A bit of History

Zita Wilks
December18/ 2015

Gabon, officially the Gabonese Republic is a sovereign state on the west coast of Central Africa. Located on the Atlantic Coast and the Equator, Gabon generally has an equatorial climate with and extensive system of rainforest covering 85% of the country.

Flag location map of Gabon, blank outside.
Flag location map of Gabon.

It is bordered by Equatorial Guinea to the north-west, Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo on the east and south, the Gulf of Guinea to the west and the Atlantic Ocean. It has an area of 267,667 square kilometres and its population is estimated at around 1,732 million people.

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Map of Gabon.

Its capital and largest city is Libreville and the official language is French nevertheless it is a very diversify country in its cultural aspect with more than forty ethnics groups. Thanks to its low population density, abundant petroleum, and foreign private investment, it have helped make Gabon one of the most stable and prosperous countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa.

Gabon has three distinct regions: the coastal plains (ranging between 20 to 300 km from the ocean’s shore), the mountains (the Cristal Mountains to the north-east of Libreville, the Chaillu Massif in the centre), and the savannah in the east. Gabon’s largest river is the Ogooué which is 1200 km long.

The natural resources of Gabon include: petroleum, magnesium, iron, gold, uranium and forests. Almost all Gabonese are of Bantu origin. Gabon has at least forty ethnic groups with different languages and cultures. French, the language of its former colonial ruler, is a unifying force.

Gabon is divided into 9 provinces (capitals in parentheses) ; Estuaire ( Libreville),Haut-Ogooué (Franceville),Moyen_Ogooué (Lambaréné),Ngounié (Mouila),Nyanga (Tchibanga),Ogooué-Ivindo (Makokou),Ogooué-Lolo (Koulamoutou),Ogooué-Maritime (Port-Gentil),Woleu-Ntem (Oyem).

In Gabon, a tropical climate predominates, with a continuous rainy season (sometimes divided into two seasons depending on the region) interrupted briefly for a few months of dry season, usually falling between June and September. With between 60% and 80% of its land surface forested, Gabon includes approximately one tenth of the world’s second most extensive region of tropical forest.

Gabon is also noted for efforts to preserve the natural environment. On 30 August 2002, late President Omar Bongo Ondimba put Gabon firmly on the map as an important future ecotourism destination by designating roughly 11% of the nation’s territory to be part of its national park system with 13 parks in total containing 2,837,128 hectares (7,010700 acres)almost 11% of the total land area, one of the largest proportions of nature parkland in the world. In addition, these parks include 129,307 hectares (319,520 acres) of marine territory. A new standard in African ecotourism and conservation. As a percentage of a country’s total area, only Costa Rica has more national parks, though the total size of its parks is much smaller than in Gabon.

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(Late president El Hadj Omar Bongo (in office from2 December 1967 – 8 June 2009))

The National Agency for National Parks (ANPN) manages Gabon’s national park system by overseeing the national park system and with protecting their resources and wildlife .ANPN coordinate research activities, license concessionaires, promotes tourism and has police powers.

In November 2009, the current President of Gabon His Excellency H.E. Ali Bongo Ondimba announced a new vision for the modernization of Gabon, called “Gabon Emergent”. It is a strategy initiated by the President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba to create an emerging economy. This program contains three pillars: Green Gabon, Service Gabon, and Industrial Gabon. The goals of Gabon Emergent are to diversify the economy so that Gabon becomes less reliant on oil production, improve standards of governance, eliminate corruption, and modernize the workforce.

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(Current President of Gabon H.E Ali Bongo Ondimba ( 19 October 2009-current))

 

 

Gabon’s ongoing process of social economic reform was based on Green Gabon being one of three strategic pillars. Green Gabon is a cross-cutting approach; industrial dependence on developing resources and preserving the environment; and service promoted tourism. The President of Gabon has developed various initiatives to promote green Gabon such as the Gabon Nature and Parks Gabon that wants to introduce the world to the natural resources and promote the country’s biodiversity and ecotourism, while also reducing the nation’s carbon footprint.

Gabon is also determined to contribute to mitigating climate change. On 31 March 2015, it became the first African state to submit pledges in preparation for the UN climate change conference to be held in Paris in November and December 2015.
The Green Gabon pillar is based on developing the “green oil” that Gabon ecosystem provides: 22 million hectares of forest, 1 million hectares of arable agricultural land and over 800 kilometres of coastline.

Development projects must involve sustainably developing natural resources and adhering to national ecological standards.National Parks, forestry, ecotourism and agriculture are all elements of the main paths to implement the Green Gabon strategy.

The aim is to develop this sector with a view to opening up the country’s natural and cultural wealth whilst improving the living conditions of the local population at the same time. Gabon aims to attract 100,000 tourists a year in the middle and top of the range segments of the industry by 2020.

Gabon was also between one of the first African country to contribute at the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21).After two weeks of intense negotiations and finding a compromise, delegates from 195 countries at Le Bourget from the 30th November 2015 to the 11th December 2015 adopted a “historic” agreement to limit global warming to 2 or even 1.5 degrees.

Gabon is committed to achieving at least a 50 % reduction compared to the expected changes in case of unchanged policy.This contribution provides the ability to set by the COP21 additional targets for 2030 or 2050. This long-term perspective is important for a transition towards a low global economy carbon and more resistant to impacts of climate change.

Many nature lovers well acquainted with the African continent consider Gabon as a rare and exotic tropical gem, yet tourism here still remains relatively undeveloped. Wildlife rich forests cover 80% of Gabon’s landmass, its vast picturesque coastline is predominantly wild and unspoiled, and its inland and coastal waters teem with myriad species of fish, reptiles and marine mammals. 11% of the Gabonese terrestrial ecosystems include unique natural treasures and phenomena, such as Loango’s surfing hippos and beach-combing elephants; the Lopé World Heritage Site and the spectacular Koungou waterfalls in Ivindo National Park. Nowhere else on the planet can you watch elephants on the beach and hope to see a humpback whale breach on the horizon. I personally hope that this blog will encourage lot of people to come and visit Gabon and fall in love with its unique environment that I describe as “ Heaven on Earth”.

” The Gabonese can legitimately be proud of their beautiful country “

Omar Bongo Ondimba.(2007)