Libreville

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Libreville (population 578,156 January 1, 2005) is the capital and largest city of Gabon. The city is a port on the Komo River, near the Gulf of Guinea, and a trade center for a timber region.

Contents

History

The area was inhabited by the Mpongwé tribe long before the French acquired the land in 1839. In 1846, L'Elizia, a Brazilian ship carrying slaves for sale, was captured by the French navy near Loango. The slaves were freed and founded Libreville (French for "Freetown") in 1848. It was the chief port of French Equatorial Africa from 1934 to 1946 and was the central focus of the Battle of Gabon in 1940.

Libreville was named in imitation of Freetown and grew only slowly as a trading post and a minor administrative centre to a population of 32,000 on independence in 1960. It only received its first bank branch when Bank of West Africa (BAO) opened a branch in 1930. Since independence, the city has grown rapidly and now houses nearly half the national population.

Geography

From north to south, major districts of the city are the residential area Batterie IV, Quartier Louis (known for its nightlife), Mont-Bouët and Nombakélé (busy commercial areas), Glass (the first European settlement in Gabon), Oloumi (a major industrial area) and Lalala, a residential area. The city’s port and train station on the Trans-Gabon Railway line to Franceville lie in Owendo, south of the main built-up area. Inland from these districts lie poorer residential areas.

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