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Libreville, estimated population 420,000, is the capital city of Gabon. The city is a port on the Gabon River, near the Gulf of Guinea, and a trade center for a timber region. Libreville is located at 0°22'30" North, 9°25' East (0.375, 9.41667).
The area was inhabited by the Mpongwé tribe long before the French acquired the land in 1839. The city was founded (as Gabon) in 1843 as a trading station. Freed slaves were sent there from the ship L'Elizia, and in 1848 it was named Libreville (French for Freetown). It was the chief port of French Equatorial Africa from 1934 to 1946.
Libreville was named in imitation of Freetown and grew only slowly as a trading post and a minor administrative centre to a population of 31,000 on independence in 1960. Since independence, the city has grown rapidly and now houses nearly half the national population.
From north to south, major districts of the city are the residential area Batterie IV, Quartier Louis (known for its nightlife), Mont-Bouët and Nombakélé (busy commercial areas), Glass (the first European settlement in Gabon), Olaumi (a major industrial area) and Lalala, a residential area. The city’s port and train station on the Trans-Gabon Railway line to Franceville lie in Owendo, south of the main built-up area. Inland from these districts lie poorer residential areas.
Sights in Libreville include the National Museum of Arts and Traditions, the French cultural centre, St Marie’s Cathedral, the carved wood church of St Michael, Nkembo, the Arboretum de Sibang and two cultural villages. Libreville's main market lies in Mont-Bouët.
Gabon's school of administration and school of law are in Libreville. Libreville International Airport, the headquarters for Air Gabon, is nearby.