Gabon is a country in West Africa that rested under French colonial control for over a hundred years. France gained possession of the country in 1839, upon the surrender of the land by a local native chief. The country officially became part of French Equatorial Africa in 1910.
Under French rule, Gabon was not permitted to have its own flag. The French feared having such a symbol would lead to nationalism and revolution. Gabon, however, enjoyed being a progressive French colony, and was granted greater autonomy in the middle of the twentieth century. In 1958, as part of the African decolonization movement, France granted Gabon the right to be a self-governing republic, and the country achieved full independence in 1960.
In 1959, after being given greater freedom, Gabon designed a new flag that consisted of three bands. From top to bottom, those bands were green, yellow and blue, with the yellow band being considerably smaller than the other two. In the top left corner sat the French Tricolour, a symbol of Gabon’s ties to France. Upon gaining full independence in 1960, Gabon modified the design into the current flag of the country today.
The modern flag of the Gabonese Republic is a tricolor, consisting of three horizontal bands. It was designed by Louis Muhlemann. The colors of the bands are, from top to bottom: green, yellow and blue. The colors also have meaning: green for the country’s natural resources and forests, yellow for the sun and the Equator (which goes through Gabon) and blue for the sea (which Gabon borders).
The proportions of Gabon’s flag, 3:4, are quite uncommon and shared with only two other countries: Papua New Guinea and San Marino. These proportions are actually required by Gabonese law. Gabon’s flag is also unusual in that it lacks the distinctive colors of the Pan-African movement, which are displayed on many other flags from the same region: red, black and green.
There is also a variant of the Gabonese flag that serves as the Standard of the President, which consists simply of the Gabonese flag with the country’s coat of arms overlaid in the center. Prior to 1990, the Presidential Standard displayed a sailing galleon flying the Gabon flag. The top third of this flag consisted of a green field with three yellow circles. The rest consisted of the galleon on three blue waves on a yellow field.