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Information on Gabon Travel
officially the Gabonese Republic is a sovereign state on the west coast of Central Africa. Located on the equator, Gabon is bordered by Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo on the east and south, and the Gulf of Guinea to the west. It has an area of nearly 270,000 square kilometres (100,000 sq mi) and its population is estimated at 1.5 million people. Its capital and largest city is Libreville.
Since its independence from France in 1960, Gabon has had three presidents. In the early 1990s, Gabon introduced a multi-party system and a new democratic constitution that allowed for a more transparent electoral process and reformed many governmental institutions. Gabon was also a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2010–2011 term.
Low population density, abundant petroleum, and foreign private investment have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the 4th highest HDI and the third highest GDP per capita (PPP) (after Equatorial Guinea and Botswana) in the region.
Gabon's economy is dominated by oil. Oil revenues comprise roughly 46% of the government's budget, 43% of gross domestic product (GDP), and 81% of exports. Oil production is now declining rapidly from its high point of 370,000 barrels per day in 1997. Some estimates suggest that Gabonese oil will be expended by 2025.
Visa policy of Gabon
Most visitors to Gabon must obtain a visa in advance, either from one of the Gabonese diplomatic missions or online
Gabon — Attractions
Libreville is the largest and most important city in Gabon. This capital faces the Atlantic Ocean and is the country’s liveliest cosmopolitan center. It is home to many interesting sites, ranging from historic monuments to beautiful old buildings, and nature trails that lead to splendid beach areas. The Presidential Palace is closed to the public, but is still a remarkable landmark, even just from the outside. It is located just outside Libreville, and was built by former president Omar Bongo in the 1970's. Within the city, you’ll find the stunning Cathedral of St Michael and other destinations like the National Museum and the bustling Mount Bouet Market, the latter of which is the best place for bargain shopping in town.
St. Michael Cathedral
L’Eglise St Michael, or the Cathedral of Saint Michael, is one of the most prominent landmarks and tourist attractions in Libreville. It was built by the French Spiritan missionary Gerard Morel and Gabonese sculptor Zephyrin Lendongo. The best features of this stunning building are its ornately carved columns, which were remarkably carved by a blind local craftsman. Each of the 31 wooden columns depicts a different Biblical scene designed by Ledongo and Morel.
This historic town is best known for its affiliation with the famed musician and tropical disease specialist Doctor Albert Schweitzer. Part of the Schweitzer Hospital has been turned into a museum, with many interesting exhibits to discover. From Lambaréné, it is also possible to organize a tour of the beautiful Evara Lake.
One of the four largest towns in the country, Franceville is also home to the Primate Medical Research Institute and the burial site of the late president Omar Bongo. It is one of the more developed cities in terms of infrastructure, featuring good hotels and a hydroelectric plant that gives the area constant electricity. Among its major highlights include Saint Hilaire’s Church, President Omar Bongo’s Statue, the market, and numerous waterfalls, the best being Poubara Falls, which is also where the city’s energy comes from.
In addition to its beautiful beaches, this island town at the mouth of Ogooué River is known for its thriving nightlife and casino. Local swamps also have their share of wildlife, but if the wild animals are too elusive, you can always head to the local zoo to catch a glimpse of interesting species. The town is home to one of the oldest churches in Gabon, the St Louis Church, which was built in 1927. The beaches of Port Gentil feature water sports centers for windsurfing and other off-shore activities. Fishing is a popular activity at Port Gentil, especially in the expansive lagoons of the River Ogooué.
Beaches of Gabon
Gabon’s Atlantic Coast offers some beautiful deserted beach areas, suitable for different kinds of water-based fun. Pointe Denis and Ekwata to the north and Mayumba and Sette Cama in the south are great places to enjoy the sun and gentle waves. Other noteworthy places to visit include Port Gentil and Cap Estérias, as well as Perroquet, which is great for skin diving.
One of the best national parks in Africa, Lopé-Okanda is also Gabon’s largest nature reserve, located right in the heart of the country near La Lopé. It boasts an impressive mix of savannahs and forests, and is inhabited by beautiful species of wildlife. Large mammals and stunning birdlife add to Lopé-Okanda’s appeal.
Cirque de Léconi
Gabon’s famed geological landmark Cirque de Léconi is a deep red rock canyon situated in the southeastern corner, close to the Congolese border. This fascinating canyon is filled with loose sand and surrounded by other great geological formations that attract the most adventurous travelers. Don’t forget to take a guide with you when venturing out into this highly-undeveloped and trail-less nature area.
Gabon National Parks
Gabon has a total of 13 national parks, although some are inaccessible. The sprawling Akanda National Park is best known for its lush mangroves and expansive tidal flats, which host different species of turtles and migratory birds. The Banteke Plateau is a river-crossed savannah, populated by large mammals like buffalos, elephants and antelopes. Cross the river using rope bridges and admire the breathtaking landscapes. The Cristal Mountains National Park is home to orchid and begonia-rich forests, while the famous Ivindo National Park is known to have the region’s best waterfalls. The Loango National Park boasts great stretches of virgin beaches, each flanked by expansive rainforest. If you want to mix nature and culture excursions, head to Lope National Park, which not only features great wildlife and verdant landscapes, but ancient rock engravings. Mayumba National Park is set on a sandy peninsula, a perfect nesting ground for the leatherback turtles, while Minkebe National Park is known for its sandstone domes, giant hogs and forest elephant