Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Oil & Opportunity

Gabon: What Went Right?

Extracting resources—oil, gas, wood, minerals, and more— can put intense pressure on a developing nation. Swelling human populations and the hunger for economic growth often lead to environmental degradation. Yet Gabon has emerged as “one of the more prosperous and stable African countries,” according to the CIA World Factbook. It is also home to Africa’s largest block of virgin rainforest. Indeed, 75 percent of the country’s interior is virtually untouched.

Several factors contribute to Gabon’s success. Its human population is small (1.4 million) and clustered around three cities. Its economy got a huge boost from the discovery of oil in the 1970s. And its current government has a strong commitment to conservation.


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Smithsonian Zoogoer 39(6) 2010. Copyright 2010 Friends of the National Zoo. All rights reserved.