This western African republic's population is a eclectic blend of peoples who arrived there over the course of some 700 years. The Portuguese first came in the 1400s, and then the Dutch, French, and british arrived several hundred years later, their eyes on the slave trade, primarily. France made the area a semi-protectorate in 1839-41 and worked to abolish the still-active slave trade. In 1903, France put a colonial administration in place and in 1910, the region became part of French Equatorial Africa. In gratitude for the part played by its residents during World War II (it was a base for Free French activity), Charles de Gaulle gave French citizenship to all the territory's people. Gabon became independent in 1960. Politically, the country has been relatively stable since independence and has recently been successful in drawing foreign investment to the country, particularly since it has evolved into a multiparty democracy.