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Republic of the Congo
République du Congo (French)
Repubilika ya Kongo (Kituba)
Republiki ya Kongó (Lingala)
Flag Coat of arms
MottoUnité, Travail, Progrès  (French)
"Unity, Work, Progress"
AnthemLa Congolaise
Capital
(and largest city)
Brazzaville
4°16′S 15°17′E / 4.267°S 15.283°E / -4.267; 15.283
Official language(s) French
Recognised regional languages Kongo/Kituba, Lingala
Demonym Congolese
Government Republic
 -  President Denis Sassou Nguesso
Independence from France 
 -  Date August 15, 1960 
Area
 -  Total 342,000 km2 (64th)
132,047 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 3.3
Population
 -  2009 estimate 3,686,000[1] (128th)
 -  Density 10.8/km2 (204th)
27.9/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $14.305 billion[2] 
 -  Per capita $3,919[2] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $10.774 billion[2] 
 -  Per capita $2,951[2] 
HDI (2007) 0.601 [3] (medium) (136th)
Currency Central African CFA franc (XAF)
Time zone WAT
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .cg
Calling code 242

The Republic of the Congo (French: République du Congo; Kongo: Repubilika ya Kongo; Lingala: Republiki ya Kongó), also known as Congo-Brazzaville, Little Congo, or simply the Congo, is a country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly known as Zaire), the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.

The region was dominated by Bantu tribes, who built trade links leading into the Congo River basin. The republic is a former French colony.[4] Upon independence in 1960, the former French region of Middle Congo became the Republic of the Congo. The People's Republic of the Congo was a Marxist-Leninist single-party state from 1970 to 1991. Multiparty elections have been held since 1992, although a democratically elected government was ousted in a 1997 civil war.

Contents

History

The earliest inhabitants of the region were Pygmy people, who later were largely displaced and absorbed by Bantu who found tribes during the Bantu expansions. The Bakongo are a Bantu ethnicity 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 countries. Several Bantu kingdoms—notably those of the Kongo, the Loango, and the Teke—built trade links leading into the Congo River basin.[5]

The inhabitants of the Congo river delta first came into contact with Europeans in the late 15th century with Portuguese expeditions charting the African coastline. Commercial relationships were quickly established between the inland Bantu kingdoms and European merchants who traded various commodities, manufactured goods, and slaves captured from the hinterlands. For centuries, the Congo river delta was a major commercial hub for transatlantic trade. However, when direct European colonization of the African continent began in the late 19th century, the power of the Bantu societies in the region eroded.[6]

The area came under French sovereignty in the 1880s. In 1908, France organized French Equatorial Africa (AEF), comprising its colonies of Middle Congo (modern Congo), Gabon, Chad, and Oubangui-Chari (modern Central African Republic). Brazzaville was selected as the federal capital. Economic development during the first 50 years of colonial rule in Congo centered on natural resource extraction. Conference of 1944 heralded a period of major reform in French colonial policy. Congo benefited from the postwar expansion of colonial administrative and infrastructure spending as a result of its central geographic location within AEF and the federal capital at Brazzaville.[5]

Following independence as the Congo Republic on August 15, 1960, Fulbert Youlou ruled as the country's first president until labour elements and rival political parties instigated a three-day uprising that ousted him. The Congolese military took charge of the country briefly and installed a civilian provisional government headed by Alphonse Massamba-Débat. Under the 1963 constitution, Massamba-Débat was elected President for a five-year term.[5] The regime adopted "scientific socialism" as the country's constitutional ideology.[7]

In 1965, Congo established relations with the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, North Korea and North Vietnam.[7] Massamba-Débat was unable to reconcile various institutional and ideological factions[7] and his regime was ended abruptly with an August 1968 coup d'état. Marien Ngouabi, who had participated in the coup, assumed the presidency on December 31, 1968. One year later, President Ngouabi proclaimed Congo to be Africa's first "people's republic" and announced the decision of the National Revolutionary Movement to change its name to the Congolese Labour Party (PCT). On March 16, 1977, President Ngouabi was assassinated. An 11-member Military Committee of the Party (CMP) was named to head an interim government with Joachim Yhombi-Opango to serve as President of the Republic. Two years later, Yhombi-Opango was forced from power and Denis Sassou Nguesso become the new president.[5]

Sassou Nguesso aligned the country with the Eastern Bloc and signed a twenty-year friendship pact with the Soviet Union. Over the years, Sassou had to rely more on political repression and less on patronage to maintain his dictatorship.[8]

Lissouba, another socialist, did not bring much change. He delayed economic reforms.[9]

Congo's democratic progress was derailed in 1997 when Lissouba and Sassou started to fight over power. As presidential elections scheduled for July 1997 approached, tensions between the Lissouba and Sassou camps mounted. On June 5, President Lissouba's government forces surrounded Sassou's compound in Brazzaville and Sassou ordered members of his private

Controversial elections in 2002 saw Sassou win with almost 90% of the vote cast. His two main rivals Lissouba and Bernard Kolelas were prevented from competing and the only remaining credible rival, Andre Milongo, advised his supporters to boycott the elections and then withdrew from the race.[10] A new constitution, agreed upon by referendum in January 2002, granted the president new powers and also extended his term to seven years as well as introducing a new bicameral assembly. International observers took issue with the organization of the presidential election as well as the constitutional referendum, both of which were reminiscent in their organization of Congo's era of the single-party state.[11] Following the presidential elections, fighting restarted in the Pool region between government forces and rebels lead by Pastor Ntumi; a peace treaty to end the conflict was signed in April 2003.[12]

The regime held the presidential election in July 2009.[13] According to the Congolese Observatory of Human Rights, a non-governmental organisation, the election was marked by "very low" turnout and "fraud and irregularities."[14] The regime announced Sassou as the winner.

Government and politics

Congo-Brazzaville is an authoritarian regime, according to the Democracy Index. It is ruled by Denis Sassou Nguesso. Internationally, Sassou's socialist regime has been hit by corruption revelations despite attempts to censor them. One French investigation found over 110 bank accounts and dozenns of lavish properties in France; Sassou denounced embezzlement investigations as "racist" and "colonial".[15][16][17]

Human rights

As of 2008, most media are owned by the government. There is one government-owned television station, three government-owned radio stations, and three private pro-government radio stations, and a government-owned newspaper.[18]

Many Pygmies in Congo live as slaves to Bantu masters.[19] Now UNICEF and human-rights activists are speaking out.[19] A law that would grant special protections to the Pygmy people is awaiting a vote by the Congo parliament.[19]

Administrative divisions

The Republic of the Congo is divided into 12 départements (départements). Departments are divided into communes and/or districts.[20] These are:

Geography and climate

Map of the Republic of the Congo
Climate diagram for Brazzaville

Congo is located in the central-western part of sub-Saharan Africa, along the Equator. To the south and east of it is the Democratic Republic of 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.

The capital, Brazzaville, is located on the Congo River, in the south of the country, immediately across from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the 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. Forests are under increasing exploitation pressure.[21]

Since the country is located on the Equator, the climate is consistent year-round, with the average day temperature being a humid 24 °C (75.2 °F) and nights generally between 16 °C (60.8 °F) and 21 °C (69.8 °F). The average yearly rainfall ranges from 1,100 millimetres (43.3 in) in south in the Niari valley to over 2,000 millimetres (78.7 in) in central parts of the country. The dry season is from June to August while in the majority of the country the wet season has two rainfall maxima: one in March–May and another in September–November.[22]

In 2006–07, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society studied gorillas in heavily forested regions centered on the Ouesso district of the Sangha Region. They suggest a population on the order of 125,000 Western Lowland Gorillas, whose isolation from humans has been largely preserved by inhospitable swamps.[23]

Economy

Cassava is an important food crop in the Republic of Congo.

The economy is a mixture of village agriculture and handicrafts, an industrial sector based largely on petroleum,[24] support services, and a government characterized by budget problems and overstaffing. Petroleum extraction has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy. In 2008, oil sector accounted for 65% of the GDP, 85% of government revenue, and 92% of exports.[25]

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 46% in 1994, but inflation has subsided since.[26]

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, despite record-high oil prices since 2003. Natural gas and diamonds are also recent major Congolese exports, although Congo was excluded from the Kimberley Process in 2004 amid allegations that most of its diamond exports were in fact being smuggled out of the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo; it was re-admitted to the group in 2007.[27][28]

Republic of the Congo also has as base the metal, gold, iron and phosphate deposits.[29] The Republic of the Congo is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).[30] The Congo government has signed an agreement to lease 200,000 hectares of land to South African farmers to reduce its dependence on imports.[31][32]

Demographics

Congolese woman.

The Republic of the Congo's sparse population is concentrated in the southwestern portion of the country, leaving the vast areas of tropical jungle in the north virtually uninhabited. Thus, Congo is one of the most urbanized countries in Africa, with 70% of its total population living in a few urban areas, namely in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, or one of the small cities or villages lining the 332-mile (534 km) railway which connects the two cities. In rural areas, industrial and commercial activity has declined rapidly in recent years, leaving rural economies dependent on the government for support and subsistence.[33]

Ethnically and linguistically the population of the Republic of the Congo is diverse—Ethnologue recognises 62 spoken languages in the country[34]—but can be grouped into three categories. The Kongo are the largest ethnic group and form roughly half of the population. The most significant subgroups of the Kongo are Laari in Brazzaville and Pool regions and Vili around Pointe-Noire and along the Atlantic coast. The second largest group are the Teke who live to the north of Brazzaville with 17% of the population. Boulangui (M’Boshi) live in northwest and in Brazzaville and form 12% of the population.[35][36]

Before the 1997 war, about 9,000 Europeans and other non-Africans lived in Congo, most of whom were French; only a fraction of this number remains.[33] Around 100 American expatriates reside in the Congo.[33] Nearly 2,000 South African white farmers have expressed interest in going to Congo.[37] Pygmies make up between 5 to 10 percent of Congo's population.[19]

The people of Republic of the Congo are largely a mix of Christians and Animists, accounting for 50% and 48% of the population, respectively. The majority of Christians in the country are Catholic, amounting to 90%, while the remaining 10% comprises various other Christian denominations. Two percent follow Islam and this is primarily due to an influx of foreign workers into the urban centres.[4][38]

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Health

Public expenditure on health was at 1.2% of the GDP in 2004, whereas private expenditure was at 1.3%.[39] HIV prevalence is at several percent among 15–49 year olds.[39] Health expenditure was at US$ 30 per capita in 2004[39] A large proportion of the population is undernourished.[39] There were 20 physicians per 100,000 persons in the early 2000s.[39]

Culture

Education

Literacy is high, particularly among men.[39] Public expenditure of the GDP was less in 2002–05 than in 1991.[39] Public education is theoretically free and compulsory for under-16-year olds,[40] but in practice, expenses exist.[40] Net primary enrollment rate was 44% in 2005, much less than the 79% in 1991.[39] The country has universities. Education between ages six and sixteen is compulsory. Students who complete six years of primary school and seven years of secondary school obtain a baccalaureate. At the university, students can obtain a bachelor's degree in three years and a master's after four. Marien Ngouabi University—which offers courses in medicine, law, and several other fields—is the country's only public university. Instruction at all levels is in French, and the educational system as a whole models the French system. The educational infrastructure has been seriously degraded as a result of political and economic crises. There are no seats in most classrooms, forcing children to sit on the floor. Enterprising individuals have set up private schools, but they often lack the technical knowledge and familiarity with the national curriculum to teach effectively. Families frequently enroll their children in private schools only to find they cannot make the payments.

See also

International rankings

Organization Survey Ranking
Institute for Economics and Peace [2] Global Peace Index[41] 106 out of 144
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 136 out of 182
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 162 out of 180

See also

References

  1. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Republic of the Congo". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2006&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=634&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=15&pr.y=2. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  3. ^ http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDI_2009_EN_Tables.pdf
  4. ^ a b "CIA – The World Factbook – Congo, Republic of the". Cia.gov. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cf.html. Retrieved 2008-12-26. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Background Note: Republic of the Congo". Department of State. March 2009. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2825.htm. 
  6. ^ C. R. Boxer, The Portuguese Seaborne Empire, 1415–1825
  7. ^ a b c Kevin Shillington. Encyclopedia of African history. p. 301. 
  8. ^ Kevin Shillington. Encyclopedia of African history. p. 302. 
  9. ^ Kevin Shillington. Encyclopedia of African history. p. 303. 
  10. ^ "Congo, Republic of (Brazzaville)". Freedom House. 2006. http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2006&country=7093. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  11. ^ "Congo approves new constitution". BBC. 24 January 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1779007.stm. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  12. ^ "Congo peace deal signed". BBC. 18 March 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2859881.stm. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  13. ^ "17 candidates in Congo presidential race: commission". AFP. June 13, 2009‎. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jqfjSxI0cOeNG4TITywUuuQMNTGA. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  14. ^ Vote results expected as opposition alleges fraud. France24
  15. ^ "Congo leader son fails in gag bid". BBC. 15 August 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6948281.stm. 
  16. ^ "Propping Up Africa's Dictators". Foreign Policy In Focus. June 22, 2009. http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/6209. 
  17. ^ "FACTBOX-African leaders' French assets under scrutiny". Reuters. April 29, 2009. http://af.reuters.com/article/idAFLR9382820090429?pageNumber=3&virtualBrandChannel=0. 
  18. ^ 2008 Human Rights Report: Republic of the Congo
  19. ^ a b c d Thomas, Katie (2007-03-12). "Congo's www.newsobserver.com/110/story/552528.html". The News & Observer. 
  20. ^ With inconsistent figures:
  21. ^ Map: Situation de l'exploitation forestière en République du Congo
  22. ^ Samba G., Nganga D., Mpounza M. (2008). "Rainfall and temperature variations over Congo-Brazzaville between 1950 and 1998". Theoretical and Applied Climatology 91 (1–4): 85–97. doi:10.1007/s00704-007-0298-0. http://www.springerlink.com/content/ah8jx745740m4353/. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  23. ^ "'Mother Lode' Of Gorillas Found In Congo Forests : NPR". http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93254830. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  24. ^ "Congo-Brazzaville". Energy Information Administration, U.S. Government. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/congo2.html. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  25. ^ Republic of Congo World Bank
  26. ^ "Congo, Republic of". EconStats. http://www.econstats.com/weo/CCOG.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-11. 
  27. ^ "Kimberley Process Removes the Republic of Congo from the List of Participants". Kimberley Process. 2004-07-09. http://www.kimberleyprocess.com/download/getfile/310. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  28. ^ "2007 Kimberley Process Communiqué". Kimberley Process. 2007-11-08. http://www.kimberleyprocess.com/download/getfile/678. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  29. ^ "Mining in Congo". MBendi. http://www.mbendi.com/indy/ming/af/co/p0005.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  30. ^ OHADA.com: The business law portal in Africa, http://www.ohada.com/index.php, retrieved 2009-03-22 
  31. ^ "South Africa’s white farmers prepare to trek to the Congo". National Post. October 21, 2009.
  32. ^ "Congo hands land to South African farmers". Telegraph. October 21, 2009.
  33. ^ a b c Background Note: Republic of the Congo United States Department of State. Accessed on August 21, 2008.
  34. ^ "Languages of Congo". SIL International. http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=CG. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  35. ^ Levinson, David (1998). Ethnic groups worldwide. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 120–121. ISBN 9781573560191. http://books.google.com/books?id=uwi-rv3VV6cC&pg=PA120&lpg=PA120. 
  36. ^ "Congo Overview". Minority Rights Group International. http://www.minorityrights.org/?lid=4141. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  37. ^ "SA farmers to rent land in Congo". BBC News. October 20, 2009.
  38. ^ "Congo, Republic of the". U.S. Department of the State. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2008/108363.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/countries/data_sheets/cty_ds_COG.html
  40. ^ a b http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,,,COG,456d621e2,4aba3ee628,0.html
  41. ^ "Vision of Humanity". Vision of Humanity. http://www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi/home.php. Retrieved 2010-02-04. 

Further reading

  • Maria Petringa, Brazza, A Life for Africa (2006) ISBN 9781-4259-11980

External links

Government
General
Culture
Tourism

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Republic of the Congo article)

From Wikitravel

Africa : Central Africa : Republic of the Congo
noframe
Location
noframe
Flag
Image:cf-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Brazzaville
Government Republic
Currency Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF)
Area total: 342,000 km2
water: 500 km2
land: 341,500 km2
Population 3,702,314 (July 2006 est.)
Language French (official), Lingala and Monokutuba (lingua franca trade languages), many local languages and dialects (of which Kikongo has the most users)
Religion Christian 50%, animist 48%, Muslim 2%
Electricity 220V/50Hz (French plug)
Calling Code +242
Internet TLD .cg
Time Zone UTC+1

The Republic of the Congo is in Central Africa. The country is also known as Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it from its giant eastern neighbour, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa). It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola (the exclave of Cabinda).

Map of Republic of the Congo
Map of Republic of the Congo

The Republic of the Congo is divided into 10 régions (regions) and one commune, the capital Brazzaville. These are:

Bouenza Cuvette Cuvette-Ouest Kouilou Lékoumou Commune of Brazzaville Likouala Niari Plateaux Pool Sangha

The regions are subdivided into 46 districts.

  • Ile Mbamou Island. This is a government-owned island that is located about one hour from Brazzaville.
  • The Lesio Louna Gorilla Reserve. This park is located north of Brazzaville and is dedicated to the protection of gorillas in Brazzaville, Congo.
  • Tiger Fish Congo Camp. You can visit the Tiger Fish Camp to capture the biggest tiger fish in the world - the largest fish ever caught there was 56kg!
  • Owando is one of the recently municipalized cities in the country, and is considered one of the best places to visit in the north of Republic of Congo.

Understand

Following independence as the Congo Republic on August 15, 1960, Fulbert Youlou ruled as the country's first president until labour elements and rival political parties instigated a three-day uprising that ousted him. The Congolese military took charge of the country briefly and installed a civilian provisional government headed by Alphonse Massamba-Débat.

Under the 1963 constitution, Massamba-Débat was elected President for a five-year term but it was ended abruptly with an August 1968 coup d'état. Capt. Marien Ngouabi, who had participated in the coup, assumed the presidency on December 31, 1968. One year later, President Ngouabi proclaimed Congo to be Africa's first "people's republic" and announced the decision of the National Revolutionary Movement to change its name to the Congolese Labour Party (PCT). On March 16, 1977, President Ngouabi was assassinated. An 11-member Military Committee of the Party (CMP) was named to head an interim government with Col. (later Gen.) Joachim Yhombi-Opango to serve as President of the Republic.

After decades of turbulent politics bolstered by Marxist-Leninist rhetoric, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Congo completed a transition to multi-party democracy with elections in August 1992. Denis Sassou Nguesso conceded defeat and Congo's new president, Prof. Pascal Lissouba, was inaugurated on August 31, 1992.

However, Congo's democratic progress was derailed in 1997. As presidential elections scheduled for July 1997 approached, tensions between the Lissouba and Sassou camps mounted. On June 5, President Lissouba's government forces surrounded Sassou's compound in Brazzaville and Sassou ordered members of his private militia, known as "Cobras", to resist. Thus began a 4-month conflict that destroyed or damaged much of Brazzaville and caused tens of thousands of civilian deaths. In early October, Angolan troops invaded Congo on the side of Sassou and, in mid-October, the Lissouba government fell. Soon thereafter, Sassou declared himself President. The Congo Civil War continued for another year and a half until a peace deal was struck between the various factions in December 1999.

Sham elections in 2002 saw Sassou win with almost 90% of the vote cast. His two main rivals Lissouba and Bernard Kolelas were prevented from competing and the only remaining credible rival, Andre Milongo, advised his supporters to boycott the elections and then withdrew from the race. A new constitution, agreed upon by referendum in January 2002, granted the president new powers and also extended his term to seven years as well as introducing a new bicameral assembly. International observers took issue with the organization of the presidential election as well as the constitutional referendum, both of which were reminiscent in their organization of Congo's era of the one-party state. Currently, Congo holds a rotating seat in the UN Security Council.

Elections in July 2009 were boycotted by opposition parties. Inevitably, Sassou was re-elected, but with a questionably high turnout. Demonstrations in Brazzaville were firmly put down by riot police.

The Republic of the Congo's sparse population is concentrated in the southwestern portion of the country, leaving the vast areas of tropical jungle in the north virtually uninhabited. Thus, Congo is one of the most urbanized countries in Africa, with 85% of its total population living in a few urban areas, namely in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, or one of the small cities or villages lining the 332-mile (534 km) railway which connects the two cities. In rural areas, industrial and commercial activity has declined rapidly in recent years, leaving rural economies dependent on the government for support and subsistence. Before the 1997 war, about 15,000 Europeans and other non-Africans lived in Congo, most of whom were French. Presently, only about 9,500 remain.

Get in

By plane

Maya-Maya Airport (IATA: BZV ICAO: FCBB) in Brazzaville is linked by flights to Paris by Air France, Douala in Cameroon, Addis Ababa and Kinshasa by Ethiopian Airlines, Nairobi and Casablanca.

By car

It's safe to drive in the Republic of the Congo. A good sealed road goes north from Brazzaville, but only as far north as President Sassou's hometown of Oyo. Beyond Oyo, the roads get very bumpy and are totally impassable in the rain. It is also very hard to get a rental car you drive yourself

By boat

Passenger and VIP ferries operate daily between Brazzaville and Kinshasa roughly every 2 hours between 8AM and 3PM. Prices for the ferries are: US$15 for the passenger and US$30 for the VIP ferry. The VIP ferry is recommended as these are brand new boats and are not as cramped. A valid visa for both countries is required in either direction. The bureaucracy at either end require some time. Entry and exit procedures in Brazzaville are "easy" and straight forward and people are very helpful in assisting to get through without troubles. In contrast, these procedures are a bit difficult in Kinshasa and depend much on whether you are an individual traveller or assisted by an organisation or an official government representative. There are also speed boats to hire, either in a group or alone (price!), however, it is not advisable to book them as they really speed across the river along the rapids. Barges follow the Congo, then the Oubangui, rivers right up to Bangui.

Get around

By shared taxi or minibus

Ridiculously cheap shared taxis and minibuses run on an ad hoc basis between towns and villages, crammed with Congolese villagers taking all sorts of livestock for sale in Brazzaville.

By train

The Congo-Ocean Railway (COR, or CFCO) links the Atlantic port of Pointe-Noire (now in the Republic of Congo) with Brazzaville, a distance of 502km.

From the start of the civil war in 1997, the line was closed for six years. In 2007 the BBC reported it to be in a "decrepit state with the majority of trains now broken". UNICEF organised a train in August 2007 to distribute malaria nets vital in the prevention of the disease.

By taxi

In Brazzaville, taxis are green. 700 CFA generally gets you around a neighborhood. This goes up to 1000 CFA at night. Drivers are generally fair with prices, and haggling is not required before getting in.

Talk

The official language of the RoC is French. The main indigenous languages are Kituba & Lingala.

Buy

There is an artisan mart, as well as boutiques in the market near the BDEAC (Banque Developpement pour les Etats de l'Afrique Centrale). Really beautiful jewelry, masks, paintings, and other artwork.

Costs

The Republic of Congo CFA Franc (CFA) is the official local currency. The U.S. dollar is not widely accepted. Currently, the exchange rate is 420 CFA to the U.S. dollar, but fluctuates daily. All business is conducted in cash. Small change is very scarce and hard to come by. Do not accept torn or taped banknotes.

Eat

There is good and healthy Chinese food at Osaka Restaurant, in Pointe Noire. The average price for a meal was US$12-18. All meals were served in nice clean dishes, the restaurant is indoors and has AC, with a back-up generator, just in case. Some of the workers speak English and French.

There are several great restaurants in Brazzaville. Any taxi driver can take you to one of these nicer places (5000 - 15000 CFA). Most places are closed on Sundays. Expect beers to be overpriced here (1000 to 2000 CFA).

Le Jardin (French: soft bread, lovely t-bone, great outdoor ambiance, sometimes live music) Etoiles de Jade (Moroccan: great tagine, vegetarian dishes, sometimes they don't have everything on the menu) Mami Wata (Euro-African: right on the Congo River) Chef David (There are several in town. This is the best pizza in town, and the best one is near City Center.) L'orchidee (great lobster) Le Mandarin (Lebanese: ice cream! the best patisserie in town. also a great bunch place) Nobu I and II (Lebanese) Hippocampe (Vietnamese: weekend buffet, fabulous spring rolls, great staff, great seating area, expat hang-out)

Street food is mostly limited to beignets and manioc in centre ville.

Drink

Palm wine is a local favorite in the village. Beer is the favorite in town next to Fanta, Coke etc. There is also a local red wine (SOVINCO) imported from Gabon and the "brique", a liter of imported, mostly Spanish wine from the box.

There is a big price range on beer (500 to 5000 CFA) depending on what neighborhood and type of bar/restaurant you're at.

Produced in Congo under Heineken supervision: N'Gok (meaning "Crocodile", blond, Congolese) Primus (blond, Belgium, Central Africa) Mütsig (blond, French Alsace Region) Guinness (dark, Ireland) Turbo King (dark, Central Africa)

Imported: Heineken Bavaria

If the above is too much there is also water of various local and imported brands sold in 1.5 litre plastic bottles.

Sleep

It's easy to stumble into a brothel, if you don't know any better. In Brazzaville, people seem to like Hippocampe and The Laico (former Meridian, tennis courts). The Olympic is the nicest place in town, and though it has a lovely pool, it's still not 4 stars. "Saphir" (city center), "Protea" (southern part of town near OMS, World Health Organization regional headoffice).

Brazzaville

Hotel HIPPOCAMPE +242 668 60 68 Manager – Olivier

Price: 26,000 - 36,000 F CFA/night, depending on the room. Average price for a meal: 5,000 F CFA food + 2,000 F CFA drinks = 7,000 F CFA (EUR11)

Own by a French-Vietnamese couple. Staff is very nice. Food is good, though most of it is non-Congolese. It has warm water and wireless in some rooms and in the restaurant. Very nice outdoors restaurant.

Stay safe

In Brazzaville, petty street crime targeting foreigners is rare. However, muggings and pick pocketing do happen frequently near the ports in Pointe Noire and Brazzaville, and sometimes in the Congolese neighborhoods surrounding Brazzaville's City Center. Criminal elements are known to target middle-class and affluent residences without 24-hour guards.

Police resources are limited and response to emergency calls is slow. In the case of theft and robbery, legal recourse is limited and therefore, it is highly recommended to leave all valuable items at home.

There have been some demonstrations against the re-election of President Sassou in July 2009. Some foreign reporters were assaulted by riot police and had their equipment destroyed. It is generally safe to walk the streets, but stay well away from demonstrations.

Stay healthy

Population estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

Even the Malaria epidemic is also there with the possibility of getting Malaria is very high. The Malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum is very different with its unique symptoms ( no fever, chills or headache) but it's better to go for a blood test if your stay is more than a week in Congo and take the appropriate medicines for the cure.

Medical care is substandard throughout the country. Hospitals lack modern equipment, necessary medical supplies and medications, and well-trained physicians, nurses and support staff.

o Netcare Clinic: Address: B.P. 2422, Brazzaville, Congo Tel: 547 0911 (Main Line) OR 679 6711

This facility was initially opened in 2002. It is a franchise from South Africa. It is clean, has facilities for 3 private rooms, an ambulance, a one bed emergency room, basic radiography, pharmacy and a laboratory with microscopy, hematology, and basic chemistries. There are two main doctors (Dr.ALI,a lebanese doctor who considered as the best medicine in NETCARE and Dr.STEPHAN,a frensh doctor who is a quite good medicine. also, there are many doctors from the Congo who are like other medicine among Congo.

o Pharmacie Mavre Tel: 81 18 39 Located in Centreville, next to the Cabinet Dentaire building Brazzaville boasts a number of pharmacies, but Pharmacie Mavre is the one recommended for use by Americans. Please remember to always check the expiration dates on boxes before purchasing any products.

Respect

Caucasians should take care while travelling in the Republic. Racial tension and discrimination is not uncommon here, so be safe and keep to yourself.

Contact

You can talk to your loved ones using any of the three mobile operators MTN, CelTel (now Zain), or Warid

The local call rate are relatively cheap and cost you around 20 to 30 FCFA /min

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