Because of its limited population and booming economy, Gabon relies heavily on laborers from other African nations, including Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, and Senegal. About 100,000–200,000 non-Gabonese Africans are believed to be in Gabon, many of them from Equatorial Guinea or Cameroon. Foreigners make up at least 20% of the population in Gabon.
In addition to some 1,500 urban refugees, Gabon has received two waves of refugees from the Republic of Congo. The first group, mainly government officials, arrived in 1997 following the departure of President Lissouba; the second group, comprised of several thousand refugees, arrived in 1999 as a result of continued fighting in the Congo.
The total number of migrants in Gabon in 2000 numbered 250,000, including 18,000 refugees. In 2000, the net migration rate was 4.3 per 1,000 population, down from 7.9 per 1,000 in 1990. The government views the migration levels as too high.