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Saturday 20th December
Gabon Facts
The highest point in Gabon is Mount Iboundji (1,575 m).

Gabon lies on the Equator.

Some of the oldest West African hunter-gatherer artifacts have been found in the region.

A collection of 1,800 petroglyphs (rock art) can be seen at Gabon's World Heritage site, the Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lope-Okanda.

The Pygmy people were the first of Gabon's ethnic groups to inhabit the country.

Bantu tribes arrived in the area from around the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

The Portuguese arrived in Gabon in the 1470s.

It is said that the Portuguese named Gabon after a hooded coat - the shape of the estuary of the Komo River.

The coast became a centre of the slave trade.

British, Dutch, and French traders arrived in Gabon in the sixteenth century.

A French settlement was established in 1839; a French governor to Gabon was appointed in 1866.

The Abolition of the Slave Trade Act (1807) prohibited the slave trade within the British Empire. (Slaves in the British colonies did not gain their freedom until the 1830s. The 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act began the process leading to emancipation).

France abolished the slave trade in 1826 but slavery remained in the French colonies until 1848.

Libreville (free town) was founded by freed slaves in 1849.

New England [US] missionaries established a Christian church in Baraka (Libreville) in 1842.

Mary Kingsley, an English explorer, travelled up the Ogooue River. She wrote Travels in West Africa in 1897.

Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), the famous medical missionary, founded a hospital at Lambarene in 1913.

In 1910 Gabon formed part of the Federation of French Equatorial Africa - Afrique Equatoriale Francaise (AEF). Other AEF members were Central African Republic, Chad, and Congo (Brazzaville).

In 1958 Gabon became an autonomous republic in the French Community.

Gabon achieved independence in 1960.

Albert Bongo was president of the Gabonese Republic from 1967 to 2009 - he converted to Islam in 1973, changing his first name to Omar.

Gabon discovered offshore oil, in the 1970s.

Total, the French oil company, signed an agreement in 2004 to export Gabonese oil to China.

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