Gabon (pronounced /ɡəˈbɒn/; French pronunciation: [ɡabɔ̃]) is a country in west central Africa sharing borders with the Gulf of Guinea to the west and Cameroon to the north, with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. It covers a land area of nearly 325,000 km² and has an estimated population of 2,100,000. Its capital and largest city is Libreville.
Since its independence from France on August 17, 1960, Gabon has been ruled by three presidents. In the early 1990s, Gabon introduced a multi-party system and a new democratic constitution that allowed for a more transparent electoral process and reformed many governmental institutions. The small population density together with abundant natural resources and foreign private investment have helped make Gabon one of the most prosperous countries in the region, with the highest HDI in Sub-Saharan Africa.
After M'ba's accession to power, the press was suppressed, political demonstrations banned, freedom of expression curtailed, other political parties gradually excluded from power and the Constitution changed along French lines to vest power in the Presidency, a post that M'ba assumed himself. However, when M'ba dissolved the National Assembly in January 1964 to institute one-party rule, an army coup sought to oust him from power and restore parliamentary democracy. The extent to which M'ba's dictatorial regime was synonymous with "French Interests" then became blatantly apparent when French paratroopers flew in within 24 hours to restore M'ba to power.
After a few days of fighting, the coup was over and the opposition imprisoned, despite widespread protests and riots. The French government was unperturbed by international condemnation of the intervention; and paratroops still remain in the Camp de Gaulle on the outskirts of Gabon's capital. When M'Ba died in 1967, Bongo replaced him as president, and was still the head of state at Doomsday.
When Doomsday struck, Gabon faced a period of crisis. With the nation of France falling to nuclear destruction and the surrounding nations collapsing into civil war, Gabon struggled to maintain order within it's own borders. The flood of refugees and revolutions that flowed into the country from it's borders threatened to destabilize the nation. Protests popped up all across the country, threatening to become violent. President Bongo made no concessions, however, determined to stay strong in the face of the world crisis. This would be his undoing, however.
On 12 May 1984, the protests and revolts reached a peak. A group of military protestors stormed President Bongo's residence and held him captive, where he was forced to sign a document declaring his resignation. Jean-Baptiste Nda-ma, a military official, was installed as the provisional president. No one was killed or injured in the coup. A series of brief political reforms were pushed through Gabon, declaring freedom of assembly and press, as well as electoral reforms that made the process of election to the National Assembly more transparent. Though these reforms did not address the problem of the one-party state of Gabon, they did open the way for more democratic reforms in the future. This quick and bloodless action prevented Gabon from falling to the chaos that surrounding states experienced.
Gabon is more prosperous than most nearby countries, with a per capita income of four times the average for Sub-Saharan Africa. This is in large part due to offshore oil production. Critics note that the income was not invested in modernizing or diversifying the economy and Gabon remains heavily reliant on its natural resources. Gabon was a full member of OPEC from 1975 to 1983 (when Doomsday dismantled the organization). It is an exporter of manganese, iron, and wood. Planned efforts to exploit rich iron deposits north-east of Makokou are expected to begin in 2015.
The Gabonese have strong relations with the nations of the West African Union. There are potential plans to bring the nation into the WAU sometime in the future. The West African Union is currently where the majority of its oil exports go.