In the heart of Africa, on the coast, one finds one of the most prosperous African countries, Gabon. With less than 2 million inhabitants on an area slightly smaller than Italy but slightly larger than the United Kingdom, the population density is rather limited. Furthermore, about half of the people live in the capital, Libreville. This dynamic leaves a considerable area of Gabon in nature’s hands, namely the tropical rainforest which covers between 75 to 90% of the terrestrial landscape. Despite ever-increasing exploitation of natural resources, Gabon’s rainforest remains relatively well preserved; 10% of the land area is under state protection in the form of national parks or similar protected areas.
Just as the Congo river in the eastern neighbouring countries, the Ogooué – Gabon’s main river – plays an important role both for naturel as for people. This importance is also visible in the provinces’ names as 5 out of 9 bear Ogooué in their names.
Before the arrival of Europeans, different peoples already inhabited the region we now consider Gabon. Up until the present day, several cultures contribute with their languages and customs to the cultural richness of the country. French as sole official language remains a sign of the colonial history by France. Gabon is namely after France, Luxembourg, and Québec the country or region where the highest proportion of the population (80%) has a good command of French.
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