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    Gabon: An Example For All of Africa Essay

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    The country of Gabon is praised as being one of the most successfulcountries in Africa. Gabon is a very diverse country in many ways. There are avariety of different tribes that call Gabon home.

    Also, the land differsthrough out the county. Gabon is one of the smaller countries of Africa with the area of 267,670square miles. Comparatively, this is the almost the same size as Colorado. Theterrain of this tiny country consists of narrow coastal plains; a hillyinterior; and Savannah in the east and south. Much of the interior is rainforests and is not arable.

    Only 1% of the land is arable The remaining land iseither meadows, permanent crops, or other land forms. (The World Fact Book1995)Gabon is one of the most thinly populated countries in Africa. It has apopulation of approximately 1,155,000 (July 1995 est. ) There are 11 people persquare mile.

    The majority of the Gabonese are of ages 15-64 years. The averagelife expectancy is 55. 14 years. Women live to be around 58, while men areusually around 52 when they die. This is why only 5% of the population is olderthan 65.

    The infant mortality is lower than many other African countries, 92. 4per 1,000 live births. (The World Fact Book 1995)As in most African countries, there are many Bantu tribes make up theethnicity of the country. There are four major tribal groups. The Fang, Eshira,Bapounou, and the Bateke.

    (The World Fact Book)The largest of these tribes is the Fang. They live mainly in thenorthern area of Gabon. Many years ago they were considered the fiercestwarriors of the area. Now, they dominate many of the countries governmentalpositions. (World Book Encyclopedia page )One of the earlier tribes that is since gone was the Omyene.

    They livedalong the coast. The Omyene are important because they were the first of thenatives to meet the European traders and missionaries. They played an importantrole of keeping peace with the Europeans. (World Book Encyclopedia, 1992 page2)Along with there being so many different ethnic backgrounds, there aremany religions as well. The major religion is Christian,75 % of the population. About 1% of the population is Muslim.

    The remaining 24% are animists. Theseinclude all of the tribal practices. (The World Fact Book)One of the reasons why Gabon has been so successful is that it has astable government. It is a republic and has multiple political parties. Thecapitol, Libreville ( aprox. 275,000 people), is where all of governmentalissues are taken care of.

    (1996 World Almanac pages 764-65) This is where theNational assembly, Gabon’s legislative branch, meets. Also this is where thepresident lives. President Omar Bongo has been president for 29 years. He hasbeen getting reelected every 7 years since 1967. ( Clement’s Encyclopedia ofWorld Government 1996, page 146)As president, Mr. Bongo has many different jobs.

    He serves not only aschief administrator but also as Head of the State. In order to help him togovern the country well he gets to choose a council of ministers. Also out ofthe 120 representatives in the National Assembly, 9 are appointed by thepresident. The others are voted in by the people. The president can alsoadjourn the Assembly for up to 18 months in order to rule alone. ( World BookEncyclopedia 1992 page 2)Gabon has a peaceful history.

    They were first discovered by thePortuguese in the mid 15th century. The Portuguese didn’t settle though. Butduring the 19th century France started gaining interest in Gabon. The firstFrench settlement was in 1839. In 1848, Gabon became part of the French Congo. It wasn’t until 1957 when Gabon became a French republic.

    Less than five yearslater, on August 17, 1960, full independence was granted by the French to theRepublic of Gabon. That same year the first president was elected. (Clement’sEncyclopedia of World Government, 1996 pg. 146)Yet another reason for Gabon’s success is its economy.

    Gabon is an oil-rich country. Oil accounts for 80% of their exports. Besides petroleum,substantial timber resources and expansion of its agriculture section hasallowed Gabon to grow economically. (Call and Post (Cincinnati) 12/1/94pp. PG. )Gabon exports much of its natural wealth.

    The United states and Franceare the major trading partners of Gabon. The top commodities are crude oil,timber, and manganese. The major imports are foodstuffs, chemical products, andpetroleum products. The major partners for imports are France and other Africancountries. (World Fact Book, 1995)The labor force is made up of 120,000 salaried workers.

    65% of thepeople work in the agriculture field. 30% work in industry and commerce Thetop industries in Gabon are food and beverage, lumbering, textiles, andpetroleum refining. The major agricultural cash crops are cocoa, coffee, andpalm oil. Livestock raising has yet to develop but, there is a small fishingindustry.

    (World Fact Book 1995)The currency of Gabon, the CFA Franc, is not worth much compared to thedollar. The exchange rate was for every US dollar there is 529. 43 CFA Francs in1995. The per capita income is twice as much as most other African countries,$4,800. This means that the average Gabonese household will make 2,540,784Francs per year.

    (The World Fact Book 1995)Despite its small size, Gabon is one of the most advanced and extensiveair transport networks. They have a total of 69 airports. Thirty eight ofthese airports have paved runways. Even though the runways may be paved, manyof the roads are not. Out of the 7,500 kilometers of highway, only 560kilometers are paved. The remaining of the roads are crushed stone or earth.

    (The World Fact Book 1995)Gabon may seem like paradise, but it does have some problems. There hasbeen a recent outbreak of the Ebola virus, the first in Gabon’s history. Theoutbreak started in a remote rain forest area near the town of Booue, incentral Gabon. It started when a family of 18 shared a meal of chimpanzee meat.

    It had spread slowly to 14 other friends and family starting in July. Luckily,the virus was contained by the swift action taken by the Gabonese government. They prevented the disease from spreading by supplying the local hospitals withproper equipment. This has been the only major problem in the past year,besides Maritime boundary disputes with Equatorial Guinea. (Newsday, 10/12/96,pg. 6)No other nation in Africa, possibly the whole world, has under gone sucha spectacular change in the twentieth century- from mud huts to mini-skyscrapers.

    Gabon’s future looks very bright. Soon enough they will be one ofthe leading countries of the world. Bibliography1. “Gabon. ” Clement’s Encyclopedia of World Government.

    1996 ed. 2. “Gabon. ” Netscape. Internet.

    http://www. odci. gov/cia/publications/95fact/gb. html Accessed December 15, 1996. 3.

    “Gabon. ” The 1996 World Almanac and Fact Book. pp. 764-65.

    1996 ed. 4. “Gabon. ” The World Encyclopedia. 1995 ed. 5.

    Garrett, Laurie. “Ebola Again This Time in Gabon. ” Newsday. 12 October1996: 6. 6.

    LeVine, Victor T. “Gabon. ” Encyclopedia Americana. 1995 ed.Category: History

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