The country of Gabon, in central Africa, was a French colony until it gained independence in 1960. With a population of 1.5 million (2005 estimate), it has a female life expectancy of 55.8 years. Gabon has a birth rate of 36.2 per 1,000 people, with an infant mortality rate of 54.5 per 1,000 live births.

Many precolonial traditions in Bantu society continue in modern Gabon, with girls marrying very young, sometimes at early as 11 or 12 years of age. This has helped contribute to the high maternal mortality rate of 420 deaths per 100,000 live births. Because of the income brought in by the country's oil boom starting in the 1980s, about 94 percent of pregnant women receive at least some professional prenatal care, with ...

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