Gabon, the full official form is the Gabonese Republic (fr.
République gabonaise) is a state in Central Africa, a former colony
of France. The population, according to the 2013 census, was
1,811,079 people, the territory - 267,667 km². It ranks 145th in the
world in terms of population and 76th in terms of territory.
The capital is Libreville, the official language is French.
Unitary state, subdivided into nine provinces. Presidential Republic - On August 30, 2009, Ali Bongo Ondimba was elected president.
Located in the west of Central Africa, from the west it is washed by the Gulf of Guinea. It has land borders with the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
Most believers profess Christianity of various persuasions (mainly Catholicism).
Oil fields and foreign investment have helped make Gabon one of Africa's richest and most stable states with the 4th highest HDI, the second highest GDP per capita (nominal) in the region (after Equatorial Guinea), and the third highest GDP per capita ( PPP) in the region (after Equatorial Guinea and Botswana). However, due to inequality in the distribution of income, a significant part of the population remains poor. According to a 2019 estimate, the country's GDP (PPP) amounted to $35.330 billion (123rd in the world). The monetary unit is the CFA franc.
The name of the country "Gabon" comes from the Portuguese name of the river Mbe: "Gabão" (meaning "hooded coat"), this name comes from the specific shape of the mouth of the river.
Gabon is located in the west of Central Africa. In the east and south it borders on the Republic of the Congo (the length of the border is 1903 km), in the north - on Cameroon (298 km), in the northwest - on Equatorial Guinea (350 km), in the west the country goes to the waters of the Gulf of Guinea ocean.
The total length of the border is 2551 km, the length of the coastline is 885 km. The coastline of the country is divided into two parts by Cape Lopez. To the south of it, the shores are straight, flat, with shallow lagoons. To the north of the cape, the coastline has a more complex shape, convenient bays are located here - the estuaries of the country's rivers.
The total area of Gabon is 267,667 km². Of it, 10,000 km² (3.7% of the total area) falls on the water surface, and 257,667 km² on land. Most (77%) of the land fund is occupied by forests, pastures account for 18% of the land, and 2% is allocated for arable land.
Gabon is located in the equatorial and subequatorial belts. Due to the hot and humid climate, about 80% of the country's territory is occupied by dense evergreen forests. The area rises from the west, where there is a swampy coastal lowland 30-200 km wide, to the east, where plateaus and mountain ranges are located.
Relief, geological structure and minerals
The interior of Gabon is occupied by massifs and plateaus of the South Guinea Upland. The highest heights are reached by the Shayu Mountains (Mount Ibunji, 1580 m), located in the central part of Gabon and composed of deeply metamorphosed rocks and granites of the Early Precambrian . There are deposits of manganese and gold. To the north-west of them rise the Crystal Mountains (Mount Dana, 1000 m), composed of Precambrian crystalline rocks.
From the southwest, several chains of low mountains and hills adjoin the Shayu mountains - the northern end of the folded system of the late Proterozoic Western Congolids. And from the east - the gentle Francville trough, filled with the Middle Proterozoic sedimentary terrigenous series of the same name, containing deposits of manganese ores. One of the world's largest manganese deposits is located in the Franceville region, the total reserves of which are estimated at 225 million tons. There are also deposits of uranium ore (proved reserves - 5830 tons). Iron ore deposits (1400 million tons) are located in the northeast of the country (Belinga), occupied by table plateaus (height 500–600 m), and in the southwest (Chibanga).
In the west of the country, along the Atlantic coast, a low plain stretches up to 200 km wide. It is an area of intense subsidence that began in the Cretaceous, which led to the accumulation of many kilometers of sediments, first lagoonal-continental, then salt-bearing and marine. The presence of salt at the bottom of the section caused the manifestation of salt tectonics. The main oil fields are located in this area (in particular, Angiy (deposit)), the total proven reserves are 275 million tons, and natural gas (28 billion m³).
The climate is hot and humid, with a transition from equatorial in the north to subequatorial in the west and south, with a short dry season (from June-July to August-September).
Average monthly temperatures from +22 °C to +24 °C in July and from +25 °C to +27 °C in April, in the southeast in the hot months exceed +32 °C. The average annual precipitation is 1500-2000 mm per year, in the north of the coastline up to 2500-4000 mm.
The river network of Gabon is very dense and full of water. The main river is the Ogove, a significant part of the country's territory belongs to its basin. The largest tributaries are Ivindo and Ngunye. Less significant coastal rivers - Nyanga and Como. The rivers of the country are full-flowing throughout the year, in the upper reaches they are rapids, in the lower reaches they are mostly accessible for navigation. The potential for hydropower production is estimated at 48 billion kWh per year.
Vegetation and soils
About 80% of the territory of Gabon is covered with dense moist evergreen and deciduous-evergreen tropical forests on red-yellow lateritic soils. There are many species in the forests that provide valuable commercial timber - okume, osigo, limba, mahogany and yellow wood, ebony, sandalwood, etc. In the south and southeast, the forests are partially reduced and replaced by secondary tall-grass savannahs. Mangrove forests grow along the coast.
In its species composition, it is characteristic of the West African subregion of the Ethiopian zoogeographic region. Of the large animals, elephants, warthogs, buffaloes, various types of forest antelopes are found; predators include leopards, hyenas, and others. Monkeys are widespread, including anthropoids—the gorilla (the largest population in the world) and chimpanzees. Hippos, crocodiles live in the rivers; Manatees are found in Gabon Bay, coastal lagoons and the Ogowe River. Birds and snakes are abundantly represented, among which there are many poisonous ones (for example, the Gaboon viper). Insects are widespread, including carriers of dangerous diseases - tsetse flies, Simulium midges.