Gabon, a central African country, is rich in natural resources. Located on the Atlantic Ocean, it borders Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo. It is sparsely populated, with a population of 2.3 million (2021) and forests covering 88% of its territory.
Gabon has one of the highest urbanization rates in Africa with more than four in five Gabonese citizens live in cities. Libreville and Port-Gentil are home to 59% of the country’s population. One in two Gabonese citizens is under the age of 20 and the fertility rate in urban areas is four children per woman against six in rural areas.
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As a result of efforts to reduce emissions and preserve its vast rainforest, Gabon is a net carbon absorber and a leader in net zero emission initiatives. It has a rich ecosystem with extensive endowments of fertile land, coastal resources, and fisheries. However, despite its economic potential, the country is struggling to translate its resource wealth into sustainable and inclusive growth.
|CFA Franc BEAC (XAF)
|103,346 Square Miles
267,667 Square Kilometers
|Central Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean at the Equator, between Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea
|French (official), Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi
|GDP – real growth rate
|GDP – per capita (PPP)
Gabon is famous for its rich natural wealth, both as an advantage for economic growth and a visual treat for tourists worldwide.
Gabon homes some of the rarest animal species, some of them being endangered ones, and a major part of the country is occupied by rainforests. Gabon resides in a fascinating region where the world’s only natural nuclear fission reactor is based.
One more aspect which makes Gabon unique from any other place is the fauna’s wealth. Gabon consists of about a quarter of Africa’s entire fauna in its rainforests alone. It is a beautiful country, and it is a top ecotourism spot. Even as the smallest African country, Gabon possesses natural wealth similar to any large, prosperous nation
The Gabonese are very spiritual people. In fact, their traditions are mostly centered araound worship and the afterlife. Art for the sake of art was a foreign concept to African culture until the arrival of the Westerners. Before colonization, the Gabonese considered music, instruments, masks, sculptures, and tribal dances as rites and acts of worship.
Traditional instruments like the balafon, harp, mouth bow, drums, rattles, and bells are believed to call on different spirits and each corresponds to a certain rite. The mouth bow, or mougongo, is for Bwiti Misoko, the harp is for Bwiti Dissoumba, while the balafon is mostly used by the Fangs to perform religious rituals.
Masks and sculptures were mainly used for therapeutic procedures, consulting, as well as initiation rites. Each of the Gabonese ethnic groups has its own specific traditions involving masks, sculptures, music, songs, and dances, or a combination of these elements.
Culture in Gabon is also expressed through paintings, sculptures and even fashion, all of which are widely available for purchase in craft markets throughout the country. The African Craft Market in Libreville has some exceptional M’bigou stone statuettes.
Gabonese masks are very popular collectors’ items, especially n’goltang or Fang masks, and Kota figures. In addition to being used in traditional rites, these masks are also used in ceremonies for weddings, funerals and births. They are often made with precious materials and rare local woods.
Original dresses made by Gabon designers are well recognized in the world of African fashion. Some great examples are Beitch Faro’s The Queen of Scales dress, and Angéle Epouta’s internationally reputed designs, which have graced the runways of both Gabon and Paris.
A majority of Gabonese people adhere to Christian beliefs (Protestantism and Roman Catholicism), but other indigenous religions are also practiced along with Islam. Many people combine Christianity with some form of traditional beliefs. The Babongo, the forest people of Gabon who dominate the west coast, are the originators of the indigenous Bwiti religion, based on the use of the iboga plant, an intoxicating hallucinogenic. Followers live highly ritualized lives after an initiation ceremony, filled with dancing, music and gatherings associated with natural forces and jungle animals.
Gabon City / Image credit: tourist-destinations.com
Up to 40 indigenous languages are spoken in Gabon, but French, being the official language, is used by all and taught in schools, in addition to the mother tongue, Fang. A majority of Gabon’s indigenous languages come from Bantu origins, and are estimated to have arrived more than 2,000 years ago. These are mostly only spoken, although transcriptions for some of the languages have been developed using the Latin alphabet. The three largest are Mbere, Sira and Fang.
Sources: https://www.britannica.com/place/Gabon https://www.iexplore.com/articles/travel-guides/africa/gabon/history-and-culture