Lying flush on the west coast of Africa and straddling the equator, Gabon is about half the size of France and a hundred times more fertile. It's bordered by Equatorial Guinea to the north-west, Cameroon to the north, and Congo (Brazzaville) to the east and south.
Gabon's coastal strip rises in an ascending arpeggio of plateaus until it reaches the interior where the mountains peaks at over 1500m (4920ft). Nearly three-quarters of the country (one of the highest rates in Africa) is covered in tropical rainforests with only one minuscule percent falling under the agricultural axe. This unfettered lushness and the deep river valleys that dissect the country make getting around a challenge. The major artery of Gabon, the Ogooué River, almost cuts the country in half as it passes through Franceville and Lambaréné and rushes toward the Atlantic Ocean. At the mouth of the river is Port-Gentil, the heartbeat of Gabon's lucrative oil industry, which pans out into the filigreed coastline with its miles of breathtaking but almost inaccessible estuaries. Vast wetlands stretch inland from the coast.The climate is hot - the average daily high is 31°C (88°F) in April and rarely dips below 27°C (81°F) any other time of the year. It's also extremely muggy most of the year. The dry season extends from May to September, with a short dry spell in mid-December.
1.3 million (UN, 2003)
267,667 square km
Bantu tribes, Other Africans, Europeans
French (official), Bantu-group languages
About 40% Christian, 25-50% Muslim, Animist religions.
1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes