The Gabonese Republic, a member of the French Community, straddles the equator on the west coast of Africa. The hot and humid rain forest country has an area of 103,347 sq. mi. (267,667 sq. km.) and a population of 1.23 million, almost all of Bantu origin. Capital: Libreville. Gabon is extravagantly rich in resources. It exports crude oil, manganese ore, gold, and timbers. ,Gabon was first visited by Portuguese navigator Diego Cam in the 15th century. Dutch, French, and British traders, lured by the rich stands of hard woods and oil palms, quickly followed. The French founded their first settlement on the left bank of the Gabon River in 1839 and established their presence by signing treaties within the tribal chiefs. After gradually extending their influence into the interior during the last half of the 19th century, France occupied Gabon in 1885 and, in 1910, organized it as one of the four territories of French Equatorial Africa. It became an autonomous republic within the French Union in 1946, and on August 17, 1960, became a completely independent republic within the new French Community.,, ,Note: For related currency, see the Equatorial African States.,, Monetary System:,,, ,1 Franc = 100 Centimes,, ,Prior to the mid-19th century, France, as the other European states, maintained establishments on the west coast of Africa for the purpose of trading in slaves and gum, but made no serious attempt to colonization. From 1854 onward, the coastal acquisition ended and organization and development began. French West Africa was formed in 1895 by grouping the several colonies under one administration (Dakar) while retaining a large measure of autonomy to each of the constituent territories. The inhabitants of French West Africa were formed in 1946. With the exception of French Guiana, all the colonies voted in 1958 to become the fully independent Republic of Guinea. The present-day independent states are members of the ?Union Monetaire Quest-Aficaine.?,, ,Also see West African States.,, Monetary System:,,, ,1 Franc = 100 Centimes,, ,1 Unit = 5 Francs ,,