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6 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Gabon Currency

Gabon currency: A silhouette of a personal holding a Gabon flag outside

Gabon—officially known as the Gabonese Republic—is a small, sparsely populated country on the west coast of Central Africa. The equator passes through the country. Cameroon, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and the Atlantic Ocean surround it. The official Gabon currency is the Central African CFA franc, denoted by the currency code XAF.

Rainforests cover nearly 90% of Gabon, and the country houses 80% of Africa’s gorilla population, making it an excellent destination for nature lovers.

Whether you are a one-time traveler, a regular visitor or have friends and family in Gabon, there’s a lot to learn about the country and its interesting history. So we’ve rounded up five interesting facts about Gabon’s currency and everything else you need to know before visiting.

What is the Gabon currency?

As mentioned earlier, the Central African CFA franc is the official currency of Gabon. Five other African countries also share the Gabon currency:

  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Equatorial Guinea

The “CFA” in the name Central African CFA franc stands for “Coopération financière en Afrique centrale,” which translates to “Financial Cooperation in Central Africa.” The Bank of Central African States (BEAC) issues the Gabon currency.

History of the Gabon currency: Central African CFA franc (XAF)

Gabon currency: A person's face painted in green, yellow, and blue like the Gabon flag

Gabon is a former French colony, which has significantly influenced how Gabon currency works today and how the Central African CFA franc (XAF) evolved over the years.

In 1910, the French colonized some African countries, naming the region French Equatorial Africa. These french colonies included:

  • Gabon
  • Middle Congo (now the Republic of the Congo)
  • Ubangi-Shari (now the Central African Republic)
  • Chad

The colonized regions shared a common currency known as the French franc. In 1945, the CFA franc replaced the French franc. During this time, the CFA franc stood for “franc of the French Colonies of Africa.”

Gabon remained under French control until it gained independence in 1960. After the remaining territories gained independence, the countries (including Gabon) continued using the CFA franc, but they now call it the Central African CFA franc. CFA now stands for “franc of Financial of Cooperation in Central Africa.”

A group of West African countries also use a CFA franc called the West African CFA franc. In that currency, CFA stands for “franc of the African Financial Community.”

Historical and current denominations of Gabon  currency

In 1943, France introduced the first coins in Gabon in denominations of 5, 10, 25, and 50 centimes as well as a 1-franc coin. While banknotes were already circulating in the French colonies of Africa (French Equatorial Africa), in 1947, a series of new notes were issued. These were in the denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 1,000 francs.

Today, the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) manages and issues the country’s currency. The following coin and banknote denominations are available.

Coins of Gabon’s currency:

  • 1 franc
  • 2 francs
  • 5 francs
  • 10 francs
  • 25 francs
  • 50 francs
  • 100 francs
  • 500 francs

Banknotes of Gabon currency:

  • 500 francs
  • 1,000 francs
  • 2,000 francs
  • 5,000 francs
  • 10,000 francs

One franc is divided into 100 smaller units called centime. However, no centime denominations are actually issued in Gabon.

6 Interesting facts about Gabon’s currency

A smiling woman holds a small Gabon flag

1. The currency shares the name “franc” with several other currencies.

The Central African CFA franc isn’t the only currency with the name “franc.” It’s used for many other foreign currencies, including the Swiss franc, the West African CFA franc, the Guinean franc, and more.

Countries like France and Belgium also used the franc in the past but have switched to the euro now.

2. Gabon’s currency is similar to the West African CFA franc.

Gabon’s currency—the Central African CFA franc (XAF)—and the West African CFA franc (XOF) not only sound similar but also share the same monetary value. You still have to convert the currency for use in different regions, but the exchange rate is one to one, meaning 1 XAF equals 1 XOF.

The major difference between the currencies, as the name suggests, is that different African countries use each type of CFA franc. Eight independent states in West Africa use the West African CFA franc. These include:

  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Côte D’Ivoire
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Mali
  • Niger
  • Senegal
  • Togo

On the other hand, as mentioned above, the Central African CFA franc (XAF) is used in six independent states in Central Africa. These include:

  • Gabon
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Equatorial Guinea

Another difference is the currency code. The Central African CFA franc is denoted by XAF, while the West African CFA franc is denoted by XOF.

3. Only the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) can manage and issue the currency.

Only the central bank, the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) can issue and manage Gabon’s currency. The Bank of Central African States is headquartered in Cameroon and has been operational since its establishment in 1972.

4. The Central African CFA franc has a fixed exchange rate pegged to the euro.

As the Central African CFA franc has the same monetary value as the West African CFA franc, both currencies have a fixed exchange rate pegged to the euro (EUR). This means the Gabon currency’s exchange rate with the euro remains at a fixed ratio as the value of the euro goes up or down.

5. You should carry cash when visiting Gabon.

The Central African CFA franc shares one more similarity with the West African CFA franc. Both are cash-heavy economies, which means you need to use the local banknotes and coins when dealing with vendors.

Major businesses do accept credit cards and digital payments, but this can be limited to tourist areas and city centers, so it’s advisable to carry cash for local payments.

You can send or receive money online though, so if you’re sending funds to friends and family in Gabon, you can use Remitly to make the transfers easier.

6. Eco, a new currency, may replace the CFA franc.

A new currency called Eco is a planned shared currency that would replace the West African CFA franc. There is now a debate underway as to whether the Central African countries should replace their CFA franc as well.

What are the Gabon currency exchange rates?

The Gabon currency exchange rate is fixed and remains the same as the West African CFA franc so 1 XAF = 1 XOF. The Central African CFA franc is pegged to the euro, but the exchange rate may vary with the U.S. dollar (USD), United Kingdom pound sterling (GBP), and other currencies around the world.

You can check the current foreign exchange currency exchange rates with the currency converter on our website.

Sending money to Gabon

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