Gabon - Statistics & Facts

Bordering Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, and the Atlantic Ocean, Gabon is a small country known for its oil reserves. A former French colony, it still relies on France as one of its main import partners. Since the economy depends almost exclusively on oil, most of the economic statistics follow the energy market. Social statistics, however, are influenced by a political system that does not need to appease a democratic base.

Resource extraction drives the industry and services sector in gross domestic product (GDP) composition. This focus leaves the economy exposed to oil price shocks, as seen in the growth rate of GDP after the 2015 decrease in oil prices. Inflation has also been low and stable, except for the dip at that time. Government expenditures can be quite high, though they have fallen in relation to GDP in recent years, but still have driven up national debt. This points to either corruption or mismanagement of government revenues, if not both.

The Gabonese people do not always see the benefits of the country’s oil wealth. GDP per capita suggests a higher level of development, but other indicators contradict this. The infant mortality rate, though falling, is significantly higher than the 1970 average for industrialized countries. Urbanization is high, but the persistent unemployment rate indicates that nearly 1 in 5 members of the workforce cannot find work. The youth unemployment rate is over 1 in 3. If a larger proportion of the population does not see benefits from Gabon’s resource reserves, the government may have problems in the future.

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