The Republic of the Congo, also known as Middle Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, and Congo (but not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, which was also at one time known as the Republic of the Congo), is a former French colony of west-central Africa. It borders on Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Gulf of Guinea. Upon independence in 1960, the former French region of Middle Congo became the Republic of the Congo. A quarter century of experimentation with Marxism was abandoned in 1990 and a democratically elected government installed in 1992. A brief civil war in 1997 restored former Marxist President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. The capital is Brazzaville.
Main article: History of the Republic of the Congo
First settled by Mbuti, Congo was later settled by Bantu groups that also occupied parts of present-day Angola, Gabon, and Democratic Republic of the Congo, forming the basis for ethnic affinities and rivalries among those states. Several Bantu kingdoms -- notably those of the Kongo, the Loango, and the Teke -- built trade links leading into the Congo River basin. The first European contacts came in the late 15th century, and commercial relationships were quickly established with the kingdoms--trading for slaves captured in the interior. The coastal area was a major source for the transatlantic slave trade, and when that commerce ended in the early 19th century, the power of the Bantu kingdoms eroded.
Main article: Politics of the Republic of the Congo
The most important of the many parties are the Democratic and Patriotic Forces or FDP [Denis Sassou-Nguesso, president], an alliance consisting of:
- Convention for Alternative Democracy
Congolese Labor Party or PCT
- Liberal Republican Party
- National Union for Democracy and Progress
- Patriotic Union for the National Reconstruction
- Union for the National Renewal
Other important parties include:
- Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development or MCDDI [Michel Mampouya]
Pan-African Union for Social Development or UPADS [Martin Mberi]
- Rally for Democracy and Social Progress or RDPS [Jean-Pierre Thystere Tchicaya, president]
- Rally for Democracy and the Republic or RDR [Raymond Damasge Ngollo]
- Union for Democracy and Republic or UDR [leader NA]
- Union of Democratic Forces or UFD [Sebastian Ebao]
Main article: Regions of the Republic of the Congo
10 regions (regions, singular region) and 1 commune*; Bouenza, Brazzaville*, Cuvette, Cuvette-Ouest, Kouilou, Lékoumou, Likouala, Niari, Plateaux, Pool, Sangha.
Main article: Geography of the Republic of the Congo
Congo is located in the central-western part of sub-Saharan Africa, straddling the Equator. To the south and east it is bounded by the Congo River and its tributary the Ubangi River, across which is the larger Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also bounded by Gabon to the west, Cameroon and the Central African Republic to the north, and Cabinda (Angola) to the southwest. It has a short Atlantic coast.
Its capital, Brazzaville, is located on the Congo River,in the south of the country, immediately across from Kinshasa, the capital of the DR Congo.
The southwest of the country is a coastal plain for which the primary drainage is the Kouilou-Niari River; the interior of the country consists of a central plateau between two basins to the south and north. Below is a map of the Republic of the Congo.
Main article: Economy of the Republic of the Congo
The economy is a mixture of village agriculture and handicrafts, an industrial sector based largely on petroleum, support services, and a government characterized by budget problems and overstaffing. Petroleum extraction has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy, providing a major share of government revenues and exports. In the early 1980s, rapidly rising oil revenues enabled the government to finance large-scale development projects with GDP growth averaging 5% annually, one of the highest rates in Africa. The government has mortgaged a substantial portion of its petroleum earnings, contributing to a shortage of revenues. The January 12, 1994 devaluation of Franc Zone currencies by 50% resulted in inflation of 61% in 1994, but inflation has subsided since. Economic reform efforts continued with the support of international organizations, notably the World Bank and the IMF. The reform program came to a halt in June 1997 when civil war erupted. When Sassou-Nguesso returned to power at the war ended in October 1997, he publicly expressed interest in moving forward on economic reforms and privatization and in renewing cooperation with international financial institutions. However, economic progress was badly hurt by slumping oil prices and the resumption of armed conflict in December 1998, which worsened the republic's budget deficit. The current administration presides over an uneasy internal peace and faces difficult economic problems of stimulating recovery and reducing poverty.
Main article: Demographics of the Republic of the Congo
Main article: Culture of the Republic of the Congo
Last updated: 08-17-2005 13:50:22