“Unit, work, progress”
Congo or Congo-Brazzaville or Republic of Congo are a country located in central Africa, opening on the Atlantic Ocean and dividing borders with Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic republic of Congo and Angola. It is frequently confused with the also called Democratic republic of Congo Congo-Kinshasa.
Congo at a glance
Administrative divisions: 12 departments
Population: more than 4.8 million inhabitants
Principal languages: French, kituba and lingala
Principal religion: Christianity
Current president: Denis Sassou-Nguesso
Currency: CFA franc
Conversion into euro: 100 francs CFA = 0.15 euro
Tourism: Congo is a relatively sure destination made exceptions of the departments of the Pool and Bouenza as well as frontier zones of the Central African Republic.
An equatorial country
Congo is located in Southern Africa, with horse on the equator. It divides its borders with five countries and has a littoral of 170 kilometers, in edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
The country is characterized by the diversity of its relief and of its landscapes but does not have high mountains. Its more high summit, the Nabemba Mount located in the North-West of the country culminates with 1,020 meter altitudes.
Congo is divided in three geographical zones, namely:
• The plains which border the Atlantic facade (sandy beaches) and which extend in the valley from Niari to the solid mass from Chaillu and finally in the Congolese Basin in north from the country. This basin which is part of a complex much larger, the “Large basin of Central Africa” is bordered in the west by soft slopes.
• Plates dominated by some hills in the center of the country and by the Nabemba mount
• Mountains of average altitude forming the solid mass of Chaillu along the border of Gabon and Mayombe.
Congo benefits at the same time from a relatively abundant pluviometry and an important hydrographic network including two large rivers, Congo which takes its source in the great East-African rift to throw itself in the Atlantic Ocean, as a Democratic republic of Congo and Kouilou-Niari born of the junction of Niari and Louessé and which is thrown in the Atlantic Ocean with Madingo-Kayes, in Republic of Congo.
Congo benefits from a hot and wet tropical climate because of its geographical position, between the two tropics. However, its relief allows a good air circulation what, combined spring and autumnal precipitations, allowed the establishment of a luxuriant vegetation and a flora including of the zones of forests and savannas. The annual average temperature is at the neighbourhoods of 25
One distinguishes three “under-climates however”: an equatorial climate with regular rains all the year in the North-West, a subequatorial climate having one dry season and a rainy season in the center and a wet tropical climate at two seasons in the south.
The forests and savannas shelter a fauna rich and diversified and one meets gorillas, elephants, hippopotamuses, chimpanzees…. who allow to attract the impassioned tourists of safari photographs.
Pygmies and the Bantu ones
The origin of the settlement of Congo east rather fuzzy but it seems probable that the first inhabitants were Mbuti Pygmies pertaining to the ethnos groups installed along the equator. They lived hunting, gathering and fishing season and their physics (small not exceeding the 1.5 m) were adapted to the Equatorial forests.
The Pygmies were driven out their grounds by people of Bantu origin come from north by borrowing the waterways or while surfing along the coasts.
It is probable that several kingdoms cohabit then in Congo from which that of Téké and benefit from commercial exchanges, the ethnos groups of North living isolated because of the relief.
However, of the archaeological discoveries highlighted an older occupation of the territory. At present, no true chronology was confirmed.
The arrival of Europeans
Europeans arrived at Congo at the 15th century and benefit very quickly from the commercial
exchanges with the various kingdoms. It is the Portuguese explorer DiogoCão who discovers the first the mouth of the Congo River, in 1482.
Unfortunately, Europeans also will send the autochtones in slavery during the sad period of the slave trade which will end only at the 19th century.
French Equatorial Africa
The explorer and Italian browser naturalized French Pietro-Paolo Savorgnan diBrazzà better known under the name of Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza are inserted for the first time in the inland in 1875 and establish friendly contacts with the natives.
In 1880, it signs a treaty with the king of Tékés which authorizes the placement of its kingdom under French protectorate. The French settle in Mfoa, a city located along the Congo River which will become Brazzaville thereafter. Known for his moral direction and his benevolence, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza is named general police chief of French Congo in 1885 after the recognition of the sovereignty of France on the kingdom of Loango.
Congo is then integrated in French Equatorial Africa and Brazzaville obtains the statute of capital.
The grounds of French Congo are occupied by concessionary companies which exploit the wealths of the country, mainly rubber, in return for payment of one tax in France.
To the independence
After the departure of Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza disappointed by the bad management of the colony and the little of respect granted to the indigenous, in 1904, and at the conclusion of the First World War, several nationalist movements emergent in Congo. The friendly founded one in 1926 by André Matswa in favour of the riflemen originating in French Equatorial Africa released in the military service quickly becomes a tool of propaganda for the freedom fighters. Matsoua is imprisoned and the wish of independence is put out of night light during the Second World War.
At the conclusion of this one, a Congolese deputy sits for the first time at the constituent Assembly of Paris and the Party Congolese Progressist (PC) is founded.
The first municipal elections are organized in 1956 and the abbot Fulbert Youlou who affirms to want to take the continuation of Matsoua becomes mayor of Brazzaville. Two years later, the autonomous Republic of Congo is founded but becomes really independent only in 1960.
The Youlou abbot is elected first president of the Republic of Congo. If, during his program, the abbot is liberal and promises the appeasing and economic prosperity with the people, it appears very different after its election. Indeed, Youlou employs repression to sit its power, eliminating all its adversaries which are imprisoned or expelled. Various accounting scandals splash its government which is not subjected to the tax whereas austerity measures are taken to cleanse finances. “The abbot” carries out a life of luxury and does not hesitate to resolve funds for its personal expenditure.
The economy which had made a step ahead at the beginning of its presidency starts to stagnate because of this disastrous management.
The Three Glorious ones
When the president brings together the leaders of the three Congolese parties, the trade unions as well as the representatives of the National Assembly and the army in order to rule on the creation of a sole party in 1963, it meets a sharp opposition on behalf of the union representatives who estimate that the terms of this agreement support only the personal interests of Youlou.
The president does not hesitate to make imprison the leaders of the trade unions which called with a strike movement. This decision causes a true riot known under the name of “Three Glorious” plunging the country in chaos, the state of siege is issued.
Given up by France, Youlou resigns and is replaced by Alphonse Massamba-Débat, a politician of left which brings its country closer to the communist states of which China and Cuba. Relations with the capitalist states whose United States is broken. Nevertheless, its economic policy bears its fruits and the country turns to the industrialization offering an improvement of the living conditions to the people. After a tumultuous mandate, Massamba-Debate leaves its functions in 1968 and Marien Ngouabi seizes the power.
Popular republic of Congo
Marien Ngouabi approaches the Soviet bloc but does not close the door to the capitalist countries in order to profit from the investments but also from technologies. He founds the popular republic of Congo.
Several coup attempts of State are thwarted and the conspirators are imprisoned or condemned to the capital punishment.
The country is stabilized after but had to undergo new strikes in 1976. The following year, Marien Ngouabi is assassinated and the power is between the hands of Colonel Joachim Yhombi-Opango who will try to improve the relations with France and the United States. He also fights corruption and takes austerity measures.
A coup d’état reverses this president judged too on the right in 1979 and Denis Sassou-Nguessou seizes the power. He continues the policy of his predecessor and is maintained with the presidency until 1992. In spite of a revision of the Constitution and the installation of a multiparty democracy, it is beaten with the elections by Pascal Lissouba but returns to the power in 1997 at the conclusion of the civil war of Congo-Brazzaville.
In spite of some disorders in particular in the department of the Pool, the country since then knows peace and a stable economy.
Congo is a presidential multiparty republic. The President elected for 7 years (currently Denis Sassou-Nguesso) is at the same time the Head of the State and the government.
The legislative power is exerted by the bicameral Parliament including the Senate and the National Assembly.
An economy in a half-tone
The economy of Congo-Brazzaville is relatively stable but fully does not benefit from its natural resources and the annual growth does not exceed on average the 3% against the 8 discounted, in particular because of price-cutting tankers.
The government put on a diversification of the resources and a plan of austerity to rectify the bar. At present, the oil incomes and the export of wood are the main resources of the country. The productions agricultural and industrial are used mainly for the local consumption put except for the products resulting from sugar refining.
A Bantu culture
The total population of the Republic of Congo progresses in a constant way and approaches the 5 million inhabitants. More than 60% of the Congoleses live in urban environment, with Brazzaville and Point-Black, respectively capital administrative and political and economic capital of the country.
The Congolese population is distributed besides 200 ethnos groups’ different gathered in eight linguistic groups primarily of Bantu origin (80%).
The principal ethnos groups are Kongos, Tékés, Ngalas, the descendants of the Pygmies and Echiras.
If French is recognized like official language of the Republic of Congo, the lingula and the kituba, two Bantu languages, have the statute of national languages.
Christianity is the principal religion of Congo-Brazzaville which counts 33% of catholics, 20% of Protestants and more than 20% members of the Church of alarm clock (pentecotism).
The Congolese cuisine is typically African and one finds the traditional dishes like the moambe containing chicken, the sakasaka containing sheets of cassava or the chikwangue, a bread of cassava.
A visa is obligatory to return on the Congolese territory. Apart from the departments of the Pool and Bouenza as well as frontier zones with the Democratic republic of Congo, the country is a sure destination for the tourists.
There is however necessary to remain vigilant in particular during displacements because of the complete lack of means of breakdown service and the risk of aggression in the event of breakdown. It is thus advised to move in convoy. It is also necessary to avoid walking in the disadvantaged districts and keeping on oneself valuables or money.
During the excursions, one should neither move away from the group nor to bathe in the rivers near the rapids. It is necessary to envisage drinking water in sufficiency and to carry an adequate behavior in order to be protected from the sun and punctures of mosquitos transmitting paludism and the chikungunya.
Only the vaccine against the yellow fever is obligatory but it is advised to be in order of vaccination against the Diphteria-tetanus-poliomyelitis, the typhoid fever, the viral hepatites, meningitis and the rage. It is also necessary to observe strict rules of hygiene.
Even if the infrastructures of reception are sometimes rudimentary, the Republic of Congo allures its visitors by the diversity of its landscapes going of the sandy beaches bordered of coconuts on a tour of the luxuriant vegetation of the forests via the cascades of the valley of Niari.
Five sites are taken again on the list of the world heritage of UNESCO, the old port slave trader of Loango, the royal field of Mbé and the three national parks.
The tourists appreciate to discover the many animals during the photographic safaris.
From May to September, the temperatures are pleasant and time is dry what makes it possible to benefit fully from the stay.
The visit of the Brazzaville cities and Point-Black surprises by the mixture of modernism and traditions like the colored and animated markets.