Photos of Gabon

Introduction

Background

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.

Geography

Location

Central Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean at the Equator, between Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea

Geographic coordinates

1 00 S, 11 45 E

Area

total: 267,667 sq km

land: 257,667 sq km

water: 10,000 sq km

country comparison to the world: 78

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Colorado

Land boundaries

total: 3,261 km

border countries (3): Cameroon 349 km, Republic of the Congo 2567 km, Equatorial Guinea 345 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

highest point: Mont Iboundji 1,575 m

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 377 m

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, diamond, niobium, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 19% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.6% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 17.2% (2018 est.)

forest: 81% (2018 est.)

other: 0% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

40 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

166 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Population distribution

the relatively small population is spread in pockets throughout the country; the largest urban center is the capital of Libreville, located along the Atlantic coast in the northwest as shown in this population distribution map

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands, Whaling

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

People and Society

Population

2,284,912 (July 2021 est.)

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, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

country comparison to the world: 145

Nationality

noun: Gabonese (singular and plural)

adjective: Gabonese

Ethnic groups

Gabonese-born 80.1% (includes Fang 23.2%, Shira-Punu/Vili 18.9%, Nzabi-Duma 11.3%, Mbede-Teke 6.9%, Myene 5%, Kota-Kele 4.9%, Okande-Tsogo 2.1%, Pygmy .3%, other 7.5%), Cameroonian 4.6%, Malian 2.4%, Beninese 2.1%, acquired Gabonese nationality 1.6%, Togolese 1.6%, Senegalese 1.1%, Congolese (Brazzaville) 1%, other 5.5% (includes Congolese (Kinshasa), Equatorial Guinean, Nigerian) (2012)

Languages

French (official), Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi

Religions

Roman Catholic 42.3%, Protestant 12.3%, other Christian 27.4%, Muslim 9.8%, animist 0.6%, other 0.5%, none/no answer 7.1% (2012 est.)

Demographic profile

Gabon’s oil revenues have given it one of the highest per capita income levels in Sub-Saharan Africa, but the wealth is not evenly distributed and poverty is widespread. Unemployment is especially prevalent among the large youth population; more than 60% of the population is under the age of 25. With a fertility rate still averaging more than 4 children per woman, the youth population will continue to grow and further strain the mismatch between Gabon’s supply of jobs and the skills of its labor force.

Gabon has been a magnet to migrants from neighboring countries since the 1960s because of the discovery of oil, as well as the country’s political stability and timber, mineral, and natural gas resources. Nonetheless, income inequality and high unemployment have created slums in Libreville full of migrant workers from Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin, Togo, and elsewhere in West Africa. In 2011, Gabon declared an end to refugee status for 9,500 remaining Congolese nationals to whom it had granted asylum during the Republic of the Congo’s civil war between 1997 and 2003. About 5,400 of these refugees received permits to reside in Gabon.

Age structure

0-14 years: 36.45% (male 413,883/female 399,374)

15-24 years: 21.9% (male 254,749/female 233,770)

25-54 years: 32.48% (male 386,903/female 337,776)

55-64 years: 5.19% (male 58,861/female 56,843)

65 years and over: 3.98% (male 44,368/female 44,381) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 68.9

youth dependency ratio: 62.9

elderly dependency ratio: 6

potential support ratio: 16.8 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 21 years

male: 21.4 years

female: 20.6 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 186

Birth rate

26.14 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 44

Death rate

5.76 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 172

Net migration rate

3.76 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 31

Population distribution

the relatively small population is spread in pockets throughout the country; the largest urban center is the capital of Libreville, located along the Atlantic coast in the northwest as shown in this population distribution map

Urbanization

urban population: 90.4% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 2.27% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

845,000 LIBREVILLE (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.09 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.15 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 1 male(s)/female

total population: 1.08 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.6 years (2012 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 20-49

Maternal mortality rate

252 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 29.45 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 32.58 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 26.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 59

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 69.37 years

male: 67.66 years

female: 71.14 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 175

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 97% of population

rural: 68% of population

total: 93.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.3% of population

rural: 32% of population

total: 6.2% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

0.68 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

6.3 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 77.7% of population

rural: 51.9% of population

total: 74.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 22.3% of population

rural: 48.1% of population

total: 25.2% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 84.7%

male: 85.9%

female: 83.4% (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 35.7%

male: 30.5%

female: 41.9% (2010 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

252 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 41

Environment

Environment - current issues

deforestation (the forests that cover three-quarters of the country are threatened by excessive logging); burgeoning population exacerbating disposal of solid waste; oil industry contributing to water pollution; wildlife poaching

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 38.51 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 5.32 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 1.13 megatons (2020 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 84.7 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 14.1 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 40.3 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

166 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Climate

tropical; always hot, humid

Land use

agricultural land: 19% (2018 est.)

arable land: 1.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.6% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 17.2% (2018 est.)

forest: 81% (2018 est.)

other: 0% (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 100

Urbanization

urban population: 90.4% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 2.27% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 238,102 tons (1995 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Gabonese Republic

conventional short form: Gabon

local long form: Republique Gabonaise

local short form: Gabon

etymology: name originates from the Portuguese word "gabao" meaning "cloak," which is roughly the shape that the early explorers gave to the estuary of the Komo River by the capital of Libreville

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

name: Libreville

geographic coordinates: 0 23 N, 9 27 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: original site settled by freed slaves and the name means "free town" in French; named in imitation of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone

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

Independence Day, 17 August (1960)

Constitution

history: previous 1961; latest drafted May 1990, adopted 15 March 1991, promulgated 26 March 1991

amendments: proposed by the president of the republic, by the Council of Ministers, or by one third of either house of Parliament; passage requires Constitutional Court evaluation, at least two-thirds majority vote of two thirds of the Parliament membership convened in joint session, and approval in a referendum; constitutional articles on Gabon’s democratic form of government cannot be amended; amended several times, last in 2020

Legal system

mixed legal system of French civil law and customary law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Gabon

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Ali BONGO Ondimba (since 16 October 2009)

head of government: Prime Minister Rose Christiane Ossouka RAPONDA (since 16 July 2020)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president 

elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 7-year term (no term limits); election last held on 27 August 2016 (next to be held in August 2023); prime minister appointed by the president

election results: Ali BONGO Ondimba reelected president; percent of vote - Ali BONGO Ondimba (PDG) 49.8%, Jean PING (UFC) 48.2%, other 2.0%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of:
Senate or Senat (102 seats; members indirectly elected by municipal councils and departmental assemblies by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed; members serve 6-year terms)
National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (143 seats; members elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed; members serve 5-year terms)

elections:
Senate - last held on 13 December 2014 (next to be held on 31 December 2020)
National Assembly - held in 2 rounds on 6 and 27 October 2018 (next to be held in 2023)

election results:
Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PDG 81, CLR 7, PSD 2, ADERE-UPG 1, UPG 1, PGCI 1, independent 7; composition - men 84, women 18, percent of women 17.6%
National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PDG 98, The Democrats or LD 11, RV 8, Social Democrats of Gabon 5, RH&M 4, other 9, independent 8; composition - men 123, women 20, percent of women 14%; note - total Parliament percent of women 15.5%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of 4 permanent specialized supreme courts - Supreme Court or Cour de Cassation, Administrative Supreme Court or Conseil d'Etat, Accounting Supreme Court or Cour des Comptes, Constitutional Court or Cour Constitutionnelle, and the non-permanent Court of State Security, initiated only for cases of high treason by the president and criminal activity by executive branch officials)

judge selection and term of office: appointment and tenure of Supreme, Administrative, Accounting, and State Security courts NA; Constitutional Court judges appointed - 3 by the national president, 3 by the president of the Senate, and 3 by the president of the National Assembly; judges serve single renewable 7-year terms

subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal; county courts; military courts

Political parties and leaders

Circle of Liberal Reformers or CLR [Gen. Jean-Boniface ASSELE]
Democratic and Republican Alliance or ADERE [DIDJOB Divungui di Ndinge]
Gabonese Democratic Party or PDG [Ali BONGO Ondimba]
Independent Center Party of Gabon or PGCI [Luccheri GAHILA]
Legacy and Modernity Party or RH&M
Rally for Gabon or RPG
Restoration of Republican Values or RV
Social Democratic Party or PSD [Pierre Claver MAGANGA-MOUSSAVOU]
Social Democrats of Gabon
The Democrats or LD
Union for the New Republic or UPRN [Louis Gaston MAYILA]
Union of Gabonese People or UPG [Richard MOULOMBA]
Union of Forces for Change or UFC [Jean PING]

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, BDEAC, CEMAC, FAO, FZ, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Charge D'Affaires Rod Ciangillan REMBENDAMBYA, Counselor (17 March 2021)

chancery: 2034 20th Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20009

telephone: [1] (202) 797-1000

FAX: [1] (301) 332-0668

email address and website:
info@gaboneembassyusa.org

https://gabonembassyusa.org/en/

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Samuel R. WATSON; note - also accredited to Sao Tome and Principe

embassy: Sabliere, B.P. 4000, Libreville

mailing address: 2270 Libreville Place, Washington, DC 20521-2270

telephone: [241] 011-45-71-00

FAX: [241] 011-45-71-05

email address and website:
ACSLibreville@state.gov

https://ga.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and blue; green represents the country's forests and natural resources, gold represents the equator (which transects Gabon) as well as the sun, blue represents the sea

National symbol(s)

black panther; national colors: green, yellow, blue

National anthem

name: "La Concorde" (The Concorde)

lyrics/music: Georges Aleka DAMAS

note: adopted 1960

Economy

Economic overview

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 relied on timber and manganese exports until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. From 2010 to 2016, oil accounted for approximately 80% of Gabon’s exports, 45% of its GDP, and 60% of its state budget revenues.

Gabon faces fluctuating international prices for its oil, timber, and manganese exports. A rebound of oil prices from 2001 to 2013 helped growth, but declining production, as some fields passed their peak production, has hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. GDP grew nearly 6% per year over the 2010-14 period, but slowed significantly from 2014 to just 1% in 2017 as oil prices declined. Low oil prices also weakened government revenue and negatively affected the trade and current account balances. In the wake of lower revenue, Gabon signed a 3-year agreement with the IMF in June 2017.

Despite an abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management and over-reliance on oil has stifled the economy. Power cuts and water shortages are frequent. Gabon is reliant on imports and the government heavily subsidizes commodities, including food, but will be hard pressed to tamp down public frustration with unemployment and corruption.

Real GDP growth rate

0.5% (2017 est.)

2.1% (2016 est.)

3.9% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 184

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.4% (2019 est.)

4.7% (2018 est.)

2.6% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 125

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: CCC (2020)

Moody's rating: Caa1 (2018)

Standard & Poors rating: N/A (2016)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$32.48 billion (2019 est.)

$31.247 billion (2018 est.)

$30.986 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 137

GDP (official exchange rate)

$16.064 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$14,950 (2019 est.)

$14,744 (2018 est.)

$15,007 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 111

Gross national saving

25.6% of GDP (2017 est.)

24.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

29.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 66

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 5% (2017 est.)

industry: 44.7% (2017 est.)

services: 50.4% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 37.6% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 14.1% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 29% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: -0.6% (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 46.7% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -26.8% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 45 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 87 (2020)

Trading score: 43.9 (2020)

Enforcement score: 32.8 (2020)

Agricultural products

plantains, cassava, sugar cane, yams, taro, vegetables, maize, groundnuts, game meat, rubber

Industries

petroleum extraction and refining; manganese, gold; chemicals, ship repair, food and beverages, textiles, lumbering and plywood, cement

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 64%

industry: 12%

services: 24% (2005 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.5%

highest 10%: 32.7% (2005)

Budget

revenues: 2.634 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 2.914 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

62.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

64.2% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 69

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$725 million (2017 est.)

-$1.389 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 135

Exports

$10.8 billion (2019 est.)

$9.533 billion (2018 est.)

$9.145 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 96

Exports - partners

China 63%, Singapore 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

crude petroleum, manganese, lumber, veneer sheeting, refined petroleum (2019)

Imports

$5.02 billion (2019 est.)

$4.722 billion (2018 est.)

$4.749 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 137

Imports - partners

France 22%, China 17%, Belgium 6%, United States 6%, United Arab Emirates 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

poultry meats, excavation machinery, packaged medicines, cars, rice (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$981.6 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$804.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 133

Debt - external

$6.49 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$5.321 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 127

Exchange rates

Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs (XAF) per US dollar -

605.3 (2017 est.)

593.01 (2016 est.)

593.01 (2015 est.)

591.45 (2014 est.)

494.42 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 92% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 99% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 39% (2019)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 22,291

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1.02 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 173

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 2,992,811

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 137.57 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 140

Telecommunication systems

general assessment:

politically stable and oil laden, Gabon is one of wealthiest nations in Africa; liberalized and competitive market led development of mobile broadband, data service, and tests of 5G; fixed-line sector underdeveloped due to the lack of competition and high prices; South Korean investment in fiber segments as part of Central African backbone; sufficient international bandwidth through submarine cable systems; government committed to backbone infrastructure and e-health services; efforts towards new legal and regulatory improvements (2020)

(2020)

domestic: fixed-line is 1 per 100 subscriptions; a growing mobile cellular network with multiple providers is making telephone service more widely available with mobile cellular teledensity at 138 per 100 persons (2019)

international: country code - 241; landing points for the SAT-3/WASC, ACE and Libreville-Port Gentil Cable fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and West Africa; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

state owns and operates 2 TV stations and 2 radio broadcast stations; a few private radio and TV stations; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are accessible; satellite service subscriptions are available

Internet users

total: 1,313,802

percent of population: 62% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 133

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 22,332

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1.03 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 154

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 8

Airports - with paved runways

total: 14 (2019)

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 9

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 1

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 30 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 7 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 9 (2013)

under 914 m: 14 (2013)

Pipelines

807 km gas, 1639 km oil, 3 km water (2013)

Railways

total: 649 km (2014)

standard gauge: 649 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)

country comparison to the world: 106

Roadways

total: 14,300 km (2001)

paved: 900 km (2001)

unpaved: 13,400 km (2001)

country comparison to the world: 127

Waterways

1,600 km (310 km on Ogooue River) (2010)

country comparison to the world: 48

Merchant marine

total: 40

by type: general cargo 16, oil tanker 6, other 18 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 125

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Libreville, Owendo, Port-Gentil

oil terminal(s): Gamba, Lucina

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Gabonese Defense Forces (Forces de Defense Gabonaise): Land Forces (Army), Navy, Air Forces, National Gendarmerie; Republican Guard (land forces under direct presidential control) (2021)

Military expenditures

1.8% of GDP (2020 est.)

1.6% of GDP (2019)

1.5% of GDP (2018)

1.8% of GDP (2017)

1.5% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 69

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Gabonese Defense Forces (FDG) are comprised of approximately 6,500 active duty troops including the Republican Guard and Gendarmerie (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the FDG is lightly armed with an inventory comprised mostly of Brazilian, French, and South African equipment; since 2010, it has received limited amounts of equipment with France and South Africa as the leading suppliers (2020)

Military deployments

450 Central African Republic (MINUSCA) (Jan 2021)

Military service age and obligation

20 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2021)

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea remain a very high risk for piracy and armed robbery of ships; in 2020, there were 98 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Guinea region; although a 24% decrease from the total number of incidents in 2019, it included all three hijackings and 9 of 11 ships fired upon worldwide; while boarding and attempted boarding to steal valuables from ships and crews are the most common types of incidents, almost a third of all incidents involve a hijacking and/or kidnapping; in 2020, a record 130 crew members were kidnapped in 22 separate incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, representing 95% of kidnappings worldwide; approximately 51% of all incidents of piracy and armed robbery are taking place off Nigeria, which is a decrease from the 71% in 2019 and an indication pirates are traveling further to target vessels; Nigerian pirates are well armed and very aggressive, operating as far as 200 nm offshore; the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2021-002 - Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom) effective 9 January 2021, which states in part, "Piracy, armed robbery, and kidnapping for ransom continue to serve as significant threats to US-flagged vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea.”

Military - note

members of the Gabonese Defense Forces attempted a failed coup in January 2019

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

UN urges Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to resolve the sovereignty dispute over Gabon-occupied Mbane Island and lesser islands and to establish a maritime boundary in hydrocarbon-rich Corisco Bay

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Gabon is primarily a destination and transit country for adults and children from West and Central African countries subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; boys are forced to work as street vendors, mechanics, or in the fishing sector, while girls are subjected to domestic servitude or forced to work in markets or roadside restaurants; West African women are forced into domestic servitude or prostitution; men are reportedly forced to work on cattle farms; some foreign adults end up in forced labor in Gabon after initially seeking the help of human smugglers to help them migrate clandestinely; traffickers operate in loose, ethnic-based criminal networks, with female traffickers recruiting and facilitating the transport of victims from source countries; in some cases, families turn child victims over to traffickers, who promise paid jobs in Gabon

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Gabon does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; Gabon’s existing laws do not prohibit all forms of trafficking, and the government failed to pass a legal amendment drafted in 2013 to criminalize the trafficking of adults; anti-trafficking law enforcement decreased in 2014, dropping from 50 investigations to 16, and the only defendant to face prosecution fled the country; government efforts to identify and refer victims to protective services declined from 50 child victims in 2013 to just 3 in 2014, none of whom was referred to a care facility; the government provided support to four centers offering services to orphans and vulnerable children – 14 child victims identified by an NGO received government assistance; no adult victims have been identified since 2009 (2015)