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After winning independence from France in 1960, the Gabonese Republic entered a period of political stability marked by one-party rule. Thirty years later, a multiparty system was introduced and a new constitution was ratified. Drawing on its rich natural resources—including petroleum, natural gas, diamond, niobium, manganese, uranium, gold, timber, iron ore, and hydropower—and on financial backing from foreign investors, Gabon has become one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. Some 60 percent of the work force is engaged in agriculture, and timber and manganese were the mainstays of the economy until oil was discovered offshore in the early 1970s.

Currently, the oil industry accounts for half of the Gross Domestic Product. With a per capita income of $5,800, Gabon is ranked 124 of 232 nations ...

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