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capital of Gabon and political, industrial, and cultural center of the country. Situated on the Gulf of Guinea of the Atlantic Ocean, in the Gabon estuary. The climate is equatorial; the average temperature during the coldest month (July) is 24°C and during the warmest month (April) it is 27°C. Annual precipitation totals 2,648 mm. Population, approximately 80,000 (1972; 15,000 in 1950).
The city is administered by an elected municipal council headed by a mayor who is also elected.
Libreville was founded in 1849 near the site where the French fleet established an anchorage in the estuary of the Gabon River in 1843. At the end of the 19th century it became the main base for French expansion in Gabon and the center of French expansion in Gabon and the center of French trade in the colony. During World War II (1939–45) Libreville was occupied by military units of the Free French (from November 1940) and by British forces and was one of the centers of armed struggle against the Vichy regime. In 1960, Libreville became the capital of the independent Gabonese Republic.
Libreville is a seaport handling half a million tons of freight a year (1971); it exports valuable tropical lumber. It has an airport of international importance. There are enterprises of the food industry, including a brewery and a flour mill, and tobacco, textile (cotton printing), clothing, sawmilling, plywood, and metalworking industries. The city has shipyards and a steam power plant. In Owendo, near Libreville, there is a cement plant that grinds imported clinker, and a deepwater port is under construction (1973).
Libreville is the site of a research bureau for geology and mining. It also has several branches of French scientific research institutes and centers for agriculture, the biological sciences, and several of the humanities.