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African gray hornbill

Ten interesting facts about Gabon

1. Around 85% of Gabon’s land area is still covered by rain forests.

2. Around 11% of Gabon’s land area has been declared a protected zone for wildlife and forest conservation.

3. Of Gabon’s 14 national parks, 13 were all declared on the same day, on August 30, 2002,by the late President El Hadj Omar Bongo.

4. From November to April, as many as 550 female leather back turtles could come up to Mayumba National Park’s shores in a single night to nest.

5. The famous images of“surfing hippos”that Michael Nichols took for National Geographic were taken in Gabon’s Loango National Park.

6. President El Hadj Omar Bongo ruled Gabon for 42 years until he died in 2009. He was reelected three times, in 1993, 1998, and 2005.

7. Once, the late President Omar Bongo reportedly said, “Gabon without France is like a car with no driver. France without Gabon is like a car with no fuel.”

8. Gabon’s economy relies largely on its oil reserves–which estimates say will run out by 2025.

9. More than 10,000 French natives live in Gabon. Around 2,000 of them are citizens of both Gabon and France.

10. Gabon’s first-ever railway system began operations only in 1983.