Libreville is the largest city in and capital of Gabon.
As of 2013, its census population was 703,904. The area was inhabited by the Mpongwé tribe long before the French acquired the land in 1839. American missionaries from New England established a mission in Baraka, Gabon, on what is now Libreville, in 1842. In 1846, the Brazilian slave ship L'Elizia, carrying slaves from the Congo, was captured near Loango by the French navy which was tasked with contributing the British Blockade of Africa. Fifty-two of the freed slaves were resettled on the site of Libreville (French for "Freetown") in 1849. It was the chief port of French Equatorial Africa from 1934 to 1946, and was the central focus of the Battle of Gabon in 1940. In 1910, French Equatorial Africa (Afrique équatoriale française, AEF) was created, and French companies were allowed to exploit the Middle Congo (modern-day Congo-Brazzaville). It soon became necessary to build a railroad that would connect Brazzaville, the terminus of the river navigation on the Congo River and the Ubangui River, with the Atlantic coast.