Gabon, Africa land of hospitality


From discovery up to nowadays

The first traces of human occupation in Gabon date back to at least 400,000 years

Originally, the Ogooué basin had been inhabited by large hunters and pickers who were black people. They used to cut the stone to make tools such as scrapers, the scrapers, and arrow heads. Towards 4.000 years earlier new human groups, the Neolithic arrive with their polished stone tools and make pottery about 2.500 years onward, it corresponds to the the arrival of metallurgical peoples who have mastered iron reduction operations processes.

In 1472 the Portuguese entered the region of Estuaire. They nicknamed the country “Rio de Gabao”, because of its shape similar to a caban “Gabao” in Portuguese.”Gabao” then turned into “Gabon”. Until the 18th century, the coastal tribes maintained commercial relations with the Europeans (Portuguese, English, Dutch, french and Spanish).

It is from the Treaty signed between Louis Edouard Bouët-Willaumez and Mpongwe ruler named Rapontchombo on February 9, 1839 that the French gradually spread their influence on Gabon: they create a military post in the Estuaire of the Komo and the future capital, Libreville, was founded by former slaves freed from a slave ship. The birth of Libreville (1850) is related to the case of the Brazilian slave ship named Ilizia *.

The definition of the borders of Gabon occurred gradually, on the one hand because of disputes with German Cameroon, then on the other hand under the French Equatorial Africa.

Gabon became independent on August 17, 1960 and in 1961 Leon Mba, motivated by Charles de Gaulle is elected President of the Gabonese Republic. But the national currency is manufactured by France which would also determine the value.

The 17 of August has become the date of the national celebration in Gabon, which thus commemorates the proclamation of the independence of the country by Léon Mba and its accession to international sovereignty, after more than fifty years of French colonization.

* Get more information about the history of Gabon: Gabon Libre

Transport des grumes par flottage


- 2,1 billion years

The first traces of multicellular life in the world: macroscopic fossils which size goes up to more than 17 cm.

- 400 000 years

Prehistoric settlement of Gabon, by the Homo erectus and then of Homo sapiens who used to cut large tools of stone. Genetics tells us that by 70,000 years the branch of the Pygmies is created and disassociates itself to the homo sapiens; These pygmies still live in the great forest in symbiosis with the environment and only use objects of plant-based

- 4 000 years

The settlement of Gabon by Neolithic peoples

2500 years

This is the arrival of the first Metal workers who mastered the iron and began to affect the forests by developing slash-and-burning agriculture techniques. Linguists refer them as Bantus people.

11th and 18th century

The Mpongwe people settled between the 11th century and the eighteenth century in the area of the current province of Estuaire. The settlement of Gabon continued until the 16th century by the North through the Valley of the Ivindo (Mitsogo, Okande, Bakota…) as well as in the South (Echira, Punu,Balumbu, Bandjabi, Adouma/Nzebi…) The Fang people, settle gradually until about the 19th century.

15th century

Arrival of the Portuguese.
The name of Gabon comes from these first settlers; Gabao in Portuguese means “hut”, in relation to the shape of the Estuaire that borders the coast of Libreville.

16th century

The Dutch are engaged in the slave trade, trading with the coastal chiefs, the Mpongwe chiefs to be specific, established in the estuary of the Komo and the Orungu, located in the delta of the Ogooué. The slaves are primarily intended for the plantations in Sao Tome before the trade with America develops. Trade included rubber, wood, ivory…


France started to occupy Gabon’s territory and began to penetrate the hinterland.


Gabon became a colony which, as early as 1888, is merged with that of the Congo under the name of Gabon-Congo then, in 1898, French Congo.


Gabon became again a separate colony. .


The colonies of Gabon and the Congo are integrated into the French Africa-Equatorial. Gabon became a French overseas territory.


Gabon became an overseas territory.

17 août 1960

Gabon became independent; Léon Mba became its first President.


Then died Léon Mba who was replaced by his Chief of staff, Albert Bernard Bongo, who later took the name of «Omar Bongo Ondimba”.


President Bongo introduced the single-party system with the creation of the Gabonese Democratic Party (known as PDG).

8 juin 2009

Omar Bongo Ondimba’s death.

30 Août 2009

Ali Bongo was elected President of the Republic.

24 Septembre 2016

Ali Bongo is elected again President of the Republic for a second term.

Culture & traditions

Gabon, Bantou land

The Gabonese culture draws its wealth from the diversification of its founding peoples, the hunter and stone-cutters, the Neolithic people, the people from the age of iron and to a less degree the Pygmies all of them came to populate the Gabonese land. The pygmies separated themselves from the Homo sapiens there are 70,000 years in order to live in symbiosis in the deep forests.

Around 3000 BP appeared the first people of the Neolithic stage. These populations introduced polished tools, the first forms of agriculture, the exploitation of oil palm.

Elaeis guineensis and ceramics. Unlike the hunter-pickers, which they probably lived with for some time, they lived sedentary just the time it could take to complete a harvest.

All the languages of Gabon belong to the Bantu linguistic group which extends from southern Cameroon to South Africa. The current Gabon has fifty ethnic groups including Fang (32%), the Mpongwe (15%), the Mbedé (14%), the Punu (12%).

Gabon is a moving culture, a mix of diversity and common culture, making live together the very diverse beliefs and practices. For example, as if a mom was crushing his cassava with the pestle in a mortar, as it has been so for centuries, she can today be interrupted in her work by the ringing of her cell phone.

Knowing the mysteries of life, searching God, the rites, the mythical tales, proverbs and archaic languages, known by insiders only, constitute the essential part of the traditions and the beliefs of the Gabonese peoples transmitted from generation to generation by the memory of men.

To the vast majority of the people of Gabon, initiation is the basis of everything, founder of many values: the social and political organization.


Artisan du Gabon

The Gabonese art is known for its masks that belong first and foremost to initiatory societies.

They both embody the spirits of ancestors and the genius who ro some extent participate in the life of the village. The Gabonese art is a religious art firmly rooted in the social structures of each tribe, the mask or the statue is not a sacred object by itself. It is the support of a force that can be expressed by other means, for example, the music, singing, dancing; The sculpted image therefore is a symbol and a message.

The rites

Cérémonie du Bwiti

Gabon’s dances are a reflection of the diversity of different peoples and rituals that enliven the Gabonese folklore. They are closely related to the different rites, mainly the Bwiti. Both ritual and playful, the dances of Gabon convey the close link between the sacred and the real world.

Half way between the material and the immaterial, the sound vibration is the agent essential to the communication of the men among themselves, but also participation in the cosmogonic life, beyond the barriers of the sensible world. Primary language, or super language, musical expression, taken from the cry that expresses emotion encompassing the intelligible language of the words that it precedes.

It is, therefore, the support of the oral Tradition which it guarantees the shape and the conservation beyond writing and without it.