Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and blue.
Location: Western Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean at the Equator, between Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea.
Geographic coordinates: 1 00 S, 11 45 E
Climate: tropical; always hot, humid.
Independence: 17 August 1960 (from France).
Capital City: Libreville.
Head of State: Omar Bongo.
Area: 267,667 sq km.
Type of Government: republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized in 1990).
Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes.
Major peoples: Bantu tribes including four major tribal groupings (Fang, Eshira, Bapounou, Bateke), other Africans and Europeans 154,000, including 6,000 French and 11,000 persons of dual nationality.
Religion: Christian 55%-75%, Muslim less than 1%, animist.
Official Language: French.
Principal Languages: French (official), Fang, Myene, Bateke, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi.
Major Exports: crude oil 75%, timber, manganese, uranium (1998).
History: In 1839, France signed a treaty with local chiefs that gave it powers over the southern coastal regions of Gabon. The Berlin Conference of 1885 awarded all of the territory discovered by Pierre de BRAZZA to France. This area was organized (in 1910) into French Equatorial Africa, and the separate colonies of Gabon, Congo, Chad, and Ubangi-Shari were formed.
Gabon achieved its independence from France in 1960, and under the 1961 constitution is a republic with a presidential form of government. Leon M'ba was the first president of the republic and presided over the unicameral National Assembly.
At the death of M'ba in 1967, Omar Bongo succeeded to the presidency; he introduced a one-party system in 1968. In 1990 popular protests forced constitutional revisions to legalize multiple parties, with Bongo to remain president until at least 1993. His party was accused of vote-rigging in multiparty elections held in September 1990.