342,000sq km (132,046sq mi)
Kongo 52%, Teke 17%, Mboshi 12%, Mbete 5%
Christianity (Roman Catholics 54%, Protestants 25%, African Christians 14%), traditional beliefs 5%
CFA franc = 100 centimes
Equatorial republic in w
central Africa; the capital is Brazzaville
. The main port is Pointe Noire, on the Gulf of Guinea
Land and climate
Congo generally has a hot, wet equatorial climate. Its narrow, treeless coastal plain is dry and cool due to the Benguela
Current, which flows n
along the coast. Inland, the River Niari has carved a fertile valley through the forested highlands. Central Congo consists of luxuriant savanna. Tree species include the valuable okoumé and mahogany. The n
contains large swamps in the tributary valleys of the Congo
and Ubangi rivers.
History and Politics
The Loango and Bakongo kingdoms dominated the Congo when the first European arrived in 1482. The coast became a centre for the slave trade. In 1880 Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza explored the area and it became a French protectorate. In 1910 Brazzaville became the capital of the federation of French Equatorial Africa. In 1960 the Republic of Congo gained independence. In 1964 Congo adopted Marxism
-Leninism as the state ideology. The military, led by Marien Ngouabi, seized power in 1968. Ngouabi created the Congolese Workers Party (PCT
) and was assassinated in 1977. The PCT retained power under Colonel Sassou-Nguesso. In 1990 it renounced Marxism and Sassou-Nguesso was deposed. The Pan-African Union
for Social Democracy (UPADS
), led by Pascal Lissouba, won multi-party elections in 1992. In 1997 Sassou-Nguesso overthrew Lissouba and the Congo plunged into civil war. In 2002 the Congo adopted a new constitution and Sassou-Nguesso was re-elected.
Congo is a lower-middle-income developing country (2000 GDP
per capita, US$1100). Over 60% of the workforce engages in subsistence agriculture. Major food crops include bananas, cassava, maize and rice, while cash crops are coffee and cocoa. Congo's main exports are oil (70% of the total) and timber.