Gabon is situated on both sides of the equator, on the Atlantic coast of Central Africa. To the north is bordered by Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon, to the east and south by the Congo and to the west by the Gulf of Guinea. It occupies an area of 267,667 square kilometers and has a population of approximately 1.6 million inhabitants. Gabon is a former French colony, which became independent from France on August 17, 1960. Therefore, today the official language of the country is French.
The Christianity, brought to these lands by the French colonizers, is the main religion in the country and is followed from about 75% of the population. The second most popular religion in Gabon is Islam, whose followers are between 10 and 12% of the population.
Gabon is known as one of the countries with the longest-serving president. Omar Bongo Ondimba, the second president of Gabon, came to power in 1967, seven years after the country became independent, and remained in power for 42 years until June 2009.
Gabon is one of the richest countries in Africa. Due to the combination of small population and vast resources of high quality wood, manganese ore and oil, the country enjoys a higher standard of living in comparison with most the other states in Africa.
Here are grown also some exotic tropical fruits and cocoa trees, whose seeds are a valuable ingredient in the food industry.
Talking about quality of life, however, it should be noted that the difference is huge between the large modern cities, especially the capital Libreville, and the small villages that are located in the depths of the African jungle where life has not changed for centuries.
Gabon is covered with dense and impenetrable equatorial forests, considered the most beautiful and rich in flora and fauna in Africa.
As part of the Congo Basin, Gabon is dominated by plains and plateaus that are interspersed by low, rounded hills and relatively low uplands.
The highest point in the country is Mont Iboundji, 1575 meters high. Wild and untouched, this sparsely populated country is a haven for wildlife. The variety of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects is truly staggering.
If you have the opportunity to get into the jungle of Gabon at least for a little while, you will find it doesn’t become quiet even for a moment. You will hear the voice of constantly singing birds, rustling sound of insects and other animals.
The carpet of fallen leaves upon the ground forms a whole separate universe of tiny creatures. Hiding among the thick vegetation, dangerous predators are constantly searching for prey.
In the process of evolution their prey were turned by the mother-nature into the greatest masters of camouflage.
For this reason numerous local animals are able to remain truly unnoticed with their colours and forms. Loudest and most eccentric representatives of the animal world, the monkeys, live amidst the high branches of dozens meters high trees.
Feeling safe far away from the ground floor of the jungle, they do not stop clamoring and are not afraid to draw attention to themselves.
Undoubtedly among the most emblematic representatives of the wildlife in Gabon are animals such as leopards, crocodiles, elephants, gorillas, mandrills, chimpanzees and many others.
Located on the equator, Gabon has a warm and humid equatorial climate with year-round high temperatures and almost daily rainfall often accompanied by thunder and lighting.
Gabon is considered one of the countries with the most constant weather in the world. The average daytime temperature in the country is almost unchangeable during the year, ranging between 26 and 30°C. The average night temperature is warm and varies between 22 and 24°C.
The high humidity makes you feel the weather hotter than it really is. During the wetter part of the year, especially during the months of October and November, Gabon may receives more rainfall than some European countries and some U.S. states per year.
The number of sunny hours is high throughout the year. Since the country is located on the equator, the sun’s rays fall perpendicular to the ground twice a year – once in spring and once in autumn during the periods of spring and autumn equinoxes.
What not to miss? Explore the capital Libreville and its attractions, especially the Presidential Palace and the Cathedral of Saint Michael.
Be sure to get to know the real Gabon and visit at least one of its thirteen national parks. The vibrant and full of life rainforests of the national parks of Lope, founded in 1946, and Waka, founded in 2002, are something worth seeing.
Among the greatest treasures of the country is also the Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, which is a World Heritage Site.
Do not miss the fabulous Ndogo Lagoon, located in southwestern Gabon, not far from the shore and the phenomenal canyon “Cirque de Laconi”, located not far from the border with Congo.
Do not miss to visit some of the local beaches. They are wild, clean and very quiet, with almost no visitors.
The sand along the coast of Gabon is bright and fine, and the temperature of the sea surface water is always high, ranging between 24 and 29°C.
Food. If you really want to experience the local culture, you should try some of the traditional foods of the region. Most local specialties can generally be described as a combination of African products and French cooking style.
Perhaps the most popular dish is the omelet, which is a culinary legacy of the French colonial past of Gabon. It is advisable to try the famous spicy chicken with mustard and lemon or a portion of antelope meat, both served with a side of fresh vegetables and rice.
Another traditional dish, also very widespread in Gabon, is called “garri”. It is a type of cassava porridge that can be eaten as a tasty and healthy breakfast, especially when served with sweetened milk and combined with delicious tropical fruits or nuts.
When to visit Gabon? The best time of the year to visit Gabon is in June, July and August. This is the only dry season during the year, and the number of rainy days is around 10 to 11 on the average.
How to get to Gabon? Leon MBa International Airport in the capital city of Gabon, Libreville, is the most important transport hub in the country.
There are also flights between Libreville and some major international destinations in Europe such as Paris, Frankfurt, London, Geneva, Rome, Istanbul and others. Gabon maintains also close transportation ties with a number of destination in the Middle East.
Dangers and risks in Gabon. Gabon is considered to be among the most peaceful and safe countries in Africa. The most important thing before you travel is to take care about your health.
You should visit your GP and ask him about what vaccines you need and what other preventive measures should be taken to protect yourself from tropical diseases.
The year round wet and hot weather around the equator is the main factor to encourage the spreading of diseases such as malaria.
There is an increased risk of becoming infected with typhoid fever, yellow fever, hepatitis A and B and other diseases.
Like many other countries in Africa, the number of people infected with HIV in Gabon is also very high.