Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest Gabon cities.
Libreville was founded on land long inhabited by the Mpongwe tribe in 1849. Those settling here were fifty-two slaves rescued by the French navy from the slave ship Elizia, hence the name meaning 'free town'.
Port Gentil was named in 1900 to remember French colonial administrator Emile Gentil (4 April 1866 to 30 March 1914).
Franceville grew from a village named Masuku, settled by former slaves it was originally known as Francheville meaning 'city of the freed' and, with this being a French colony, almost inevitably this became Franceville.
Gamba is the Vili word for 'fog', this perfectly describing the weather during the dry season.
Lastoursville was named after Francois Rigall de Lastours in 1886, the year after the death of the civil engineer turned explorer.
Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.