Libreville

Libreville is the capital and largest city of Gabon, in west central Africa.

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CountryGabon

Libreville is the capital and largest city of Gabon, in west central Africa. The city is a port on the Komo River, near the Gulf of Guinea, and a trade center for a timber region. As of 2005, it has a population of 578,156.

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



Astronaut view of Libreville.

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.

Climate

Libreville features a tropical monsoon climate with a lengthy wet season and a short dry season. Libreville’s wet season spans about nine months (September through May), with a heavy amount of rain falling during these months. The city’s dry season lasts from June through August and is caused by the cold Beneguela Current reaching its northernmost extent and suppressing rainfall. Despite the lack of rain, Libreville remains very cloudy during this time of year.

As common with many cities with this climate, average temperatures remain relatively constant throughout the course of the year, with average high temperatures at around 30 °C (86.0 °F) .

Climate data for Libreville
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29.5
(85.1)
30.0
(86.0)
30.2
(86.4)
30.1
(86.2)
29.4
(84.9)
27.6
(81.7)
26.4
(79.5)
26.8
(80.2)
27.5
(81.5)
28.0
(82.4)
28.4
(83.1)
29.0
(84.2)
28.58
(83.44)
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.8
(80.2)
27.0
(80.6)
27.1
(80.8)
26.6
(79.9)
26.7
(80.1)
25.4
(77.7)
24.3
(75.7)
24.3
(75.7)
25.4
(77.7)
25.7
(78.3)
25.9
(78.6)
26.2
(79.2)
25.95
(78.71)
Average low °C (°F) 24.1
(75.4)
24.0
(75.2)
23.9
(75.0)
23.1
(73.6)
24.0
(75.2)
23.2
(73.8)
22.1
(71.8)
21.8
(71.2)
23.2
(73.8)
23.4
(74.1)
23.4
(74.1)
23.4
(74.1)
23.30
(73.94)
Rainfall mm (inches) 250.3
(9.854)
243.1
(9.571)
363.2
(14.299)
339.0
(13.346)
247.3
(9.736)
54.10
(2.1299)
6.600
(0.25984)
13.70
(0.5394)
104.0
(4.094)
427.2
(16.819)
490.0
(19.291)
303.2
(11.937)
2,841.7
(111.878)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 17.9 14.8 19.5 19.2 16.0 3.70 1.70 4.90 14.5 25.0 22.6 17.6 177.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 176.7 182.7 176.7 177.0 158.1 132.0 117.8 89.90 96.00 111.6 135.0 167.4 1,720.9
Source: World Meteorological Organization (UN),[1] Hong Kong Observatory[2]

Transport

Libreville International Airport is the largest airport in Gabon and is located around 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) north of the city.

Culture and education



The Embassy of the United States in Libreville.

Sights in Libreville include:

  • the National Museum of Arts and Traditions
  • the French cultural centre
  • St Marie’s Cathedral, seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Libreville
  • the carved wood church of St Michael, Nkembo
  • the Arboretum de Sibang
  • two cultural villages.

Libreville's main market lies in Mont-Bouët. Gabon's school of administration and school of law are in Libreville. Libreville also hosts the Omar Bongo University (est. 1970), various research institutes and a library. Alongside the Komo estuary is the Pongara National Park of 929 km2. Behind Cap Esterias is Akanda National Park, famed for its large congregations of migrating waterbirds.

The city is served by Libreville Hospital.

Languages

Libreville is, with Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, one of a few African cities where French is truly becoming a native language,[3] with some local features.

Economy



Libreville beachfront, 2009, showing a billboard for President Ali Bongo Ondimba's campaign.

The city is home to a shipbuilding industry, brewing industry and sawmills. The city exports raw materials such as wood, rubber and cocoa from the city's main port, and the deepwater port at Owendo.[4]

Gabon Airlines has its headquarters in Libreville.[5] Prior to their dissolutions, both Air Gabon and Gabon Express were headquartered on the grounds of Libreville International Airport.[6][7]

Notable residents

  • Daniel Cousin, football player who plays for Larissa FC and the Gabon national team, of which he is the captain and all-time top scorer.[8]

References

  1. "Weather Information for Libreville". http://www.worldweather.org/128/c00255.htm.
  2. Climatological Information for Libreville, Gabon - Hong Kong Observatory
  3. (French) "De plus, le français est également devenu la langue maternelle de plus de 30 % des Librevillois et il est de plus en plus perçu comme une langue gabonaise."
  4. http://www.zambezi.com/location/libreville
  5. Gabon Airlines: Mentions légales Retrieved 8 October 2009
  6. World Airline Directory. Flight International. 16–22 March 2004. "64"
  7. World Airline Directory. Flight International. March 23–29, 2004. 78
  8. Football Database: Daniel Cousin Retrieved on 23 December 2009