Population 1.4 million
Capital Libreville
Independence from France 1960

A small population, as well as oil and mineral reserves have helped Gabon become one of Africa's wealthier countries. The country has generally been able to maintain and conserve its pristine rain forest and rich biodiversity.

The country's rainforests teem with wildlife, including lowland gorillas and forest elephants. National parks make up around one tenth of the land area. Gabon is noted for efforts to preserve the natural environment with what may be the largest area of nature parks in the world.

Omar Bongo is Africa's longest-serving head of state, having led Gabon since he succeeded the post-independence leader Leon Mba in 1967. He was re-elected for a further seven years in November 2005.

(edited. Wikipedia, BBC, The Africa Guide, Bradt)
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