The World Factbook (1990)/Gabon

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World Factbook (1990) Gabon.jpg

 See regional map VII


Total area: 267,670 km²; land area: 257,670 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Colorado

Land boundaries: 2,551 km total; Cameroon 298 km, Congo 1,903 km, Equatorial Guinea 350 km

Coastline: 885 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: maritime boundary with Equatorial Guinea

Climate: tropical; always hot, humid

Terrain: narrow coastal plain; hilly interior; savanna in east and south

Natural resources: crude oil, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore

Land use: 1% arable land; 1% permanent crops; 18% meadows and pastures; 78% forest and woodland; 2% other

Environment: deforestation


Population: 1,068,240 (July 1990), growth rate 0.8% (1990)

Birth rate: 28 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 15 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -6 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 106 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 50 years male, 56 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 4.0 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Gabonese (sing., pl.); adjective—Gabonese

Ethnic divisions: about 40 Bantu tribes, including four major tribal groupings (Fang, Eshira, Bapounou, Bateke); about 100,000 expatriate Africans and Europeans, including 27,000 French

Religion: 55-75% Christian, less than 1% Muslim, remainder animist

Language: French (official), Fang, Myene, Bateke, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi

Literacy: 61.6%

Labor force: 120,000 salaried; 65.0% agriculture, 30.0% industry and commerce, 2.5% services, 2.5% government; 58% of population of working age (1983)

Organized labor: there are 38,000 members of the national trade union, the Gabonese Trade Union Confederation (COSYGA)


Long-form name: Gabonese Republic

Type: republic; one-party presidential regime since 1964

Capital: Libreville

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces; Estuaire, Haut-Ogooué, Moyen-Ogooué, Ngounié, Nyanga, Ogooué-Ivindo, Ogooué-Lolo, Ogooué-Maritime, Woleu-Ntem

Independence: 17 August 1960 (from France)

Constitution: 21 February 1961, revised 15 April 1975

Legal system: based on French civil law system and customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court; compulsory ICJ jurisdiction not accepted

National holiday: Renovation Day (Gabonese Democratic Party established), 12 March (1968)

Executive branch: president, prime minister, Cabinet

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (Assemblé Nationale)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Suprême)

Leaders: Chief of State—President El Hadj Omar BONGO (since 2 December 1967);

Head of Government—Prime Minister Léon MEBIAME (since 16 April 1975)

Political parties and leaders: only party Gabonese Social Democratic Rally (RSDG), El Hadj Omar Bongo, president; formerly Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), which was dissolved in February 1990

Suffrage: universal at age 21

Elections: President—last held on 9 November 1986 (next to be held November 1993); results—President Omar BONGO was reelected without opposition;

National Assembly—last held on 17 February 1985 (next to be held by February 1992); results—PDG was the only party; seats—(120 total, 111 elected) PDG 111

Communists: no organized party; probably some Communist sympathizers

Member of: ACP, AfDB, CCC, Conference of East and Central African States, EAMA, EIB (associate), FAO, G-77, GATT, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCO, ICO, IDA, IDB—Islamic Development Bank, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, IPU, ITU, NAM, OAU, OIC, OPEC, UDEAC, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Jean Robert ODZAGA; Chancery at 2034 20th Street NW, Washington DC 20009; telephone (202) 797-1000; US—Ambassador Keith L. WAUCHOPE; Embassy at Boulevard de la Mer, Libreville (mailing address is B. P. 4000, Libreville); telephone 762003 or 762004, 761337, 721348, 740248

Flag: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and blue


Overview: The economy, dependent on timber and manganese until the early 1970s, is now dominated by the oil sector. During the period 1981-85 oil accounted for about 46% of GDP, 83% of export earnings, and 65% of government revenues on average. The high oil prices of the early 1980s contributed to a substantial increase in per capita income, stimulated domestic demand, reinforced migration from rural to urban areas, and raised the level of real wages to among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. The three-year slide of Gabon's economy, which began with falling oil prices in 1985, stabilized in 1989 because of a near doubling of oil prices over their 1988 lows. The agricultural and industrial sectors are relatively underdeveloped, accounting for only 8% and 10%, respectively, of GDP in 1986.

GDP: $3.2 billion, per capita $3,200; real growth rate 0% (1989)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3% (1989)

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget: revenues $927 million; expenditures $1.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $33 million (1988)

Exports: $1.14 billion (f.o.b., 1989 est.); commodities—crude oil 70%, manganese 11%, wood 12%, uranium 6%; partners—France 53%, US 22%, FRG, Japan

Imports: $0.76 billion (c.i.f., 1989); commodities—foodstuffs, chemical products, petroleum products, construction materials, manufactures, machinery; partners—France 48%, US 2.6%, FRG, Japan, UK

External debt: $2.0 billion (October 1989)

Industrial production: growth rate 1.7% (1986)

Electricity: 310,000 kW capacity; 980 million kWh produced, 920 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: sawmills, petroleum, food and beverages; mining of increasing importance (especially manganese and uranium)

Agriculture: accounts for 8% of GDP (including fishing and forestry); cash crops—cocoa, coffee, palm oil; livestock not developed; importer of food; small fishing operations provide a catch of about 20,000 metric tons; okoume (a tropical softwood) is the most important timber product

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $64 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $1.7 billion; Communist countries (1970-88), $27 million

Currency: Communauté Financière Africaine franc (plural francs); 1 CFA franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Communauté Financière Africaine francs (CFAF) per US$1—287.99 (January 1990), 319.01 (1989), 297.85 (1988), 300.54 (1987), 346.30 (1986), 449.26 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 649 km 1.437-meter standard-gauge single track (Transgabonese Railroad)

Highways: 7,500 km total; 560 km paved, 960 km laterite, 5,980 km earth

Inland waterways 1,600 km perennially navigable

Pipelines: crude oil, 270 km; refined products, 14 km

Ports: Owendo, Port-Gentil, Libreville

Merchant marine: 2 cargo ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 18,563 GRT/25,330 DWT

Civil air: 11 major transport aircraft

Airports: 79 total, 68 usable; 10 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 2 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 21 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: adequate system of open-wire, radio relay, tropospheric scatter links and radiocommunication stations; 13,800 telephones; stations—6 AM, 6 FM, 8 TV; satellite earth stations—2 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT and 12 domestic satellite

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, paramilitary Gendarmerie

Military manpower: males 15-49, 266,110; 133,158 fit for military service; 9,282 reach military age (20) annually

Defense expenditures: 3.2% of GDP, or $102 million (1990 est.)