vast petroleum reserves, is one of the most prosperous and stable countries in central Africa. Approximately 40 ethnic groups are represented, the largest of which is the Fang, a group that covers the northern third of Gabon and expands north into Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. From about the early 1300s, various kingdoms emerged in and surrounding present-day Gabon, including the Kingdoms of Loango and Orungu. Because most early Bantu languages spoken in these kingdoms did not have a written form, historical traditions were passed on orally, resulting in much of Gabon's early history being lost over time. Portuguese traders who arrived in the mid-1400s gave the area its name of Gabon. At that time, indigenous trade networks began to engage with European traders, exchanging goods such as ivory and wood. For a century beginning in the 1760s, trade came to focus mostly on enslaved people. While many groups in Gabon participated in the slave trade, the Fang were a notable exception. As the slave trade declined in the late 1800s, France colonized the country and directed a widespread extraction of Gabonese resources. Anti-colonial rhetoric by Gabon’s educated elites increased significantly in the early 1900s, but no widespread rebellion materialized. French decolonization following World War II led to the country’s independence in 1960.
Within a year of independence, the government changed from a parliamentary to a presidential system, and Leon M’BA won the first presidential election in 1961. El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba - one of the longest ruling heads of state in history - was M’BA’s vice president and assumed the presidency after M’BA’s death in 1967. BONGO went on to dominate the country's political scene for four decades (1967-2009). In 1968, he declared Gabon a single-party state and created the Parti Democratique Gabonais (PDG), which remains the predominant party in Gabonese politics today. In the early 1990s, he reintroduced a multiparty system under a new constitution after he was confronted with growing political opposition. He was reelected by wide margins in 1995, 1998, 2002, and 2005 against a divided opposition and amidst allegations of fraud. Following President BONGO's death in 2009, a new election brought his son, Ali BONGO Ondimba, to power. President Ali BONGO Ondimba was reelected in 2016 in a close election against a united opposition. Gabon’s Constitutional Court reviewed the contested election results and ruled in his favor.
Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.Definitions and Notes
NOTE: The information regarding Gabon on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Gabon 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Gabon 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.