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Gabon Travel Guide

The countries full name is the Gabonese Republic, an area of 257, 670 square kilometres, with Cameroon to the north, Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, and Congo to the east and south. Its 1.2 million residents are a mixture of Europeans, Africans and various tribes from different Bantu groups, all speaking either Fang or French, whose religions are Roman Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and native beliefs. The country’s main commercial business is from lumber, textiles, mining, food and drink and ship repair with major trading in Japan, USA, France, Cameroon and the Netherlands.

Around 1472, the Dutch, British and French came to the area to trade in slaves, tropical wood and ivory, but by 1849 the capital, Libreville, became a community for freed slaves and 21 years on, Gabon was a French colony in French Equatorial Africa. During this time, French companies were forcing Africans to work for them, allowing the slavery trade, to once again rear its ugly head. Due to this, riots broke out, but the French stamped out every attempt at a rebellion, whilst draining the area of its forests and other natural means of wealth, bringing the country into economic disaster. In 1960, Leo M'Ba became the first president of the new republic of Gabon and after his death in 1967, Albert-Bernard Bongo, took over, a time when manganese and uranium deposits were being processed and oil prices were raised, bringing wealth throughout the country. By the 1980’s though, oil prices dropped, but throughout the country’s financial struggles, Bongo remained in office and today, Bongo is still president with the citizens of Gabon backing him all the way.

When it comes to activities in Gabon, the country is inundated with outdoor fun, including diving, sail boarding, swimming, cycling, hiking, caving and tennis. Visitors who just fancy meandering around the cities and towns though, should start their exploration at the country’s capital of Libreville. This city is a world away from the more traditional native areas of Gabon, with its towering office blocks and hotels, fantastic shopping centres and modern, extensive highways. There is also an art museum, churches and the presidential palace for visitors to look round and some tranquil beaches to laze on mid-afternoon. By night, the area is very safe, with great places to eat at very economical prices and later on, the bars and nightclubs are filled with locals and tourists alike, drinking and dancing till dawn.

There are many ways to get about in Gabon from trains to minibuses to taxis, with all three means of transport being frequent but quite expensive. The minibuses are used more often than the taxis and travel to many places, but the amount of folk using the buses are far and few betweenl, even within the country’s capital of Libreville. Boats can also be a means of getting around but the time it takes to get from A to B is hours rather than minutes! Anyone interested in driving around the area independently, will find the roads are mainly dirt roads, that can sometimes get quite slippery and will find the locals drive without due care, so best to avoid this means of transport! The fastest way to move around would be by air, with Air Gabon flying daily between major cities and towns. To actually get into Gabon, European tourists can get direct flights to Libreville from countries such as Paris, Madrid Brussels, Geneva and Rome. Travellers should set off to Gabon from May through September, as this is the dry season, but if stifling hot weather and rain is more a visitors’ taste, then any other time would be fine!

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Gabon Travel Guide, Attractions and Highlights
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