Relative to the neighbouring Republic of Congo, Gabon is a fairly stable West African country that has avoided major ethnic conflicts since independence in 1960. Prior to that, from 1910 to 1960, Gabon was part of French Equitorial Africa. In the past 50 years, Gabon has had only three presidents; President Omar Bongo held power from 1967 until his death in 2009, when he was succeeded by his son Ali Ben Bongo. Since 1991, Gabon has had a multi-party political system.With oil as a primary economic asset, Gabon has diversified its trading relations, which has long been closely linked with France, to include major Asian economic partners including China and India.
Mema by Daniel Mengara tells of a women's struggle against the traditional constraints of Gabonese society. Georges Simenon's Tropic Moon follows a young, idealistic Frenchman to the colonial outpost in Gabon where he finds little to be as he had expected.
In music and theatre, Patience Dabany is a popular Gabonese singer. As the wife of Omar Bongo and mother of the current President Ali Ben Bongo, she was for a time the first lady of Gabon and was involved in the founding of the Gabonese Democratic Party.