Gabon Country Facts

By | June 9, 2024
Gabon
Capital city Libreville
Surface 267,745 km²
Population 1,980,000
Road network length 1,630 km
Length of highway network 30 km
First highway ?
Motorway name Autoroute
Traffic drives Right
License plate code G

Gabon, formally the Gabonese Republic (French: République gabonaise) is a country in central Africa. The country is located on the Atlantic Ocean and is almost 7 times the size of the Netherlands and has 2 million inhabitants. The capital is Libreville.

Geography

Gabon is located in the western part of Central Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean. The country borders Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and the Republic of the Congo in a clockwise direction. The country measures a maximum of 650 kilometers from west to east and 700 kilometers from north to south. The capital Libreville is located in the northwest on the Atlantic coast.

Much of Gabon consists of very dense jungle, only limited regions are not densely forested, especially in the far east and two strips in the south. The coastal region mainly consists of lagoons and wetlands. An important feature is the estuary of Gabon, where the capital Libreville is located. Large parts of Gabon are flat to hilly, the highest point is the 1070 meter high Mont Bengoué in the northeast. The main river is the Ogooué, which flows through the entire center of the country.

Gabon has a humid tropical climate, there is 2000 to 3000 mm of precipitation per year, which makes Gabon one of the wettest regions in the world, almost all months have abundant precipitation, with the exception of June to August, when there is little precipitation. The average maximum temperature in the capital Libreville is between 26 and 30 °C throughout the year.

Demographics

The population of Gabon grew from about 500,000 in 1950 to 1.2 million in 2000 and about 2 million today. The country has one large city, the capital Libreville, which has about 700,000 inhabitants, where about a third of all Gabonese live. The only other larger cities are Port-Gentil and Franceville. Gabon is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Africa.

The population of Gabon is largely of Bantu descent, with about 40 different ethnic groups. Most ethnic groups live together, the dividing lines are less strong than elsewhere in Africa. There is no official language in Gabon, Fang is the largest indigenous language and is spoken as a mother tongue by more than 30% of the population. About 80% of the population speaks French, which was mainly on the rise after the Second World War.

Economy

Gabon is one of the more developed countries in Africa, the economy is dominated by the oil industry, oil revenues make up about half of the government budget. In contrast to neighboring Equatorial Guinea, the population in Gabon benefits to a somewhat greater extent from oil income. Income inequality is great, however. Oil revenues are shrinking and the government is transitioning to an economy without major oil revenues. However, the country’s economy is not very diverse, there is little industry and raw materials are not exploited much except oil.

History

In the 15th century, the first Europeans arrived in the region that is now Gabon. The area was initially under Portuguese influence, which was ceded to Spain in the 18th century, which was what is now Equatorial Guinea. However, the Spaniards did not develop the mainland, increasing French influence. At the end of the 19th century, the city of Franceville was founded. In 1885 the area officially became a French colony. However, the area was only developed to a limited extent by the French. In 1910 it was one of the four territories of French Equatorial Africa. During World War II, the Allies invaded the region as the colonies were controlled by Vichy France.

Gabon became independent from France in 1960. Since then, the country has known only a few presidents, the country was ruled by the dictator Omar Bongo for 42 years between 1967 and 2009. In the 1970s, oil was discovered and the government was able to spend a lot of money, most of it went to the Trans -Gabon Railway, a 669 kilometer long railway line from Libreville on the coast to Franceville in the southeast. The railway was completed in 1987.

Road Network

Gabon is one of the least populated countries in Africa and more than a third of the inhabitants live in and around the capital Libreville. It goes without saying that the road network is also limited because of this, there are actually three main axes, from Libreville to the border with the Republic of Congo, from which the north-south route splits off to the border with Cameroon, as does the road to Franceville. The paved roads are generally in fair condition, but the heavy rainfall and tropical climate take a toll on the road surface. There are hardly any roads outside these three axes, certainly not paved ones. The coastal region in particular is particularly isolated.

The network of roads was determined in 2009 to be 9,170 kilometers long, of which less than 900 kilometers were paved. In 2019, Gabon had a network of 1,630 kilometers of paved road. Of this, 730 kilometers were constructed between 2009 and 2018. A target was 25% paved roads by 2025.

There is one motorway in Gabon, the 30 kilometer long bypass of Libreville (A1). This road has 2×2 lanes, and consists half of grade-separated intersections, and half of intersections added later, so that the highway is occasionally interrupted by a traffic light. From Libreville there is only one road to the rest of the country, the N1. This road is regularly of excellent quality.

Route Nationales in Gabon
N1 • N2 • N3 • N4 • N5 • N6A1

History

The area was originally colonized by the French and later administered as part of the Federation of French Equatorial Africa. The country became independent in 1960. At that time there was only a few hundred kilometers of paved road. Road management was entrusted to the regional authorities from 1960 to 1990. In fact, little was done about road management and the road network was in a dramatic condition at the end of the 1980s. Between 1991 and 1994, a renovation program worth 50 billion CFA was carried out. In 1997, the Fonds d’Entretien Routier (FER) was established to pay for the maintenance of the roads. However, the road fund was not fed with income, which caused the state of maintenance to deteriorate further.

The situation improved in the 2000s, between 1995 and 2009, 817 kilometers of road were paved (or re-asphalted), between 2009 and 2014, 634 kilometers of road were paved. Between 2020 and 2023, the 780 kilometer long ‘Transgabonaise’ between Libreville and Franceville has been modernized and partially widened under a PPP project. The first 81 kilometers of this opened in July 2022.

Road numbering

There are four road number layers in Gabon, the Autoroutes (A), Route Nationales (N), Route Regionales (R) and Route Locales (L). The main road network is of course the N-roads, and are usually of good quality. R and L roads are often unpaved. The N road network forms a radial system from the west, with branches to most regions of Gabon. The N5 is a shortcut for the N2.

Routes

  • N1 Libreville – Moumbé (gr. Rep. Congo): 560 km
  • N2 Bifoun – Nkolmengboua (gr. Cameroon): 500 km
  • N3 Afembe – Franceville: 500 km
  • N4 Viatlé – Ékata (gr. Rep. Congo): 460 km
  • N5 Kougouleu – Bibas: 270 km
  • N6 Mayumba – Ndende – Lastoursville: 590 km

Signage

Little is known of signage in Gabon. It is probably after the French model, as occurs everywhere in the former French colonies.

 

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