Gabon

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Gabon
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Gabon
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Map of Gabon
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Introduction

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Until recently, only two autocratic presidents had ruled Gabon since its independence from France in 1960. The recent president of Gabon, El Hadj Omar BONGO Ondimba - one of the longest-serving heads of state in the world - had dominated the country's political scene for four decades. President BONGO introduced a nominal multiparty system and a new constitution in the early 1990s. However, allegations of electoral fraud during local elections in 2002-03 and the presidential elections in 2005 exposed the weaknesses of formal political structures in Gabon. President BONGO died in June 2009. New elections in August 2009 brought Ali Ben BONGO, son of the former president, to power. Despite political conditions, a small population, abundant natural resources, and considerable foreign support have helped make Gabon one of the more prosperous and stable African countries. In January 2010, Gabon assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2010-11 term.
 
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Geography

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Western Africa, bordering the Atlantic Ocean at the Equator, between Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea
 
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1 00 S, 11 45 E
 
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total: 267,667 sq km
country comparison to the world: 77
land: 257,667 sq km
water: 10,000 sq km
 
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slightly smaller than Colorado
 
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total: 2,551 km
border countries: Cameroon 298 km, Republic of the Congo 1,903 km, Equatorial Guinea 350 km
 
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885 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
 
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tropical; always hot, humid
 
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narrow coastal plain; hilly interior; savanna in east and south
 
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lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Iboundji 1,575 m
 
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petroleum, natural gas, diamond, niobium, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore, hydropower
 
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arable land: 1.21%
permanent crops: 0.64%
other: 98.15% (2005)
 
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40 sq km (2008)
 
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164 cu km (1987)
 
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total: 0.12 cu km/yr (50%/8%/42%)
per capita: 87 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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NA
 
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deforestation; poaching
 
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
 
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a small population and oil and mineral reserves have helped Gabon become one of Africa's wealthier countries; in general, these circumstances have allowed the country to maintain and conserve its pristine rain forest and rich biodiversity
 
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People and Society

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noun: Gabonese (singular and plural)
adjective: Gabonese
 
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Bantu tribes, including four major tribal groupings (Fang, Bapounou, Nzebi, Obamba); other Africans and Europeans, 154,000, including 10,700 French and 11,000 persons of dual nationality
 
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French (official), Fang, Myene, Nzebi, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi
 
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Christian 55%-75%, animist, Muslim less than 1%
 
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1,576,665 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected
 
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0-14 years: 42.2% (male 333,746/female 330,959)
15-64 years: 54% (male 424,392/female 426,478)
65 years and over: 3.9% (male 25,687/female 35,403) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 18.6 years
male: 18.4 years
female: 18.9 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.999% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
 
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35.19 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 30
 
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13 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23
 
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-2.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170
 
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urban population: 86% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 2.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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LIBREVILLE (capital) 619,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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260 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 50
 
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total: 49.95 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 49
male: 57.87 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 41.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 52.49 years
country comparison to the world: 207
male: 51.78 years
female: 53.22 years (2011 est.)
 
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4.59 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
 
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6% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 106
 
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0.29 physicians/1,000 population (2004)
country comparison to the world: 141
 
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1.25 beds/1,000 population (2008)
country comparison to the world: 134
 
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improved:
urban: 95% of population
rural: 41% of population
total: 87% of population
unimproved:
urban: 5% of population
rural: 59% of population
total: 13% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 33% of population
rural: 30% of population
total: 33% of population
unimproved:
urban: 27% of population
rural: 30% of population
total: 27% of population (2008)
 
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5.2% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
 
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46,000 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
 
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2,400 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
 
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degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne disease: malaria and chikungunya
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
 
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8.8% (2001)
country comparison to the world: 68
 
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NA
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 63.2%
male: 73.7%
female: 53.3% (1995 est.)
 
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total: 13 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2002)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Gabonese Republic
conventional short form: Gabon
local long form: Republique Gabonaise
local short form: Gabon
 
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republic; multiparty presidential regime
 
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name: Libreville
geographic coordinates: 0 23 N, 9 27 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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9 provinces; Estuaire, Haut-Ogooue, Moyen-Ogooue, Ngounie, Nyanga, Ogooue-Ivindo, Ogooue-Lolo, Ogooue-Maritime, Woleu-Ntem
 
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17 August 1960 (from France)
 
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Independence Day, 17 August (1960)
 
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adopted 14 March 1991
 
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mixed legal system of French civil law and customary law
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
 
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18 years of age; universal
 
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chief of state: President Ali Ben BONGO Ondimba (since 16 October 2009)
head of government: Prime Minister Paul BIYOGHE MBA (since 15 July 2009)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (no term limits); election last held on 30 August 2009 (next to be held in 2016); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President Ali Ben BONGO Ondimba elected; percent of vote - Ali Ben BONGO Ondimba 41.7%, Andre MBA OBAME 25.9%, Pierre MAMBOUNDOU 25.2%, Zacharie MYBOTO 3.9%, other 3.3%
note: President BONGO died on 8 June 2009 after serving as president for 32 years; in accordance with the constitution he was replaced on an interim basis by the president of the Senate, Rose Francine ROGOMBE on 10 June 2009; new elections were held on 30 August 2009 and the son of the former president, Ali Ben BONGO Ondimba, was elected president
 
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bicameral legislature consists of the Senate (102 seats; members elected by members of municipal councils and departmental assemblies to serve six-year terms) and the National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (120 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held on 18 January 2009 (next to be held in January 2015); National Assembly - last held on 17 and 24 December 2006 (next to be held in December 2011)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PDG 75, RPG 6, UGDD 3, CLR 2, PGCI 2, PSD 2, UPG 2, ADERE 1, independents 9; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PDG 82, RPG 8, UPG 8, UGDD 4, ADERE 3, CLR 2, PGP-Ndaot 2, PSD 2, independents 4, others 5
 
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Supreme Court or Cour Supreme consisting of three chambers - Judicial, Administrative, and Accounts; Constitutional Court; Courts of Appeal; Court of State Security; county courts
 
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Circle of Liberal Reformers or CLR [General Jean Boniface ASSELE]; Congress for Democracy and Justice or CDJ [Jules Aristide Bourdes OGOULIGUENDE]; Democratic and Republican Alliance or ADERE [Divungui-di-Ndinge DIDJOB]; Gabonese Democratic Party or PDG [Simplice Nguedet MANZELA] (former sole party); Gabonese Party for Progress or PGP [Benoit Mouity NZAMBA]; Gabonese Union for Democracy and Development or UGDD [Zacherie MYBOTO]; National Rally of Woodcutters or RNB; National Rally of Woodcutters-Rally for Gabon or RNB-RPG (Bucherons) [Fr. Paul M'BA-ABESSOLE]; Party of Development and Social Solidarity or PDS [Seraphin Ndoat REMBOGO]; People's Unity Party or PUP [Louis Gaston MAYILA]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Pierre Claver MAGANGA-MOUSSAVOU]; Union for Democracy and Social Integration or UDIS; Union of Gabonese Patriots or UPG [Pierre MAMBOUNDOU]
 
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NA
 
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ACP, AfDB, AU, BDEAC, CEMAC, FAO, FZ, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OIF, OPCW, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Michael MOUSSA-ADAMO
chancery: Suite 200, 2034 20th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
note: temporary address: 1630 Connecticut Avenue NW, 7th floor, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 797-1000
FAX: [1] (202) 332-0668
consulate(s): New York
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Erik D. BENJAMINSON
embassy: Boulevard du Bord de Mer, Libreville
mailing address: Centre Ville, B. P. 4000, Libreville; pouch:2270 Libreville Place, Washington, DC 20521-2270
telephone: [241] 76 20 03 through 76 20 04, after hours - 07380171
FAX: [241] 74 55 07
 
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three equal horizontal bands of green (top), yellow, and blue; green represents the country's forests and natural resources, gold represents the equator (which transects Gabon) as well as the sun, blue represents the sea
 
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black panther
 
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name: "La Concorde" (The Concorde)
lyrics/music: Georges Aleka DAMAS
note: adopted 1960
 
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Economy

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Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most sub-Saharan African nations, but because of high income inequality, a large proportion of the population remains poor. Gabon depended on timber and manganese until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s. The oil sector now accounts for more than 50% of GDP although the industry is in decline as fields pass their peak production. Gabon continues to face fluctuating prices for its oil, timber, and manganese exports and the global recession led to a GDP contraction of 1.4% in 2009. Despite the abundance of natural wealth, poor fiscal management hobbles the economy. In 1997, an IMF mission to Gabon criticized the government for overspending on off-budget items, overborrowing from the central bank, and slipping on its schedule for privatization and administrative reform. The rebound of oil prices from 1999 to 2008 helped growth, but drops in production have hampered Gabon from fully realizing potential gains. Gabon signed a 14-month Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF in May 2007, and later that year issued a $1 billion sovereign bond to buy back a sizable portion of its Paris Club debt.
 
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$22.48 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 120
$21.27 billion (2009 est.)
$21.57 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$13.06 billion (2010 est.)
 
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5.7% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
-1.4% (2009 est.)
2.3% (2008 est.)
 
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$14,500 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
$14,000 (2009 est.)
$14,500 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 5.2%
industry: 53.7%
services: 41.1% (2010 est.)
 
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714,500 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
 
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agriculture: 60%
industry: 15%
services: 25% (2000 est.)
 
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21% (2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
 
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NA%
 
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lowest 10%: 2.5%
highest 10%: 32.7% (2005)
 
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23.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 74
 
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revenues: $4.223 billion
expenditures: $3.628 billion (2010 est.)
 
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32.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
 
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4.6% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
 
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20.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 108
26.7% of GDP (2009 est.)
 
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1.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47
1.9% (2009 est.)
 
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3% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 88
4.25% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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15% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
15% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$1.87 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
$1.683 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$2.83 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
$2.559 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$1.351 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
$857.4 million (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$NA
 
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cocoa, coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber; cattle; okoume (a tropical softwood); fish
 
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petroleum extraction and refining; manganese, gold; chemicals, ship repair, food and beverages, textiles, lumbering and plywood, cement
 
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4.8% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
 
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1.963 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
 
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1.6 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 142
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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227,900 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
 
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18,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
 
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213,500 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
 
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4,822 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
 
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2 billion bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
 
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80 million cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 80
 
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80 million cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 106
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 101
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 195
 
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28.32 billion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
 
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$3.513 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 42
$788.1 million (2009 est.)
 
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$9.371 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 91
$5.941 billion (2009 est.)
 
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crude oil 70%, timber, manganese, uranium
 
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US 30.4%, China 12.7%, Australia 5.5%, Malaysia 5.3%, Trinidad and Tobago 4.4%, Spain 4.4% (2010)
 
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$2.494 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149
$2.298 billion (2009 est.)
 
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machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, construction materials
 
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France 29.4%, US 9.9%, China 9.2%, Belgium 5.2%, Cameroon 5.1%, Netherlands 4.2% (2010)
 
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$1.746 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 123
$1.993 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$2.247 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 138
$2.13 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs per US dollar -
495.28 (2010)
472.19 (2009)
447.81 (2008)
481.83 (2007)
522.89 (2006)
 
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Communications

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30,400 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 181
 
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1.61 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 141
 
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general assessment: adequate system of cable, microwave radio relay, tropospheric scatter, radiotelephone communication stations, and a domestic satellite system with 12 earth stations
domestic: a growing mobile-cellular network with multiple providers is making telephone service more widely available; subscribership reached 90 per 100 persons in 2009
international: country code - 241; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2009)
 
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state owns and operates 2 TV stations and 2 radio broadcast stations; a few private radio and TV stations are operational; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are accessible; satellite service subscriptions are available (2007)
 
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.ga
 
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90 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 205
 
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98,800 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 160
 
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Transportation

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44 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 97
 
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total: 13
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 31
1,524 to 2,437 m: 6
914 to 1,523 m: 11
under 914 m: 14 (2010)
 
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gas 294 km; oil 893 km (2010)
 
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total: 649 km
country comparison to the world: 105
standard gauge: 649 km 1.435-m gauge (2009)
 
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total: 9,170 km
country comparison to the world: 138
paved: 937 km
unpaved: 8,233 km (2004)
 
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1,600 km (310 km on Ogooue River) (2010)
country comparison to the world: 51
 
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registered in other countries: 2 (Cambodia 1, Panama 1) (2010)
country comparison to the world: 142
 
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Gamba, Libreville, Lucinda, Owendo, Port-Gentil
 
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Military

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Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie, National Police
 
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20 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2009)
 
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males age 16-49: 350,640
females age 16-49: 351,718 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 202,404
females age 16-49: 195,389 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 17,638
female: 17,614 (2010 est.)
 
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0.9% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 135
 
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Transnational Issues

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UN urges Equatorial Guinea and Gabon to resolve the sovereignty dispute over Gabon-occupied Mbane Island and lesser islands and to establish a maritime boundary in hydrocarbon-rich Corisco Bay
 
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refugees (country of origin): 7,178 (Republic of Congo) (2007)
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