Gabon’s prehistory is one of the most unknown in Central Africa and is mainly based on finds of loose objects. The oldest known Stone Age finds are more than 45,000 years old. Late Stone Age is best known from Libreville, where microlithic tools have been dated to about 3000 BC. Polished stone tools, probably used as mines rather than as axes, are found throughout Gabon, sometimes in combination with ceramics. Iron Age settlements are known, and recently many have been dated as far back as before the time of Christ’s birth.
- Countryaah: Check to see the location of Gabon on the world map. Also covers major mountains, rivers and lakes in Gabon.
Portuguese sailors arrived in Gabon’s coast in 1472, which they named Gabão. Traders from São Tomé often visited Gabon, where they mainly bought hardwood and ivory. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Gabon. The only European settlement took place on the island of Corisco, where Dutch slave hunters settled during the 17th century. British and French traders occasionally visited the coast, but it was the Portuguese who dominated the trade. The slave trade, which was extensive from the 1760s to the 1840s, was formally abolished in 1815 but continued unofficially on a large scale until about 1880, partly due to increased demand from Brazil and Cuba. Christian mission stations were founded in the early 1840s, and to counter the slave trade, a sanctuary for escaped slaves was established at the outlet of the Komo River. The sanctuary and the French naval base that was located there were named from 1849 Libreville. From here, the French conquest trains later became French Equatorial Africa. Later expeditions sought the sources of the Ogooui River, and in 1877 succeededSavorgnan de Brazza reach there. He founded the city of Franceville (Masuku) in eastern Gabon in 1880.
In 1886, France appointed its first governor of Gabon, which in 1889-1904 belonged to the French Congo. Then the colony was linked to French Equatorial Africa. The final frontier against Cameroon in the north was established in 1885, and the border with Spanish Guinea was established in 1900. However, it was not until 1911 that the French gained complete control of the colony due to opposition from, among other things, the captive population. The Free French troops took over Gabon after the Vichy regime in 1940. In 1946, Gabon became overseas French territory, and in 1958 the country became an autonomous republic within the French Commonwealth.
Gabon declared itself an independent republic on August 17, 1960, and Leon M’ba became the country’s first president. M’Ba tried to establish a one-party state, which led to a military revolt in 1964. The revolt was fought with French military aid, and M’Ba was re-elected as president. After M’Ba’s death in 1967, the post of President was taken over by Vice President Albert-Bernard (from 1973 Omar) Bongo.
Bongo declared Gabon for one-party state in 1968, and the Parti démocratique gabonais (PDG) became the only allowed party. In the early 1980s, the opposition gathered in the Mouvement redressement national(MORENA) and demanded, among other things, the introduction of multi-party systems. MORENA was suppressed quickly and came to operate mainly in exile from France. In 1990, student demonstrations and strikes began in many parts of the country, and Bongo had to take democratization measures. In May, the PDG Central Committee adopted a constitutional extension that made Gabon a multi-party state. The first parliamentary elections in September of that year became very troubling and had to be largely redone after obvious cheating. The election was not finalized until March 1991 and resulted in PDG retaining power by a relatively small majority, 66 of the 120 seats of the National Assembly.
Since Gabon’s economy deteriorated from the beginning of the 1990s after falling oil prices, among other things, employees in a number of sectors of the labor market have repeatedly struck. The government’s response to the protests has usually been to hit hard on the opposition and silent critical media. The parliamentary decision in 1993 to make Omar Bongo president for life in practice, by allowing him to stand for re-election unlimited times, aroused strong protests. Shortly thereafter, however, the government and a number of labor market organizations entered into an agreement on social peace, which would entail, among other things, progressively lower prices for basic commodities and reduced political control of social life. Omar Bongo was re-elected to the presidency in 1998 and 2005, despite growing political opposition in the country.
Bongo was succeeded in the presidential post by his son, Ali Bongo Ondimba, who won in a contentious election in 2009. As large parts of the opposition boycotted the parliamentary elections in 2011, the PDG gained a majority in parliament. Earlier that year, the second in the latest presidential election, André Mba Obame, tried to take power through a coup. However, no other country recognized him as president. Mba Obame passed away in Cameroon in 2015, according to his followers as a result of poisoning. In 2016, Bongo Ondima won with very little margin in the presidential election, which was followed by violent protests.