Gabon is a country in Western Central Africa. It lies on the Equator, on the Atlantic Ocean coast, between the Republic of the Congo to the south and east, Equatorial Guinea to the northwest and Cameroon to the north.
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.
- Administrative divisions
- 9 provinces; Estuaire, Haut-Ogooue, Moyen-Ogooue, Ngounie, Nyanga, Ogooue-Ivindo, Ogooue-Lolo, Ogooue-Maritime, Woleu-Ntem
Tropical; always hot, humid. During the months of June to September, the climate is a bit cool (20-25°C).
Narrow coastal plain; hilly interior; savanna in east and south
- Highest point
- Mont Iboundji 1,575 m
Ruled by autocratic presidents since independence from France in 1960, Gabon introduced a multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s that allowed for a more transparent electoral process and for reforms of governmental institutions. A small population, abundant natural resources, and considerable foreign support have helped make Gabon one of the more prosperous black African countries.
- 17 August 1960 (from France)
- National holiday
- Founding of the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), 12 March (1968)
Air Gabon has recently gone out of business. Air France flies from Paris to Libreville, and Royal Air Maroc flies from Casablanca to Gabon. Air Service also flies to Douala (Cameroon), and Air Ethiopia flies from Addis Ababa. There are also on occasion flights to Brazzaville, Congo. It is reported on the Internet that the Air Service Dash 8 aircraft were returned to Canada in 2006 May.
"Interair" flies from Johannesburg (South Africa) to Libreville on Monday with a stopover in Brazzaville/Congo - returning via the same route every Wednesday. "SAA" flies direct from Johannesburg (South Africa) to Libreville on Wednesdays and Fridays.
There are several border crossings, though the roads are not good and a 4x4 is recommended.
The easiest way to get around is by bus. There are many and they are very cheap.
Air Service has scheduled flights to Oyem, Makouko and Franceville/Mvengue. Air Nationale flies to Franceville/Mvengue. There are flights to Franceville/Mvengue every day of the week except Tuesdays and Thursdays.
There are lots of paved roads in Gabon, if you are staying in one of the major citys a car should suffice. If you plan on venturing onto some of the unpaved roads outside the major cities a 4x4 is recommended. There are less than 800km of tarred roads in Gabon - some of them in a bad condition. During the rainy season it is difficult to travel outside the major city areas even in a 4x4 vehicle.
The Trans-Gabon railroad goes from Owendo to Franceville. The trip takes 12-18 hours, there is a train every day of the week. November 2006: There are only 3 trains per week to Franceville: Tuesdays leaving Owendo at 9 a.m. - arriving in Franceville at 5 p.m. according to timetable, which is not completely reliable timewise. On Thursdays and Saturdays train travels through the night.
A few wealthy Gabonese entrepreneurs have invested in new buses for bus lines to service the larger interior cities. Mostly these buses serve the cities with paved roads leading to and from them. Since Air Gabon closed down, these bus lines have greatly increased their routes.
Boat travel is available all along the coast of Gabon and dozens of miles up the Ogooue river to Lambarene. Boats leave daily to/from Libreville and Port Gentil. River trips from the mouth of the big river at Port Gentil to Lambarene (Albert Schweitzer Hospital) are available every few days.
- French (official), Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi
Very few people speak english in Gabon, so some knowledge of French is an asset.
The Balbool restaurant serves western delicious food with very cheap prices. Ask for the big Balbool soup.
The cheapest local beer is Regab, it costs from 350-1000 CFA and comes in a 660ml bottle. There are fantastic fruit juices available: "D'jino" Pampelmousse (grapefruit), Ananas (pineapple), Citron (Lemon) in 300ml bottles at CFA 400 and in a 1,5l bottle at CFA 900 if bought in a shop.
Oct, 2007: There are three known hotels - Le Meridien, Intercontinental and the Novotel (currently under renovation but soon to be back into business) Apart from these, there are several other budget and economy hotels. Long term lease on apartments is also an option.
A visa and letter of invitation are required for foreigners working in Gabon.
Malaria is common, so visitors should take malaria pills and a mosquito net when travelling in Gabon. HIV/AIDS is, unfortunately, a common disease in Gabon with 8% (1 in 12) of adults infected.
The people are generally very friendly, respectful and helpful to visitors.
This page was last edited at 20:16, on 11 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Peter Fitzgerald, Tim Sandell and Stephen Atkins, Wikitravel user(s) Superrod29, Episteme, Ibogaineman and Jake73, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.