Preface Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:09 PM
The city of Libreville lies along an estuary just north of the
Equator on central Africa’s Atlantic coast. A charming but sleepy
small town for many years, Libreville grew rapidly in the 1980s as
the Gabonese economy, fueled by petroleum production, expanded. That
growth has slowed in recent years with the steady decrease in
Gabonese petroleum production.
Libreville’s population is an estimated 450,000, including more
than 6,000 Europeans. Colonial-style buildings that once
predominated have given way to multistory offices and apartments.
Residential districts, where modern apartment buildings and houses
abut African huts with corrugated iron roofs, surround the downtown
core of the city. One side of the city is bounded by an estuary with
palm-lined beaches; on the other side, new construction has pushed
back the dense equatorial rain forest which covers 85% of Gabon’s
At a small post like Libreville, you can expect to obtain a
broad, overall view of an Embassy and simultaneously focus on your
own specialty. Because few Gabonese speak English, a posting here
also offers you a chance to learn or perfect your French, the
country’s official language.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:08 PM
Gabon straddles the Equator on the west coast of Central Africa,
bordered by Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Cameroon on the
north, and by the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) on the east
and south. Gabon covers about 102,300 square miles, roughly the size
of Colorado, or half the size of France.
Heavy equatorial rain forests cover nearly 85% of Gabon, with
savanna areas in the southeastern and southwestern sections of the
country covering an additional 10%. The remaining area is composed
of bodies of water and developed areas. The Ogooue River, the
largest river in West Africa between the Niger and the Congo, drains
most of Gabon. Winding in a broad arc from southeastern Gabon to the
country’s Atlantic coast, the Ogooue cuts through three major
geographical regions: the coastal lowlands, the plateau region, and
The coastal lowlands lie along the Atlantic Ocean and extend up
into the river valleys that slice through the broad interior
plateau. The lowlands are lined with beaches and lagoons that are
fringed with mangrove swamps; forests extend from the banks of the
broad, slow-moving rivers and cover most of the lowland areas.
Inland the terrain rises to a plateau, and in some areas to
mountains as high as 5,000 feet. Although dominated by large tracts
of thick forest, the interior of the country offers scenery of great
beauty, including mountains, rolling hills, forests, and scattered
The climate is hot and humid during most of the year and is
typically equatorial. High temperatures range from 75°F to 82°F in
the dry seasons and from 86°F to 93°F in the rainy seasons. Four
distinguishable seasons are evident, although they vary somewhat
each year: the long dry season from late May until mid-September;
the short rainy season from mid-September until mid-December; the
short dry season from mid-December through January; and the long
rainy season from February until late May. Rainfall in Libreville is
about 115 inches a year (the U.S. average is about 40 inches); the
largest amounts fall in October, November, March, and April. The
humidity is always high. The summer months, as in the southern
hemisphere, are the coolest time of the year.
Population Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:09 PM
With an estimated 1.2 million inhabitants, Gabon has one of the
smallest populations in Africa. Its population density (an average
of four persons per square mile) is also among Africa’s lowest. The
people are concentrated along the rivers and roads, while large
areas of the heavily forested interior lie empty. During the past
century, the country’s population actually declined due to disease
and related factors. Increased medical care and social services have
halted this trend, but the population growth rate is still low.
Economic development has been hampered in part by the resulting
labor shortage, which has prompted a large influx of laborers from
other parts of central and West Africa.
The capital city of Libreville, with its estimated 450,000
inhabitants (including over 6,000 Europeans), is a blend of modern,
multi-story structures, one-story houses, and neighborhoods of
concrete and wooden shanties. The city stretches in a long, narrow
belt between the seacoast and the forest on an estuary linking the
Como River with the Atlantic.
Port-Gentil, with an estimated population of 100,000, is on the
Delta of the Ogooue River. It has long been considered the economic
capital of Gabon, since it is the center of the petroleum and
plywood industries and Gabon’s busiest port. Franceville, in the
country’s southeastern corner, is the third largest urban area in
Gabon, with an estimated 30,000 inhabitants.
Almost all Gabonese are members of the Bantu language group. Over
40 ethnic groups have separate languages or dialects and different
cultures. The largest group is the Fang, who comprise about
one-third of the population. The other major groups are the Bapounou
(22%), M’Bete (14%), Bandjabi (11%), Bakota (6%), and Myene (5%).
The remainder of the population is divided among over 30 other
ethnic groups, including some 2,000 Pygmies. French, the official
national language, is a unifying force. Official church statistics
count more than 400,000 Catholics and over 100,000 Protestants.
A small but influential Gabonese Muslim population, which
includes the President and a number of members of the Government, is
augmented by a larger Muslim population made up of Cameroonian and
other non-Gabonese Africans. The remaining 40% of the population is
Outside the major towns and cities the people are grouped in
small or moderate-sized villages and live in square, wooden or
mud-wattle houses surrounded by small plots of manioc and stands of
banana trees. Gabonese men and women throughout the country
generally wear Western clothing. The large numbers of African
expatriates often wear colorful traditional clothing.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:10 PM
In the early 1990s, Gabon moved toward a multi-party democracy.
It has a presidential form of government. The President is elected
by universal suffrage for a 7-year term. The President appoints the
Prime Minister and other members of the government. Gabon’s current
President, El-Hadj Omar Bongo, who assumed office in 1967, is one of
the world’s longest-serving heads of state.
Gabon’s bicameral parliament consists of a National Assembly with
120 deputies elected for 5-year terms and a Senate with 91 senators
elected to 6-year terms. The Parti Democratique Gabonais (PDG), once
the sole vehicle for political and social expression, has been
joined by a number of political parties competing for seats in the
legislature. The PDG still dominates the political scene and has
women’s and youth branches at all levels. The other political
parties are at various stages of development and organization.
The country’s constitution established an independent Supreme
Court whose judges are appointed by the President. Administratively,
the country is divided into 9 provinces headed by governors, and
further subdivided into 36 prefectures. The President appoints both
governors and prefects.
Aside from the Chamber of Commerce (closely allied to the
government and French business interests) and the Rotary and Lions
Clubs, few social and/or philanthropic organizations exist.
Independent organizations like Scouts or the Red Cross are
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:11 PM
Gabon’s intellectual, technological, and artistic life closely
follows French models, although a Gabonese perspective in these
fields is slowly emerging. The Omar Bongo University, founded in
1970, offers a degree to students in faculties of letters and
humanities, sciences, economics, law, and engineering. Other
post-secondary institutions include the Ecole Normale Superieure,
Ecole Nationale des Eaux et Forets, Ecole des Cadres Ruraux, Ecole
Nationale d’Administration, Centre Universitaire des Sciences de la
Sante, and Ecole Normale d’Enseignement Technique, while the Ecole
Nationale d’Art et de Manufacture offers secondary school-level
training in various arts and crafts.
Traditional Gabonese art (mainly from the Fang, Bakota, and
Bapounou ethnic groups) is among the finest in Africa, but
unfortunately is largely unobtainable in Gabon. The Fangs and the
Bakotas have for many years ceased to produce their famous reliquary
figures, and almost all of the old pieces have gone abroad. Some
small and isolated tribes, like the Mitsoghos, still produce some
ritual masks and fetishes. Immigrant artisans from neighboring
African countries have begun to emulate traditional Gabonese art
styles for sale in the local markets.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:12 PM
Gabon has an abundance of natural resources that contribute to a
relatively prosperous economy, but the country has not been
successful in transforming its economy beyond primary materials
extraction. The extensive forests, which cover 85% of Gabon, were
the original mainstay of the economy. Now, tropical woods constitute
only 13% of exports, having long ago been overtaken by development
of the oil industry. In 2000, oil comprised 81% of exports and 30%
of GDP. Few recent discoveries have been made, however, and annual
oil production is rapidly declining from a peak of 18 million tons
in 1997. The country’s third important extractive industry is
mining, with manganese representing about 2% of total exports. Once
important uranium production has now all but ceased.
Despite decades of significant oil revenues, income distribution
and infrastructure development in Gabon remain poor. The bulk of the
Gabonese economy is oriented toward foreign trade. The value of
Gabonese exports in 2000 was about $2.6 billion, while imports
totaled about $1 billion. France remains by far Gabon’s principal
supplier (about 45 percent of Gabonese imports) while the U.S. is
the largest customer of Gabonese exports (primarily because of oil
purchases). U.S. imports constitute about 11% or Gabon’s total, with
the U.S. commercial presence concentrated primarily in the oil,
banking, and computers/ software sectors. There is continuing
potential for U.S. sales in aviation and telecommunications.
Automobiles Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:13 PM
Due to the limited availability of safe local public
transportation, a private car is a necessity for those assigned to
Libreville, and 4 x 4’s are recommended for those planning to
venture outside of the city. Cars may be shipped from abroad on
travel orders or purchased duty free from local suppliers. The
shipment of foreign-made cars at government expense between posts is
authorized. New cars are expensive in Libreville because the high
shipping costs are included in the sales price. The most inexpensive
way to buy a car locally is to purchase from another diplomat, but
opportunities are limited. No restrictions exist on the sale of
personally owned vehicles, but duty must be paid if the car is sold
to a person not entitled to duty-free entry privileges.
Personnel planning to ship vehicles to Gabon should advise the
Embassy before making final arrangements. Cars belonging to
individuals not on the diplomatic list must be registered as Embassy
official vehicles in order to qualify for duty-free entry.
The Embassy’s Administrative Section will assist Mission
personnel in obtaining a Gabonese driver’s license. The shipping
assistant will assist with car registration, as well as with
obtaining local car insurance. Third-party liability insurance is
mandatory and must be bought locally at a cost of about $200 per
year. Although collision insurance is available locally, it is
usually cheaper to buy it from a U.S. company prior to arrival.
If you bring an American car, consider including commonly
required spare parts such as new tires, spark plugs, light bulbs,
hoses, belts, clutch disk, ignition points, muffler, water pump, oil
pump, wiper blades and shock absorbers, all of which are expensive
locally and may be unavailable.
Service for American-made cars is also available through a local
General Motors dealership that has operated in Libreville since
1995. The full-service dealership offers a fully stocked spare parts
warehouse, vehicle maintenance services, body repair and an advanced
garage with GM diagnostic computers, tools and GM-qualified
mechanics. There is also a Ford dealership, as well as numerous
servicing facilities for European- and Japanese-made cars.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:14 PM
Taxis are readily available and inexpensive. Taxi drivers pick up
anyone going in their general direction. The result is often a
lengthy, crowded ride before you reach your destination. If you find
an empty taxi, you can keep it for yourself by paying extra (you
must specify “course”). Car rental is available through Avis, Europe
Car, Hertz, several local independent companies, and different car
Business Infrastructure. Most international travelers arriving in
or leaving Libreville use Air France’s non-stop flight from Paris.
Air Afrique, Air Gabon, Air São Tomé et Principe, Ecuato Guineana de
Aviacion, Lina Congo, Royal Air Maroc, Inter Air, and Cameroon
Airlines provide service to many regional capitals, but often
require an indirect routing. Travel to the U.S. necessarily involves
a change of planes in Europe, Morocco, or South Africa. Libreville
International Airport is not far from downtown. Domestic air service
links Libreville to provincial capitals such as Port-Gentil,
Franceville, and Oyem.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:15 PM
No cruise ships call at Libreville, though accommodations can at
times be arranged on cargo vessels traveling north or south along
the coast. These accommodations require advance booking and
considerable flexibility in travel. Passenger service on the
Transgabon Railroad is available between Libreville and Franceville,
with a stop near La Lope, a game reserve located about 5 hours
Only 700 kilometers of Gabon’s 7,000 kilometers of roadway are
paved. During the dry season, it is possible to travel to some of
the interior by road in two-wheel-drive vehicles, but four-wheel
drive is a necessity once the rains begin in earnest.
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:16 PM
Local- and long-distance telephone service is available 24 hours
daily with sporadic outages. Long-distance telephone service is good
but expensive; calls to the U.S. cost $3 per minute. AT&T
long-distance calling service is available. Many Mission personnel
subscribe to callback services, which tend to be the most economical
way to call the U.S. Cell phone service has expanded in recent
years. A rechargeable cell phone can be purchased for $100; calling
cards run from $5–$20. Telegraph service is usually available to
most parts of the world during normal working hours at the post
office, and until noon on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, but is
not available at night. The Embassy switchboard telephone number is
country code (241) 76–20–03 or 76–20–04. For emergencies after
hours, dial (241) 74–34–92 to contact the Embassy guard.
Internet Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:16 PM
Internet service is available at home for a one-time charge of
about $15, plus a per-minute connection charge that can add up
quickly. The Internet functions slowly during peak periods (8 a.m.
to 8 p.m.) and has limited downloading capabilities. Internet
service is also sometimes nonfunctional for days on end due to
“maintenance.” The national telephone company asserts that Internet
connection speeds and availability will improve when ongoing
construction of a submarine fiber-optic cable connection is
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:17 PM
Regular air and sea mail service exists between Libreville and
the U.S. via the diplomatic pouch and the Gabonese postal system.
Transit time for international airmail to the U.S. is erratic, and
the service should not be considered reliable; pouch mail transit
time from the U.S. is 10–20 days. An international airmail letter to
the U.S. costs about $1.20. Packages can also be sent to the U.S.
via courier services such as DHL, for about $8–$10 per pound.
Packages, newspapers, and magazines from the U.S. can be mailed to
the Department for forwarding through pouch facilities. These items
normally arrive in 2–3 weeks. International surface mail takes 3
months or longer. The correct mailing addresses for State Department
official personnel are as follows:
International Mail: Ambassade des Etats-Unis d’Amerique B.P. 4000
Pouch: Department of State 2270 Libreville Place Washington, D.C.
20521–2270 (Use ZIP code 20521–2270 for all pouch mail, including
packages and publications.)
Radio and TV Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:18 PM
Gabonese AM and FM radio stations broadcast around the clock (in
French) and carry Radio France Internationale and some VOA
broadcasts. For additional VOA, BBC, and other services, a
multi-band short-wave radio is needed. Bring radio equipment from
the U.S., as it is expensive locally. Gabonese television broadcasts
from early morning to late evening on four channels. Daily news
programs cover local and international events, and full-length films
(always in French) are shown frequently. Embassy housing includes
free AFRTS hookups. Pay cable-TV and satellite services are also
available providing CNN, TNT, SuperSport, and several French and
South African stations. American TV sets (NTSC mode) are not
compatible with local broadcasts. Multisystem TVs and VCRs that can
receive, play or tape in U.S. and SECAM modes are preferred.
A video club at the American International School carries
American VHS tapes. Libreville also offers a number of commercial
video clubs, but their tapes are VHS–SECAM and are recorded or
dubbed in French. The Embassy participates in the Navy Motion
Picture Program, with a current-run film shown every Friday night.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
2/12/2004 2:18 PM
L’Union, a multi-page, French-language newspaper, is published
daily with a modicum of international news. Several other newspapers
associated with various local political parties/associations are
also available. The Embassy receives the International Herald
Tribune 1–5 days after the publication date. Time and Newsweek are
available at local newsstands, as are French papers and magazines.
Subscriptions to Time and Newsweek from Europe arrive fairly
regularly each week. Other magazine subscriptions should be sent
through the diplomatic pouch. Local newsstands are well stocked with
French newspapers and periodicals, but English-language publications
are difficult to find locally.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:19 PM
The Embassy shares a small Health Unit with the Peace Corps. A
trained English-speaking doctor is available 25 hours a week. The
Regional Medical Officer, located in Lagos, Nigeria, visits
Libreville twice a year. Libreville offers adequate medical
facilities for ordinary problems, though nursing care may be poor.
In addition to a large public hospital, expatriate (usually French
or Moroccan) physicians staff several private clinics, including the
Polyclinique El-Rapha, inaugurated in early 2000. The clinic
includes an MRI, CAT scan, and ICU, and has been used by the Embassy
employees with favorable results. Taken together, these various
facilities include among their medical personnel a number of
specialists (in areas such as obstetrics/ gynecology, dermatology,
and pediatrics) as well as general practitioners and can cope with a
wide variety of routine medical problems. Several private dentists
practice in Libreville. The Department of State still recommends a
medevac for delivery of a child, for surgery, and for other medical
problems for which no specialist is available locally. The nearest
medevac point is Johannesburg, South Africa, 4 hours away by plane.
Very few medical professionals in Libreville speak English.
Community Health Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:20 PM
The level of community sanitation in Libreville is poor compared
to that in the U.S. Garbage, for example, is theoretically picked up
three times per week, but the overflowing trash cans and improvised
garbage dumps found in every residential neighborhood testify to the
inadequacy of garbage collection. Snakes (some of them poisonous)
and rats are present in some parts of the city. Insects are an
irritating problem and can never be completely eliminated, but
screening and the use of insecticides can keep the home relatively
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:20 PM
Gabon has all of the diseases common to tropical Africa: malaria,
tuberculosis, leprosy, dengue fever, sleeping sickness, etc. AIDS is
a growing problem. You should be inoculated against hepatitis,
tetanus, yellow fever, typhoid, polio and rabies (optional) prior to
your arrival. Malaria suppressants should be taken for 2–3 weeks
before arrival and regularly thereafter while in Gabon. The English
physician provides malaria suppressants for staff members and can
renew all shots in Libreville. The warm, humid climate itself has a
tiring effect, making ample rest and drinking plenty of fluids
essential. The climate and the lack of specialized medical attention
can also aggravate respiratory, intestinal, or dermatological
ailments. The Ebola virus has caused deaths among humans and
primates, but outbreaks that occurred in 1994, 1996, and 2001 were
generally restricted to remote jungle villages in eastern Gabon.
Water in Libreville is safe but all water outside the city should
be treated prior to drinking. Distillers are provided for all
personnel and, if used, should be cleaned regularly. Many personnel
prefer to peel raw fruits and treat raw vegetables with a bleach
solution before eating them.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 2/12/2004
The Mission is usually successful in finding employment for
interested family members, four of whom worked for the Embassy in
2001. Other possibilities include the American International School,
Citibank, and the American oil company, Amerada Hess. There are also
three American-run institutes for teaching English in Libreville. A
knowledge of French is extremely useful in seeking employment.
American Embassy - Libreville
Post City Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:22 PM
Libreville is an eclectic city that in the 1970s changed from a
sleepy town reminiscent of the colonial era into a small metropolis.
In the 1980s the entire city underwent a remake, filling the skyline
with new multistory office and apartment buildings. The city’s
international class hotels are the Okoume Palace Inter- Continental,
Meridien Re-Ndama, and Residences Maisha. Libreville is situated
along a protected estuary with about 12 miles of beaches, the
northern reaches of which are considered safest for swimming. The
high annual rainfall encourages the growth of lush tropical
vegetation even in the city, offering a constant reminder of the
There are several large, well-stocked supermarkets as well as a
number of smaller markets and specialty shops, including stores that
sell only American products. Since nearly all of the products in the
stores are imported from Europe and South Africa, prices are high by
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:22 PM
The Chancery is located in a remodeled bank overlooking the
estuary near the heart of the city. The Administrative, Economic and
Consular Sections are housed in newly renovated offices next to the
Chancery. The Chancery telephone numbers are (country code 241)
76–20–03/04 and 74–34–92.
A Special Embassy Program (SEP) post, Libreville is organized
along traditional Embassy lines. The Ambassador is accredited to
both the Republic of Gabon and the Democratic Republic of São Tomé
and Principe, an island nation about 200 miles to the west of
Libreville in the Gulf of Guinea. In addition to the Ambassador, a
Deputy Chief of Mission, a Consular/Economic Officer, a Political
Officer, and one American Office Management Specialist make up the
State program personnel. The Embassy’s Administrative Section is
headed by the Administrative Officer and consists of a General
Services Officer, two Information Management Officers, and local
employees. The Embassy opened a Defense Attaché Office in the fall
of 2001, with two American military personnel permanently assigned.
An RSO is scheduled for assignment to post in August 2002.
Peace Corps first came to Gabon in 1963. About 60 volunteers
currently work in environmental, agricultural and health programs.
The majority of the volunteers are located in the interior of the
country. Peace Corps Gabon staff includes a country director and two
associate directors. The large Voice of America Relay Station on the
Island of São Tomé‚ includes three American employees and a number
of local employees.
Personal checks can be cashed by the Embassy cashier.
Cashier hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 10:00 a.m. to
noon. Embassy office hours are Monday through Thursday from 8:00
a.m. to 5:15 p.m. and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:23 PM
Personnel assigned to Libreville normally move directly into
permanent quarters. If this is not possible, new arrivals are lodged
in a local hotel. Notify the Embassy of your arrival date at least 2
weeks in advance so that suitable accommodations can be assured.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:24 PM
All Embassy personnel are assigned to furnished,
Government-leased or -owned quarters. Most U.S. diplomats are placed
in U.S. Government-owned housing at the Sabliere Compound, which is
located 7 miles north of downtown Libreville, close to the airport.
The compound, situated directly on the beach, includes six
attractive townhouses, of which three have three bedrooms and three
have two bedrooms. The residences are air-conditioned and completely
furnished, including rugs and draperies.
Compound residents enjoy a common play area, large garden,
swimming pool, and BBQ/bar area. The compound is nicely landscaped
and ideal for children. The pool area was inaugurated in March 1999
and consists of a lap-size pool, children’s pool, bar, barbecue, and
changing rooms. The grounds are attractively lighted for evening
entertainment and residents often hold parties and barbecues.
The DCM’s 4-bedroom and Administrative Officer’s 5-bedroom
residences are attractive, spacious, short-term leased properties
located between the Sabliere Compound and downtown Libreville.
The Ambassador’s residence, a U.S. Government-owned property, is
an elegant, spacious, two-story house located on the beach near the
airport. The entire property has been landscaped and fenced. A paved
driveway, ample parking space, and a three-car garage are provided.
The main house has six bedrooms, eight baths, two studies, and large
dining and living rooms. A large, well-equipped kitchen and staff
housing complete the floor plan. The garden features a variety of
flowering plants and trees. Spacious patios on the sea side of the
house overlook a swimming pool and adjoining cabana.
Furnishings Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:25 PM
Since furnished quarters are provided for all Government
personnel, furniture need not be brought to post. The allowance for
the shipment of household effects is limited accordingly. All
quarters contain basic furniture, including lamps, area rugs, and
draperies. High chairs are not supplied. Most floors are ceramic
tile. All bedroom and living room areas are air-conditioned, and all
quarters have a freezer, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer, dryer,
dehumidifiers, microwave, and cooking range with oven. Bring linens,
plenty of dishes and glassware, plastic storage containers, ironing
board and ironing board covers, pots and pans, cutlery, ice trays
and kitchen utensils, as well as patio chairs, musical and sports
equipment, books, art objects, pictures, etc. The air-conditioning
and dehumidifiers help to protect most objects from humidity and
mildew, but frequent cleaning and vacuuming are necessary. Household
effects are generally transported in liftvans or, whenever possible,
containers. Liftvans, in particular, should be waterproofed as
thoroughly as possible to avoid moisture or water damage, especially
during the rainy season.
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:25 PM
All Government quarters have hot and cold running water in
kitchens and bathrooms. All quarters have adequate bathroom
facilities. Electricity has now been standardized at 220/230v; 110v
current can be obtained only with the use of transformers. Some
transformers can be provided by the Embassy for 110v equipment. Tape
recorders, record players, and any other electrical products should
be adjusted to 50 cycles before coming to post. In addition, bring
voltage regulators to protect stereo and computer equipment, since
the current fluctuates wildly during frequent electrical storms, and
local prices for regulators are exorbitant. Bring a good supply of
adapter plugs for electrical appliances and lamps. U.S. TV sets
(NTSC system) are incompatible with local broadcasts (SECAM). TV
sets capable of receiving Gabonese programming are available
locally, but are expensive; alternatively, multisystem TVs can be
purchased through catalogs such as AAFES, or specialized export
stores in the U.S.
Food Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:26 PM
Post currently receives a consumables allowance. Most food in
Libreville is imported from Europe or from other parts of Africa and
is therefore expensive. Tropical and imported fresh fruits and
vegetables are readily available in the stores. Local fresh fruit
and vegetables are sold in the many markets and on fruit stands. The
selection of meat (mostly frozen) is very good. Dairy products,
including processed, long-life milk imported from Europe, are
generally available at all times, but fresh milk is not available.
Baby food is available locally. Some American products such as cake
mixes, chips, and syrup, can be difficult to find. Most food items
are available, if expensive, but ethnic and other specialty foods
should be included in the consumables shipment. Freezers are
provided for all employees, and are commonly used for storing flour
and other staples as well as for frozen goods. Airtight plastic food
containers are highly recommended to protect foodstuffs against
insect spoilage. Plastics purchased locally are expensive and of
Clothing Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:26 PM
Lightweight clothing is worn year round, but bring a few light
sweaters for the evenings during the dry season. Long sleeve shirts
and lightweight long pants are useful to protect against mosquitoes.
Mission personnel often order clothing and shoes via catalog or the
Internet. Many have also purchased material locally and have had
favorable results with local tailors. Bring a sewing machine,
notions, fabrics and patterns if you enjoy sewing. Several stores
sell fabric, including a large selection of African-style prints
sold in 6-meter lengths called “pagnes.” Dress patterns should be
brought with you.
Men Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:27 PM
Officers need at least five or six summer-weight suits, including
at least one or two dark suits for government functions and official
dinners. Much entertaining is informal, with slacks (or even shorts)
and sport shirts the standard dress. Bring an ample supply of dress
and sport shirts, shorts, underwear, shoes, sandals and socks.
Colorful shirts in African cloth are locally available at reasonable
prices. Hats are worn as protection from the equatorial sun,
especially at the beach. Bring a good supply of bathing suits,
rubber sandals, beach towels and sunscreen. Shorts and shirts are
commonly worn for sports activities. White clothing and tennis shoes
are standard for tennis players.
Women Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:28 PM
Women in Gabon are quite fashion-conscious. Dresses and pants of
lightweight fabrics are worn year round, both at the office and for
social occasions. Fabrics that will hold up well under frequent
laundering are strongly recommended. Cocktail dresses are very
popular at formal and informal gatherings; long dresses, skirts,
caftans, and slacks are also popular. Shorts are usually not worn in
public, except in casual settings. Summer dresses and separates are
worn daily. Whatever your preference may be, bring a large supply.
Shoe sizes and quality are limited and prices are high. Women should
bring (or plan to mail order) enough shoes, sandals, and sport shoes
to last a tour. Several swimsuits, beach towels, coverups, hats and
beach footwear are needed. Shorts, tennis dresses, shirts and shorts
are worn for athletics. Bring a large supply of underwear because
the frequent laundering tends to disintegrate the elastic.
Lightweight raincoats are useful during the heavy rains, but due to
the heat and humidity, umbrellas are preferred.
Children Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:28 PM
Bring lots of washable, sturdy clothing, as well as a large
supply of socks and footwear. Orthopedic shoes should be brought if
needed, as they are not available.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:29 PM
You may wish to use your consumables allowance for a supply of
toiletries, cosmetics, toilet tissues, facial tissues, contact lens
supplies, soap, toothpaste, razor blades, shaving cream, deodorant,
shampoo and medicines, as they are expensive in Libreville and may
be available only in European and local brands. Although pharmacies
are well stocked, basic medicines, including malaria suppressants,
are available through the Embassy Medical Unit. Other useful items
include sponge mops, adapter plugs, can openers, and wooden or
Although home entertaining is a major source of diversion in
Libreville, good restaurants are plentiful. You may wish to bring an
ample supply of cocktail napkins, ashtrays, hors d’oeuvre trays and
other supplies that add your personal touch to a party. A large
stock of china, glassware and flatware is helpful, as are disposable
picnic plates, cups and cutlery. Thermos jugs, “blue” ice, and
insulated coolers are essential for beach excursions, out-of-town
journeys, and picnics. Barbecuing is also a popular activity.
American propane gas grills can be used with a locally available
adapter and local butane tanks. Stereos, tape recorders, short-wave
radios, musical instruments, games, and as many books as possible
will help compensate for the limited cultural facilities.
Gift-wrapping, stationery, children’s party supplies and gifts, and
Christmas tree ornaments should be brought. Computer supplies
available locally are expensive and less current than in the U.S.
You should bring any general equipment, appliances, or utensils that
are important to your morale. Children’s toys are expensive and less
sturdy. Parents may wish to shop for Christmas and birthday gifts in
advance. Ample beach paraphernalia for small children is a must.
Basic Services Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:29 PM
The few tailors and dressmakers in Libreville can be expensive
for any but the simplest patterns, but some are quite skilled.
Several small shoe-repair shops are good and inexpensive. Laundry is
normally done at home. There are adequate dry cleaning facilities in
Libreville at prices somewhat above the U.S. The city has some good
beauty shops that charge $20 to $50 for a shampoo and set, while
barbers charge from $10 to $15 for a man’s haircut. Household, auto
and radio repairs are available, but generally only for
internationally known brands. The service is undependable, parts are
not always available, and prices are very high. Libreville has many
camera and photo shops, but prices are high; developing a roll of
36-print film costs about $30. Except for GM and Ford, spare parts
for American cars and appliances are generally unavailable locally
and must be brought or ordered from the U.S. Musical instruments and
camcorders are difficult or impossible to have repaired in
Domestic Help Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:30 PM
Although household help is desirable, well-trained domestics
require some effort and patience. Servants’ salaries are among the
highest in sub-Saharan Africa, but their skills are
indistinguishable from others in the region. Well-trained cooks are
also available, but not abundant. Except for the Ambassador’s
residence, servants do not usually live in. A fulltime
housekeeper/cook/nanny can range in salary from $200 to $300 a
month, including transportation allowance and social benefits.
Part-time housekeeping help can be found for $10 to $15 per workday.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:30 PM
Libreville has several Roman Catholic churches and two Protestant
churches of the Eglise Evangelique du Gabon (akin to the
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.). American missionaries built one of
these Protestant churches in 1848. Church services generally are in
French, though one missionary group offers a service in English.
Worship services are also offered by numerous other Protestant
churches, including many associated with missionary groups. A number
offer services in English. One international church with Protestant
services in English meets on Sunday evenings. A number of Mosques
serve Libreville’s Muslim community. There are no Synagogues in
At Post Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:32 PM The American
International school (AISL) was accredited in 2001 by the Middle
States Association of Schools and Colleges. The school offers a full
curriculum from pre-kindergarten through grade 8, and can offer a
supervised 9th grade correspondence course through the University of
Nebraska. It is staffed by a director, five full-time and eight
part-time teachers. The students enrolled for the 2000–01 academic
year come from the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands, China, England,
France, India, Korea, Morocco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa,
and Spain. Tuition fees for Embassy children in kindergarten through
grade 8 are covered by the State Department allowance.
Several public and parochial schools in Libreville give
instruction in French through the equivalent of high school. The
schools follow the French national curriculum and include athletics,
but teaching standards — especially at the high school level — may
not conform to U.S. standards. The school year in the French schools
runs from the end of September until mid-June, with vacations of two
weeks at Christmas and Easter. Students can leave the first week of
June without loss of credit if they have completed their year-end
examinations. Allowances based on the rate for the American
International School are ample to cover all charges in other local
schools, as well as supplementary tutoring if required.
Away From Post Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:32 PM The Department’s
away-from-post education allowance is based on the cost of attending
secondary school away from post.
Further information on schooling can be obtained by writing
directly to the Director at the American International School of
Libreville or to the Administrative Officer at the Embassy.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:34 PM
Sports and outdoor life are the main diversions in Libreville.
Swimming, fishing, tennis, golf, and sunbathing on the beach are all
popular. There is one horseback riding facility.
Water Sports. Besides our own Sabliere community pool, the ocean
provides a popular diversion. At the edge of town are long
palm-lined beaches, and swimming and sunbathing are possible year
round, though the estuary water may be clouded with silt. Cleaner
water is available north of the city (accessible by car) or at
Pointe Denis (accessible by boat). Fishing or water skiing
enthusiasts may send a motorboat (at your own expense) to Libreville
or buy a boat after arrival, but maintenance costs are high. The
Sabliere compound also has two windsurfers for residents’ use. The
deeper waters offshore abound in many types of game fish: tarpon,
barracuda, sailfish, marlin, sea bass, and occasional sharks.
Protected waters nearer the coast allow for skin-diving, although
waters are often murky. Skin-diving gear is available locally at a
relatively high cost. Sailing and windsurfing are popular. There is
a small informal sailing club in Libreville, but light winds in the
estuary limit activity.
Tennis, Golf, and Other Sports. There are a number of sports
clubs in Libreville. Club Mindoube offers tennis, limited horseback
riding, swimming, and a small bar and restaurant for its members. It
has five lighted tennis courts and stables where horses may be
boarded or rented. Membership can be arranged for Embassy personnel,
but costs are high. The Golf Club de l’Estuaire offers a challenging
18-hole course for golf buffs. The fairways and sand greens are
reasonably maintained, but the rough can be dense during the rainy
season. As a result, balls are frequently lost. Bring a large
supply, as extra balls are sometimes hard to find locally and are
always expensive. The course is relatively uncrowded, even on the
weekends, and offers a regular schedule of friendly competitions. A
membership fee is charged, as are annual dues. Club Saoti is located
closer to the Sabliere townhouses and offers tennis and squash
courts as well as a large swimming pool and exercise facilities.
There is a restaurant and bar area and a variety of other activities
is available. Hotel Atlantique, a hotel near the airport has a
swimming pool, which you can pay to use by the day. The
Intercontinental-Okoume Palace Hotel also offers access to tennis
courts, a pool and a wellequipped health club for a moderate monthly
fee. Several other sports and hobbies are represented by clubs in
Hunting. Governmental controls on firearms and hunting privileges
have made sport hunting increasingly difficult. Outings can be
arranged only through personal intercession with the few expatriates
or Gabonese who still have personal access to preserves. A few
travel agencies organize photo safaris.
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:35 PM
The internationally renowned hospital founded by Dr. Albert
Schweitzer, 160 miles from Libreville at the town of Lambarene,
offers a pleasant weekend excursion from the capital. It can be
reached by air or by a 3–4 hour drive on a paved road through
forested landscape. With suitable advance notice, accommodations
(including meals) can be obtained in Lambarene at the Sofitel Ogooue
Palace hotel. The hospital staff offers a warm welcome to visitors
and provides guided tours of the facilities, which include both old
and new hospital buildings, and a small museum devoted to Dr.
Schweitzer’s life and work. A trip by motorized pirogue (dugout
canoe) on the Ogooue River and into a series of adjacent lakes can
also be arranged. Such a trip, which can last from one hour to an
entire day, offers an opportunity to see hippopotami, crocodiles,
monkeys, and colorful birds.
The La Lope Reserve is the largest game reserve in Gabon,
encompassing some 5,000 square km. The camp consists of
air-conditioned bungalows with shower facilities, and a restaurant
serves excellent food. The reserve which offers a good chance of
seeing rare forest elephants and many other endangered species, can
be reached by a 5-hour train ride or by car. Another interesting
weekend trip can be made to the Nyonie Camp. The camp is located 70
km south of Libreville, and is reached via a 90-minute motorboat
ride from Libreville. Nyonie is located along wide beaches with an
African jungle in the backdrop. A 2-hour safari ride will take you
into the jungle to see elephants, antelopes, buffalo, and other
All parts of Gabon and São Tomé and Principe can be reached by
air and domestic plane fares are reasonable. Travel by road
generally requires four-wheel-drive vehicles, especially during the
rainy season, but can be accomplished during the dry season in some
areas in two-wheel-drive cars with heavy-duty springs and high
clearance suitable for rough roads. Passenger train service is
available between Libreville and Franceville. Most provincial
capitals have adequate hotel facilities, and several private
companies in the interior will offer hospitality to visitors with
sufficient prior notice. Travel by car requires a pioneering spirit,
but for those willing to make the effort, the countryside is
rewarding. Highlights include extensive mining operations in the
southeast; open savanna country in the southwest (with herds of
buffalo and an occasional elephant); forested mountain ranges
stretching across the central part of the country; agricultural
areas in the north; and miles and miles of unbroken forest nearly
everywhere in Gabon.
Entertainment Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:36 PM
There is no lack of restaurants in Libreville. A large number of
good French restaurants are available as well as those offering
Chinese, Italian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Moroccan, and African
specialties. Most nightclubs have the latest modern music and some
offer live bands. Organized by the American Embassy and supervised
by the Community Liaison Office, English movies are shown every
Friday evening. The local movie theater provides movies in French
only. The French Cultural Center offers a variety of cultural
activities including movies, theater, occasional concerts, and art
exhibitions in French and Spanish. All U.S. diplomats’ residences
are provided with a satellite connection to the Armed Forces Radio
and Television Service (AFRTS), with six television and a number of
radio channels. Residents also have the option to pay for a
satellite television service that offers a mix of English (including
CNN), French, and other channels as well as 40 music channels.
Short-wave radio reception from Europe and Africa is satisfactory.
Bring cameras and film equipment as well as sports and hobby
equipment. Note, however, that taking pictures of military
establishments or official buildings is strictly prohibited.
Among Americans Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:36 PM The American
community consists of Embassy personnel, Peace Corps staff and
volunteers, missionaries, a few business people, and their families.
They tend to get together for informal picnics, dinners, and
cocktails. An active International English Speaking Group of
Libreville raises money for charity and offers several group
activities, including mah-jongg, bridge, golf, swimming, and
International Contacts Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:37 PM Libreville
hosts 35 resident embassies and consulates and 24 international and
regional organizations. The diplomatic corps meets at numerous
receptions as well as informally at dinners, luncheons, etc. A club
of non-chief-of-mission diplomats also meets regularly and arranges
outings. Social interaction with the expatriate business and
professional community is also part of the life of the international
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:37 PM
Entertaining in Libreville follows no set rules and you are free
to entertain in the manner which is most comfortable and convenient.
Outdoor barbecues, buffets, cocktails, and five-course sit-down
dinners have all been used with success by personnel at post. Most
Gabonese Government occasions require business suits for men. Women
wear dressy cottons during the day and cocktail skirts and dresses
at night. The Ambassador presents credentials in a dark suit (tenue
sombre) or appropriate dress. Morning dress or white tie has not
been used in recent years. The Ambassador and DCM may have an
opportunity to wear a tuxedo, but there are no events at which one
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:38 PM
Following presentation of credentials, the Ambassador calls on
diplomatic colleagues and on various members of the Gabonese
Government. Other officers call on their counterparts within the
diplomatic corps and on working contacts in the government and
private sector. Business cards are normally left on such occasions,
and are also used as a transmittal when sending printed materials to
official contacts. One should always carry business cards to social
gatherings where new introductions into the community take place.
Printed invitations can be ordered locally, but it may be more
economical to order them in the U.S. The Embassy will also produce
business cards in-house for all American personnel at no cost to the
officer. White embossed seal cards are stocked at the Embassy for
use by the Ambassador and DCM. Engraving services are not locally
available, so engraved invitations and cards should be obtained
before arrival. Ambassadors use engraved invitations (in French) on
gold-seal cards for formal occasions and locally printed invitations
on white-seal cards for other events, including luncheons and
receptions. Colorful invitation cards are also quite useful for
Special Information Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:38 PM
Post Orientation Program
Due to the small size of the post, introductions and orientation
are provided informally to all personnel shortly after arrival. A
sponsorship program assigns an experienced staff member to
newcomers. Knowledge of French is extremely valuable in Libreville,
as few residents speak English. Subject to funding availability, the
Embassy maintains a language-training program and materials for
staff members and their dependents. Instruction books, laptop
computers, CDROMS, and FSI training tapes for the French fast course
For those covering São Tomé issues, Portuguese-language
instruction is offered at the Embassy as well.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:39 PM
Include wash-and-wear and summer clothing in both accompanying
baggage and unaccompanied airfreight. Flights to Libreville from
Paris tend to be strict about the two-bags-per-person limit for
passengers in transit from the U.S. Passengers starting in Europe
are limited to 23 kilograms of luggage, though the airlines will
usually allow up to 30 kilos per person without extra charge.
Travelers exceeding the limits are normally asked to pay high excess
baggage charges (as much as $10 or more per kilogram).
Seafreight shipments require several months to arrive from the
U.S., and 2 or more months from European posts. Airfreight takes 2–4
weeks. The Embassy provides new arrivals with a Welcome Kit that
includes basics such as pots, pans, silverware, and household
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:40 PM
No customs or duties are charged U.S. Government personnel. This
free-entry privilege applies to all items imported for personal use
throughout the tour of duty. Visas are required for all Americans
entering Gabon; persons arriving without visas are held at the
airport and required to leave Gabon on the next flight. Visas can be
obtained from the Gabonese Embassy in Washington, D.C., from the
Gabonese Mission to the United Nations, or from a French Embassy or
Consulate in any part of the world where Gabon has no
representation. U.S. Government personnel turn their passports over
to the Embassy Administrative Section upon arrival in Gabon, and
diplomatic ID cards and 5-year multiple entry visas are requested.
All persons entering Gabon are required to have a valid yellow fever
Pets Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:40 PM
Health regulations for animals are not rigorously enforced and no
quarantine is imposed. You should be prepared, however, to present a
Certificate of Health from a veterinarian stating that your animal
is in good health and indicating that it has been inoculated against
rabies or has been in a rabies-free area for the previous 6 months.
Gabon itself is not a rabies-free area. Make sure to bring heartworm
prophylactic, which may not be available.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:40 PM
Gabonese law does not permit the entry of firearms. Anyone
wishing to bring firearms to Gabon must write to the Ambassador
describing the weapon (make, serial number, registration number),
his or her proficiency with the weapon, and the reason for the
request. If the Ambassador approves, an appropriate request will be
made to the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs. When the
Embassy receives approval, the petitioner will be notified in
writing. After the weapons arrive, they must be inspected and
registered with the Gabonese Ministry of Interior.
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
2/12/2004 2:41 PM
Gabon is a member of the Central African franc zone via the Bank
of Central African States (BEAC), which has its headquarters in
Yaounde. The parity of the regional currency, the CFA (Communaute
Financiere Africaine) franc, is tied to the French franc and backed
by the French Treasury. The CFA franc for the six countries of the
Central Zone circulates freely and may be freely converted to other
currencies through the banking system upon presentation of
commercial documentation. The exchange rate varies. In 1994, the
value of the CFA was 540 CFA per dollar and went up to 780 CFA at
the end of November 2000 before falling back into the low 700s by
mid-2001. The BEAC issues the currency and controls liquidity within
the zone through rediscounting facilities and administered money
market. The interest rate structure is common to all member
countries of the zone.
An import license must be presented for all imports entering the
CFA zone that exceed 500,000 CFA francs (about $750) in value.
Private transfers of money to points outside the franc zone are
subject to further documentation required by the Ministry of
Credit is provided through four main commercial banks in Gabon:
the Banque International de Commerce d’Industrie du Gabon (BICIG), a
subsidiary of BNP France; Union Gabonaise de Banque (UGB), a
subsidiary of Credit Lyonnais; the Banque Gabonaise et Francaise
Internationale, (BGFI); and Citibank. In addition to the commercial
banks, the banking sector includes: Credit Foncier du Gabon
(CREFOGA) for housing; the Gabonese Development Bank (BDG); the Fund
for Development and Expansion (FODEX), a parastatal organization
funded by the African Development Bank and intended to provide
financing for small and medium-sized firms (PME) owned by Gabonese
nationals; and the Banque Gabonaise de Credit Rural, which offers
loans for agriculture.
Gabon uses the metric system of weights and measures.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 2/12/2004
There is no limit for Embassy personnel on the amount of foreign
exchange that can be brought into or subsequently carried out of
Gabon. Visa, Mastercard and American Express credit cards are
accepted at hotels, as are dollar traveler’s checks. For all other
purchases, the local CFA franc is used. Mission personnel do not pay
income taxes in Gabon, but do pay an 18% value-added tax (VAT) on
all items purchased in Gabon, which is refundable.
The only legal tender in Gabon is the CFA franc. Currently, the
French Government guarantees convertibility of the CFA franc. The
Embassy Class-B cashier cashes personal dollar checks of U.S.
Government personnel for CFA francs at the daily official USG/FSC
rate. Checking accounts are easily established at several local
banks, but most personnel do not find them necessary. A service
charge is added to such accounts annually, but thereafter dollar
checks can be changed for CFA francs to be deposited in the account
at no cost. All personnel should maintain a dollar checking account
in the U.S. to facilitate the paying of bills outside Gabon. Cash is
used for virtually all purchases, though one large grocery store
will accept Visa with a 4-digit PIN.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 2/12/2004 2:57 PM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
currently available on Gabon. The Department of State does not
endorse unofficial publications.
Few books in print have been written specifically about Gabon,
and there are even fewer full-length works in English. The only
recent book on Gabon in English is The Rainbird: A Central African
Journey by Jan Brokken (Lonely Planet, 1997), an engaging travel
narrative that also provides extensive vignettes of Gabonese
Two other books, though over 30 years old, are still worth
reading: Africa Betrayed by former U.S. Ambassador Charles
Darlington and his wife (McKay: New York, 1967) and
Gabon: Nation-Building on the Ogooue by Brian Weinstein (MIT
Press: Cambridge, 1967).
The book by the Darlingtons is a highly personal narrative of
their experiences during their tour in Gabon (1961–64), while the
Weinstein study offers a comprehensive account of Gabonese political
history and structures.
For a more historical approach, David Patterson’s The Northern
Gabon Coast to 1875 provides an interesting if somewhat arcane
history of the European presence in the region (Oxford: Clarendon
Travels in West Africa by Mary Kingsley, originally published in
1898 and reissued by Virago Press, is a classic of its genre, as she
studies the peoples and fauna of the region. Mary Kingsley was an
intrepid Victorian who left England in her early 30s and visited the
west coast of Central Africa. Caroline Alexander, who set out to
follow in Mary Kingsley’s footsteps in the late 1980s, chronicled
her journeys in One Dry Season: In the Footsteps of Mary Kingsley
(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990).
Other books include: We Went to Gabon by Carol Kle, about
missionary work in Gabon;
Gabon Today by Mylene Remy (Washington, DC: International
Learning Systems, 1977); and
The Tio Kingdom of the Middle Congo, 1880–1892 by Jan Vansina
(Oxford University Press, 1973), a historical anthropological work
with a readable style.
Additional material is available in French, including a 1970
volume by Jacques Bouquerel titled Le Gabon (Presses Universitaires
de France, Paris).
A few pamphlets on Gabon are also published by the French
Government and the Gabonese Ministry of Tourism. Copies should be
available in Washington from the French and Gabonese Embassies,
respectively. A relatively recent French exposé on Gabon, Les
Affaires Africaines, is banned in Gabon.
For similar exposé style writing, Forages en Eau Profonde: Les
secrets de “I’affaire Elf” by Valerie Lecasble and Airy Routier
(Bernard Grasset: Paris, 1998) describes in detail the Elf oil
scandal of the mid-1990s.
Some other recent publications in French are: Le Memoire du
Fleuve, by Christian Dedet, about a metisse’s childhood life in
Gabon in the first half of the 1900s;
Mythes et legiendes des Myene du Moyen Ogooue, by Annie Merlet,
Centre Culturel Saint Exupery, Libreville; and
Le pays des 3 Estuaires, 1471–1900, also by Annie Merlet.
Dr. Albert Schweitzer detailed his life at Lambarene in two
books: On the Edge of the Primeval Forest, based on letters during
his first stay (1913–17), and
More From the Primeval Forest based on the second period at
George Seaver’s biography, Albert Schweitzer: The Man and His
Mind, covers in some detail the work of Dr. Schweitzer at his
Beyond these, two older works in English, National Unity and
Regionalism in Eight African States edited by Gwendolyn Carter
(Cornell University Press: 1966) and;
The Emerging States of French Equatorial Africa by Virginia
Thompson and Richard Adloff (Stanford University Press: 1960) offer
good, if somewhat dated, chapters on Gabon.
Other books available include: Alan Carpenter and James Hugues,
Fernandez, J.W. Mbwiti. An Ethnography of the Religious
Imagination in Africa. Enchantment of Africa Series. (Children’s:
1977. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982.
Gardinier, David. Historical Directory of Gabon. Metuchen, NJ:
Scarecrow Press, 1981.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 12/8/2005 12:14 AM
Currently, the Embassy observes 10 Gabonese holidays, some of
which coincide with American holidays. These include:
New Year’s Day January 1 Aid-el-Fitr Varies Easter Monday Varies
Labor Day May 1 Aid-el-Kebir Varies Whit Monday Varies Assumption
Day August 15 Independence Day August 16 & 17 All Saints' Day
(Toussaint) November 1 Christmas Day December 25