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Gabon

Gabon

Summary

Gabon has a relatively stable economy, but has historically struggled with a corrupt political system and extreme income inequality. One of the main issues prevalent in the government is illegitimate elections. The coastal country is rich in natural resources, but is hindered from reaping all the benefits by its inefficient economic and social ecosystem. Poverty and child trafficking are prevalent concerns for the Gabonese population.1 1 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gb.html

Demographics

Nationality
Gabonese
Population
1,640,286 (July 2013 est.)
Ethnic Groups
Languages
Religions

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Environment
Human Rights
Poverty
Religion
Clean Water
Economy
Government
Health
Children
Family
Education
Animals

Environment

The Gabonese government is in desperate need of the institutionalization of a national strategy for coastal adaptation and mitigation in response to climate change effects. The government has been able to develop the Gabon Climate Council and Climate Change Communications Unit in order to mitigate climate change.1 The country has a well-preserved parks system that is endangered by the onslaught of urbanization and mining. Gold prospectors in Gabon are notorious destroying large parts of the forest in their endeavors.2

Human Rights

Gabon is a transit country for child trafficking from nearby Mali, Benin, and Togo.1 Additionally, boys are often forced to work as street vendors or mechanics. There are high levels of child labor and trafficking in Gabon, often because parents of trafficked children hand them over to traffickers with the promise of obtaining employment and the hope of remittances.2 There were some discrepancies in the legal treatment of detainees and what was actually practiced in 2016. Police were reported as using violence and coercion to exert undue power over citizens. The government took few steps to prosecute officials involved with human rights abuses, and most cases ended with little to no punishment.3

Poverty

One third of the Gabonese population lives below the international poverty line, which seems contradictory to the country’s classification as a middle-income country. The 35% that live in poverty have reduced access to education, nutrition, or higher standards of living.1 With an economy that is severely under-diversified, the amount of jobs available in the labor market is severely limited. The unemployment rate in 2015 was 28%.2

Religion

Currently in Gabon, 42% of the population is Roman Catholic, 14% is Protestant, and 33% is Muslim.1 There are very few reported instances of religiously-based discrimination in Gabon. Religious groups are not required to register with the government, but registration is encouraged since many receive a tax benefit.2

Clean Water

93% of the citizens in Gabon have access to clean water. In contrast, only 42% of the population has access to improved sanitation infrastructure.1 In recent years, Gabon has not invested nearly enough into their water infrastructure system and the end result has been extremely uneven water distribution in urban and rural areas.2 The government identified the country’s water and sanitation infrastructure as priority areas in the 2016-2020 Country Strategy Paper.3

Economy

Despite the high per capita income in Gabon, the country also has great income inequality, which has kept a significant portion of the population living under the poverty line. The economy does not display much diversification, as almost half of the economic output and 87% of goods exports come from oil revenues. The economy is vulnerable to external shocks and fluctuating world prices on oil, timber, and manganese. The government has passed reforms in an effort to increase the transparency of the economic processes and increase growth.1 However, commitment to structural and institutional reforms is not present. Without more commitment from all levels of the economy, it will not grow or become an environment that attracts entrepreneurs.2 The public debt is 42.6% of GDP.3 Show Less

Government

The Gabonese Republic is a presidential republic. The legacy of dismissal of the democratic process and inefficiency of those in power has caused the government to suffer.1 Recently the government announced a commitment to increasing transparency. Graft is rampant in the political sphere, hindering the economic advantage that could be created from the country’s abundant natural resources. Additionally, the judiciary is underfunded and inefficient.2 Over the past year, the Gabonese government has taken measures to ensure that corruption is lessened within the government. These measures included hiring an outside company to direct the National Infrastructure Agency, as well as uncovering over 3,000 fake civil servants out of the 70,000 members.3 Transparency International ranks the country 101st out of 176 countries, and the Gabonese public scores Read More their own government 35 out of a possible 100 for perceived corruption by public officials. Show Less

Health

Women aged 15 years and older are the most at risk for developing cervical cancer. Each year, there are 118 new cases of cervical cancer and 48 cervical cancer deaths.1 1,500 people died from HIV/AIDs in 2016. 15% of adults are obese, and 6.5% of children under the age of 5 are underweight. The maternal mortality rate is 291 deaths for every 100,000 live births, and the infant mortality rate is 44 deaths for every 1,000 live births.2

Children

22% of children in Gabon are married by the time they are 18.1 The interests of youth are well represented in government, but enforcement of legislation in the daily activities of the country is varied.2 Additionally, young girls are frequently trafficked into forced domestic servitude and the commercial sex industry. These girls are promised hope of a better life as domestic servants but are instead sold into slavery. An estimated 5,100 people in Gabon are living in slavery.3

Family

Although the Gabonese constitution upholds equality between men and women, other laws ratified by the government ignore these statutes and perpetuate a culture of abuse and discrimination against women. Areas in which women are treated poorly include rights within marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance rights, and rights in polygamous marriages.1

Education

Education is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 18. The school system is grouped in a 5-4-3 year structure between primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary schools. The system is overseen by the French Ministry of National Education, Higher Education, Technical Education, and Vocational Training. The Global 2016 Human Development Report ranks the country 109th out of 188 countries for their quality of education.

Animals

The country of Gabon lies within the Congo Basin, an ecosystem made up of forests, savannas, swamps, and floodplains. Some native species in the area are forest elephants, bonobos, chimpanzees, and mountain gorillas. The rich biodiversity and thriving natural habitats allow for the continued existence of hunter-gatherer groups who have ancient roots. One major concern for the local wildlife is the illegal hunting or trapping of rare and exotic species. There is also a shrinking portion of land that is protected from logging and mining companies.1

Gabon

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