Gabon Profile

Sitting on the equator, the Gabonese Republic, widely known as Gabon, has a population of around one and a half million and is sometimes referred to as a 'rainforest nation' being 85% covered by tropical rainforest. Gabon was first visited by Portugeuse traders and explorers in the fifteenth century who named it after their name for 'cloak' (Gabão) as that was the shape of the river estuary at Libreville. The French arrived in the area now known as Gabon in 1875 and twenty years later formally occupied it. In 1910 Gabon became one of the territories of French Equatorial Africa finally gaining its independence in 1960 with Léon M’ba becoming the Gabon's first elected president in 1961.

Naturally, after a democratic election in a newly emerging African nation, M’ba quickly sought to suppress the press, ban political demonstrations and erode the existence of opposition political parties, ensuring all power was invested in his presidency; all achieved with the ongoing support of France, much to the dismay of the wider international community.

M/ba died in 1967 and his vice president, Omar Bonga, succeeded him to the presidency and went on to dominate the politics of Gabon for four decades becoming one of the longest serving heads of state in the world.

He died in 2009 and was succeeded in elections in August of that year by ..... his son.

Today, Gabon is a relatively wealthy country, benefiting from the exports of its off-shore oil fields and is in 106th place out of 187 countries and territories in 2011 when ranked in terms of life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and the living standards of a country.

However oil output is declining, and, despite attempts to diversify the economy, poverty remains widespread standing at around 33% especially in rural areas where children also suffer from a lack of educational provision. For others, whilst education is free, other school expenses put it beyond the reach of many poor families.


Gabon Profile

Gabon Profile

Gabon Profile

Gabon Profile


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Gabon Profile

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Gabon Profile

This rural poverty has seen a rise in children moving to urban conurbations such as Libreville where they can be seen begging on the streets in front of bus stops and department stores. Many of these children end up in domestic servitude or in agricultural labour working alongside other children who have been brought into Gabon through trafficking. HIV is also an issue in Gabon with 18,000 of its children, out of a total child population of 633,000 being orphaned through the virus. In total there are 64,000 orphans in Gabon, just over one in ten of all children.

The slideshow (left) provides images of daily life in Gabon whilst the video explores more about Gabon itself, particularly its forest industry. Find out more about Gabon and the volunteer work opportunities available there using our Gabon profile pages above.

Human Development Index Gabon

Human Development Index for Gabon 1980 - Present

The HDI (Human Development Index) is measured by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the World Bank and is based upon the life expectancy, literacy, access to knowledge and living standards of a country. Gabon is in 106th place out of 186 countries and territories in 2013 and the chart above shows how living standards in Gabon are significantly higher than other sub Saharan countries and also above medium human development.


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