Gabon travel guide
Gabon is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and the Congo. The 800km- (500-mile-) long sandy coastal strip is a series of palm-fringed bays, lagoons and estuaries. The lush tropical vegetation (which covers much of the interior) gives way in parts to the savannah.
There are many rivers along which settlements have grown. Many of the Bantu people are concentrated in coastal areas and villages along the banks of the many rivers. The main cities are Libreville, Port Gentil, Lambaréné, Moanda, Oyem, Mouila and Franceville.
The Republic of Gabon moved peacefully into independence (from France) in 1960. President Omar Bongo, who succeeded Léon M’Ba as president on the latter’s death in 1967 is now one of Africa’s longest serving heads of state. In 2003, a change of constitution meant that Bongo could run for office as many times as he wanted and Bongo, now in his 70s, is likely to remain as president for life. Gabon’s only problem in the region concerns the island of Mbagne which lies in the Corisco Bay, potentially the site of large oil and gas deposits: occupied by Gabon in 1970, it is also claimed by Equatorial Guinea.
But touristic natural resources are likely to centre around features such as stunning white beaches, an abundance of wildlife, including gorillas, panthers, parrots and elephants, and verdant forests.
267,667 sq km (103,347 sq miles).
1,763,142 (UN estimate 2016).
6.4 per sq km.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba since 2009.
Prime Minister Daniel Ona Ondo since 2014.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are standard.
Last updated: 13 March 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Most visits by British nationals are trouble-free. However, there have been incidents of robbery, armed attacks and rape in the past. You should take sensible personal security precautions and maintain a high level of vigilance in public places. You are advised to avoid displaying valuables like cameras, smart phones or jewellery. Avoid isolated or poorer areas of towns and walking alone at night. Be cautious on quiet or isolated beaches in and around Libreville, and avoid them altogether at night.
Taxis in Gabonese cities operate like buses, picking up new passengers while there is still room in the car. They often take indirect routes. There have been reports of violent assaults and robberies on taxi passengers. Only use authorised taxis and preferably book one from a reputable company or through a restaurant or hotel.
There have been reports of car-jackings in Libreville. You are advised to keep your car windows closed and doors locked if you are travelling at night. Do not stop to pick up strangers. Do not resist car-jackers. An immobiliser that operates after the vehicle has been driven a short distance or a tracking device may help with the recovery of your vehicle. .
Road conditions are poor in most local areas and driving can be hazardous. During the rainy season from October to mid-December and mid-February to May many roads are passable only with a four-wheel drive vehicle. Avoid travelling by road at night. Police checkpoints are common; you may be asked to show your passport, driving licence or vehicle registration documents.
The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the EU. British Government employees do not use domestic flights run by Gabonese airline companies unless this is unavoidable.
There have been armed attacks on commercial shipping vessels in the Gulf of Guinea. Take extreme care when travelling in coastal waters.
A presidential election was held in Gabon on 27 August 2016, the outcome of which led to violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces. Avoid all demonstrations, rallies and large public gatherings, even peaceful demonstrations have the potential to escalate.
There is no British Embassy in Gabon. In an emergency, you can get consular assistance via the British High Commission in Yaoundé Cameroon
email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone:+237 22 222 07 96 / +237 22 222 05 45
In an emergency, if you’re unable to contact the British High Commission in Yaoundé, you should call the FCO in London:
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 008 1500.
You can also find further advice on our webpage: Yaounde, Cameroon