Gabon Independence Day is observed on 17 August every year.
This year marks the country’s 62nd anniversary of independence from France.
The Gabonese Republic is located on the west coast of Central Africa, bordered by Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo on the east and south, and the Gulf of Guinea to the west.
Its population counts 2.3 million people approximately.
The first Europeans to visit Gabon were the Portuguese in the late fifteenth century, when Diego Cam explored the region. They named the country after the shape of the Como River’s mouth estuary – “gabão”, Portuguese for “cloak”.
The French arrived in the region in the early nineteenth century attracted by slave trade. In 1839, local rulers in the coastal region signed away sovereignty to the French.
French explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza led his first mission to the Gabon-Congo area in 1875, increasing French control, and founded the town of Franceville in 1880. France officially occupied Gabon in 1885 and later, in 1910, Gabon became one of the four colonies of French Equatorial Africa.
During the Fourth French Republic (1946–58), Gabon became an overseas territory with its own assembly and representation in the French Parliament. In 1958, Gabon voted to become an autonomous republic within the French Community.
On 17 August 1960, Gabon gained its independence and became an independent republic joining the other three territories of the French Equatorial Union, which also gained their independence in the same month.
The first elected President of Gabon was Léon M’ba in 1961.