Gabon has a population of approximately 2 million. Historical and environmental factors caused Gabon’s population to decline between 1900 and 1940.
Gabon has one of the lowest population densities of any country in Africa and the fourth highest Human Development Index in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Almost all Gabonese are of Bantu origin. Gabon has at least forty ethnic groups with differing languages and cultures. The Fang are generally thought to be the largest although recent census data seem to favor the Nzebi.
Others include the Myene, Kota, Shira, Puru, and Kande. There are also various Pygmy peoples: the Bongo, Kota, and Baka; the latter speak the only non-Bantu language in Gabon. More than 10,000 native French live in Gabon, including an estimated 2,000 dual nationals.
Ethnic boundaries are less sharply drawn in Gabon than elsewhere in Africa. Most ethnicities are spread throughout Gabon, leading to constant contact and interaction among the groups, and there is no ethnic tension.
One important reason for this is that intermarriage is extremely common and every Gabonese person is connected by blood to many different tribes. Indeed, intermarriage is often required because among many tribes, marriage within the same tribe is prohibited because it is regarded as incest.
This is because those tribes comprise of the descendants of a specific ancestor, and therefore all members of the tribe are regarded as close kin to each other (identical to the clan system of Scotland or the Gotra system in India).
French, the language of its former colonial ruler, is a unifying force. The Democratic Party of Gabon (PDG)’s historical dominance also has served to unite various ethnicities and local interests into a larger whole.
List of cities in Gabon: