(pronounced "oh-MAR bone-GOO")
"I urge the people of Gabon to look towards the future with hope."
Gabon (formally known as the Gabonese Republic) lies on the Atlantic coast of Central Africa. It shares borders with Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, the Congo Republic to the east and south, and Cameroon to the north. Gabon's land area comprises some 267,667 sq km (103,347 sq mi). There is a narrow coastal plain with a hilly interior and savanna in the east and south. Some 77% of the land is heavily timbered. The main cities are Libreville, with 260,000 inhabitants, Port-Gentil, with 78,000, and Franceville with 23,000.
There are more than 40 distinct ethnic groups in Gabon. The largest of these include the Fang, Eshira, Bapounou, and Bateke. French is the official language, though many Gabonese speak languages belonging to the Niger-Congo group.
In January 1956, petroleum was first produced in the Port-Gentil area, south of Libreville. Uranium was discovered in December 1956, and production began five years later. Other major sources of income include wood, cocoa, coffee, natural gas, and manganese. Gabon's population has been estimated at 1.2 million (2002 estimate). In 2001 per capita gross domestic product (GDP) stood at US $5,500. The national currency is the CFA franc.
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