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Gabon Geography

Situated on the west coast of Africa and straddling the equator, Gabon has an area of 267,667 sq km (103,347 sq mi), extending 717 km (446 mi) norht-northeast to south-southwest, and 644 km (400 mi) east-southeast to west-northwest.

Comparatively, the area occupied by Gabon is slightly smaller than the state of Colorado. It is bordered on the north by Cameroon, on the east and south by the Republic of the Congo (ROC), on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the northwest by Equatorial Guinea, with a total boundary length of 3,436 km (2,135 mi), of which 885 km (550 mi) is coastline. Gabon's capital city, Libreville, is located on the country's northwestern coast.

Rising from the coastal lowlands, which range in width from 30 to 200 km (20 to 125 mi), is a band more than 96 km (60 mi) wide forming a rocky escarpment, which ranges in height from 450 to 600 m (1,480 to 1,970 ft).

This plateau covers the north and east and most of the south. Rivers descending from the interior have carved deep channels in the face of the escarpment, dividing it into distinct blocks, such as the Crystal Mountains (Monts de Cristal) and the Chaillu Massif. There are mountains in various parts of Gabon, the highest peak being Mt. Iboundji (1,575 m/5,167 ft). The northern coastline is deeply indented with bays, estuaries, and deltas as far south as the mouth of the Ogooué River, forming excellent natural shelters.

Farther south, the coast becomes more precipitous, but there are also coastal areas bordered by lagoons and mangrove swamps. Virtually the entire territory is contained in the basin of the Ogooué River, which is about 1,100 km (690 mi) long and navigable for about 400 km (250 mi). Its two major tributaries are the Ivindo and the Ngounié, which are navigable for 80-160 km (50-100 mi) into the interior.

Gabon has the moist, hot climate typical of tropical regions. The hottest month is January, with an average high at Libreville of 31°C (88°F) and an average low of 23°C (73°F). Average July temperatures in the capital range between 20° and 28°C (68° and 82°F). From June to September there is virtually no rain but high humidity; there is occasional rain in December and January. During the remaining months, rainfall is heavy. The excessive rainfall is caused by the condensation of moist air resulting from the meeting, directly off the coast, of the cold Benguela Current from the south and the warm Guinea Current from the north. At Libreville, the average annual rainfall is more than 254 cm (100 in). Farther north on the coast, it is 381 cm (150 in).

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