Gabon is located on the Atlantic coast of central Africa. Clockwise from the northwest, it is bounded by Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and the Republic of Congo.
Gabon's largest river is the Ogooué. Gabon is also noted for efforts to preserve the natural environment with what may be the largest area of nature parks in the world.
- July 2005 estimate 1,384,000 (150th)
- Density 5.2 /km2 (216th)
13.5 /sq mi
In March 1991, a new constitution was started. Among its provisions are a bill of rights, the creation of the National Council of Democracy that also oversees the guarantee of those rights and a governmental advisory board which deals with economic and social issues. Multi-party legislative elections were held in 1990-91 even though opposition parties had not been declared formally legal.
President El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, in power since 1967 and the longest-serving African head of state, was re-elected to another seven-year term according to poll results returned from elections held on November 27, 2005. According to figures provided by Gabon's Interior Ministry, this was achieved with 79.1% of the votes cast. In 2003 the President amended the Constitution of Gabon to remove any restrictions on the number of terms a president is allowed to serve. The president retains strong powers, such as authority to dissolve the National Assembly, declare a state of siege, delay legislation, conduct referenda, and appoint and dismiss the prime minister and cabinet members.
In provisional results, his ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) won 84 out of 120 parliamentary seats. As with previous Gabonese elections in which the opposition parties have contested, there were several accusations of electoral fraud, bribery, and calls for a boycott. There were also incidences of violence and protest, particularly in the first round of voting held two weeks prior. However, several international observers including the Economic Community of Central African States have reported that the election "met international standards" for democratic voting.
Further information: List of Presidents of Gabon
Gabon has a small, professional military of about 5,000 personnel, divided into army, navy, air force, gendarmerie, and national police. Gabonese forces are oriented to the defense of the country and have not been trained for an offensive role. A 1,800-member guard provides security for the president.
Gabon is more prosperous than most nearby countries, with a per capita income of four times the average for Sub-Saharan Africa. This is in large part due to offshore oil production that has produced substantial wealth, although the distribution of income from this industry is extremely unequal. Gabon was a full member of OPEC from 1975 to 1995.
During the 1990s, devaluation of the CFA franc left Gabon struggling to pay its overseas debt; France and the IMF have provided further loans and aid in exchange for the implementation of changes to the economy.
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