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Nationality: Noun and adjective--Gabonese (sing. and pl.).
Population (2000 est.): 1.32 million (figs. disputed).
Annual growth rate (2003 est.): 0.75%.
Ethnic groups: Fang (largest), Myene, Bapounou, Eshira, Bandjabi, Bakota, Nzebi, Bateke/Obamba.
Religions: Christian (55-75%), Muslim, animist.
Languages: French (official), Fang, Myene, Bateke, Bapounou/Eschira, Bandjabi.
Education: Years compulsory--to age 16. Attendance--60%. Literacy--63%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--60/1,000. Life expectancy--56 yrs.
Work force (500,000 est.): Agriculture--52%; industry and commerce--16%; services and government--33%.
Almost all Gabonese are of Bantu origin. Gabon has at least 40 ethnic groups, with separate languages and cultures. The largest is the Fang (about 30%). Other ethnic groups include the Myene, Bandjabi, Eshira, Bapounou, Bateke/Obamba, Nzebi, and Bakota. Ethnic group boundaries are less sharply drawn in Gabon than elsewhere in Africa. French, the official language, is a unifying force. More than 7,000 French people live in Gabon, and France predominates foreign cultural and commercial influences. Historical and environmental factors caused Gabon's population to decline between 1900 and 1940. It is one of the least densely inhabited countries in Africa, and a labor shortage is a major obstacle to development and a draw for foreign workers. The population is generally accepted to be just over 1 million but remains in dispute.