The Gabonese Republic, or République Gabonaise or simply Gabon, is a country in West Africa, bordered by Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, and the Congo, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west. It occupies a land area of 257,669 square kilometres, most of which is covered by dense tropical forest, and a total area of 267,667 square kilometres. The capital and largest city of Gabon is Libreville.
In 1472, Portuguese explorers came across the mouth of the Como River and named it the Rio de Gabao, or River of Gabon, after which the country was named. The Dutch arrived in 1593, followed by the French in 1630. It was in 1939 when the French established their first settlement on the Gabon estuary. Gabon became a French territory in 1888, and achieved independence in 1960.
Where to go
Tourism in Gabon is not very developed and is mostly DIY, but the upside is that, unlike several of the neighbouring countries, Gabon experiences peace and stability. Being the most progressive and travel-friendly destination in Central Africa, Gabon offers great opportunities for a safari expedition, with thick jungles, rushing rivers, and beautiful, untouched landscapes.
Lopé National Park - Officially the Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lopé-Okanda as listed in UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, the Lopé National Park is 4,910 square kilometres of protected area in central Gabon. It contains mostly rain forest and the last remnants of grass savannahs in Central Africa from the last Ice Age. Inside the park is a small research station called Mikongo, run by the Zoological Society London. It also serves tourists, equipped with several chalets and a large open air dining room. Also within the park is the CEDAMM Training Centre, a Wildlife Conservation Society-run international conservation education centre.
Loango National Park - In western Gabon, the Loango National Park protects 1,550 square kilometres of diverse coastal habitat. This includes the sole significant example of a typical western African lagoon system contained in a national park, the 220-square-kilometre Iguéla Lagoon. The Loango coast is known for having the second largest concentration and variety of whales and dolphins in the world.
Batéké Plateau National Park - The national park in the Bateke Plateau, south-eastern Gabon occupies 2,034 square kilometres. It was added to the UNSECO World Heritage Tentative List in 2005 for its universal cultural and natural significance.
It is easy to go to the neighbouring African cities of Kigali, Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Luanda, and Johannesburg. When in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, make sure to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, the Kandt House Museum of Natural History, and the Kigali National Museum. When in Pointe-Noire in the Republic of the Congo, make sure to go to the Conkouati-Douli National Park to observe elephants, gorillas, and chimpanzees, or behold the spectacular Diosso Gorge just outside of Pointe-Noire.
For long haul flights, travellers can reach the largest city in Turkey, Istanbul, to go shopping in the Grand Bazaar or visit historic structures such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
How to get out
The main airport of Gabon is Libreville International Airport, located in Libreville, Gabon. The cities that its flights serve are Port-Gentil, São Tomé, Abidjan, Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Paris, Kinshasa, Lomé, Yaoundé, Douala, Bata, Malabo, Cotonou, Lagos, Addis Ababa, Franceville, Koulamoutou, Makokou, Mayumba, Mouila, Oyem, Tchibanga, Kigali, Casablanca, Luanda, Bamako, Dakar, Johannesburg, and Istanbul. The airlines that utilise Libreville International Airport include Afric Aviation, Air Côte d'Ivoire, ASKY Airlines, CEIBA Intercontinental, Nationale Regionale Transport, Sénégal Airlines, South African Airways, Trans Air Congo, and Turkish Airlines.
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