Exploring Gabon: A Jewel in Central Africa

Nestled along the Equator in Central Africa, with its shoreline kissing the Atlantic Ocean, lies Gabon, a country of profound natural beauty and abundant resources. Spanning an area of 267,667 square kilometers, Gabon presents a landscape as diverse as its ecological wealth. From the narrow coastal plains to the hilly interiors and the savannas in the east and south, Gabon is a geographic marvel that embodies the very essence of the continent’s unmatched biodiversity.

Geography and Climate

Gabon shares its 3,261 kilometers of land boundaries with three countries: Cameroon to the north with a border length of 349 km, the Republic of Congo to the east and south with 2,567 km, and a smaller boundary with Equatorial Guinea stretching 345 km. The nation’s coastline runs 885 km along the Atlantic, providing not only stunning landscapes but also significant economic opportunities, particularly in petroleum extraction.

The climate of Gabon is tropical, characterized by year-round high temperatures and humidity levels. This climatic condition supports one of the country’s most valuable treasures, its vast rainforests, which cover approximately 81% of the national territory. Despite the challenging weather, Gabon’s varied terrain from coastal plains to interior hills and eastern savannas forms the backbone of its biodiversity.

Natural Resources and Economy

Gabon is endowed with an abundance of natural resources including petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, niobium, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore, and potential hydropower. These resources have spurred the country’s economy, with petroleum extraction and refining at the forefront. However, Gabon also maintains robust industries in manganese and gold mining, chemicals, ship repair, food and beverage production, textiles, lumbering, and plywood manufacturing, showcasing the diversity of its economic base.

The agricultural sector, though employing only a fraction of the land for cultivation (19%), yields cocoa, coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, and fish, alongside cattle breeding and the harvesting of okoume, a tropical softwood, which plays a significant role in the local economy.

Gabon’s trade relationships extend across the globe, with significant export partnerships with China, the US, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, and Italy. Crude oil, timber, manganese, and uranium are among the key export products, illustrating the country’s reliance on its natural resources. Imports include machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, and construction materials, primarily from France, Belgium, and China.

Population and Urbanization

With an estimated population of 2,230,908 as of July 2020, Gabon has a relatively low population density compared to its landmass. The population is distributed in pockets around the country, with the largest urban center being the capital, Libreville, located on the northwest Atlantic coast. Remarkably, about 90.10% of Gabon’s population resides in urban areas, a testament to the country’s rapid urbanization and concentration of resources and services within its cities.

The official language is French, reflecting Gabon’s colonial heritage, and the people identify as Gabonese. The societal fabric of Gabon is a tapestry of cultural expressions, traditions, and languages that highlight the nation’s rich cultural diversity.

Infrastructure and Development Challenges

Despite its wealth in natural resources and considerable GDP per capita of $18,100 (as of 2017), Gabon faces several developmental challenges. The electrification rate reveals that around 200,000 Gabonese still lived without electricity in 2017, underscoring the infrastructural gaps that persist in rural and underdeveloped regions.

Moreover, the concentration of wealth and economic activity in urban areas, particularly in the petroleum sector, raises concerns over equitable growth and environmental sustainability. The government has made strides towards diversifying the economy and implementing policies aimed at environmental conservation and sustainable development.


Gabon, with its strategic location at the heart of Central Africa, serves as a bridge between the dense forests of the continent’s interior and the vast Atlantic Ocean. Its rich tapestry of cultures, languages, and traditions, coupled with significant natural resources, positions Gabon as a country of great potential. As it strides towards a future of sustainable development and diversified economic growth, Gabon remains a compelling study of the balance between nature’s gifts and the stewardship thereof.

Country data

Country Code GB
Region Africa
Surface 267667 sq km
Land Surface 257667 sq km
Water Surface 10000 sq km
Agricultural Surface 19%
Forest Surface 81.00%
Lowest Elevation Point Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest Elevation Point Mont Iboundji 1,575 m
GDP / capita $18,100 (2017 est.)