Despite the country’s large oil revenues, a large proportion of Gabon’s residents are poor. The proportion of Gabonese living in poverty varies from one-third to two-thirds in various surveys. The living standards of the poor have fallen since the late 1990s. About 20 percent of the population receives 90 percent of all income.
Although Gabon has invested more in health care than most of the neighboring countries, the state of health is poor in large population groups. Common diseases include AIDS, malaria, TB, jaundice and gastrointestinal disorders. There is a great shortage of doctors and hospitals. For example, there are only about 30 doctors in 100,000 residents.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Gabon, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has hit harder in Gabon than in neighboring countries. Nearly eight percent of the population was estimated to have HIV/ AIDS in 2005. However, since the government began distributing brake medication to HIV-positive mothers and children for twelve years, the number of infected persons has decreased: in 2007, the adult HIV/AIDS-infected population was six percent, in 2013 to just under four percent.
The dreaded Ebola virus, which is spread by small rodents, has over the years led to several epidemics and the mortality in the disease is high. In August 2014, Gabon canceled all aviation and boat connections with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, as these countries were severely affected by an ebola outbreak.
The law prohibits children under the age of 16 from working, but child labor is common, especially in rural areas. Trafficking in children is a major problem. Especially girls are robbed of neighboring countries and forced to work in Gabon without pay, for example as housekeepers. There are no sure figures on how many children have been exposed to this, but it is estimated that it may be tens of thousands of children.
Women’s rights have been violated. Violence against women and rape is prohibited by law, but it is extremely unusual for any case to be reported to the police. Polygamy is common, but the number of men with several wives is decreasing, as it becomes too expensive.
Family life and socializing
In Gabon many live together in extended families – when a couple marries, it usually moves home to the husband’s parents/relatives. Although women nowadays give birth to slightly fewer children than before, many children are still common. Children born in marriage belong to the man. Therefore, it is not uncommon (and considered entirely in order) that women give birth to one or more children before they marry – they then belong to her and can take care of her in the event of a separation.
Those who can afford build their houses in cement, which is considered particularly nice. In the villages, often every woman has her own hut, cuisine, where the food is cooked and only she and other women meet (the men have their own huts, corps de guards). Among the elderly, it is generally common for men and women to spend time alone. Elderly and prominent people are treated with great respect.
Most Gabonese like to have a lot of people around them and are happy to be close to the one they are talking to. They are often straightforward and say what they think, without saying anything bad about it. A favorite job is to spend time with family and friends, play board or go to football (in 2012 Gabon, then with the neighboring Equatorial Guinea, hosted the African Football Championship and will also host it in 2017 instead of Libya, where the unrest stops such events).
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 33 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected: 3.8 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
1.9 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.5 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 87.5 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 47.4 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 2.7 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 220 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 17 percent (2018)
France is investigating Bongo for corruption
French police are launching an investigation into allegations that President Bongo and some of his West African presidential colleagues used state money to buy luxury properties in Paris. Bongo has already been accused of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes from the French oil company Elf. However, none of the investigations lead anywhere.