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Emergin Gabon
Emerging Gabon - Country Overview
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Overview:

Gabon is one of West Africa's more stable countries. Since independence from France in 1960 Gabon has had three presidents, namely Léon M'ba (1960-1967), Omar Bongo Ondimba (1967- 2009) and Ali Bongo Ondimba since 2009. Its late leader, President Omar Bongo, was in power for over four decades. The small population density together with abundant natural resources and foreign private investment have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the highest Human Development Index and the third highest GDP per capita (PPP) (after Equatorial Guinea and Botswana) in the region.

Transport:

Roadways connect virtually all major communities, but maintenance work is difficult because of heavy rainfall. The railway system is new and not yet fully developed, although the government continues work on it at a steady pace. There are ports handling both freight and passengers. River transportation is used extensively, mostly to float logs. There are three international airports, and another 56 airports provide domestic service.

Geography:

Gabon sits on the Equator in western Africa bordered by Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and the Republic of Congo. About 80per cent of the country is covered with rainforest. Gabon is one of the most mineral rich countries in Africa. It is made up of three main landscapes: the coastal plains, the mountainous interior, and the inland savanna.

Flora and Fauna:

Although boasting magnificent beaches on its Atlantic seaboard, Gabon’s major attractions are its rainforest, vast variety of birds, and many species of primate. The rainforest is rich in wildlife and contains more than 8,000 species of plant and 600 species of bird. The forest, the savannah, swamps and rivers provide an ideal habitat for elephant, buffalo, panther, antelope, hippopotami, crocodile, gorilla, chimpanzee, brilliant butterflies and colorful birds, including the gray parrot, emblem of Air Gabon. The many rivers and lagoons are teaming with fish and the long Atlantic seaboard makes Gabon a paradise for deep-sea fishing. It is said that Gabon is home to four fifths of Africa’s gorilla’s and chimpanzees. Although numerous, these shy primates are not used to tourists so sightings may be fleeting and unpredictable.

Climate:

The climate is equatorial, being hot and humid. The average temperature is 28°C throughout the year. However, there are four seasons: June to October is cool, often cloudy and fairly dry (26°C); November to mid-December is the short dry season; February to mid-May is hot, with most rain falling during this period.

Economy:

Since the 1970s the Gabonese economy has been centered on the oil industry, which has provided it with one of the highest per capita incomes in sub-Saharan Africa and accounts for almost 80 percent of its export income and 50 percent of its GDP. The country's most significant forest products are okume (a type of softwood used in making plywood), ebony, and rubber. Other minerals extracted are gold, uranium, iron ore, diamonds etc.

The chief products of Gabon's industrial sector include refined petroleum, chemicals, food and beverages, textiles, and wood products. Despite this economic activity, the majority of Gabonese workers are engaged in subsistence farming, with sugarcane, cassava, plantains, and taro as the chief crops. There is also fishing. Cocoa, coffee, and palm products are produced for export.

Gabon's leading trade partners are the United States and France. Gabon's limited transportation network was improved with the construction (1986) of the Trans-Gabon railway, which links the deepwater port of Owendo with iron ore and manganese deposits.

Natural Resources:

Natural resources include: petroleum, magnesium, iron, gold, uranium, and forests.

Natural Parks and Reserves:

There are 13 National Parks and over 10 percent of the territory is dedicated to the preservation of Gabon’s ecosystems. Gabon is number two in the world in terms of percentage of protected surface area, after Costa Rica.

Main Exports:

Crude oil, timber, manganese, uranium

Main Imports:

Food products, clothing, cosmetics, construction materials, machinery, Telecommunications equipment

Growth Sectors:

Consumer goods, forestry products, mining, petroleum production, telecommunications.