Key things to know about Gabon

Gabon, where the army Monday called for an uprising, is one of Africa's top oil producers and has been ruled…

Gabon, where the army Monday called for an uprising, is one of Africa’s top oil producers and has been ruled for more than 50 years by the Bongo family.

The current president Ali Bongo, who took over from his father in 2009, has been absent since October when he suffered a stroke in Saudi Arabia.

Here is an overview of the lush African nation.

– On the equator –

Straddling the equator on Africa’s Atlantic coast, Gabon shares its borders with Congo Brazzaville, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.

A former French colony, it spans some 268,000 square kilometres (103,000 square miles) with a population estimated at just over two million, according to the World Bank in 2017. One in two Gabonese is aged under 20.

Roughly 80 percent of its people are Christian while Muslims and animists account for the other 20 percent.

– Half-a-century of Bongo rule –

Gabon has enjoyed relative political stability since its independence in 1960 and has had just three presidents over half a century, two of them from one family.

After nationalist president Leon M’Ba, Omar Bongo took power in 1967 and ruled for 41 years, making his the third longest reign in modern Africa.

France’s closest ally in Africa, Bongo was a key figure in a murky network of trade and political ties between France and its former African colonies known as “FrancAfrique”.