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Congo

CONGO

Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

Major Cities:
Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Bukavu,

Other Cities:
Boma, Kananga, Kisangani, Kolwezi, Mbandaka, Mbuji-Mayi

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated June 1996. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was known as Zaire from 1971 until 1997, when its name was changed back to the one it had during 1960-70. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (DRC), which occupies the greater part of the Congo River basin, is a giant nation, one-third the size of the United States. It is a land of great contrastsan Africa in miniature. It is, at once, a country of wild animals, active volcanoes, and thick rain forests, and one also of villages, small towns, and a capital city that is home to some 4-5 million people. Western culture coexists here with African tradition. Despite its tremendous assets and potential, DRC remains a country where economic hardship, political turmoil, civil unrest, and rampant inflation abound.

DRC has been known as Zaire (until 1997), and before that the Belgian Congo, but its earlier history goes back many centuries to the powerful Kongo Kingdom of the south-central part of the African continent. It was dominated by the Portuguese for about 400 years and, late in the 19th century, came under the rule of King Leopold II of Belgium. The nation that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo became a Belgian colony in 1908, and achieved its independence in June 1960.

MAJOR CITY

Kinshasa

Kinshasa (formerly Léopoldville) is a city of contrasts and resembles two cities coexisting under one name. The "ville" is comprised of modern (though sadly neglected) office buildings, apartment high-rises, and an area of run-down but attractive formerly residential sections. The other is the African "cites" where most of the city's inhabitants live. In some parts of the cites, you find some modern buildings and shops; most cites, however, are like large contiguous villages, crowded, often unlighted, with dirt roads and concrete huts, bustling with life and activity.

Food

Local grocery stores carry a variety of items. Lunch meats, cheeses, meats, produce, and dairy items are generally available. Purchasing six items may require a trip to more than one store. A selection of canned goods, packaged goods, and some household items is available. Also prices can fluctuate almost daily due to the unstable exchange rate and inflation. Local bread from bakeries is of excellent quality. Some grocery stores carry a varied seasonal supply of vegetables and fresh fruits, such as avocados, eggplant, bananas, pineapples, papayas, and mangoes.

Items such as cereals, chocolate chips, canned milk, coffee, powdered milk, peanut butter, jams, jellies, canned vegetables, and paper cups are not only expensive on the local market, but are often unavailable.

Local Dining

Kinshasa has several restaurants. Though they are all expensive, they offer a variety of cuisines including Chinese, Italian, French, and continental. There are also several nice restaurants that serve a good lunch. Several bakeries offer excellent fresh bread, baguettes, French pastries, etc.

Clothing

Kinshasa's climate is warm and typically tropical, with a dry and rainy season. During the dry season, when the weather is cooler, long-sleeved clothing is sometimes needed. Also a sweater or wrap is convenient in air-conditioned homes, offices, and public buildings.

Dress in Kinshasa is generally casual. Most of the time social functions are either jacket and tie or more casual.

There is very little local clothing available, although fabric is plentiful; but there are local tailors and seamstresses who are good at copying a garment directly or from a photograph and are reasonable in cost. The brightly patterned African fabric can be used to create attractive clothing for men, women and children.

During the rainy season, an umbrella and light raincoat are very useful. Bring appropriate gear for your favorite sports such as tennis or golf. There is one good 18-hole golf course centrally located in Gombe with membership easy to obtain but somewhat expensive.

Men generally wear lightweight suits to the office and dark business suits for evening occasions. Because of security/safety reasons, night life consists generally of domestic entertaining (dinners, cocktails, video showings, etc., in private homes). Many men wear casual American sport shirts or African-style shirts made from cotton cloth manufactured in DRC.

Women wear summer dresses and slacks during the day. Long and short dresses, often made from African cotton prints, long skirts and blouses, cocktail dresses or dressy slacks outfits are worn to evening functions. Sandals, comfortable walking shoes, and canvas sport shoes are all useful. Also bring sweaters, umbrellas, and wind-breakers. A sunhat is useful.

Fabric and sewing supplies are available, but the selection is scanty and prices are not in line.

Children's clothing should be summer weight and washable. Cottons and cotton blends are recommended. Girls usually wear jeans, shorts, and long-and short-sleeved shirts. Boys wear shorts, jeans, cut-offs and T-shirts. Don't forget raincoats.

Supplies and Services

Supplies: Non-American brand cosmetics and toiletries are generally available in Kinshasa, but are expensive.

Local cigarette brands are milder than most European brands.

Basic Services: Tailoring, dressmaking, and beauty services are available. Prices range from reasonable to expensive. Dry cleaning service is available as well as other services such as catering, eyeglass repair, printing, and watch repair. Veterinarians are available. Most of the service provided is good, but rates are much higher than in the U.S.

Religious Activities

Protestant, Anglican, Catholic, Jewish, Kimbanguist, Greek Orthodox, and Muslim services are held in Kinshasa.

There is an International Catholic Church where the Parish Priest speaks English, and Mass is said in English frequently by a native English speaker. Instruction and preparation for the sacraments can be arranged.

The International Interdenominational church is in Gombe. Ministers from the local missionary community, some of them Americans, take turns holding the Sunday English services.

There is a synagogue in town and an active Jewish community.

Episcopal Holy Communion services are held the last Sunday of each month at the International Church. Lay Bible groups from the Anglican church meet in homes around the city on weekdays in the evenings.

St. Luke's Catholic Church has weekly Sunday Mass in English at 9:45 AM. When the congregation was larger, Catechism classes for children were held after mass. These were administered by the parents and, depending on the ages of the children attending St. Luke's, the activities included First Communion and Confession classes, Bible study classes, confirmation classes, and teenage religion classes. At present, a "Coffee Sunday" is held after mass the last Sunday of every month. St. Luke's also has a Lingala mass at 8:00 AM Sunday and French Mass Saturday and Sunday. Various other Catholic churches throughout the city also offer mass in French and Lingala.

The Jewish community of Kinshasa now numbers about 85 families and is becoming more active in the community due to normalized relations between Israel and DRC. Friday services are held at the Rabbi's residence on the Boulevard 30 Juin. The High Holidays are celebrated at the Hotel Intercontinental. A Jewish Center is used on Sunday for recreation and education. It has a sports field and swimming pool and is the center of many activities. An active ladies group meets once a month, and Hebrew lessons and outings are frequent.

Education

Dependent Education: The American School of Kinshasa (TASOK) was established in 1961 to provide an American curriculum for grades 1-12. Student enrollment is approximately 125. Besides children from the official American community, there are children from American business representatives and American missionaries, and there are many from the general international community.

TASOK is located on Matadi Road and is comprised of a large, tropical, 42-acre fenced campus. Classes are small, thereby enabling students to receive individual attention. In the past, TASOK students who took college board exams have generally been accepted in the college of their choice.

Facilities include a complex of classrooms, an administration building and a well-stocked, up-to-date library. Recreation facilities include a full-length football and soccer field, two volleyball courts, and a student store/snack bar area. In addition, the physical education department has two locker rooms. Other facilities include staff housing, maintenance shop, American Community Library, elementary student store, and the Scout Hut.

The school does not have facilities or personnel to deal with students who have severe disabilities/handicaps. A Learning Resource Center contains library books, resource books and periodicals, plus audio-visual software.

The high school Learning Resource Center is an air-conditioned, fully carpeted facility that has books, reference materials, weekly and monthly periodicals and newspapers, a paperback collection for pleasure reading, and an audio-visual section.

The high school sports program includes varsity basketball, swimming, track and field, volleyball, soccer and softball. Intramural sports include basketball, volleyball, swimming and tennis. Drama club, band, newspaper, yearbook (the annual "TASOL", the title left over from the days when Kinshasa was Léopoldville, is a yearly project giving students the opportunity to write, copy, edit, and photograph), student council, national honor society, as well as activity programs which can range from chess to drama are offered. In the arts, ceramics, calligraphy and photography are offered. TASOK has acquired computers to introduce students to computer sciences. Activities after school and on weekends are numerous and varied, satisfying the interests of most students. TASOK occasionally holds evening adult workshops in subjects such as calligraphy, ceramics, and computer use.

The school's calendar is essentially the same as for U.S. schools except for a slightly earlier starting date.

Most of the TASOK faculty are Americans, recruited directly from the U.S. Some are local-hire spouses and dependents. New teaching staff is usually recruited in the U.S. during February and March. Dependents who are interested in either a teaching position or a teacher's aid position should contact the school as soon as possible. In the past, opportunities have arisen to substitute or tutor students on a private basis.

The school operates on the usual Monday through Friday school week.

The local public and religious schools are in French and based on Belgian school curriculum. The curriculum of the French schools (Cous Decartes) is comparable to the programs of the French "lycees" and runs 6 mornings a week. The Belgian system (Ecole Prince de Liege) teaches in French and Flemish, starting at age 6, and has elementary and secondary schools.

There are several excellent, privately owned, English-speaking nursery schools in Kinshasa:

  • TASOK has a pre-K as well as Kindergarten. It takes children from age 4.
  • Les Oisillions adheres to the Belgian system of education. It is for children 15 months to 6 years, taught in French, 6 mornings a week from 7 AM until noon;
  • Le Club, another French-speaking kindergarten, accepts children 2-6 years old and runs from September to June, 7:15 AM to noon, 6 days a week;
  • Tom Pouce is a nursery school for children ages 2-6, which teaches in French from September to June with 2 weeks for Christmas and spring break. It runs 7 AM to noon, 6 days a week;
  • La Source, another French-speaking school, operates year round for children ages 2-5. Its curriculum is pseudo-Montessori style;
  • Further Portuguese, Greek, and Italian schools plus several small correspondence-tutorial schools are operated for the diplomatic dependents of other countries.

Special Educational Opportunities

L'Ecole des Beaux Arts sometimes offers courses in various art forms including batik, drawing and painting. "La Source" offers arts and crafts afternoon sessions; activities include ceramics, basketry, puppet-making, cooking, etc.

Classes in yoga, martial arts, and general exercise classes are offered as well.

Sports

Various sports activities are available: tennis, golf, swimming, horseback riding, volleyball, basketball, jogging, softball, darts, etc. Some sporting equipment is available locally but cost is prohibitive.

The Intercontinental Hotel, located near the center of town, has a swimming pool/health club which you can join on a yearly membership basis, although it is expensive.

The Cercle Sportif du Kinshasa has a private 18-hole golf course with a mixture of "browns" (sand) and greens and reasonable fairways. Initial membership and annual dues are expensive.

A riding club is located in the suburbs. Neat, casual dress is worn, but English-style boots and hat are required. Instruction is available by a riding master.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Unfortunately, due to the decline of the infrastructure of DRC, it is generally not feasible to travel outside the city of Kinshasa. Roads are impossible to traverse without 4-wheel-drive vehicles and even then are treacherous. However, there are a couple of scenic spots that are accessible with great difficulty.

The Black River, upstream from Kinshasa, affords swimming, camping, and picnicking for a pleasant day trip. Zongo Falls, 65 miles south of Kinshasa, has a high waterfall and is the sight of a major hydro-electric dam. It is a pretty sight to visit and a pleasant place to picnic, but access is extremely difficult and generally takes 3-4 hours difficult driving each way.

Brazzaville, just across the river by ferry, may be visited after you obtain a visa and "laissez-passer" for the Republic of Congo. There you can enjoy the atmosphere and the French cuisine of the Congolese capital city.

Entertainment

Kinshasa is considered to be a center for African-style music and a number of nightclubs range from imitations of American bars to lively and colorful African outdoor bars. Several discotheques and a number of good restaurants exist. However, costs are often prohibitive; and the danger of street crime is an effective deterrent to most night life outside of domestic entertaining.

Kinshasa does have several casinos with black jack, roulette, and slot machines as the most popular games.

Social Activities

Social life is limited but active and informal, consisting mostly of dinners, small parties, cocktail events. The American Employees Recreation and Welfare Association (AERWA) has become the hub of social activity not only among Americans but among much of the expatriate community. AERWA is a pleasant, interesting, fun "hot spot" in the social life of ex-pats in DRC.

Common forms of home entertainment are buffet dinners, bridge parties, and video screenings. The International Women's Club of Kinshasa invites all women of Kinshasa to join. It is an English-speaking club which meets monthly. The club sponsors tours and special interest groups for cooking, bridge, French conversation groups, etc. Monthly get-acquainted coffees are held, and the club sponsors an annual Christmas Bazaar in which goods made by the women are sold, the proceeds of which go to local charities.

Lubumbashi

Lubumbashi (formerly Elisabeth-ville) is a small, pleasant city in the high plateau country near DRC's southeastern tip. In its time it was the capital of the Belgian Congo's richest province, the seat of an unrecognized independent country and now, once again, a provincial capital. Lubumbashi was originally created as the headquarters of Katanga (formerly Shaba) Province's highly developed mining industry. Despite some diversification, it remains today a city closely identified with mining, particularly with the large copper and cobalt company GECAMINES (La Génerale des Carrières et des Mines, formerly Union Minière du Haut-Katanga). Other industries in Lubumbashi include printing, brewing, flour milling, and the production of confectionery, cigarettes, brick, and soap.

The climate in Lubumbashi is temperate, similar to that of southern California. September through November is warm; May through August is cool. The weather is rainy from November to April, and dry the rest of the year. Lubumbashi's high temperatures rarely approach those of Washington, DC, and the humidity is generally low. Daily temperatures vary considerably, especially during the cool season when nighttime readings drop to near freezing and daytime temperatures of 75°F are not uncommon. Dust is a nuisance on roads outside the city during the dry season.

Lubumbashi has a population of approximately 967,000.

Schools for Foreigners

Two schools in Lubumbashi are considered suitable for the education of Western children at the primary and secondary levels. They are supported, respectively, by the French and Belgian Governments, and classes are conducted in French at both schools. The education at each institution is based on the respective national systems. The French school is open to all nationalities, and tuition is paid in DRC currency. The Belgian school is open only to expatriates, with tuition paid in hard currency.

Some children attend the American School of Kinshasa, which is two hours away by plane. Boarding facilities are available at three missionary-run hostels for students in sixth grade and above. Enrollment is from the American official, business, and missionary communities, plus a large international community. Bus transportation within the city is provided.

Both Zambia and Kenya have boarding schools; however, Zambian schools are accessible only by a three-to-four hour car trip over rather rough roads. Kenya has many English-language schools, two of which follow the American syllabus. Rosslyn Academy, a non-denominational Mennonite-and Baptist-operated school, offers grades one through nine, with boarding facilities.

Ample opportunities exist in Lubumbashi for learning French and Swahili.

Recreation

Golf, tennis, basketball, horseback riding, and boating are available in Lubumbashi. Golf is particularly enjoyable, as the 18-hole course here is excellent and uncrowded. There are tennis clubs (private and municipal), swimming pools, and several riding clubs.

Each social and national club has its own soccer and/or volleyball team. The Club Nautique on the artificial lake near the new luxury hotel, Karavia, is a small, informal boating club where one may swim or picnic.

The most popular sport in DRC is soccer. Lubumbashi has a number of teams whose matches draw thousands of spectators.

Despite poor roads in the vicinity of the city, there are numerous lakes and rivers where camping is a unique experience. With a four-wheel-drive vehicle and extra jerry cans of gas, the tourist can reach the Luapula River to the east (much traveled in years past by the famed Dr. David Livingstone), and Lake Moero for a few days by the shore.

Nearer to Lubumbashi, a number of abandoned open-pit mines have become deep lakes. Copper salts have killed off disease-carrying snails, making it safe to swim in these waters. Swimming in most other lakes and rivers is not recommended because of the prevalence of bilharzia.

A three-day trip is possible during the dry season to Lofoi Falls, the highest in Africa, where a variety of wild game can be seen. Additionally, Victoria Falls (Zambia) is a five-day round-trip journey from Lubumbashi.

Lubumbashi has a zoo, where lions and other native animals are on view, as well as specimens from other continents. For wild-game viewing, visitors may charter a light airplane and fly over a game reserve about 150 miles north of Lubumbashi. Boating and (for those heedless of bilharzia) waterskiing are possible. Fishing is popular all year.

Entertainment

The city has five or six quite good restaurants, and a few movie houses which show rather old films. There are some good (by Central African standards) nightclubs. Concerts, recitals, art exhibitions, and ballets are infrequent.

Lubumbashi's social life is usually informal; various occupational and ethnic groups ordinarily do not include others in their activities. One influential group is composed of the managerial personnel of the predominately Belgian industrial, commercial, and banking organizations. Personal, social, and informal contacts with local citizens are not difficult in Lubumbashi, and the established missions and handful of Belgian social projects also provide an organized framework within which expatriates can mingle. Teaching English is a popular activity for Americans, and a good way to meet others in the community. Several social clubs exist for foreign residents, among them Greek and Italian organizations. Social life is determined largely by one's facility with conversational French. Lubumbashi has no unusual social customs or dress standards.

Bukavu

Bukavu is the capital of Kivu, DRC's most scenic province. Although the region varies greatly in topography and vegetation, it is often referred to as the "Switzerland of Africa" because of the volcanically active Ruwenzori Mountains. The Ruwenzoris are the fabled "Mountains of the Moon," reaching altitudes as high as 16,000 feet and forming one of the important divides of Central Africa. This chain of mountains is broken by three of the continent's most scenic lakes: Lakes Edward (Idi Amin), Kivu, and Tanganyika.

Bukavu, at almost 5,000 feet, is located at the southern end of Lake Kivu, on five peninsulas. It is near the middle of DRC's eastern frontier, about 1,000 air miles from Kinshasa, and is opposite Cyangugu, Rwanda, which lies across the border formed by the Ruzizi River.

The nearest volcanos are about 60 miles away, near Goma at the northern end of Lake Kivu. The last recorded volcanic eruption occurred in 1984, north of Goma. Mild earth tremors occur periodically, and the last earthquake causing damage in Bukavu was in April 1965.

Rains fall at least nine months of the year. Daily downpours last from one to two hours and are at their worst during November. Bukavu's dry season begins in June and runs through August.

Bukavu, called Costermansville until the mid-1950s, is largely a product of the Belgian colonial era. Founded about 1925, it became and still is the administrative center for the province of Kivu. The region is divided into three large subregions: North and South Kivu, and the Maniema, each of which is further subdivided into zones.

The city proper is made up of three zones or communes: Ibanda, the commercial, banking, and industrial center, where most of the European population lives; and Kadutu and Bagiri, built to house the African population. Prior to independence, Bukavu's population was about 35,000, including 6,000 Europeans. The current population numbers close to 210,000, including some 700 Europeans. The major ethnic group of the Bukavu hinter-land is the Bashi, comprised of three related groupsthe Ngweshe, Kabare, and Katanaeach with its own mwami (chief). While predominantly Bashi, Bukavu also has a large number of Warega, Bahavu, and Tutsi.

Bukavu is a commercial and industrial center. The city has a school of social studies, a teacher-training college, and a scientific research institute. It also has a brewery, printing plant, and the Mururu hydroelectric plant.

The Roman Catholic Church is an important feature of life in Bukavu, and there are a cathedral and an archbishop here. Most Europeans attend mass at the college because the service is in French rather than in Swahili.

Many sports and recreational activities are available in the Bukavu area, but entertainment facilities are limited. There are two movie theaters, showing three-to-four-year old films. Soccer matches and bicycle races are held frequently. Tennis, basketball, swimming, and water skiing are popular, except that there is some suspicion about the safety of swimming in parts of Lake Kivu because of the presence of bilharzia. Hiking, picnics, and car trips also are popular in the magnificent mountain areas around Bukavu.

OTHER CITIES

One of DRC's oldest cities, BOMA was founded in the 16th century as a slave market. Situated 200 miles southwest of Accra on the Congo River, it is the terminus of a rail line to Tshela. The city serves as the outlet for timber, bananas, and palm oil from the rich forest area of Mayumbe to the north. The 1994 population was about 135,000.

KANANGA (formerly called Luluabourg), located 475 miles southeast of Kinshasa in south-central DRC, is one of the largest cities in the country and capital of the West Kasai region. It is a prominent commercial area with a hinterland that produces cotton, coffee, palm oil, rice, livestock, and timber. Local industries include brewing and printing. Kananga is the site of a national museum and a teacher-training college. The population of metropolitan Kananga is approximately 601,000.

KISANGANI (formerly Stan-leyville) is a river port on the Congo River, 750 miles northeast of Kinshasa. It has an active central market. Villagers fish with nets at the Wagenia Falls. A hydroelectric dam at the falls provide electricity to the city. Kisangani has a teacher-training school, an agricultural school, and research institute. An international airport was opened here in 1974. Kisangani has a university, founded in 1963, and a population nearing 418,000.

KOLWEZI is near the Zilo Gorges of the Lualaba River in southeastern Zaire. Residents here have used area mineral deposits since before the arrival of the Belgians in the 1800s. Industrialization began about 1901. The city became a copper-mining center after the development of the mining company, Union Minière du Haut Katanga (now GECAMINES), in 1906. Shaba rebels based in Angola attacked Kolwezi and its airfield in 1978, flooding the mines. The population here was estimated at close to 418,000 in 2000.

MBANDAKA is a river port of about 175,000 people, 435 miles northeast of Kinshasa in northwestern DRC. The city is a busy river port situated at the junction of the Congo and Ruki Rivers midway on Kinshasa-Kisangani shipping route. Besides shipping, the economy depends on agriculture and forestry. Industries in Mbandaka] include a printing plant and brewery. The city is a cultural center with a national museum, teacher-training college, and botanical garden.

MBUJI-MAYI is on the Mbuji-Mayi River in south-central DRC. The area is one of the world's major diamond production centers, providing about 75 percent, in weight, of all industrial diamonds. Tremendous immigration from nearby areas has increased the city's 1960 population of 30,000 to over 806,000 (1994 est.). Mbuji-Mayi has a teacher-training college. Links to other cities are by road and air.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

The Democratic Republic of the Congo straddles the Equator in the heart of Central Africa and shares a common border with the Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola. DRC has access to the Atlantic Ocean on the west through a strip of territory which narrows to 13 miles in width at the coast. Its area includes the greater part of the Congo River Basin. DRC covers almost 1,465,553 square milesabout the area of the U.S. east of the Mississippi River. It is the third largest nation in Africa.

DRC is most remarkable for its river, formerly called the Zaire, and for its abundance and diversity of natural resources. The Congo River is 2,900 miles long and is the second largest in the world in terms of area drained, flow, and navigable length. With its tributaries, it provides DRC with about 9,000 miles of navigable waterways, and its force affords DRC 13 percent of the world's hydroelectric power potential.

With its abundance of natural resources, including copper, cobalt, zinc, industrial and gem-quality diamonds, manganese, tin, crude oil and gold, it is potentially one of the richest countries in the world. DRC is one of the world's largest producers of industrial diamonds, and when the mines were functioning properly, copper and cobalt provided 57 percent of its export earnings.

The geographical features of this giant African nation are handsome and varied. The huge Congo Basin, a low-lying, bowl-shaped plateau sloping toward the west, is covered by lush, tropical rain forests. Surrounding the basin are mountainous terraces on the west, plateaus merging into savannas to the south and southeast, and dense grasslands toward the northwest. The high, picturesque Ruwenzori Mountains bound the basin to the east. Although Kinshasa is only 4 degrees south of the Equator, temperatures are generally moderate. In January, the average daily high is 86 degrees F and the low is 70 degrees F. In July, this range is from 80 degrees F to 59 degrees F. The rainy season for Kinshasa and for the two-thirds of the country which lie below the equator, lasts from October to May. Despite its dreary sound, the rainy season is not unpleasant. Except for perhaps one rainstorm every few days, lasting anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, the skies are usually blue and sunny. In contrast, the dry season, though not yielding any rain, is characterized by overcast, but cooler, days.

Population

The earliest inhabitants of DRC may have been the Pygmies, followed by Bantus coming from the north and west and Nilotic tribes from the north and east. The large Bantu Bakongo Kingdom ruled much of present-day DRC and Angola when Portuguese explorers first visited in the 15th century.

The great majority of the population are descendants of the Bantu, who are thought to have begun migrating around 100 B.C. from the region that is now Cameroon and eastern Nigeria. The balance of the African population consists of Sudanic peoples, living along DRC's northern border with the Central African Republic and Sudan; Nilotic peoples, concentrated in the rugged and scenic eastern highlands neighboring Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi; and a small number of Pygmies, numbering about 80,000. The Pygmies, a celebrated people preserving all their mysteries, are sheltered by the Ituri Forest in Northeastern DRC. Like many African countries, DRC is an ethnic mosaic.

Most of this large country is sparsely populatedabout 21 inhabitants per square mile. Concentrations are near the rich mineral deposits, along the main communication routes (railroads and rivers), and in the highlands. Forty percent of DRC's people live in the urban areas. The literacy rate is about 77 percent. Life expectancy is 49 years, and GDP per capita is $600.

DRC's total population is an estimated 52 million, including some 15,200 Europeans. Kinshasa has grown considerably since independence and now has approximately 5 million residents. The American community numbers about 350 in Kinshasa and 1,000 countrywide.

French, the official and only common language, was introduced by the Belgians and is spoken countrywide by the educated. About 250 languages and dialects are also spoken. The four major languages are Lingala, the commercial language commonly used in Kinshasa and along the rivers as well as the language of the army and of popular music; Kingwana or Kiswahili, spoken in the northeast, east and north; Kikongo, spoken west of Kinshasa; and Tshiluba, spoken in south-central DRC.

About 70 percent of the population is Christian, two-thirds of which is Roman Catholic, and a third Protestant, with the rest members of independent churches, the largest of which is the Kimbanguist Church. Somewhere around 10 percent of the population, mostly in the northeast, is Muslim. Much of the population practices aspects of traditional religions, especially animism, a belief in ancestral spirits and the power of sorcery and witchcraft.

Public Institutions

DRC's "Second Republic" (when the country was Zaire), which lasted from President Mobutu Sese Seko's seizure of power in 1965 until 1990, permitted only one political party, the Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR). As MPR President, Mobutu was automatically President of Zaire, and all citizens were automatically party members. On April 24, 1990, Mobutu announced the end of the Second Republic and the beginning of the country's transition to democracy. Political pluralism was allowed, and soon over 200 new parties had registered. Many independent civic associations also emerged during this time. A Sovereign National Conference (CNS), consisting of representatives of political parties and civic associations, drew up a transition constitution, and elected opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi as transition Prime Minister. CNS membership was incorporated into a new, single Chamber parliament, the High Council of the Republic (HCR).

By 1995, however, Zaire still had not yet held multi-party elections, and its transition to democracy remained incomplete. Mobutu interfered in the transition process. The civil war in neighboring Rwanda in 1994 and 1995 disrupted Zaire's stability, as thousands of refugees fled into North and South Kivu. In 1996, a series of repressive measures against Zairian citizens in the east sparked a rebellion against Mobuto's government. By November the major eastern cities were under rebel control, led by local warlord Laurent Désiré Kabila. By May 1997, Kabila's rebels had overthrown Mobuto's forces. Kabila became the country's leader and reverted its name back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as it had been known from 1960 until 1970. Kabila promised to restore democracy, but began structuring his administration under his personal authority. In January 2001, Kabila was assassinated. The government placed his son, Major-General Joseph Kabila, in charge.

DRC is divided for administrative purposes into eleven regions: Kinshasa, Bas Congo, Bandundu, Equateur, Haut Congo, North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema, Katanga (formerly Shaba), Kasai Oriental and Kasai Occidental.

In foreign policy, DRC has tended to seek closer ties with other Third World nations and regional leadership role in Africa. DRC has also sought strong economic and political links with Western Europe and the United States. Since independence in 1960, the U. S. has maintained generally friendly relations with DRC (then Zaire). However, following the military mutinies and pillaging in September 1991, the U.S. reduced diplomatic representation drastically, going from one of the largest embassies in the Foreign Service to one with fewer than 40 direct-hire positions. Staffing has been maintained at approximately this level since.

Arts, Science, and Education

Kinshasa is the intellectual center of DRC by virtue of a centralized political system, its news and information media, its educational institutions, its cultural and entertainment facilities, and its location at one of the crossroads of Africa. Education is neither free nor compulsory and in principle is largely subsidized by the government. In reality, government-paid salaries are in arrears and school costs, including maintenance, are funded primarily by parents. About 80 percent of the students in the 1960s were in government-subsidized mission schools. In 1974, the former mission schools were nationalized to form a state educational system. This has proved to be an unworkable arrangement and a number of schools have reverted to the direction of the churches. In 1971, the government created one national university from the former Catholic, Protestant and lay universities with campuses in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Kisangani. In 1982, as a further reform measure, the Central Committee recommended a return to the previous arrangement with three independent universities and an Institute of Agronomy (IFA) located at Yangambi, near Kisangani. In 1989, the Government announced the end of its monopoly on higher education and approved a number of such institutions. Among them, the following five, all Kinshasa-based, seem to be the best organized and have enrollments of under 1,000; ISIPA (Institute of Computer Sciences), ISPL (Higher Institute of Philosophy and Literature), ETS (Higher School of Technology) and the College Universitaire du Zaire.

Current enrollment figures on all levels formerly supplied by the education ministry are not available. University of Kinshasa published 1992-93 enrollment at 11,372 for its ten facilities.

Several private universities continue to grow throughout the country: University Libre de Kinshasa (ULK), founded in 1985, estimates enrollment at 2000; the University of Bas Zaire (UNIBAZ) also estimates 2000 students; and two universities recently created by the late Cardinal Malula: University of Mbuji-Mayi and University of Equateur. In 1992, the International Christian University of Zaire opened in Kinshasa, run by American Protestants offering bilingual instruction.

Following the 1991 reports of a student massacre at the University of Lubumbashi, all public universities and most institutions of higher education were closed. Students throughout the country stopped attending classes in a show of solidarity. Financial difficulties caused by the military uprising in September 1991 continued the closure of most of these institutions for two years. Many universities re-opened in the fall of 1992, but sessions have been sporadic since then.

The continual deterioration in the economy coupled with school closures have taken a heavy toll on the quality, availability, and accessibility of education in Zaire. Teachers' salaries even at the university level rarely exceed the equivalent of US $5 a month, and often are unpaid for four or five months. Strikes at UNIKIN in 1994 centered on professors' demands for direct foreign currency tuition payments. Most schools lack basic supplies; libraries have empty shelves; and students must pay tuition at both public and private institutions.

The Academie des Beaux Arts displays fine examples of Zairian paintings and sculpture. Many Americans go there seeking new pieces of art. The Ivory Market in the city's center also offers a complete array of African sculpture in wood, tin, bronze, copper, and ivory. It offers ivory and malachite jewelry, as well as antique African fetishes (figures which have a mystic or religious significance), funerary sculpture, ceremonial masks, etc. St. Ann's gift shop, near the American Embassy, also offers similar African pieces. The outdoor stands on Matadi Road are another source of African wares. The availability of exciting and varied forms of African art work is truly a challenge to any collector.

Commerce and Industry

Following independence in 1960, the DRC experienced a period of economic and political turmoil. The return of internal stability and the increase in the world price for copper led to a period of rapid economic growth in the late 1960s and early 1970s, although the country's social and physical infrastructure gradually deteriorated. The pace of economic degradation slowed as the government made serious attempts to implement economic reform programs. However, by the end of the decade, these efforts had either failed or were abandoned well short of success.

After President Mobutu's April 1990 announcement ending one-party rule and promising movement toward democratization, political uncertainty and instability provoked social upheaval and greatly exacerbated the country's chronic economic degradation. The economy, as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), lost more than a third of its value in real terms by the mid-1990s. Most of the decline occurred in commerce and industry, traditionally the mainstays of the "formal sector" of the economy. The paralysis of the formal economy and the absence of strong central authority left a void filled by an expansion of a parallel economy, which increasingly provides the means of survival for the country's large number of unemployed. However, the advent of a new government of national unity in July 1994, committed to economic reform, implemented some reforms in an effort to promote economic growth before the collapse of the Mobutu government came in late 1996.

The acute state of decline of the economy is due to several factors, including misguided government policies and uncontrolled deficit spending, which have fueled run-away inflation, incapacitated the industrial sector, permitted a severe deterioration of the country's infrastructure and crippled the public sector. An already low per capita income declined sharply, to below one hundred dollars by 1994, according to some estimates. Generalized uncertainty and insecurity are a fact of life and were further exacerbated by successive military mutinies in 1991, 1992 and 1993. These mutinies resulted in widespread destruction to the country's industrial and commercial sectors, and led to the cessation of major foreign assistance projects and a pull-out of foreign investment.

The government under Laurent Kabila instituted a tight fiscal policy that initially curbed inflation and currency depreciation, but these small gains were quickly reversed when the foreign-backed rebellion in the eastern part of the country began in August 1998. The war has dramatically reduced national output and government revenue and has increased external debt. Foreign businesses have curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict and because of increased government harassment and restrictions. The war has intensified the impact of such basic problems as an uncertain legal framework, corruption, raging inflation, and lack of openness in government economic policy and financial operations. A number of IMF and World Bank missions have met with the government to help it develop a coherent economic plan but associated reforms are on hold.

Depreciation of the currency and massive unemployment have crushed purchasing power, pricing basic goods beyond the reach of most people. The vast majority have experienced an accelerated and sharp decline in living standards, and the collapse of the public sector has severely limited the average citizen's access to even minimal health, education and social services. Most people now live from day to day, supplementing their meager incomes with small-scale commerce, part-time farming and petty corruption when the opportunity presents itself.

Chronically high inflation, which in 2000 reached 540 percent, and periodic liquidity shortages, have led the country's commercial sector increasingly to rely either directly or indirectly on hard currencies, particularly the US dollar or Belgian franc, as the preferred medium of exchange. Further, fiscal mismanagement and the chronic shortage of local currency within traditional banking channels have distorted the country's banking system, severely limiting its role in financial intermediation.

Private foreign investment is welcomed by the government, but continuing economic difficulties have tended to discourage prospective investors.

In many respects, DRC is similar to other developing African countries. The interior is neglected; a large part of the formal economy is operated or controlled by foreigners or foreign advisors, skilled manpower is scarce, savings and investment are low, and credit is often hard to obtain. High transportation costs, a high inflation rate and the high import content of most goods and services, place DRC among the more expensive countries in Africa.

Transportation

Local

Driving is on the right, and international road symbols are used. Defensive drivingalways a good ideais a necessity in Kinshasa, due to the adverse road conditions, careless pedestrians, erratic drivers and overcrowded arteries.

Kinshasa's main intersections are manned by gendarmes during rush hours. The policeman's baton or arm directly raised signals caution and corresponds to a yellow light. If the gendarme is facing you, or his back is toward you, it means stop; when the policeman's arms are spread parallel with the flow of traffic, this means go, corresponding to a green light.

Regional

Outside Kinshasa, roads are either in terrible condition or they are gravel or dirt-surfaced.

Public transportation facilities are overcrowded, unreliable, unsafe, and therefore not used by American personnel or their dependents.

Travel within DRC is usually by air. Most principal towns are served by a variety of local air companies of varying reliability. Jet flights between Kinshasa, Kisangani and Goma operate several days a week as do flights between Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. Flights between Kinshasa and a number of other points, however, are quite irregular. Internal flights frequently depart late and are sometimes canceled without notice.

Communications

Telephone and Telegraph

Communication from DRC is extremely difficult. The international telegraph service is unreliable and is frequently disrupted. Phone calls to the U.S. can be made but are often delayed. Cellular phone service has been generally reliable but occasionally erratic due to microwave interference.

Radio and TV

Radio reception in Kinshasa is fair to good. OZRT (Zairian Office of Radio and Television) is the government-controlled broadcast network in Zaire and its primary FM station is Voice of Zaire (VOZ). These broadcasts are in French and local languages. Also available on FM as of 1994 is RFI from Brazzaville and Africa Number One from Libreville. Listeners can also benefit from international shortwave radio broadcasts (specifically VOA, BBC, and Canal Afrique from South Africa); however, the signal is often weak and the audibility poor. Short-wave no longer functions, and Kinshasa radio is no longer picked up directly in the provinces.

Local TV reception is consistently poor and at times inaudible because of lack of upkeep of equipment. TV stations in the DRC's network are government-owned and operated, but remain an important source of information on official happenings in DRC. Broadcasts are also in French and local languages, mostly news, features and film documentaries. In Kinshasa, viewers can also watch Tele Congo, (Brazzaville government TV), and sporadically a German sports station (DSF), private French stations and locally owned Canal Z, which shows first-run American films in French. In some areas, Antenne A, a privately owned station in DRC, can be seen which carries English teaching lessons and other information "canned shows." Antenne A also sells a decoder which provides subscribers with other channels as well (French TV-5, a European movie channel, Arabsat and CNN).

Newspapers and Magazines

Time, Newsweek, and Jeune Afrique and other western magazines are sold on the streets and sometimes by vendors in restaurants. These magazines and the International Herald Tribune can be purchased at the Intercontinental Hotel as well.

The Agence Zairoise de Press (AZAP) is the official government press service, which formerly published a daily bulletin in French. It too has fallen on hard times, and after almost a year hiatus, began re-publishing in 1994 every other day but periodically drops out of circulation.

The independent press which blossomed following the April 1990 announcement of the country's transition to a multi-party system has seen dozens of papers come and go in Kinshasa. The local press is free but many characterize the writing as irresponsible, often biased, and rarely accurate. Many publish strongly worded criticism of the President, government officials and other politicians. Many "dailies" publish twice a week and others publish only when newsprint and ink are available. ELIMA, UMOJA, Le SOFT, L'Analyst, SALONGO, LA REFERENCE PLUS, and LA NATION EN CHANTIER are published almost daily. Currently the newspaper availability in the interior is almost nil.

There are very few books available in Kinshasa and those for sale in English are outrageously expensive. For a fee, you may also join the Library Club of Kinshasa, located on the TASOK campus, which stocks a varied selection of fiction, nonfiction and children's books in English. The USIS library collection of 5000 volumes (English and French) are primarily for the Zairian patrons, but others frequently use the periodicals, English teaching materials, and novels.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Local hospitals do not meet American standards. Although some have modern equipment and well-trained local physicians, they lack well-trained nursing and support staffs and frequently lack necessary medical supplies and medications. There are two private clinics which can provide emergency care.

There are several competent local expatriate physicians available for consultations and emergency care.

Prescription eyeglasses are made by several local optometrists, but selection of frames is usually limited and delivery can be slow. Some lenses can or must be ordered from Europe, but costs are high.

There are some capable expatriate and local dentists, but dental care can be expensive. All dental care should be completed prior to coming to the DRC.

Community Health

Sanitation at most American residences in Kinshasa is good, but it is still prudent to take precautions. The water is not potable and must be filtered and boiled or otherwise rendered potable before consumption or use. Residences are provided with filters and boilers. Garbage collection is not always adequate and sanitation throughout the city is poor.

Preventive Measures

With prudent care, individuals can generally maintain good health. Cases of intestinal disorders do occur as do cases of malaria and hepatitis. The general advice contained in Health Hints for the Tropics published by the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (available through the Department of State Medical Division should be followed. Take malaria suppressants regularly starting 1-2 weeks before arrival.

Locally purchased raw fruits and vegetables should be peeled or treated before eating. A clorox purification is recommended for raw fruits and vegetables. If the above measures are taken, you should enjoy a healthful stay in the DRC.

Immunization against yellow fever, tetanus, poliomyelitis, hepatitis, and the usual children's diseases are recommended before arrival.

Bring long-term personal medication. You should bring a good supply of aspirins, vitamins, and band-aids. The most prevalent medical problems are malaria, intestinal parasites, and upper respiratory diseases. External skin worms are also a problem, but can be identified in the beginning stages of growth and are easily removed. Sand fleas (also called chiggers) which embed themselves in the skin are also common and can be treated by medical personnel. The AIDS situation is more serious here than in the U.S. since heterosexual transmission is common. The outbreak of the Ebola virus in Bandundu province in May 1995 has not impacted on the health of expatriates in Kinshasa.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 4 Day of the Martyrs for Independence

May 1 Labor Day

June 24 Constitution Dau

June 30 Independence Day

Aug. 1 Parents' Day

Oct. 14 Founder's Day

Oct. 14 Youth Day

Oct. 27 Three Z Day

Nov 17 Armed Forces Day

Dec. 25 Christmas

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

Since no American carriers operate directly between the U.S. and the DRC, one must travel by a combination of American and foreign carriers. Paris, Brussels, Lisbon, and Zurich or Geneva are interchange points which provide connections to Kinshasa via Air France, Sabena, TAP, and SwissAir.

Foreign currencies in any amount may be brought into the DRC, but the passenger must declare the amounts at the time of arrival. A currency declaration form is issued at the airport and must be carefully retained by the passenger since it must be surrendered at the airport when leaving the DRC.

Visas should be obtained from an Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo prior to arrival. Individuals who experience difficulty entering DRC with a visa issued overseas are asked to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. Travelers entering the DRC with visas and/or entry/exit stamps from Rwanda, Uganda or Burundi may experience difficulties at the airport or other ports of entry. Some travelers with those visas or exit/entry stamps have been detained for questioning. Additional information about visas may be obtained from the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1800 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009 at (202) 234-7690 or 234-7691, or the DRC's permanent mission to the U.N. at 2 Henry Avenue, North Caldwell, New Jersey 07006, telephone (201) 812-1636. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest DRC Embassy or Consulate.

U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa upon their arrival and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The U.S. Embassy is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, tel. 243-88-43608. The Consular section of the Embassy may also be reached at 243-88-43608, extension 2164/2376 or 243-88-46859 or 44609, fax 243-88-00228, 43467 or 03276. Cellular phones are the norm, as other telephone service is often unreliable.

All travellers must have an international certificate showing that they have been vaccinated against yellow fever.

No difficulty exists in importing a dog or cat as long as the pet is accompanied by proof of rabies inoculation and a certificate of good health. Veterinary facilities are available and are usually adequate. Bring a good general medical handbook for the species of pet you are importing. Since it can be expensive to ship a dog (especially large dogs) on airlines, call different carriers and compare prices.

The official currency is the Congolese franc (CDF).

DRC follows the metric system for all weights and measures.

RECOMMENDED READING

The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Anstey, Ruth. King Leopold's Legacy. Oxford University Press; London, 1966. This work analyzes Belgian rule in the Congo and the administrative, economic, and social and political structure developed from 1908-1960.

Bechky, Allen. Adventuring in East Africa: The Sierra Club Travel Guide to the Great Safaris. New York: Random House, 1990.

Biebuyck, Daniel. Hero and Chief: Epic Literature from the Banyanga (ZaireRepublic).Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.

Bobb, F. Scott. Historical Dictionary of Zaire. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1988.

Bone, J.J. Going Native. New Hope, PA: Pygmy Press, 1989.

Callaghy, Thomas. The State Society Struggle: Zaire in Comparative Perspective. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984. A detailed political science study, not for the lay reader.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness.

Cornevin, Robert. Le Zaire (Que sais-je series). Presse Universitaire de France: 1972. Useful survey of pre-colonial and colonial history.

Dayal, Rajeshewar. Mission for Hammarskjold: The Congo Crisis. Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1976. Account by Dag Hammarskjold's deputy of the Congo crisis.

Ekwe-Ekwe, Herbert. Conflict & Intervention in Africa: Nigeria, Angola, Zaire. New York: St. Martin Press, 1990.

Elliott, Jeffrey M., and Mervyn M. Dymally. Voices of Zaire: Rhetoric or Reality. Washington, DC: Washington Institute Press, 1989.

Epstein, Edward J. The Rise and Fall of Diamonds: The Shattering of a Brilliant Illusion. Simon & Shuster: New York, 1982. The main topic of this book is the diamond industry, but it also deals with Zairian diamonds.

Forbath, Peter. The River Congo: the Discovery, Exploration, and Exploitation of the World's Most Dramatic River. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991.

Gerald-Libois, Jules. Katanga Secession. University of Wisconsin: Madison, 1966. An excellent dispassionate history of the secession based on documents and eyewitness accounts. A useful handbook.

Gibbs, David N. The Political Economy of Third World Intervention: Mines, Money, and U.S. Policy in the Congo Crisis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.

Henry-Biabaud, Chantal. Living in the Heart of Africa. Translated by Vicki Bogard. Ossining, NY: Young Discovery Library, 1991.

Hoare, Mike. The Road to Kalamata: a Congo Mercenary's Personal Memoir. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1989.

Hudson, Peter. A Leaf in the Wind: Travels in Africa. New York: Walker & Co., 1989.

Hyland, Paul. The Black Heart: a Voyage Into Central Africa. New York: Holt, 1989.

Kalb, Madeline. The Congo Cables. 1982. A recently concluded scholarly study which covers the period around Zaire's independence.

Kelly, Sean. America's Tyrant: The CIA and Mobutu of Zaire. The American University Press, 1993.

Kitchen, Helen, ed. Footnotes to the Congo Story. Walter & Co., New York, 1967. Collection of "African Report" articles including some by Crawford Young.

Legum, Colin and Drysdale, John, eds. Africa Contemporary Record, Holmes and Meier: New York, published annually.

Lemarchand, Rene. Political Awakening in the Congo. University of California Press: Berkeley, 1964. An important political science study of great general interest. Some of the findings have become controversial.

Leslie, Winsome J. Azire: Continuity and Political Change in an Oppressive State. Westview Press. 1994.

MacGaffey, Wyatt. Custom and Government in the Lower Congo. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970. An ethnographic study of a BaKongo village.

Mahoney, Richard D. JFK: Ordeal in Africa. New York: Oxford University Press, l983. Similar to the Kalb book, but the Congo is only one of three case studies covered by Mahoney, and thus is treated in less detail than by Kalb.

Martens, Ludo. Piere Mulele & the Kwilu Peasant Uprising in Zaire. Translated by Michael Wolfers. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1992.

Masson, Paul. La Bataile pour Bukavu. A French journalist's account of events in the East. Precise perceptive reporting thought by some "old Congo hands" to be the best journalistic writing done here.

McKown, Robin. The Congo River of Mystery. McGraw-Hill: New York, 1960. A good high-school type historical introduction to Zaire and its early explorers.

Meditz, Sandra and Merrill, Tim. Zaire, A Country Study. (1994 edition). Foreign Area Studies Series. The American University: 1994. The best current general work on Zaire.

Merriam, Alan P. Congo: Background of Conflict. North-Western University Press: Evanston, 1960.

Moheim, Francis. Mobutu: 1 Homme Seul. American University Field Staff: New York.

Mungazi, Dickson A. To Honor the Sacred Trust of Civilization: History, Politics, & Education in Southern Africa. Rev. ed. Rochester, VT: Schenkman Books 1992.

Naipaul, V.S. A Bend in the River. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979.

Newbury, David. Kings & Clans: Ijwi Island & the Lake Kivo Rift, 1780-1840. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992.

O'Brien, Conor Cruise. To Katanga and Back. Simon & Shuster: New York, 1962. Biased, extremely readable account of UN operations.

Reed, David. 111 Days in Stan-leyville. Collins: London, 1966. Exciting account of the 1964 rebellion.

Reefe, Thomas Q. The Rainbow and the Kings: A History of the Luba Empire to 1891. Berkeley: University of California Press. An interesting account of the heyday of one of Zaire's most important ethnic groups.

Schatzberg, Michael G. The Dialectics of Oppression in Zaire. Bloomington, IN; Indiana University Press, 1988.

. Politics and Class in Zaire. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1979.

Scott, Ian. Tumbled House: The Congo at Independence. Oxford University Press: New York, 1969.

Shoumatoff, Alex. In Southern Light: Trekking Through Zaire & the Amazon. New York: Random House, 1990.

Slade, Ruth. The Belgian Congo. Simon & Shuster: New York. Good anthropological study.

Stefoff, Rebecca. Zaire. Let's Visit Places & Peoples of the World Series. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.

Turner, Thomas. Congo-Kinshasa: The Politics of Cultural Sub-Nationalism in Africa. Anchor Books: New York, 1972. An overview of the political evolution of the Congo from the colonial era through the first decade of independence. Turner emphasizes the multi-polar pattern of colonial development which produced four principal centers of administrative and economic activity.

Vansina, Jan. L'Introduction a L'Ethonographie du Congo. Editions Universitaries du Congo: Kinshasa 1965.

Welcome to Kinshasa. U.S. Department of State: 1981. Good handbook of sources and information regarding day-to-day life in Kinsahsa.

Wiliame, Jean-Claude. Patrimonialism and Political Change in the Congo. Stanford University Press: Stanford, 1972. An analysis of the first decade of Congolese independence. Williame contrasts the "politics of centrifugal relations" of the early years with the "Caesarist bureaucracy" imposed by Mobutu. He concisely dissects the salient characteristics of Mobutu's regime and speculates about prospects for political evolution.

Young, Crawford. Politics in the Congo: Decolonization and Independence. Princeton University Press: Princeton, 1965. As the subtitle indicates, Young traces the disintegration of Belgian colonial rule as well as the subsequent political disintegration of 1960-63. A thorough analysis, it has become the "Bible" for students seeking a useful introduction to Zaire's contemporary history.

Young, Crawford and Turner, Thomas. The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985. Undoubtedly destined to be a classic as well, although based on somewhat dated and second-hand research.

Zaire: Repression as Policy. New York: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 1990.

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Congo (Brazzaville)

CONGO (Brazzaville)

Republic of the Congo

Major Cities:
Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire

Other Cities:
Loubomo, Nkayi

EDITOR'S NOTE

This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated November 1997. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at http://travel.state.gov/ for the most recent information available on travel to this country.

INTRODUCTION

The Republic of the CONGO is a country in the midst of a political transition. Traditionally a one-party Marxist state, Congolese President Gen. Denis Sassou-Nguesso agreed to implement a multi-party system after a general strike paralyzed the country in 1990; however, after elections held in 1992 brought Pascal Lissouba to power, Sassou-Nguesso took power by force in 1997 and replaced the 1992 constitution with a new Fundamental Act, establishing a strong presidential system of government unhampered by legislative controls.

This west-central African nation, which played an important part in Free French activities during World War II, has an interesting history of tribal domains dating back to the fourth century. Three powerful kingdomsthe Kongo, the Loango, and the Tekeruled for hundreds of years, until a treaty was signed with France and the area became known as Middle Congo. It was absorbed into French Equatorial Africa and, in the late 1950s, assumed a measure of self-government with the constitutional referendum which created the French Community in Africa. The Congo attained full independence on August 15, 1960.

MAJOR CITY

Brazzaville

Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of the Congo, is located on the north bank of the Congo River, directly across from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire. In 2000, Brazzaville had an estimated metropolitan population of 1,234,000.

Its colonial history begins in September 1881 when Makoko Ilo, a Teke Chief, ceded parcels of his land to Savorgnan de Brazza, an Italian-born explorer in the service of his adopted France. On October 30, 1880, Brazza signed a second accord which gave France claim to much of the land now part of Brazzaville. By 1902, Brazzaville had taken the place of Libreville as the capital of French Equatorial Africa. Its regional importance continued to grow with completion of the Congo-Ocean railroad in 1934. During World War II, General de Gaulle made Brazzaville the center of the French resistance movement in Africa.

Brazzaville has become overcrowded in recent years as more and more people leave the rural areas to seek employment in the city. Paved roads are dotted with potholes and many roads are unpaved. The vegetation is lush and streets are bordered by mango, palm, and flame trees which blossom in November (Brazzaville's spring time).

Most of the city's Congolese population live in two large sections: Poto-Poto and the Bacongo area, where most of the Congolese from the Pool region (the southern part of the country) live.

Countries with diplomatic missions here include: Algeria, Germany, Belgium, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Egypt, France, Gabon, Italy, Nigeria, Russia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), Angola and Vatican. The following countries have Honorary Consuls: Cuba, Great Britain Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Greece. and Mauritania. World Bank, FAO, UNESCO, UNIC, and African Union of Post and Telecommunications. A number of other countries are represented by their embassies in Kinshasa.

Although a few Europeans and some Congolese speak English, French is essential for social and daily activities. In 1997, fewer than 200 Americans resided in the Congo. The flow of business representatives traveling to Brazzaville has risen steadily in recent years, especially with the arrival in Pointe Noire of several American oil companies.

Food

Canned goods, imported mostly from Europe, are available in Brazzaville at much higher prices than in the U.S. Supplies are unreliable, and shopping requires several stops.

Local fresh vegetables and fruits are seasonal, expensive, and limited in both variety and quality. Vegetables include lettuce, potatoes, green beans, carrots, cabbage, beets, cucumbers, onions, spring onions, spinach, squash, radishes, tomatoes, and eggplant. Local fruit includes oranges, grapefruit, papaya, pineapple, mangoes, avocados, guavas, bananas, and lemons. Wash unpeeled vegetables and fruit in a solution of potassium permanganate or detergent before eating raw. Imported oranges, grapes, apples, kiwi, and pears, and vegetables such as carrots, endive, cauliflower, and mushrooms are often available in local supermarkets at high prices.

Sterilized long-life milk, whole and low fat, from France is available. Powdered milk from the Netherlands and Denmark is plentiful. Evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and long-life cream and ice cream are available. Sweet butter and margarine are imported from Europe, as are a variety of excellent cheeses. Fresh eggs are available locally. All are expensive.

A few butchers sell high quality meat. Fresh beef, veal, lamb, and sausages are imported. Some fresh pork is imported or comes from local sources, as does poultry which varies in quality and is expensive. Fresh or smoked hams are unknown except the imported/pressed varieties. All fresh meats are inspected and safe to eat so long as they are purchased from reputable butchers. Fish from Pointe Noire arrives regularly and is good, but expensive. Local seafood shops carry sole, bar, capitaine (Nile perch), oysters, shrimp, lobster and, on occasion, frog's legs.

Supermarkets carry spaghetti, macaroni, noodles, dried beans, packaged and canned soups, coffee (local and imported), and many standard food items available in the U.S. Fresh baked French bread and American-style loafs are available daily.

American favorites that are rare or nonexistent include canned sweet potatoes, canned corn, U.S. ground coffee, fruit juice, canned tomatoes, meats and prepared hams, popcorn, cocktail snacks, nuts for baking (although local peanuts are readily available), as well as holiday needs such as canned pumpkin, cranberry sauce or jelly, fruit pie fillings, and candied fruits. Other specialty items difficult to find are pie crust mixes, cake mixes, brown and confectioners sugars, shortening, corn syrup, molasses, baking powder, American-Style mustard, horseradish, soft drink and ice cream mixes, and American chili sauce and powder. Bring your favorite snacks, ethnic foods, baking needs, condiments, and holiday requirements, as they are rare or nonexistent. Also bring your favorite spices, vanilla extract, flavored and unflavored gelatin, peanut butter, maraschino cherries, cake decorations, cornmeal and cornstarch.

Locally produced beer, tonic, soda, and soft drinks are available at reasonable cost. One tax-free liquor store offers good French, Italian, and German wines, beer and hard liquor at prices comparable with major U.S. cities, although the supply is erratic.

Clothing

Bring clothing similar to that worn in the mid-Atlantic area in summer. Although dry-cleaning services are available, bring washable clothing. A limited selection of ready-made European clothes are available at astronomical prices.

Because of possibilities for travel to colder climates, bring enough warm clothing for visits to these areas. Other winter and wool clothing should be stored.

The tumbu fly is a minor menace that lays its eggs on laundry hung on a line to dry or clothing damp from perspiration. If eggs deposited on clothing are not destroyed with a hot iron, the larvae in garments worn next to the body will penetrate the skin, producing a boil-like lesion. All clothing should be well dried and ironed before wearing.

Clothes deteriorate rapidly with frequent washings and ironing. In selecting a wardrobe, emphasize variety and comfort, as well as elegance and current styles.

Short and long sleeved cotton dresses, blouses, and skirts, or slacks and a sweater or stole are useful during evenings in the cooler season.

Coats are not normally needed, but a lightweight raincoat or jacket and umbrella are recommended for the rainy season.

Bring loose-fitting cottons for the warmer, more humid seasons. Short sleeved or sleeveless light weight cotton dresses or blouses and skirts are a must. Because of the heat stockings are rarely worn.

Bring plenty of shoes. Select a loose fitting pair, feet tend to swell in hot, humid climates. European footwear dark blue, black, or gray suits for evening rarely fits Americans and is very expensive. Due to dampness and occasionally wet walking surfaces, shoes tend to wear out quickly. Expensive leather or suede footwear is not recommended.

Light, casual summer clothing is worn year round.

Bring plenty of light-colored and lightweight shirts, undergarments, socks, and shoes. Sport shirts are worn during off-duty hours. Cottons are, by far, the most comfortable. A combination of cotton/dacron is comfortable Light weight raincoats and umbrellas are extremely useful during the rainy season. Shoes should be lightweight and comfortable. Expensive leathers and suede are discouraged because of dampness and wet surface conditions outside the office.

Women: Casual cotton, washable dresses, skirts, and blouses are worn year round. Although French and African women often wear formal dresses of lame, taffeta, and lace, American women find washable cottons, rayon, dark silks, and linens far more useful.

Children: A large supply of clothing for children is necessary. Many play areas are unpaved and often muddy, requiring frequent laundering. Girls will require cotton dresses, skirts, blouses, shorts, play suits, and T-shirts. Boys wear ordinary shorts, shirts, and T-shirts. Bring a good supply of casual cotton clothing for younger children.

Most necessities are available, but prices are high for often inferior products. Bring shoes, particularly sneakers and sandals; local choices are extremely limited.

Supplies and Services

Supplies: Toiletries and cosmetics are available in limited quantities and at high prices. Local pharmacies are well supplied and drug prices are reasonable, but it is often difficult to obtain exact equivalents of U.S. products.

Duty-free American cigarettes can be purchased locally for about $20 per carton. European and local brand cigarettes are also available; pipe tobacco is difficult to obtain.

Dry cleaning services are available in Brazzaville but are expensive.

Automobile repair service for Japanese and European-made cars are adequate; however, repair work can take weeks to complete due to shortage of skilled labor and parts. Automobile repair service for American made vehicles is inadequate.

Because of the humidity and intensity of the sun in the tropics, bring a good supply of sun products. Suntan/sunblock lotions, sunburn relief medications or sprays, hats and/or sun visors, and sunglasses are all recommended.

Basic Services: Dressmakers are available and are reasonably priced. Often, if requested to do so, they will come directly to your home for necessary fitting and tailoring. A variety of fabrics, both local and European, is available.

Shoe repair services are available and work is reasonable; prices vary according to quality of repair.

French and Congolese beauty salons and barbershops are available at prices comparable to major U.S. or European cities. A styled haircut costs between $30 and $50. Men's haircuts cost approximately $14.

Religious Activities

Roman Catholicism is predominant. Several Roman Catholic churches are located throughout Brazzaville. Services are generally in French. A Protestant service in English is held once a month at the Evangelical Mission. An interdenominational service is held on the other Sundays at 9:30 am at the World Health Organization Chapel. Brazzaville also has an active Salvation Army, and the Swedish Mission occasionally sponsors religious services in English. American missionaries are active in Impfondo (on the northern border of the Congo). Baha'i meetings are bilingual.

Education

International School: There is an international school that offers an academic program for grades Kindergarten through 8th grade. The school's curriculum meets the requirements of the American and British educational systems. However, the school is not U.S. accredited. Grades 9-12 are taught through the University of Nebraska's correspondence program for high school. There are approximately three full time teachers and 30 students, around 10 of whom are Americans. All classes are conducted in English. Children receive some language instruction in French. The school year runs from the beginning of September to the end of May and the hours are from 0730 to 1330. There are no extracurricular activities such as sports.

French School: The French school also offers an academic program for grades Kindergarten through 12th grade. There are approximately 50 teachers and 700 students. All class are taught in French; English is introduced to the students starting in the 6th grade. In addition, German and Spanish are also taught starting in the 8th grade. The school has many extracurricular activities such as sports, theater, bridge or music. There is a nominal fee for most after school activities.

The school year runs from early September to the end of June, with a two week break for Christmas, a two week break for Easter, a one week break in November and a one week break in February. The school day is from 8 am to 12:30 pm and 3 to 5 pm for grades K-5 and 7:30 am to 12:30 pm and 3 to 5:30 pm for grades 6-12.

Sports

Local facilities include a tennis club with lighted courts, a rugby team, a 9-hole golf course (with sand greens), Aero Club, and the Club Nautique (for boating and water sports). If you enjoy outdoor sports, bring equipment that you may need, such as picnic supplies, golf equipment, and sports attire. All equipment available locally is expensive. Photographic equipment and facilities are also available at double U.S. prices. The following clubs are open to paying memberships (approximately $1,000 each):

Tennis Club. Facilities include 10 clay courts with lights, a squash court, swimming pool, and a large bar. Balls are supplied free.

Brazzaville Golf Club. The club has a well kept, 9-hole course (that by clever use of tees converts into an 1 8-hole course) with sand greens. It is on the grounds of the regional headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO), 20 minutes from Brazzaville, and has a spectacular view of the Congo River and the rapids. Many tournaments are organized during the course of the year.

Villa Washington. This small, U.S. Government-owned club, open to all Americans, features a swimming pool, volleyball net, kids playground, basketball court and snack bar.

Aero Club. Located at Maya Maya Airport, this club has one remodeled Cessna 152 aircraft. Flying lessons are available at approximately triple U.S. instruction fees. A bar, swimming pool, three tennis courts, and petanque are available for use by members.

The Meridien Sofitel and Cosmos Hotels offer monthly subscriptions for their tennis courts and pools. Subscription fees are high by U.S. standards.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Touring is difficult due to poor quality of roads, and lack of accommodations. Trips can be made to Foulakari Falls, Lac Bleu, and the Pine Forestall within a 2-4 hour drive of Brazzavillewith a four-wheel-drive vehicle. These areas are well worth the trip, but not recommended for small children. Travel by road to two or three other scenic spots is possible, provided you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle and the necessary camping equipment. All camping and picnicking equipment should be brought; local supplies are scarce and very expensive.

Excellent deep-sea fishing is available off the coast at Pointe Noire.

Firearms may not be imported into the Congo.

The Congo River with its islands and beaches provides opportunities for motorboating, water-skiing, fishing, picnicking, and swimming. The current is swift and dangerous; therefore, it is imperative to wear a life jacket when participating in water sports.

Brazzaville is isolated, no resort areas are close-by, and travel is time consuming and expensive. Pointe Noire, Congo's seaport, may be reached from Brazzaville in about an one hour by plane. Pointe Noire offers limited night life and cultural opportunities, but it has good beaches for swimming and sunbathing, good fishing, several excellent seafood restaurants, and comfortable hotels. Round-trip air travel costs about $200. Big game parks and resorts in Central African Republic, DRC, South Africa, and Kenya offer variety in vacations spots, but high costs of air travel on the African continent limit their appeal.

Just outside Brazzaville are the buildings and staff residences of the World Health Organization's African Regional headquartersa pleasant place to walk. Other spots of interest are the famous Stanley Pool, nearby rapids of the Congo River, and the colorful bluffs on the Congo River known as the "Cliffs of Dover" or "White Cliffs".

Entertainment

Restaurants. There are a few good restaurants in Brazzaville. The more expensive (but still reasonable) restaurants offer indoor/air conditioned seating. However, the more popular restaurants are the ones that are located outside. Both lunch and dinner are served at all the restaurants. Breakfast is available at a select few. The Meridian Hotel offers a breakfast buffet on the weekends.

Night Life. There are very few night clubs available. Be prepared to spend lots of money as drinks are very expensive. In addition to nightclubs there are also a couple casinos available.

Pointe-Noire

Located 315 miles southwest of Brazzaville on the Atlantic Coast, is a commercial center and the country's major port and railhead for the Congo-Ocean Railway. The city was founded in 1883 and, from 1950 to 1958, was the capital of Middle Congo. It had gained importance after the construction in the 1930s of its artificial harbor.

Pointe-Noire is the best port on the African west coast between Luanda, Angola and Lagos, Nigeria, and continues to serve as the major seaport for the former French Equatorial states. Almost all goods moving in and out of the country pass through Pointe-Noire. The city handles product embarkation of the important manganese mining activity carried on in Gabon by the U.S.-French company, COMILOG (Compagnie Miniére de l'Ogooué). The bulk of Gabonese timber is also shipped from here.

An international airport is located south of the city. In the 1970s, petroleum drilled offshore near Pointe-Noire and processed at a refinery in town became a major national export.

The population of Pointe-Noire in 2000 was estimated at 476,000. While neither exciting nightlife nor cultural activities are offered, the city is known for its excellent sport fishing and fine beaches. There are good restaurants, specializing in seafood, and comfortable hotels. Taxis, car hire, and banking facilities are available.

As in Brazzaville, a knowledge of French is a necessity in Pointe-Noire.

OTHER CITIES

West of Brazzaville, the southern city of LOUBOMO is an important transportation center. Its highways and railroads link the western part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and southern Gabon with cities in the Congo. It is a gold and lead mining center. Loubomo also has markets for leather, sisal, and cattle. The town has several small industries which produce sawed lumber, wood veneer, and carbonated beverages. An airport is located in Loubomo. The population in 2000 was approximately 62,000.

NKAYI is west of the capital, in the southern region of the Congo. It is the major sugar-producing center in the Nkayi Valley agricultural region. Other industries in Nkayi include a sawmill, a flour mill, and plants for peanut oil and cattle feed production. The population in 2000 was estimated at 40,000.

COUNTRY PROFILE

Geography and Climate

The Congo, which has a total area of 342,000 sq. km. (132,000 sq. miles), is located near the Equator in West-Central Africa. It extends more than 1,280 kilometers (800 miles) inland from the Atlantic Ocean and is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Zaire and the Angolan enclave of Cabinda.

The country has four topographical regions: a coastal plain extending inland about 64 kilometers (40 miles) to the foothills of the Mayombe Mountains; the alluvial soils of the fertile Niari Valley in the south-central area; the Central Bateke Plateau separating the basins of the Ogooue and the Congo Rivers; and the Congo River Basin in the north, composed of mainly impassable flood plains in the lower portion and dry savanna in the upper portion. Much of the Congo is densely forested.

In December of 1993 nearly a million acres of land in the north became Nouabale-Ndoki National Park-one of the most significant tropical forest preserves in the world.

The climate is tropical; with the rainy season lasting from October to April and the dry season from June to September. Humidity is high during the rainy season and temperatures can climb to 31 centigrade. Humidity and temperatures are lower during the dry season, ranging from 25 to 28 centigrade.

Brazzaville, a city of over 1.2 million people, lies on the north bank of the Congo River, 315 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean and 4.25 degrees south of the Equator. Surrounded by a vast savanna of high grasslands and dark green thickets of low trees spread over rolling hills, the town is fairly level, with an altitude of 1,043 feet.

Violent rapids make the Congo River unnavigable from Brazzaville to the Atlantic. To the east the river widens into Stanley Pool-15 miles wide and dotted with many small islands (during dry season). From Brazzaville inland, the river becomes navigable for 1,000 miles. Goods arriving at the Atlantic seaport of Pointe Noire are shipped by the Congo Ocean Railway (CFCO) to Brazzaville which, due to its position above the rapids, is a transit point for commercial and passenger traffic.

The city of Pointe Noire, with over 400,000 people, is one of the best ports on the African west coast between Luanda, Angola and Lagos, Nigeria. Almost all goods moving into and out of the Congo pass through Pointe Noire.

Population

Over 2.8 million Congolese reside in over 133,538 square miles of land, an average density of less than seven persons per square mile. Most live in Brazzaville, Pointe Noire, and along the connecting rail line. Few people live in the northern sections which are covered by savanna, swamp and rain forest.

Outside the main towns, the Congolese are divided into small communities. Among 75 distinct subdivisions, the Kongo, the Teke, and the Sangha are the three principal ethnic groups.

Two million Kongo are found on both sides of the Congo River, about one-fourth in the Congo, the rest in Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Lari and related groups live around Brazzaville, and the Vili, a coastal group, predominate in the Pointe Noire area. The Sangha inhabits the northern part of the country along with the M'Bochi group. However, many of the M'Bochi group have migrated to Brazzaville.

The Teke group is spread over a large area north and northeast of Brazzaville. They are the most traditional of the ethnic groups, engaging in hunting and fishing. Animistic worship is still predominant, although most of the urban population is Christian. In rural areas, the Congolese live in small communities having little outside contact. The European community in the Congo number over 8,000, principally French nationals.

History

First inhabited by pygmies, Congo was later settled by Bantu groups who also occupied parts of presentday Angola, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Several Bantu kingdoms, notably those of the Kongo, the Loango, and the Teke, built trade links along the Congo river basin. The first European contacts came in the late fourth 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.

The area came under French sovereignty in the 1880s. Pierre Sauvignon de Brazza, a French empire builder, competed with agents of Belgian King Leopold's International Congo Association (later Zaire) for control of the Congo River basin. Between 1882 and 1891, treaties were secured with all the main local rulers on the river's right bank, placing their lands under French protection. In 1908, France organized French Equatorial African (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 by private companies. In 1924-34, the Congo-Ocean Railway (CFCO) was built at a considerable human and financial cost, opening the way for growth of the ocean port of Pointe-Noire and towns along its route.

During World War II, the AEF administration sided with Charles DeGaulle, and Brazzaville became the symbolic capital of Free France during 1940-1943. The Brazzaville Conference of 1944 heralded a period of major reform in French colonial policy, including the abolition of forced labor, granting of French citizenship to colonial subjects, decentralization of certain powers, and election of local advisory assemblies. 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. The Loi Cadre (framework law) of 1956 ended dual voting roles and provided for partial self-government for the individual overseas territories. Ethnic rivalries then produced sharp struggles among the emerging Congolese political parties and sparked severe riots in Brazzaville in 1959. After the September 1958 referendum approving the new French constitution, AEF was dissolved. Its four territories became autonomous members of the French Community, and Middle Congo was renamed the Congo Republic. Formal independence was granted in August 1960.

Congo's first president was Fulbert Youlou, a former Catholic priest from the southeast region. He rose to political prominence after 1956, and was narrowly elected president by the National Assembly at independence. Youlou's three years in power were marked by ethnic tensions and political rivalry. In August 1963, Youlou was overthrown in a three-day popular uprising (Les Trois Glorieuses) led by labor elements and joined by rival political parties. All members of the Youlou government were arrested or removed from office. The Congolese military took charge of the country briefly and installed a civilian provisional government headed by Alphonse Massamba-Debat. Under the 1963 constitution, Massamba-Debat was elected President for a five-year term and named the current President, Pascal Lissouba to serve as Prime Minister. However, President Massamba-Debat's term ended abruptly in August 1968, when Captain Marien Ngouabi and other army officers toppled the government in a coup. After a period of consolidation under the newly-formed National Revolutionary council, Major Ngouabi 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 Labor Party (PCT).

On March 16, 1977, President Ngouabi was assassinated and, less than one week later, Archbishop Biayenda was also killed. Although the persons accused of shooting Ngouabi and Biayenda were tried and some of them executed, the motivation behind the assassinations is still not clear. An 11-member Military Committee of the Party (CMP) was named to head an interim government with Colonel (later General) Joachim Yhomby-Opango to serve as President of the Republic. Accused of corruption and deviation from party directives, Yhomby-Opango was removed from office on February 5, 1979, by the Central Committee of the PCT, which then simultaneously designated Vice President and Defense Minister Colonel Denis Sassou-Nguesso as interim President. The Central Committee directed Sassou-Nguesso to take charge of preparations for the Third Extraordinary Congress of the PCT, which proceeded to elect him President of the Republic. Under a congressional resolution. Yhomby-Opango was stripped of all powers, rank, and possessions and placed under arrest to await trail for high treason. He was released from house arrest in late 1984 and ordered back to his native village of Owando.

After decades of turbulent politics belabored by Marxist-Leninist rhetoric, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Congolese gradually moderated their economic and political views to the point that in 1992 Congo completed a transition to multi-party democracy. Ending a long history of one-party Marxist rule, a specific agenda for this transition was laid out during Congo's national conference of 1991 and culminated in August 1992 with multi-party presidential elections. Sassou-Nguesso conceded defeat and Congo's new president, Professor Pascal Lissouba, was inaugurated on August 31, 1992.

Congolese democracy experienced severe trials in 1993 and early 1994. The President dissolved the National Assembly in November 1992, and called for new elections in May 1993. The results of those elections were disputed, touching off violent civil unrest in June and again in November.

With the help of Angolan troops and other forces, Sassou-Nguesso, a northerner, defeated the forces of Lissouba, a southerner, in 1997. President Sassou-Nguesso's Government replaced the country's 1992 Constitution with a new Fundamental Act, which established a strong and highly centralized presidential system of government. The President appoints all members of the Government, all senior military officers, and all subnational government officials, serves as commander in chief of the armed forces, and specifically is mandated to direct the general policy of the Government and to exercise regulatory powers. Legislative authority is vested in the 75-member National Transition Council (Conseil National de Transition, or CNT). The judiciary is overburdened and subject to political interference. Renewed civil conflict broke out in August 1998 and continued throughout the south until the end of 1999 between forces supporting Sassou, which included Angolan allies, Rwandan Hutu militiamen, and irregular fighters of Chadian and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) nationality, and southern rebel groups supporting Lissouba. In 1999 the Government reestablished effective control over most of the south through military offensives, offers of amnesty, negotiations, and efforts to broaden the Government's political base. In November and December 1999, the Government signed cease-fire and reconciliation accords with rebel groups.

In the presidential election held in March 2002, Sassou-Nguesso won with 74.7% of the vote. In May 2002, parliamentary elections were held for the 137-member National Assembly, the first vote since the civil wars ended in 1999.

Arts, Science, and Education

Designated by the French during the colonial era to be the civil servants of Equatorial Africa, the Congolese have traditionally taken great pride in their French-oriented educational system. With the exception of Senegal, no country in Africa had a more developed educational system at the time of independence than the Congo. The literacy rate is still among the highest in Africa, and professors and teachers are held in high regard.

While the glory days of the Congolese educational system are long gone, all school-age children (6-19) are entitled to free education. School attendance is, in principle, compulsory until age 16. Almost all school-age children in urban areas attend classes, though enrollment drops off in the countryside. Brazzaville's Marien Ngouabi University is the sole institution of higher learning in the country. Founded in 1961, it has an average enrollment of approximately 16,500 students.

The Congo is widely known throughout Africa as a center of francophone literature, and several Congolese writers have worldwide reputations. The American Cultural Center welcomes these authors and often provides a forum for lectures and discussions. The French Cultural Center, known locally as the Espace Andre malraux, opened its doors in 1991 and is one of France's finest centers in sub-Saharan Africa. It regularly offers plays, concerts, exhibitions, and film shows.

The Poto-Poto Art School was founded by Pierre Lods in 1951 and is accessible to the general public throughout the week. Works by Congolese painters and sculptors can also be found in their workshops throughout the city. Traditional handicrafts are not as prevalent as they were in the past, though there are some fine craftsmen working in the production of pottery, baskets, rattan and wood furniture, and textiles.

As the regional headquarters of the World Health Organization and as a base for the Food and Agricultural Organization, Brazzaville remains an important center of scientific research.

Commerce and Industry

Debt continues to be one of the largest impediments for development of the Congo. During the petroleum boom years, the Congo mortgaged its oil revenues and became one of the most heavily indebted countries per capita in the world. When the price of oil fell, the Congo found its economy paralyzed by the debt burden and its over dependence on this one industry.

In recent years, the Government has engaged in considerable structural adjustment efforts and made some progress in diversifying the economy. Agricultural production in manioc, peanuts, bananas, rice, coffee, and cocoa has increased. The Congo also has tropical hardwoods and eucalyptus trees under cultivation. Finally the Congo has increased regional economic cooperation, most notably with South Africa.

Structural reform efforts include: civil service downsizing, customs/tax reforms and measures to promote private sector development. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $14 million credit in November 2000 to aid post-conflict reconstruction.

A signatory to the Lome Convention, the Congo conducts most of its external trade with members of the European Community, particularly with France. Due to increasing purchases of Congolese petroleum, the U.S. is currently the Congo's leading overall trading partner. The Congo is also a member of the UDEAC (Union Douaniere et Economique de l'Afrique Centrale), composed of the former territories of French Equatorial Africa, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea, and the CEEAC (Communaute Economique des Etats de l'Afrique Centrale).

Transportation

Local

Local buses are not used by Europeans and Americans because of overcrowding and unsafe driving. Taxi service is adequate and prices are reasonable. However, taxis are not recommended at night due to security concerns.

Regional

Many roads in Brazzaville are paved; however, there are numerous pot holes. South of Brazzaville there is a road once paved but now in poor condition which leads to Kinkala (about 75 km). The road continues unpaved to Pointe Noire. There is a paved road north of Brazzaville that leads to Owando (about 500 km). Many roads, paved or unpaved, are almost impossible to travel without a four-wheel-drive vehicle, particularly during the rainy season.

Driving is on the right. French traffic rules prevail; the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way. Since main roads are crowed with pedestrians, motorbikes, and speeding taxis, driving can be dangerous.

Large boats with modest accommodations make river trips possible up the Congo and Oubangui Rivers to Bangui, capital of Central African Republic. A distance of about 600 miles, the trip takes 11 days upriver and 7 days down. River travel, however, is unpredictable due to water levels and is often difficult to arrange.

There is a 315-mile railway that connects Brazzaville with Pointe Noire. However, because of frequent derailments and track reparations, long delays are not uncommon.

Air

Sabena, Air France, Air Afrique, Air Portugal, Swissair and Aeroflot fly to Brazzaville from Europe; Air Afrique, Ethiopian Airlines, Angolan Airlines, Cameroon Airlines, Air France, Air Gabon serve Africa. Lina Congo, Aeroservice and Trans Air Congo serve Pointe-Noire. The Brazzaville airport, Maya-Maya, is 6 kilometers from downtown.

Communications

Telephone and Fax

Local telephone, cable and wireless communications are adequate, although delays can be common.

Radio and TV

Congolese radio broadcasts on short-wave, medium wave, and FM from 6:00 a.m. until late evening. Broadcasts are in French and local languages, with one English-language program per week. RFI, BBC, African Number 1, and Canal Afrique are also received locally. With a short-wave receiver, individuals can listen to VOA, BBC, and European broadcasts.

Tele Congo Broadcasts afternoon and evenings in French and local languages, with a weekly English news program on Sundays. Individuals can also receive Zairian television, CFI (Canal France International), RFO (Regie France Outre-Mer), Canal Zaire, DSF (Deutsches Sportfernshen), and sometimes CNN. Local television broadcasts on the SECAM system.

Newspaper, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Since the transition to democracy in 1991-92, there has been a developing free press in Congo and more than a dozen Congolese weeklies and monthlies are available. French magazines and newspapers, other European magazines, Time, Newsweek, and the International Herald-Tribune are available in Brazzaville, though at high prices. All papers and periodicals are several days old.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

The local hospitals and clinics are not up to U.S. standards.

Kinshasa has a few facilities for obstetric and gynecological patients, but many American women living in the country travel to Europe or the U.S. for medical attention and to give birth.

A reputable dentist practices in Brazzaville and another in Kinshasa, DRC, but all preventive dental work should be done prior to arriving.

Preventive Measures

Malaria is endemic to the Congo region. Mefloquine, Choloroquine/Paludrine and other antimalaria pills must be taken regularly. Begin taking malaria pills 2 weeks before arrival and continue for 4 weeks after departure.

Proof of small pox vaccination is not longer required in the Congo, but typhoid and yellow fever immunizations are still required by the State Department. Tetanus and polio immunizations should be completed prior to arrival. Also highly recommended, are rabies vaccines, hepatitis A and B vaccines and gamma globulin injections.

Up-to-date cholera stamps are recommended for all travelers to the Congo in order to minimize problems with quarantine officials when entering the country. These cholera stamps are required for travel to DRC.

Diarrhea diseases, skin infections, hepatitis, and intestinal parasites are also common. General respiratory ailments take longer to cure than in more temperate climates. For some, the heat and humidity are the most unpleasant medical aspects of life here. The climate aggravates respiratory, sinus, and low blood pressure problems. Fluoride tablets are recommended for children's teeth. Supplementary vitamins in the daily diet may be helpful.

Brazzaville has a water purification plant; however, the questionable quality of the water, water distribution facilities, and climate dictate that drinking water be boiled and filtered. Vegetables and fruits should be washed thoroughly. If these items are to be eaten raw, outer skins should be removed. In preparing lettuce for salads, wash each leaf at least twice in cooled, boiled water.

NOTES FOR TRAVELERS

A passport and a visa are required. Information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Congo, 4891 Colorado Ave., N.W., Washington D.C. 20011, telephone (202) 726-0825, or from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Congo to the United Nations, 14 E. 65th St., New York, NY, 10021, telephone (212) 744-7840. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

As of 1997, there were no quarantine or restrictions on pets.

Firearms may not be imported into the Congo.

The official currency unit is the XAF (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc and is pegged to the French franc at the rate of 100/1. The exchange rate fluctuates. In January 2001, the rate was 699 XAF = US $1. From January 1, 1999, the XAF is pegged to the euro at a rate of 655 XAF per euro.

The metric system of weights and measures is used.

LOCAL HOLIDAYS

Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Feb. 5 President's Day

Feb. 8 Youth Day

Mar/Apr. Easter*

Mar. 8 Women's Day

Mar. 18 Marien Ngouabi Day

May 1 Labor Day

June 22 Foundation of the National People's Army

July 31 Upswing of the Revolution Congo

Aug. 12 Revolution Anniversary

Aug. 15 Assumption

Aug. 15 Independence Day

Nov. 1 All Saint's Day

Nov. 17Army Day

Dec. 25 Children's Day

Dec. 25 Christmas

Dec. 31 Foundation of the Congolese Labor Party

Dec. 31 Republic Day

* variable

RECOMMENDED READING

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Africa South of the Sahara 1992. London: Europa Publications, 1991.

Allen, C., Radu, M.S., Somerville, K., et al. Benin, The Congo, Burkina Faso: Economics, Politics and Society. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.

Ballif, Noel. The Congo. Editions Karthala, 1993.

Congo. New York: Chelsea House, 1990.

Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 1993. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.

Nugent, Rory. Drums Along the Congo. Houghton Mifflin Company 1993.

Sarno, Louis. Song from the Forest. Penguin Books 1993.

Sckolnick, Lewis. Business Forecaster. Rector 1994.

. Business Risk Overview. Rector Press 1994.

Starr, Frederick. An Ethnographic Album. AMS Press.

Thompson, V. and Adloff, R. Historical Dictionary of the People's Republic of the Congo. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1984.

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Congo

Congo

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 51,964,999
Language(s): French, Lingala, Kingwana, Kikongo, Tshiluba
Literacy rate: 77.3%

Background & General Characteristics

Brief Socio-political Background

Several socio-political discussions, including ethnography, geography, and literacy are necessary for an appreciation of the press in the Republic of the Congo (the Congo). The Congo formed part of French Equatorial Africa (FEA) until its independence from France in 1960. FEA included what are now known as the Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Chad. Brazzaville was the capital of FEA and remains the capital of the Congo. In its long-standing history as capital first of FEA then of the independent Republic of the Congo, it has been privileged in terms of education, industry, government, and commerce. The only other major town is Pointe-Noire, almost due west of Brazzaville, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the center of the Congo's oil exploration and export.

Ethnography and Geography

The Bakongo ethnic group predominates. Next to the Bakongo are the Bateke, who live to the immediate north. Further north are a good number of small speech communities that are not active participants in Congolese socio-political life. The languages spoken in the Congo belong to the Bantu family. The Bakongo are divided into eleven sub-groups with strong attachment to their group membership and equally strong claims of speaking a dialect of Kikongo. The strength of these sub-group attachments has resulted in a simplified form of Kikongo known as Kituba. TheBateke as well as the Bakongo accept Kituba as a Congolese lingua franca to cross ethnic and linguistic boundaries. As a result the vast majority of the citizens of the Congo speak Kituba as well as their own languages or dialects. The Congo River separates the Republic of the Congo from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa; previously Zaire). Lingala, another Bantu language, has evolved as yet another lingua franca up and down the Congo River. It has spread both east and west and has become quite established alongside Kituba in the Congo. During the French colonization, French language and culture were superimposed upon all of these peoples and languages. Upon independence, the Congo emerged with five languages: Kikongo, Kiteke,Kituba, Lingala, and French. As the language of colonial power, French evolved as the language for all formal contexts, including most importantly elite education and communication. French has remained the official language in government and education at all levels. A citizen of the Congo must be quadrilingual, speaking Kiteke, or a dialect of Kikongo, Kituba Lingala, and French, in order to negotiate successfully through Congolese life. The government attempts to the extent of its means to promote Kituba and to a lesser extent Lingala, but these efforts have not succeeded in overcoming French.

Literacy and Education

The total population of the Congo is about 53 million. Literacy for those between the ages of 15 and 25 is claimed to be as high as 81 percent (as of 2000). The percentage of those over 25 years of age with no schooling at all as of 1984 was 58.8 percent. The number of students in primary schools as of 1996 was almost half a million. The number of students in secondary and vocational schools again in 1996 was almost quarter of a million. Those attending university (Université Marien Ngouabi) numbered about 14,000 in 1993. Although literacy is high, there is a sharply decreasing rate of access to education as one progresses from primary school to university education. All figures regarding education and attained rates of literacy regard learning in French. Not surprisingly, the reading public reads largely in French.

The Press

Four daily newspapers are currently published within Congo: Aujourd'hui ; L'Eveil de Pointe-Noire; Journal de Brazzaville Mweti, and Kikongo. Several news-related periodicals are available as well:

  • Bakento ya Congo (Quarterly, Brazzaville, Kikongo, circulation 3,000)
  • Bulletin Mensuel de la Chambre de Commerce de Brazzaville (Monthly)
  • Bulletin de Statistique (Quarterly, Brazzaville)
  • Le Choc (Weekly, Brazzaville)
  • Combattant Rouge (Monthly, Brazzaville)
  • Congo-Magazine (Monthly, Brazzaville, circulation 3,000)
  • Effort (Monthly, Brazzaville)
  • Le Flambeau (Weekly, Brazzaville)
  • Le Forum (Weekly, Brazzaville)
  • Le Gardien (Fortnightly, Brazzaville, circulation 2,500)
  • Jeunesse et Révolution (Weekly, Brazzaville)
  • Le Madukutsekele (Weekly, Brazzaville, circulation 5,000)
  • La Nouvelle République (Weekly, Brazzaville)
  • L'Opinion (Monthly, Brazzaville)
  • Paris-Brazzaville (Weekly)
  • Le Pays (Weekly, Brazzaville)
  • La Rue Muert (Weekly, Brazzaville, circulation 3,000)
  • La Semaine Africaine (Weekly, Brazzaville, circulation 7,500)
  • Le Soleil (Weekly, Brazzaville)
  • Le Stade (Weekly, Brazzaville, circulation 6,500)
  • Voix de la Classe Ouvriére (six a year, Brazzaville, circulation 4,500)

The numbers given for the specialized periodicals would suggest a total readership in substantial numbers within the literate-schooled population. It is revealing that with one exception they are all published in Brazzaville and again with one exception they are all in French.

Press Laws & Censorship

The Congo has been under severe political stress in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Publications reflect the publishers' political orientation. There is recent legislation to protect the freedom of the press (which is currently listed as "not free" by Freedom House) except for libel against individuals, the president, and the judiciary and for incitement of inter-ethnic conflict. However, laws exist which state that journalists must demonstrate unwavering support of the government. Huge fines exist for any found guilty of libel, slander, and inciting ethnic violence. Almost any criticism could be construed as incitement of inter-ethnic conflict, and it is often so interpreted.

State-Press Relations

The newspapers and periodicals may not all be available at all times. Some may cease publication for a period of time or permanently. New ones may appear for indeterminate periods. Editors and editorial boards may change suddenly. This instability reflects the political and social stresses within which both the press and the political body at large exist and interact. The socio-political status of the Congo has not evolved to a point where one could consider the government, the press, the economic sector, the judiciary, the military, and so on, as distinct entities. The individual participants in these various sectors all belong to a small French educated elite. There is a great deal of mobility of participants from one sector to the other. Hence, the relationship between the state and the press is ambiguous as well as in flux. If there is a constant factor it is ethnic allegiance.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

In addition to the publications listed earlier within the Congo, Brazzaville and to some extent Pointe-Noire provide for ample access to French publications such as Le Monde, Jeune Afrique, and Le Nouvel Observateur. These are of special interest to the expatriate communities as well as the university educated Congolese community. Several major countries have cultural centers in Brazzaville. Their libraries make available promotionally oriented publications in their respective languages. Newsweek, Time, and The Herald Tribune are available through the American Cultural Center and in hotel newsstands.

The governing elite does not seem to have a policy on foreign publications. One major reason is that only the educated elite who can afford these publications would read them. Another reason is that for the most part the expatriate community reads them, and they insist on having them available. A third reason, and likely the most important one, is that criticism within the foreign media is rarely initiated internally.

Broadcast & ELECTRONIC News Media

Dissemination of news in Congolese African languages finds an outlet through radio broadcasts and television. Only 33,000 own television sets but 341,000 possess radios. French fills the greatest amount of time in either venue. Limited amounts of time are allocated to African languages. Radio Congo (transmitters in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire) broadcasts in Lingala and Kikongo as well as in French. TéléCongo operates on a limited daily schedule mostly in French with a restricted amount of time in Lingala and Kikongo. Whereas radios are readily available and are indeed owned by most Congolese, television sets are economically restricted to the upper middle class of society. Kinshasa, the capital of Congo-Kinshasa, is directly across the Congo River from Brazzaville. The two Congos have not been on good terms, but the populations of Brazzaville and Kinshasa have easy access to radio and television transmissions from both cities. Radio Congo's and TéléCongo 's choices ofLingala and Kikongo is meant to reach a large segment of the Congo-Kinshasa population which speaks these two languages. Kinshasa radio and television transmissions tend to have a larger portion of airtime given to African languages. African languages, especially Lingala, Kikongo, and Kiswahili from Kinshasa, find a significant outlet on both sides of the Congo River in the famous Congo-Jazz style of song and rhythm, and more recently in rap style in Kiswahili. These venues and styles of music could legitimately be considered to correspond to the American college town "alternative press."

Although several newspapers have online editions, very few are able to access them, as Congo only has one Internet Service Provider and 500 users within the country.

Bibliography

Acct, Cerdotola, Equipe National du Congo. Atlas Linguistique de L'Afrique Central, Atlas Linguistique du Congo. Brazzaville: Centre pour l'Etude des Langues Congolaise, Université Marien Ngouabi, 1987.

Africa South of the Sahara. 30th Edition. London: Europa Publications, Taylor & Francis Group, 2001.

"Congo (Brazzaville)." Freedom House. Available from http://www.freedomhouse.org.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Fact-book 2001. Available from http://www.cia.gov.

UNESCO. African Community Languages, and their Use in Literacy and Education. Dakar, 1985.

UNESCO. Statistical Yearbook. Lanham, MD: Berman Press, 1999.

Haig Der-Houssikian

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Congo (DROC)

Congo (DROC)

Official name : Democratic Republic of the Congo

Area: 2,345,410 square kilometers (905,562 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Margherita Peak (5,110 meters/16,765 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Eastern, Northern, and Southern

Time zones: In Kinshasa, 1 p.m. = noon GMT; in Lubumbashi, 2 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 2,276 kilometers (1,414 miles) from south-southeast to north-northwest; 2,236 kilometers (1,389 miles) from east-northeast to west-southwest

Land boundaries: 10,744 kilometers (6,672 miles) total boundary length; Angola 2,511 kilometers (1,559 miles); Burundi 233 kilometers (145 miles); Central African Republic 1,577 kilometers (979 miles); Republic of the Congo 2,410 kilometers (1,497 miles); Rwanda 217 kilometers (135 miles); Sudan 624 kilometers (390 miles); Tanzania 473 kilometers (295 miles); Uganda 765 kilometers (459 miles); Zambia 1,930 kilometers (1,199 miles)

Coastline: 37 kilometers (23 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers ( 12 nautical miles )

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC, formerly known as Zaire) is located along the equator in Central Africa, north of Angola and Zambia. It shares borders with nine countries. With a total area of about 2,345,410 square kilometers (905,562 square miles), it is the third-largest country in Africa and is slightly less than one-fourth the size of the United States. The DROC is divided into ten provinces.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

DROC has no outside territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

The climate in the DROC is basically tropical, with temperatures that vary widely depending on elevation and latitude. In the equator region, it is hot and very humid and the temperature does not go below 20°C (68°F). It is cooler and less humid in the southern highlands and cooler and wetter in the eastern highlands and mountains. The average temperature in the central region is 25°C (77°F), while on the coastline the temperature is generally around 26°C (79°F).

There are two rainy seasons and two dry seasons in each year. North of the equator, the rainy seasons are from April to June and September to October, and the dry seasons are from November to March and July to August. South of the equator, the cycle is reversed. Annual rainfall is about 130-200 centimeters (51-79 inches).

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

Nearly the entire country is within a region known as the Congo River Basin, which is further divided into four major geographic regions within the DROC. The core region is the Central Congo Basin, a depression often referred to as the cuvette. The northern uplands and southern uplands are high plains on either side of the cuvette, and along the eastern border there are high mountains associated with the Great Rift Valley (or East African Rift).

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Seacoast and Undersea Features

The DROC claims a very narrow border of coastline (37 kilometers/23 miles) along the Atlantic Ocean, north of the Congo River.

Sea Inlets and Straits

DROC has no major sea inlets or straits.

Islands and Archipelagos

There are no coastal islands, but countless alluvial islands are found throughout the river systems and interspersed along the Congo River between Kisangani and Mbandaka. Idjwi Island is located on Lake Kivu.

Coastal Features

There are no significant geographic features on DROC's narrow coastline.

6 INLAND LAKES

The DROC is home to several of the Great Lakes of Africa, which fill basins in the western branch of the Great Rift Valley along the eastern border of the country. The northernmost of these Great Lakes is Lake Albert, which has more fish than any other lake in Africa. To the south lies Lake Edward, which drains its waters into Lake Albert through the Semliki River. These two lakes belong to the Nile Basin.

Farther south, Lake Kivu, the highest of the Great Lakes, is situated at an altitude of 1,470 meters (4,851 feet) and is connected to Lake Tanganyika by the Ruzizi River. Lake Tanganyika is the largest lake in the DROC. It covers an area that is 650 kilometers (408 miles) long and 80 kilometers (50 miles) wide and is the second-deepest lake in the world. It drains its waters into the Congo River through the Lukuga River. The southernmost lake of the Great Lakes chain (except for Lake Malawi, which is outside of the DROC) is Lake Mweru. Lake Mweru straddles the border between DROC and Zambia and is drained by the Luvua River, a tributary of the Lualaba and Congo Rivers.

Other DROC lakes include Tumba and Mai-Ndombe in the western part of the country. Their shores are generally swampy. Another swampy depression surrounds Lake Upemba on the southeastern plateau of the same name. Malebo Pool is a lake formed by the widening of the Congo River. It is located in the Lower Congo River region, and the capitals of both the DROC and the Republic of Congo are located on its shores.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

The Congo River is the longest river in the DROC, the second-longest river in Africa, and the sixth-longest river in the world, with a total length of about 4,344 kilometers (2,700 miles). The Congo River begins with its main tributary, the Lualaba River, close to the Zambian border. It then flows north and is navigable between Bukama to Kongolo. Along this stretch it receives many tributaries. The most important of these are the Luvua and Luapula Rivers, which drain waters from Lakes Bangwelo (in Zambia) and Mweru, and the Lukuga River, which drains waters from Lakes Tanganyika and Kivu.

Past Kongolo there are waterfalls which block river traffic. North of this, the river is again navigable between Kasongo and Kibomho, has another waterfall, and is once again navigable between Kindu and Ubundu. Beyond that point, navigation is stopped by the Boyoma (Stanley) Falls, located directly upstream of Kisangani. After Kisangani, the river is considered to be the Congo River proper, and is known as the Upper Congo (Haut-Congo). It also changes direction, gradually curving west and then southwest.

The Congo River and its tributaries have historically provided vital transportation routes for commercial trade. The waterway is also an important source of hydroelectric power.

8 DESERTS

There are no desert regions in the DROC.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

Only about 7 percent of the land in DROC is considered to be permanent pasture.

The largest region of the DROC is the Central Congo Basin, a depression often referred to as the cuvette (which means "saucer" or "shallow bowl"). It has an area of roughly 800,000 square kilometers (312,000 square miles) and covers about a third of the country's territory. The DROC's portion of the equatorial rain-forest is located in this region. A substantial proportion of the forest within the cuvette is swamp, and still more of it consists of a mixture of marshy and firm land grasslands.

The Great Rift Valley is a lengthy depression that stretches from north to south across most of eastern Africa and into Asia. It is the result of volcanic and tectonic activity along the East African Rift. In the DROC, Lakes Albert, Edward, Kivu, and Tanganyika occupy most of the bottom of this valley. On either side of the valley are mountain ranges.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

There are many mountain ranges comprising the chain that borders the Great Rift Valley in the DROC. In the north are the Blue Mountains around Lake Albert. They reach heights of up to 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) and separate the Congo and Nile River basins.

The Ruwenzori Mountains between Lakes Albert and Edward are the highest mountain range in the country and include Albert Peak (5,100 meters/16,830 feet) and Margherita Peak (5,110 meters/16,765 feet). Margherita, the highest point in the DROC, is perpetually covered by snow despite being located practically on the equator.

To the south are the Ngoma Mountains, which extend to the Lukuga River. Their highest point is at Sambrini Peak (2,250 meters/7,425 feet). The Mitumba Mountains, with heights of up to 2,200 meters (7,260 feet), border Lake Tanganyika in the extreme southeast.

On the far side of the country, near the Atlantic shore, are the Mayumbe Mountains, part of the Crystal Mountain range. These are old mountains, strongly attacked by erosion, that now resemble a hilly plateau.

The Virunga Mountains, between Lake Kivu and Lake Edward, consist of a series of volcanoes, including the active volcanoes of Karisimbi, Nyamulagira, and Nyiragongo. Nyiragongo is about 3,465 meters (11,365 feet) high and has erupted about thirty-five times since 1882, making it one of Africa's most active volcanoes. Its most recent eruption began January 17, 2002, with a lava flow that filled the streets of the city of Goma with pumice several feet thick. Other volcanoes such as Mikeno, Visoke, and Sabinio are now dormant.

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

There are no other significant canyons or caves in the DROC.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

Most of the DROC could be considered to be a low plateau, dropping in elevation only as it nears the Atlantic Ocean, and rising to mountains in the east. The southeastern part of the country was once all mountainous, but the effect of erosion has leveled much of these mountains. The result is Upemba, a hilly plateau with an altitude greater than 1,500 meters (4,950 feet).

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

The Congo River supplies massive amounts of water that is harnessed by dams, such as the Inga and Mobayi-Bongo Dams, to be converted to hydroelectric power. Dams help generate nearly all of the electricity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

DID YOU KNOW?

On January 17, 2002, lava from Nyiragongo flowed on the eastern and southern flanks of the volcano at a rate of 1.2 to 1.8 kilometers/hour (0.7 to 1 mile/hour) toward Goma. As lava several feet thick flowed down city streets, four hundred thousand people were evacuated for three days and fourteen villages were damaged by the lava flows.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Bobb, F. Scott. Historical Dictionary of Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1999.

Henry-Biabaud, Chantal. Living in the Heart of Africa. Trans. Vicki Bogard. Ossining, NY: Young Discovery Library, 1991.

Simkin, T., and L. Siebert. Volcanoes of the World. Tucson, AZ: Geoscience Press, 1994.

Periodicals

Caputo, Robert. "Lifeline for a NationZaire River." National Geographic, November 1991: 5-35.

Web Sites

Volcano World. http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/ (accessed May 3, 2003).

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Congo (ROC)

Congo (ROC)

Official name : Republic of the Congo (ROC)

Area: 342,000 square kilometers (132,047 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Berongou (903 meters/2,963 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Eastern, Northern, and Southern

Time zone: 1 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 1,287 kilometers (800 miles) from north-northeast to south-southwest; 402 kilometers (250 miles) from east-southeast to west-northwest

Land boundaries: 5,504 kilometers (3,420 miles) total boundary length; Cameroon 523 kilometers (325 miles); Central African Republic 467 kilometers (290 miles); Democratic Republic of the Congo 2,410 kilometers (1,498 miles); Angola 201 kilometers (125 miles); Gabon 1,903 kilometers (1,182 miles)

Coastline: 169 kilometers (105 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 363 kilometers ( 200 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

The Republic of the Congo (ROC) is located along the equator in West Africa, between Angola and Gabon and bordering the South Atlantic Ocean. It also shares borders with Cameroon and Central African Republic to the north and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC) to the east. With an area of 342,000 square kilometers (132,047 square miles), ROC is slightly smaller than the state of Montana. The country is divided into nine regions and one commune.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

ROC has no outside territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

ROC has a tropical climate characterized by constantly high temperatures and humidity. At Brazzaville in the south, the average daily maximum temperature is 30°C (86°F) and the average minimum temperature is 20°C (68°F). At Souanke, in the far north, the extremes are 29°C (84°F) and 18°C (64°F).

There are two wet and two dry seasons. In the south there is a rainy season from October to December, a short dry season in January, another rainy season from March to June, and a long dry season from June to October. In the north, the seasons are reversed. Annual rainfall varies from 105 centimeters (41 inches) at Pointe-Noir in the southwest, to 185 centimeters (73 inches) at Impfondo in the northeast. The equator region receives rain throughout the year.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

The country may be divided into four topographical regions. The coastal plain stretches northeast until it reaches the forested Mayombe Escarpment. The escarpment borders a vast plateau region to the north and east, sometimes called the Central Highlands. Still farther northeast lies an expansive lowland area that includes a good part of the Congo Basin.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Seacoast and Undersea Features

ROC has a coastline of 169 kilometers (105 miles) along the Atlantic Ocean.

Sea Inlets and Straits

ROC's coastline has no major harbors or ports.

Islands and Archipelagos

There are no coastal islands, though many alluvial islands are found throughout the river systems, especially the Congo and Ubangi Rivers and their tributaries.

Coastal Features

The coastal region is a vast, dry plain that is virtually treeless except in scattered areas. It stretches for about 160 kilometers (100 miles) along the south Atlantic coast and reaches inland approximately 64 kilometers (40 miles). The Antarctic (Benguela) Current, flowing from the south, enhances the formation of sand spits along the coastal plain. In addition to mangrove-fringed lagoons, lakes and rivers dot this region, with accompanying marshland and heavy vegetation in low-lying areas.

6 INLAND LAKES

The Stanley Pool (Malebo Pool) is a lake formed by the widening of the Congo River. It lies between the borders of the ROC and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and covers an area that is about 35 kilometers (22 miles) long and 23 kilometers (14 miles) wide. The capital cities of both the ROC and the DROC are located on the shores of Stanley Pool.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

The Congo River is the longest river in the ROC, the second-longest river in Africa, and the sixth-longest river in the world, with a total length of about 4,344 kilometers (2,700 miles). It covers a stretch of 800 kilometers (496 miles) along the eastern border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC). It is formed by the waters of the Upper Congo (Lualaba River) and its tributary, the Luava River, both of which begin at the southeast border of the DROC.

The Congo River and its tributaries historically have provided vital transportation routes for commercial trade. The Congo River is also an important source for hydroelectric power.

The ROC rivers of Likoula, Sangha, and Ubangi (Oubangui) are all tributaries of the Congo River. Located in the northern part of the country, these are also the major rivers that make up the Congo Basin lowland region, which covers an area of about 155,400 square kilometers (60,000 square miles). It consists of flat, swampy valleys and low divides descending east and southeast from the western hills to the Congo River. Seasonal flooding occurs throughout the regions, with some areas existing as permanent wetlands.

The Niari and Kouilou Rivers in the southern coastal plain also create wetlands in that region.

8 DESERTS

There are no desert regions in the ROC.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

Only about 29 percent of the land in the ROC is considered to be permanent pasture.

The Niari Valley, north of the Niari River, was originally covered with tall grasses and savannah, but has been extensively cleared for agriculture and industry.

Inland from the seacoast and from the lower reaches of the Crystal Mountains (on the Gabon border), the land rises somewhat abruptly to a series of eroded hills and sharp ridges known as the Mayombe Escarpment. Ridge peaks reach elevations of about 487 to 610 meters (1,600 to 2,000 feet). Deep gorges have been cut in these ridges by the swift Kouilou River and its tributaries.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

Mount Berongou, ROC's highest point, is located in the upper reaches of the Crystal Mountains on the border with Gabon. It rises to about 903 meters (2,963 feet).

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

ROC has no major canyons or caves.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

The Central Highlands encompass the area generally known as the Batéké Plateau and extend for approximately 129,500 square kilometers (50,000 square miles) over the south-central portion of the country. This region is characterized predominantly by rounded, low hills of less than 305 meters (1,000 feet) elevation and by scattered rolling plains. In the northern part of this sector, however, toward the lower Gabon border, the hills are steeper, and crests rise as high as 823 meters (2,700 feet) above sea level. Deep valleys separate individual plateaus; these ravines carry the eastward-flowing tributaries of the Congo River. Savannah and grasslands cover much of the central plateau plains.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

Hydroelectricity, harnessed through dams built on the ROC's rivers, are a primary source of power for the nation. Two of the most significant hydroelectric dams are built on the Bouenza and Djoué Rivers.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Africa South of the Sahara 2000: Congo. London: Europa Publications Ltd, 1999.

Bernier, Donald W. Area Handbook for the People's Republic of the Congo. Area Handbook Series. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1971.

Decalo, Samuel, Virginia Thompson, and Richard Adloff. Historical Dictionary of the Congo. African Historical Dictionaries #69. Landham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1996.

Web Sites

Discovery Channel Online: Congo (Brazzaville). http://www.school.discovery.com (accessed March 18, 2003).

World Factbook, CIA. http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ (accessed March 18, 2003).

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Congo

Congo

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of the Congo
Region: Africa
Population: 2,830,961
Language(s): French, Lingala, Monokutuba, Kikongo
Literacy Rate: 74.9%

Congo is commonly called Congo-Brazzaville to distinguish it from its neighbor, Zaire, which recently renamed itself as The Democratic Republic of Congo (informally called Democratic Congo). Congo has a landmass of 342,000 square kilometers and a population of about 2.5 to 3 million. Its capital is Brazzaville, which is located on the Congo River directly across from Kinshasa, the capital of Democratic Congo. The population of Brazzaville is about 1 million. Congo is situated on the Atlantic Ocean of equatorial Africa and is bounded by Democratic Congo in the east and south. It is also bounded in the south by Cabinda, a small oil-rich territory that belongs to Angola. It is bounded by the Central African Republic (CAR) and Cameroon in the north and Gabon in the west.

The boundary between Congo and Democratic Congo is the Congo River, starting at about 80 kilometers south of Mindouli all the way north to Liranga. At that point the Congo River turns east into Democratic Congo. North of Liranga the river is called Oubangui. It continues to be a boundary between the two Congos until the Oubangui also turns east to become a boundary between CAR and Democratic Congo.

Congo formed part of French Equatorial Africa (FEA) until its independence from France in 1960; FEA included what are now known as Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, CAR, and Chad. It broke apart into five independent Francophone states after 1960. Brazzaville was also the capital of FEA. In its longstanding history as capital, first of FEA and then of Congo, Brazzaville has been privileged in every respect. It is the center of industry, commerce, and education in Congo. Its medical facilities and infrastructure are the best in the country. The World Health Organization (WHO) has one of its African headquarters in Brazzaville. The national university, known as Université Marien Ngouabi, is situated right in its center.

Congo's population could reasonably be divided into three groups: the Bakongo, the Bateke, and the rest. The Bakongo are the largest ethnic group. They constitute about 40 to 50 percent of the total population and inhabit the southern quarter of the country. The Bateke are the second largest group. They occupy the territory directly north of the Bakongo, stretching quite far to the north and northwest. Their numbers are greatest towards the south. The northern two-thirds of the country are very sparsely populated. The territory north of the Bateke is even more sparsely inhabited. It is made up of small groups and several speech communities that have larger numbers of speakers in Gabon, Cameroon, CAR, and Democratic Congo.

Congo must contend with five major languagesKikongo and its various dialects, Kituba, Kiteke, Lingala, and French. Of these, Kituba, Lingala, and French are the major competitors as languages spoken across ethnic lines within broad-based speech communities. Of these three, French is the official language in government and education at all levels. Kituba, Lingala, and Kiteke have a strong presence at the unofficial levels of government and education, including informal discussions between teachers and students. The educational system is based on the French system inherited from precolonial days. Only a small number of Congolese, however, are fluent enough in French to satisfy all aspects of their lives. A Congolese citizen must of necessity be quadrilingual in Kiteke or a dialect of Kikongo, Kituba, Lingala, and French to negotiate successfully through Congolese life.

The government of Congo is acutely aware of these circumstances. The university, Université Marien Ngouabi, has dynamic and substantive departments of foreign languages, Langues Vivantes Etrangères (LVE) and linguistics, Département de Linguistique et Litérature Orale, where intensive research is carried out in Congolese languages, particularly Kituba and Lingala. In addition the government funds two research institutes, Institut National de Recherches et d'Action Pédagogique (INRAP) and Institut Supérieur des Sciences de l'Education (INSSED), where intensive efforts are under way to develop Kituba and Lingala textbooks for the primary and secondary levels of education. There is no effort to supplant French. Congolese society seems to have reconciled itself to becoming at least a trilingual society in French, Kituba, and Lingala. The greater hope, certainly the government's hope, is for Congolese society to evolve into a bilingual society in French and Kituba.

Informal education at the very age when children would attend primary schools progresses as it has from time immemorial. Cultural information and first language fluency is passed down from generation to generation quite effectively. In the case of Congo, this kind of ethnocentric education does not pose a problem. The presence of two African languagesKituba and Lingalaand a Western language of colonial legacy, French, provides means of communication that do not compete with Congolese society's own Afro-ethnic languages. Indeed the Congolese feel particularly free to exercise their knowledge and education in French concurrently with Kituba or Lingala.


Bibliography

Abshire, David M., and Michael A. Samuels. Portuguese Africa, A Handbook. London: Pall Mall Press, 1969.


ACCT, CERDOTOLA, Equipe Nationale du Congo. Atlas Linguistique de L'Afrique Centrale, Atlas Linguistique du Congo. Brazzaville: Centre pour l'Etude des Langues Congolaises, Université Marien Ngouabi, 1987.

Loutard, J. B. Tati. Le Récit de la Mort. Paris: Présence Africaine, 1987.

Ngoie-Ngalla, Dominique. Lettre d'un Pygmée à un Bantou. Brazzaville: C. R. P., 1988.


Pinto, Franęoise Latour da Veiga. Le Portugal et le Congo au XIX Siècle. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1972.

Tchicaya, U Tam'Si. Les Phalènes. Paris: Albin Michel S. A., 1984.

UNESCO. African Community Languages and Their Use in Literacy and Education. Dakar, Senegal: 1985.


. Statistical Yearbook. Lanham, MD: Berman Press, 1999.


Haig Der-Houssikian

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Congo (river, Africa)

Congo (kŏng´gō) or Zaïre (zī´ēr, zäēr´), great river of equatorial Africa, c.2,720 mi (4,380 km) long, formed by the waters of the Lualaba River and its tributary, the Luvua River, and flowing generally N and W through Congo (Kinshasa) to the Atlantic Ocean.

Course

The second longest river of Africa and one of the longest in the world, the Congo River drains c.1,425,000 sq mi (3,690,750 sq km) including all of Congo (Kinshasa) and parts of Congo (Brazzaville), Cameroon, Central African Republic, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola. The Lualaba River, considered to be the upper Congo River, rises in SE Congo (Kinshasa), flows north over rapids and falls to Bukama, and thence across a vast plain and through a series of marshy lakes (Kabwe, Kabele, Upemba) to receive the Luvua River at Ankoro. The Luvua River has its most remote source in the Chambeshi River, which rises in N Zambia and flows southwest into swamps around Lake Bangweulu; it emerges from the swamps as the Luapula River, continues N along the Congo (Kinshasa)–Zambia border into Lake Mweru, exits from there as the Luvua River, and continues NW to the Lualaba River. A third major headstream is the Lukuga River, which drains from Lake Tanganyika and joins the Lualaba River near Kabalo. From Kabalo, the Lualaba River flows N to Kisangani in a varied course marked by a deep and narrow gorge (the Gates of Hell) below Kongolo, a navigable stretch from Kasongo to Kibombo, a section of rapids and falls from Kibombo to Kindu, a shallow but navigable section from Kindu to Ubundu, and a section of seven cataracts—known as Boyoma Falls—between Ubundu and Kisangani that marks the end of the Lualaba and the beginning of the Congo River proper.

Below Kisangani, the Congo flows west and southwest, in a great curve unbroken by falls or rapids for about 1,090 mi (1,750 km) to Kinshasa. For most of its middle section the Congo is from 4 to 10 mi (6.4–16.1 km) wide, with many islands and sandbars. Because its many large tributaries (including the Lomami, Kasai, Lulonga, Ubangi, Aruwimi, Itimbiri, and Mongala rivers) drain areas with alternating rainy seasons on either side of the equator, the Congo has a fairly constant flow throughout the year. Between Bolobo and Kwamouth the Congo narrows in width to between 1 mi and 11/2 mi (1.6–2.4 km) but, c.350 mi (560 km) from its mouth, widens to form lakelike Pool Malebo, on which Kinshasa and Brazzaville are located. From the western end of Pool Malebo, the Congo descends 876 ft (267 m) in a series of 32 rapids, known as Livingstone Falls, to the port of Matadi.

Below Matadi (83 mi/134 km inland) the Congo is navigable by oceangoing vessels and, despite such hazards as the whirlpools of the Devil's Cauldron, shifting sandbars, and sharp bends in the river, forms one of the largest natural harbors in Africa. The river is tidal to Boma, c.60 mi (100 km) upstream. The Congo River enters the Atlantic Ocean between Banana Point, Congo (Kinshasa), and Sharks Point, Angola, and dredging is required to keep a navigable channel open. The river is continued offshore by a c.500-mi-long (800-km) submarine canyon that is c.4,000 ft (1,220 m) deep.

Economic Importance

With railroads to bypass major falls (Matadi-Kinshasa; Kisangani-Ubundu; Kindu-Kongolo), the Congo River and its tributaries form a system of navigable waterways c.9,000 mi (14,480 km) long, along which move much of central Africa's copper, palm-oil kernels, cotton, sugar, and coffee. The chief ocean port is Matadi, with its associated oil port, Ango Ango; the chief river ports are Kinshasa and Kisangani. River steamers operate throughout the year between Kinshasa and Kisangani. The Congo River is Africa's largest potential source of hydroelectric power; the most valuable site is along Livingstone Falls, where the first phase of the Inga Power Project has been completed. In spite of government initiatives, hydroelectric power is underdeveloped.

The Congo river basin encompasses the world's second largest contiguous rain forest, surpassed only by that of the Amazon. The region is biologically diverse, and a huge watershed. The forest is threatened by illegal logging and the poaching of large mammals (especially for the bushmeat trade), but two summits (1999, 2005) that brought together the nations of the basin have committed its participants to forest conservation and have led to the establishment of wildlife preserves.

European Exploration

The mouth of the Congo River was visited (1482) by Diogo Cão, the Portuguese navigator. It became known as the Zaïre River (a corruption of the local name Mzadi meaning "great water" ) and was later referred to as the Congo River (for the Kongo kingdom located near its mouth); it was called Zaïre River by the government of Zaïre (now Congo [Kinshasa]) from 1971 to 1997. The Congo's lower course was traced upstream as far as Isangila by a British force under Capt. J. K. Tuckey in 1816, and its upper headwaters by the missionary David Livingstone, who followed the Lualaba River to Nyangwe in 1871. The journalist Henry Stanley traveled from Nyangwe to Isangila and on to Boma during his great transcontinental journey (1874–77), thus proving the headwaters to be tributaries of the Congo River, and not sources of the Nile as hypothesized by Livingstone.

Bibliography

See H. Winternitz, East Along the Equator: A Journey up the Congo and into Zaïre (1987).

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Congo

Congo (formerly Zaïre River) River in central and w Africa; the second-longest in the continent. It rises in s D.R. Congo and flows in a massive curve to the Atlantic Ocean for 4670km (2900mi). Its rate of flow and size of drainage basin make it Africa's largest untapped source of hydroelectric power. The chief ocean port is Matadi, and the major river ports are Kinshasa and Kisangani. The main headstream is the Lualaba, and the Kasai and Ubangi are among its many large tributaries.

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Congo

Congo •Hidalgo •charango, Durango, fandango, mango, Okavango, quango, Sango, tango •GlasgowArgo, argot, cargo, Chicago, embargo, escargot, farrago, largo, Margot, Otago, Santiago, virago •Lego • Marengo •Diego, galago, Jago, lumbago, sago, Tierra del Fuego, Tobago, Winnebago •amigo, ego, Vigo •bingo, dingo, Domingo, flamingo, gringo, jingo, lingo •Bendigo • indigo • archipelago •vertigo • Sligo •doggo, logo •bongo, Congo, drongo, Kongo, pongo •a-gogo, go-go, pogo, Togo •Hugo •fungo, mungo •ergo, Virgo

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Congo

Congo

area:

342,000sq km (132,046sq mi)

population:

3,258,400

capital (population):

Brazzaville (1,133,800)

government:

Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Kongo 52%, Teke 17%, Mboshi 12%, Mbete 5%

languages:

French (official)

religions:

Christianity (Roman Catholics 54%, Protestants 25%, African Christians 14%), traditional beliefs 5%

currency:

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.

Economy

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.

Political map

Physical map

Websites

http://www.embassyofcongo.org

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Congo

Congo ★★ 1995 (PG-13)

Communications company supervisor jets off to the African jungle along with a primatologist to search for a lost city's priceless diamonds, and to return Amy, a gorilla who communicates with sign language to her natural habitat. Why she would want to return to volcanoes and bloodthirsty mutant gray gorillas is anybody's guess. This appropriately technology-laden adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel delivers all the cliches of the old B-movie jungle flicks, but none of the thrills or fun of other Crichton adaptations. 109m/C VHS, DVD . Mary Ellen Trainor, Dylan Walsh, Laura Linney, Ernie Hudson, Tim Curry, Grant Heslov, Joe Don Baker; D: Frank Marshall; W: John Patrick Shanley; C: Allen Daviau; M: Jerry Goldsmith.

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Congo

CONGO

Compiled from the January 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Democratic Republic of the Congo


PROFILE

Geography

Location:

Central Africa. Bordering nations—Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.

Area:

2.345 sq. km. (905,063 sq. mi.; about the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi).

Cities:

Capital—Kinshasa (pop. 6.5 million). Regional capitals—Bandundu, Bukavu, Goma, Kananga, Kindu, Kisangani, Lubumbashi, Matadi, Mbandaka, Mbuji-Mayi.

Terrain:

Varies from tropical rain-forests to mountainous terraces, plateau, savannas, dense grasslands, and mountains.

Climate:

Equatorial; ranges from tropical rainforest in the Congo River basin, hot and humid in much of the north and west, cooler and drier in the south central area and the east.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Congolese.

Population (2004 est.):

58 million.

Annual growth rate (2004 est.):

2.99%.

Ethnic groups:

More than 200 African ethnic groups; the Luba, Kongo, and Anamongo are some of the larger groupings of tribes.

Religion (2004 est.):

Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, other syncretic sects and traditional beliefs 10%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%.

Language:

Official—French. National languages—Lingala, Swahili, Kikongo, Tshiluba.

Education:

Literacy (2004 est.)—65.5% in French or local language. Schooling (2000 est.)—none 41.7%, primary 42.2%, secondary 15.4%, university 0.7%.

Health (2004 est.):

Infant mortality rate—94.69/1,000 live births. Life expectancy—49 yrs.

Government

Type:

Republic; highly centralized with executive power vested in the president.

Independence:

June 30, 1960 (from Belgium).

Constitution:

June 24, 1967; amended August 1974; revised February 15, 1978; amended April 1990; transitional constitution promulgated April 1994; Constitutional Act promulgated May 1997; draft constitution proposed but not finalized March 1998; transitional constitution adopted on April 2, 2003. A new constitution was passed by the transitional parliament on May 2005. The D.R.C. held a constitutional referendum on December 18-19, 2005. Final results will be published at the end of January 2006. Preliminary results indicate 83% approval for the new constitution. To be implemented by July 2006.

Branches:

Executive—President is head of state and head of government, assisted by four vice presidents. Cabinet is 35-member executive appointed by signatories to the December 17, 2002 all-inclusive agreement. There is no prime minister. Legislative—A transitional parliament, consisting of approximately 500 members, is based in Kinshasa; members are appointed by signatories to the December 17, 2002 all-inclusive agreement. Judicial—Supreme Court (Cour Supreme).

Administrative subdivisions:

Ten provinces and the capital city, Kinshasa. A provincial governor, who is appointed and dismissed by the president, administers each province.

Political parties:

President Joseph Kabila's party is Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et le Developpement (PPRD). Main opposition parties include Union pour la Democratie et le Progres Social (UDPS), Forces du Futur (FDF), Forces Novatrices pour l'Union et la Solidarite (FONUS), Parti Democrate Social Chretien (PDSC), Mouvement Social Democratie et Developpement (MSDD), Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution—Fait Prive (MPR-FP), Union des Nationalistes et des Federalistes Congolais (UNAFEC), and Mouvement National Congolais/Lumumba (MNC/L). Former rebel movements-turned-political parties include the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD), Mouvement pour la Liberation du Congo (MLC), and independent splinter groups of the RCD (RCD-ML, RCD-N).

Suffrage:

18 years of age; universal and compulsory.

Economy

GDP (2003):

$5.6 billion.

Annual GDP growth rate (2003):

5%.

Per capita GDP (2003):

$98.65.

Natural resources:

Copper, cobalt, diamonds, gold, other minerals; petroleum; wood; hydroelectric potential.

Agriculture:

Cash crops—coffee, rubber, palm oil, cotton, cocoa, sugar, tea. Food crops—manioc, corn, legumes, plantains, peanuts.

Land use:

Agriculture 3%; pasture 7%; forest/woodland 77%; other 13%.

Industry:

Types—processed and unprocessed minerals; consumer products, including textiles, plastics, footwear, cigarettes, metal products; processed foods and beverages, cement, timber.

Currency:

Congolese franc (FC).

Trade:

Exports (2002)—$1.040 billion. Products—diamonds, cobalt, copper, coffee, petroleum. Partners—E.U., Japan, South Africa, U.S., China. Imports (2002)—$1.216 billion. Products—consumer goods (food, textiles), capital equipment, refined petroleum products. Partners—E.U., China, South Africa, U.S.

Total external debt (2002):

$8.211 billion. (Currently under revision due to HIPC decision point in 2003.)


GEOGRAPHY

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) includes the greater part of the Congo River basin, which covers an area of almost 1 million square kilometers (400,000 sq. mi.). The country's only outlet to the Atlantic Ocean is a narrow strip of land on the north bank of the Congo River.

The vast, low-lying central area is a basin-shaped plateau sloping toward the west and covered by tropical rain-forest. This area is surrounded by mountainous terraces in the west, plateaus merging into savannas in the south and southwest, and dense grasslands extending beyond the Congo River in the north. High mountains are found in the extreme eastern region.

D.R.C. lies on the Equator, with one-third of the country to the north and two-thirds to the south. The climate is hot and humid in the river basin and cool and dry in the southern highlands. South of the Equator, the rainy season lasts from October to May and north of the Equator, from April to November. Along the Equator, rainfall is fairly regular throughout the year. During the wet season, thunderstorms often are violent but seldom last more than a few hours. The average rainfall for the entire country is about 107 centimeters (42 in.).


PEOPLE

The population of D.R.C. was estimated at 58 million in 2004. As many as 250 ethnic groups have been distinguished and named. Some of the larger groupings of tribes are the Kongo, Luba, and Anamongo. Although 700 local languages and dialects are spoken, the linguistic variety is bridged both by the use of French and the intermediary languages Kikongo, Tshiluba, Swahili, and Lingala.

About 50% of the Congolese population is Christian, predominantly Roman Catholic. Most of the non-Christians adhere to either traditional religions or syncretic sects. Traditional religions include concepts such as monotheism, animism, vitalism, spirit and ancestor worship, witchcraft, and sorcery and vary widely among ethnic groups; none is formalized. The syncretic sects often merge Christianity with traditional beliefs and rituals. The most popular of these sects, Kimbanguism, was seen as a threat to the colonial regime and was banned by the Belgians. Kimbanguism, officially "the church of Christ on Earth by the prophet Simon Kimbangu," now claims about 3 million members, primarily among the Bakongo tribe of Bas-Congo and Kinshasa. In 1969, it was the first independent African church admitted to the World Council of Churches.

Before independence, education was largely in the hands of religious groups. The primary school system was well developed at independence; however, the secondary school system was limited, and higher education was almost nonexistent in most regions of the country. The principal objective of this system was to train low-level administrators and clerks. Since independence, efforts have been made to increase access to education, and secondary and higher education have been made available to many more Congolese. According to estimates made in 2000, 41.7% of the population has no schooling, 42.2% has primary schooling, 15.4% has secondary schooling, and 0.7% has university schooling. At all levels of education, males greatly outnumber females. The largest state-run universities are the University of Kinshasa, the University of Lubumbashi, and the University of Kisangani. The elite continue to send their children abroad to be educated, primarily in Western Europe.


HISTORY

The area known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo was populated as early as 10,000 years ago and settled in the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. by Bantus from present-day Nigeria. Discovered in 1482 by Portuguese navigator Diego Cao and later explored by English journalist Henry Morton Stanley, the area was officially colonized in 1885 as a personal possession of Belgian King Leopold II as the Congo Free State. In 1907, administration shifted to the Belgian Government, which renamed the country the Belgian Congo. Following a series of riots and unrest, the Belgian Congo was granted its independence on June 30, 1960. Parliamentary elections in 1960 produced Patrice Lumumba as prime minister

and Joseph Kasavubu as president of the renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Within the first year of independence, several events destabilized the country: the army mutinied; the governor of Katanga province attempted secession; a UN peacekeeping force was called in to restore order; Prime Minister Lumumba died under mysterious circumstances; and Col. Joseph Désiré Mobutu (later Mobutu Sese Seko) took over the government and ceded it again to President Kasavubu. Unrest and rebellion plagued the government until 1965, when Lieutenant General Mobutu, by then commander in chief of the national army, again seized control of the country and declared himself president for 5 years. Mobutu quickly centralized power into his own hands and was elected unopposed as president in 1970. Embarking on a campaign of cultural awareness, Mobutu renamed the country the Republic of Zaire and required citizens to adopt African names. Relative peace and stability prevailed until 1977 and 1978 when Katangan rebels, staged in Angola, launched a series of invasions into the Katanga region. The rebels were driven out with the aid of Belgian paratroopers.

During the 1980s, Mobutu continued to enforce his one-party system of rule. Although Mobutu successfully maintained control during this period, opposition parties, most notably the Union pour la Democratie et le Progres Social (UDPS), were active. Mobutu's attempts to quell these groups drew significant international criticism.

As the Cold War came to a close, internal and external pressures on Mobutu increased. In late 1989 and early 1990, Mobutu was weakened by a series of domestic protests, by heightened international criticism of his regime's human rights practices, and by a faltering economy. In April 1990 Mobutu agreed to the principle of a multi-party system with elections and a constitution. As details of a reform package were delayed, soldiers in September 1991 began looting Kinshasa to protest their unpaid wages. Two thousand French and Belgian troops, some of whom were flown in on U.S. Air Force planes, arrived to evacuate the 20,000 endangered foreign nationals in Kinshasa.

In 1992, after previous similar attempts, the long-promised Sovereign National Conference was staged, encompassing more than 2,000 representatives from various political parties. The conference gave itself a legislative mandate and elected Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo as its chairman, along with Etienne Tshisekedi, leader of the UDPS, as prime minister. By the end of the year Mobutu had created a rival government with its own prime minister. The ensuing stalemate produced a compromise merger of the two governments into the High Council of Republic-Parliament of Transition (HCR-PT) in 1994, with Mobutu as head of state and Kengo Wa Dondo as prime minister. Although presidential and legislative elections were scheduled repeatedly over the next 2 years, they never took place.

By 1996, the war and genocide in neighboring Rwanda had spilled over to Zaire. Rwandan Hutu militia forces (Interahamwe), who fled Rwanda following the ascension of a Tutsi-led government, were using Hutu refugee camps in eastern Zaire as bases for incursions against Rwanda.

In October 1996, Rwandan troops (RPA) entered Zaire, simultaneously with the formation of an armed coalition led by Laurent-Desire Kabila known as the Alliance des Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL). With the goal of forcibly ousting Mobutu, the AFDL, supported by Rwanda and Uganda, began a military campaign toward Kinshasa. Following failed peace talks between Mobutu and Kabila in May 1997, Mobutu left the country, and Kabila marched into Kinshasa on May 17, 1997. Kabila declared himself president, consolidated power around himself and the AFDL, and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.). Kabila's Army Chief and the Secretary General of the AFDL were Rwandan, and RPA units continued to operate tangentially with the D.R.C.'s military, which was renamed the Forces Armees Congolaises (FAC).

Over the next year, relations between Kabila and his foreign backers deteriorated. In July 1998, Kabila ordered all foreign troops to leave the D.R.C. Most refused to leave. On August 2, fighting erupted throughout the D.R.C. as Rwandan troops in the D.R.C. "mutinied," and fresh Rwandan and Ugandan troops entered the D.R.C. Two days later, Rwandan troops flew to Bas-Congo, with the intention of marching on Kinshasa, ousting Laurent Kabila, and replacing him with the newly formed Rwandan-backed rebel group called the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD). The Rwandan campaign was thwarted at the last minute when Angolan, Zimbabwean, and Namibian troops intervened on behalf of the D.R.C. Government. The Rwandans and the RCD withdrew to eastern D.R.C., where they established de facto control over portions of eastern D.R.C. and continued to fight the Congolese Army and its foreign allies.

In February 1999, Uganda backed the formation of a rebel group called the Mouvement pour la Liberation du Congo (MLC), which drew support from among ex-Mobutuists and ex-FAZ soldiers in Equateur province (Mobutu's home province). Together, Uganda and the MLC established control over the northern third of the D.R.C.

At this stage, the D.R.C. was divided de facto into three segments, and the parties controlling each segment had reached military deadlock. In July 1999, a cease-fire was proposed in Lusaka, Zambia, which all parties signed by the end of August. The Lusaka Accord called for a cease-fire, the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation, MONUC, the withdrawal of foreign troops, and the launching of an "Inter-Congolese Dialogue" to form a transitional government leading to elections. The parties to the Lusaka Accord failed to fully implement its provisions in 1999 and 2000. Laurent Kabila drew increasing international criticism for blocking full deployment of UN troops, hindering progress toward an Inter-Congolese Dialogue, and suppressing internal political activity.

On January 16, 2001, Laurent Kabila was assassinated. He was succeeded by his son, Joseph Kabila. Joseph Kabila reversed many of his father's negative policies; over the next year, MONUC deployed throughout the country, and the Inter-Congolese Dialogue proceeded. By the end of 2002, all Angolan, Namibian, and Zimbabwean troops had withdrawn from the D.R.C. Following D.R.C.-Rwanda talks in South Africa that culminated in the Pretoria Accord in July 2002, Rwandan troops officially withdrew from the D.R.C. in October 2002, although there were continued, unconfirmed reports that Rwandan soldiers and military advisers remained integrated with RCD/G forces in eastern D.R.C. Ugandan troops officially withdrew from the D.R.C. in May 2003.

In October 2001, the Inter-Congolese Dialogue began in Addis Ababa under the auspices of Facilitator Ketumile Masire (former president of Botswana). The initial meetings made little progress and were adjourned. On February 25, 2002, the dialogue was reconvened in South Africa. It included representatives from the government, rebel groups, political opposition, civil society, and Mai-Mai (Congolese local defense militias). The talks ended inconclusively on April 19, 2002, when the government and the MLC brokered an agreement that was signed by the majority of delegates at the dialogue but left out the RCD/G and opposition UDPS party, among others.

This partial agreement was never implemented, and negotiations resumed in South Africa in October 2002. This time, the talks led to an all-inclusive powersharing agreement, which was signed by delegates in Pretoria on December 17, 2002, and formally ratified by all parties on April 2, 2003. Following nominations by each of the various signatory groups, President Kabila on June 30, 2003 issued a decree that formally announced the transitional government lineup. The four vice presidents took the oath of office on July 17, 2003, and most incoming ministers assumed their new functions within days thereafter. This transitional government is slated to remain in place until after local, legislative, and presidential elections—the first since 1960—have been held in 2005 and 2006.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Multi-party elections in the D.R.C. have not been held since 1960. A transitional constitution was adopted on April 2, 2003. Extensive executive, legislative, and military powers are vested in the president and vice presidents. The legislature does not have the power to overturn the government through a vote of no confidence. The judiciary is nominally independent; the president has the power to dismiss and appoint judges. The president is head of a 35-member cabinet of ministers.

President Joseph Kabila has made significant progress in liberalizing domestic political activity, establishing a transitional government, and undertaking economic reforms in cooperation with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, serious human rights problems remain in the security services and justice system. The eastern part of the country is characterized by ongoing violence and armed conflict, which has created a humanitarian disaster and contributed to civilian deaths (more than 3.8 million, according to a prominent international non-governmental organization). MONUC continues to play an important peacekeeping role in the D.R.C., and in October 2004, its authorized force strength increased to 16,700.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 11/25/2005

President: Joseph KABILA
Vice President: Jean-Pierre BEMBA
Vice President: Arthur Zahidi NGOMA
Vice President: Azarias RUBERWA
Vice President: Abdoulaye YERODIA Ndombasi
Min. of Agriculture: Constant Ndom Nda OMBEL
Min. of Art & Culture: Philemon MUKENDI
Min. of Budget: Francois MWAMBA
Min. of Civil Service: Athenase MATENDA Kyelu
Min. of Defense, Demobilization, & War Veterans Affairs: Adolphe Yemba ONUSUMBA
Min. of Economy: Pierre MANOKA
Min. of Education: Elysee MUNEMBWE
Min. of Energy: Salomon BANAMUHERE
Min. of Environment: Anselme ENERUNGA
Min. of External Trade: Chantal Ngalula MULUMBA
Min. of Family & Women's Affairs: Faida MWANGILA
Min. of Finance: Marco BANGULI
Min. of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation: Raymond RAMAZANI Baya
Min. of Health: Emile BONGELI Ye Ikelo
Min. of Higher Education: Theo BARUTI
Min. of Human Rights: Marie-Madeleine KALALA
Min. of Humanitarian Affairs & Solidarity: Catherine NZUZI Wa Mbombo
Min. of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises: Mukenda TSHIAMBULA
Min. of Interior, Decentralization, & Security: Theophile MBEMBA
Min. of Justice: Honorius KISIMBA Ngoy
Min. of Labor & Social Security: Boniface Balamage Nkolo
Min. of Land Affairs: Venant TSHIPASA
Min. of Mines: Ingele IFOTO
Min. of Parastatals: Celestin MYUNABANDI
Min. of Planning: Alexis THAMBWE
Min. of Post & Telecommunications: Gertrude KITEMBO
Min. of Press & Information: Henry Mova SAKANYI
Min. of Primary Education: Paul MUSAFIRI
Min. of Public Works & Infrastructure: Jose MAKILA
Min. of Regional Cooperation: Mbusa NYAMWISI
Min. of Rural Development: Pardonn Kaliba MUNANGA
Min. of Scientific Research: Gerard KAMANDA
Min. of Social Affairs: Laurent Otete OMANGA
Min. of Tourism: Jose ENGBANDA
Min. of Transport & Communications: Eva MWAKASA
Min. of Urban Affairs: John TIBASIMA
Min. of Women & Family Affairs: Faida MWANGILA
Min. of Youth & Sports: Jacques LUNGWANA
Governor, Central Bank: Jean-Claude MASANGU Mulango
Ambassador to the US: Faida Maramuke MITIFU
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Atoki Christian ILEKA


ECONOMY

Sparsely populated in relation to its area, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to a vast potential of natural resources and mineral wealth. Nevertheless, the D.R.C. is one of the poorest countries in the world, with per capita annual income of about $98 in 2003. This is the result of years of mismanagement, corruption, and war.

In 2001, the Government of the D.R.C. under Joseph Kabila undertook a series of economic reforms to reverse this steep decline. Reforms were monitored by the IMF and included liberalization of petroleum prices and exchange rates and adoption of disciplined fiscal and monetary policies. The reform program reduced inflation from over 500% per year in 2000 to only about 7% at an annual rate in 2003. In June 2002, the World Bank and IMF approved new credits for the D.R.C. for the first time in over a decade. Bilateral donors, whose assistance has been almost entirely dedicated to humanitarian interventions in recent years, also are beginning to fund development projects in the D.R.C. In October 2003, the World Bank launched a multi-sector plan for development and reconstruction. The Paris Club also granted the D.R.C. Highly Indebted Poor Country status in July 2003. This will help alleviate the D.R.C.'s external sovereign debt burden and potentially free funds for economic development.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the Congolese economy, accounting for 56.3% of GDP in 2002. The main cash crops include coffee, palm oil, rubber, cotton, sugar, tea, and cocoa. Food crops include cassava, plantains, maize, groundnuts, and rice. Industry, especially the mining sector, is underdeveloped relative to its potential in the D.R.C. In 2002, industry accounted for only 18.8% of GDP, with only 3.9% attributed to manufacturing. Services reached 24.9% of GDP. The Congo was the world's fourth-largest producer of industrial diamonds during the 1980s, and diamonds continue to dominate exports, accounting for over half of exports ($642 million) in 2003. The Congo's main copper and cobalt interests are dominated by Gecamines, the state-owned mining giant. Gecamines production has been severely affected by corruption, civil unrest, world market trends, and failure to reinvest.

For decades, corruption and misguided policy have created a dual economy in the D.R.C. Individuals and businesses in the formal sector operated with high costs under arbitrarily enforced laws. As a consequence, the informal sector now dominates the economy. In 2002, with the population of the D.R.C. estimated at 56 million, only 230,000 Congolese working in private enterprise in the formal sector were enrolled in the social security system. Approximately 600,000 Congolese were employed by the government.

In the past year, the Congolese Government has approved a new investment code and a new mining code and has designed a new commercial court. The goal of these initiatives is to attract investment by promising fair and transparent treatment to private business. The World Bank also is supporting efforts to restructure the D.R.C.'s large parastatal sector, including Gecamines, and to rehabilitate the D.R.C.'s neglected infrastructure, including the Inga Dam hydroelectric system.

The outbreak of war in the early days of August 1998 caused a major decline in economic activity. Economic growth, however, resumed in 2002 with a 3% growth rate continuing in 2003 at 5%. The country had been divided de facto into different territories by the war, and commerce between the territories had halted. With the installation of the transitional government in July 2003, the country has been "de jure" reunified, and economic and commercial links have begun to reconnect.

In June 2000, the United Nations established a Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Congolese Resources to examine links between the war and economic exploitation. Reports issued by the panel indicate that countries involved in the war in Congo have developed significant economic interests. These interests may complicate efforts by the government to better control its natural resources and to reform the mining sector. A final panel report was issued in October 2003. The Panel of Experts mandate was not renewed.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Its location in the center of Africa has made D.R.C. a key player in the region since independence. Because of its size, mineral wealth, and strategic location, Zaire was able to capitalize on Cold War tensions to garner support from the West. In the early 1990s, however, in the face of growing evidence of human rights abuses, Western support for the incumbent government waned as pressure for internal reform increased.

D.R.C.'s relations with neighboring countries have often been driven by security concerns, leading to intricate and interlocking alliances. Domestic conflicts in the Central African Republic, Sudan, Uganda, Angola, Rwanda, and Burundi have at various times created bilateral and regional tensions. The current crisis in eastern D.R.C. has its roots both in the use of the Congo as a base by various insurgency groups attacking neighboring countries and in the absence of a strong Congolese Government with a military capable of securing Congo's borders. The war has been exacerbated and prolonged by the exploitation of Congo's resources by neighboring countries. Although 2003 and early 2004 saw a number of improvements in regional relations, mid-to-late 2004 was marked by increased tension between the D.R.C. and Rwanda.


U.S.-CONGOLESE RELATIONS

Its dominating position in Central Africa makes stability in the D.R.C. an important element of overall stability in the region. The United States supports the transitional government and encourages peace, prosperity, democracy, and respect for human rights in the D.R.C. The United States remains a partner with the D.R.C. and other central African nations in their quest for stability and growth on the continent, and facilitated the signing of a tripartite agreement on regional security in the Great Lakes region between the D.R.C., Rwanda, and Uganda in October 2004. Burundi formally joined the Tripartite Commission in September 2005, and the Tripartite Commission is now Tripartite Plus. The United States also strongly supported U.N. efforts to create a Joint Verification Mechanism to monitor the border between the D.R.C. and Rwanda.

From the start of the Congo crisis, the United States has pursued an active diplomatic strategy in support of these objectives. In the long term, the United States seeks to strengthen the process of internal reconciliation and democratization within all the states of the region to promote stable, developing, and democratic nations with which it can work to address security interests on the continent and with which it can develop mutually beneficial economic relations.

The United States appointed its current ambassador to the D.R.C. in 2004. The D.R.C. appointed its current ambassador to the United States in 2000. There is no current U.S. direct bilateral aid to the Government of the Congo. USAID's 2004 program in the D.R.C. totaled $120 million, for use by international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for a wide range of relief and developmental activities throughout the country. The Congo has been on the State Department's travel advisory list since 1977.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

KINSHASA (E) Address: 310 AVENUE DES AVIATEURS, KINSHASA-GOMBE; APO/FPO: AMERICAN EMBASSY UNIT 31550, APO AE 09828; Phone: 011-243-81-225-5872; Fax: 011-243-81-301-0561; INMARSAT Tel: 881 6 315 72447 - POST 1; Workweek: M-Th, 7:30 - 17:15 and Fri 07:30-12:30; Website: http://kinshasa.usembassy.gov

AMB:ROGER A MEECE
AMB OMS:WANDA WOOD
DCM:J.THOMAS DOUGHERTY
DCM OMS:PATTI HAGOPIAN
POL:MELISSA M. SANDERSON
CON:LAURIE J. MEININGER
MGT:MAUREEN E. PARK
AID:ROBERT HELLYER
CLO:SUE McCARTHY
DAO:RODERIC JACKSON
ECO:GREGORY GROTH
EEO:WANDA L. WOOD
FMO:DEBRA TRACEY
GSO:BEVERLY WILEY
ICASS Chair:KAREN HAWKINS REED
IMO:VELLA MBENNA
ISSO:CHRISTOPHER A. BAKKEN
PAO:CHRISTOPHER DAVIS
RSO:BILL McCARTHY
State ICASS:JUDITH M. JOHNSON
Last Updated: 1/5/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

October 14, 2005

Country Description:

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) located in central Africa, is the third largest country on the continent. The capital is Kinshasa. French is the official language. Years of civil war and corruption have badly damaged the country's infrastructure.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A passport, visa and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required for entry. Some travelers arriving in the DRC without proper proof of yellow fever vaccination have been temporarily detained, had their passports confiscated, or been required to pay a fine. Visas should be obtained from an Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo prior to arrival. Additional information about visas may be obtained from the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1726 M Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036, tel. (202) 234-7690, or the DRC's Permanent Mission to the U.N, 866 United Nations Plaza, Room 511, New York, NY 10017, tel. 212-319-8061, fax: 212-319-8232, web site http://www.un.int/drcongo. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate.

Safety and Security:

U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in the DRC are urged to exercise caution and maintain security awareness at all times. The DRC remains unstable despite significant efforts to advance the peace process since the April 2003 formation of a power-sharing government of transition. In May and June 2004, there was renewed fighting in the eastern province of South Kivu and wide-scale civil unrest throughout much of the country. Rioting and looting took place in many cities, including the capital Kinshasa, putting residents, including foreigners, in danger and resulting in casualties among civilians and United Nations peacekeepers. Travel by U.S. mission personnel is periodically restricted based on changing security conditions.

The United Nations has authorized up to 16,700 military personnel to deploy in the Congo. Prior to the upsurge in violence in May and June 2004, security had been improving in most areas where the U.N. Mission to the DRC (known by its French acronym, MONUC) has deployed. Elsewhere, it is tenuous. Rural areas, especially in the eastern provinces, are highly insecure. Ill-disciplined militiamen continue to operate in the eastern regions of the country and pockets of the north. Armed soldiers and police, while common in urban areas, including Kinshasa, are often poorly trained, irregularly paid and undisciplined. The security forces often act arbitrarily, and may themselves pose a threat to the population instead of protecting them. These forces are often the perpetrators of crimes, mainly armed robberies.

In the past, the previous government imposed curfews with minimal warning. While this practice has largely subsided, curfews could be reinstated upon short notice if the security situation deteriorates and travelers should check locally to confirm the current curfew status. Travel in the downtown parts of Kinshasa, Kisangani, Lubumbashi and most other major cities, is generally safe during daylight hours, but travelers are urged to be vigilant against criminal activity which targets non-Congolese, particularly in areas surrounding hotels and stores. Outlying areas are less secure due to high levels of criminal activity and the lack of adequate training/supervision of the security forces present. Travelers should avoid civil disturbances that may occur without warning in all areas, and which have the potential to turn violent. There have been incidents of hostility towards U.S. citizens and other expatriates.

Both inside and outside Kinshasa, there can be military roadblocks, especially after dark. Vehicles are often searched for weapons, and travelers are checked for identity papers. Troops regularly seek bribes. If confronted with such a situation, it is suggested that U.S. citizens remain courteous and calm. If detained, report the incident to the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa as soon as possible.

Attacks against isolated villages continue sporadically in the Ituri region of Orientale Province, and in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Maniema Provinces, where illegal armed groups that have yet to cede control to the authority of the new transitional government continue to mount periodic attacks. They include individuals who perpetrated the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The large number of rebel and government soldiers to be decommissioned as a result of the peace process is another source of potential security concerns.

Regional Terrorism also exists. One of the many extremist rebel factions in the Great Lakes region, the Liberation Army of Rwanda, has committed violent acts against American citizens and interests. This faction was responsible for the March 1999 kidnapping and murder in Uganda of several western tourists, including Americans. In April 2001, six employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross were murdered while working in the DRC, near Bunia in Orientale Province. In May of 2001, irregular Congolese Mai-Mai forces kidnapped more than 20 individuals employed by a Thai logging company in North Kivu Province.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

In the DRC, poor economic conditions continue to foster crime, especially in urban areas. Vehicle thefts, burglaries, and armed robbery occur throughout the country. Carjackings occur in some regions. If confronted by members of the military or security forces, visitors should be wary of permitting soldiers or police officers to enter their vehicles or of getting into the vehicle of anyone purporting to be a security official. It is recommended that in such instances U.S. citizens remain courteous and calm and, if threatened, not resist. All incidents should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. Consistency in administering laws and regulations is notably absent. Travelers should note that in cases of theft and robbery, legal recourse is limited. Therefore, valuable items may be safer if kept at home or another secure location. Individuals purporting to be legitimate police authorities have detained and later robbed American citizens in the city of Kinshasa. This type of crime has increased in recent months, but generally occurs more frequently during the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

Travelers using public transportation or visiting high pedestrian traffic areas of any type are advised to be vigilant against pick pocketing which is a persistent problem in all major cities in the DRC.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while over-seas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

In the DRC, medical facilities are limited, and medical materials are in short supply. Travelers should carry properly labeled prescription drugs and other medications with them and should not expect to find an adequate supply of prescription or over-the-counter drugs in local stores or pharmacies

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web-site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. For planning purposes, the minimum estimated cost of medical air evacuation to the nearest suitable health care facility (in South Africa) is $35,000. Please see the Department's information on medical insurance overseas at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1470.html.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning DRC is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Inter-city roads are poor and often impassable in the rainy season. When driving in cities, keep windows up and doors locked. At roadblocks or checkpoints, documents should be shown through closed windows. In the event of a traffic incident involving bodily injury to a third party or pedestrian, do not stop to offer assistance under any circumstances. Proceed directly to the nearest police station or gendarmerie to report the incident and request official government intervention. Attempting to provide assistance may further aggravate the incident, resulting in a hostile mob reaction such as stoning or beating.

Presidential and other official motor-cades pose serious risks to drivers and pedestrians in Kinshasa. When hearing sirens or seeing security forces announcing the motorcade's approach, drivers should pull off the road as far as possible, and stop their vehicles. Vehicles should not attempt to move until the entire motorcade has passed by; the security forces will physically indicate when this has occurred. Failure to comply may result in arrest.

Public transportation of all forms is generally unsafe and unreliable. Taxis, mini-buses and trains are in poor mechanical condition and are invariably filled beyond capacity. Visitors who wish to travel in the mining areas must first obtain government approval.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of DRC as not being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Congo's air carrier operations.

In-country air travel schedules can be unreliable and aviation safety varies widely between airlines. Planes may often be overloaded with passengers and/or cargo and mechanical maintenance standards are below US industry standards. Several airplane crashes in the past three months resulted in the deaths of several dozen passengers.

Special Circumstances:

When a Presidential or other official motor-cade passes, one should not take pictures, nor use a cellular telephone, radio or any other communication device while the motorcade is passing. Drivers should stop their cars and pedestrians should stand still when passing a government installation during the raising and lowering of the Congolese flag. This ceremony occurs at roughly 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Travelers should note that photography in public places in Kinshasa and around any public or government building or monument is strictly forbidden. Persons caught photographing such sites will likely have their photographic equipment confiscated and risk detention and possible arrest.

Ferry service to and from Kinshasa and Brazzaville stops running in the late afternoon, and it may close completely with minimal notice. If ferry service is functioning, a special exit permit from the DRC's Immigration Service and a visa from the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) are required for U.S. citizens to cross the Congo River from Kinshasa to Brazzaville.

Ferry and riverboat service to the Central African Republic is suspended due to rebel control of the Ubangui River.

In the DRC, cellular phones are the norm, as other telephone service is often unreliable.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Congolese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned, at times without being formally charged and without access to due process. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Congo are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in the DRC are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the Congo. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, tel. 243-081-225-5872 (do not dial the zero when calling from abroad). Entrance to the Consular Section of the Embassy is on Avenue Dumi, opposite the Ste. Anne residence. The Consular Section of the Embassy may be reached at tel. 243-081-884-6859 or 243-081-884-4609; fax 243-081-301-0560 (do not dial the first zero when calling from abroad).

Travel Warning

June 24, 2005

This Travel Warning for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) reiterates the Department of State's warning to U.S. citizens against traveling there in light of recent unrest and the potential for more unrest in the near future.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Despite efforts to advance the peace process following the 2003 formation of a transitional government, periodic fighting continues in North and South Kivu, Ituri District, and other areas of eastern Congo. Wide-scale civil unrest broke out in May and June 2004, with rioting and looting in many cities, including the capital Kinshasa, and resulted in United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeper and civilian casualties. There were also civilian and police casualties during demonstrations in several areas of Kinshasa in January 2005 and in Mbuji Mayi in May 2005. The challenges of implementing national elections raise the possibility of further civil disturbance over the next several months. The extension of the transitional government beyond June 2005 has prompted some opposition groups to call for large-scale demonstrations in Kinshasa and throughout the country on or about June 30, 2005.

Though U.N. observer forces are deployed throughout the country, unofficial armed groups and active duty troops in parts of the country are known to pillage, carjack and steal vehicles, kill extra-judicially, rape, kidnap, stir up ethnic tensions, and carry out military/paramilitary operations. The large number of rebel and government soldiers to be decommissioned as a result of the peace process is also a security concern. Travelers may be detained and questioned by ill-disciplined security forces at numerous military roadblocks throughout the country. Government-imposed curfews, not currently in effect, could be reinstated upon short notice if the security situation deteriorates. Visitors should restrict their travel, particularly at night, to areas of Kinshasa where they are familiar. In the event of political disturbances, they should avoid the parts of the city where the disturbances occur, especially at night. There are increased police patrols and checkpoints throughout Kinshasa as the government seeks to maintain order and quell any disturbances by those opposed to extending the transition. This often results in long traffic delays and the payment of "fines" to be allowed to pass.

Travelers to the Democratic Republic of the Congo routinely experience difficulties at the airport and other ports of entry, such as temporary detention and demands by immigration and security personnel for unofficial "special fees." Visas are not available at ports of entry. All foreigners, including Americans, are required to register at the office of the Direction General de Migration (DGM) in the commune of their place of residence. Foreigners may be asked to show their "jeton" (registration ticket) at security checkpoints and when departing the country.

Travel in the eastern provinces, especially in rural areas, remains unsafe due to continued sporadic attacks by uncontrolled militias. Land borders with Rwanda may temporarily close with little or no notice.

Americans should avoid all public demonstrations and areas where crowds are gathered, exercise extreme caution, closely watch and listen for news from reliable sources, and continuously review their personal security posture. Changes in security conditions occasionally restrict the travel of U.S. Embassy personnel.

U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo despite this Travel Warning are strongly urged to register with the Embassy in Kinshasa or through the State Department's travel registration website at https://travelregistration.state.gov. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs; entrance to the Consular Section is on Avenue Dumi, opposite Ste. Anne residence. The Embassy's 24-hour number is 243-81-225-5872; callers within DRC should dial 081 225-5872. Cell phones are best as landlines are often unreliable. The Embassy website is http://kinshasa.usembassy.gov/.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's most recent Consular Information Sheet for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, both located on the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on safety and security is available toll free at 1-888-407-4747, or at regular toll rates at 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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Congo

CONGO

Compiled from the January 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Congo


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

342,000 sq. km (132,000 sq. mi.); slightly larger than New Mexico.

Cities:

Capital—Brazzaville (pop. 800,000). Other cities—Pointe-Noire (450,000), Dolisie (150,000).

Climate:

Tropical. Tropical jungle in the North (country seasonally split—half lies above the Equator; half below the Equator).

Terrain:

Coastal plains, fertile valleys, central plateau, forested flood plains.

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Congolese (sing. and pl.).

Population (2004 est.):

2,998,040.

Annual growth rate (2004 est.):

1.4%.

Ethnic groups:

15 principal Bantu groups; more than 70 subgroups. Largest groups are Bacongo, Vili, Bateke, M'Bochi, and Sangha. Also present is a small population (less than 100,000) of Pygmies, ethnically unrelated to the Bantu majority.

Religion:

Traditional beliefs 50%, Roman Catholic 35%, other Christian 15%, Muslim 2%.

Language:

French (official), Lingala and Munukutuba (national).

Health:

Infant mortality rate (2004 est.)—93.86 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy (2004 est.)—49.51 yrs.

Work force:

About 40% of population, two-thirds of whom work in agriculture.

Government

Type:

Republic.

Independence:

August 15, 1960.

Constitution:

New constitution adopted in nationwide referendum on January 20, 2002.

Branches:

Executive—president (chief of state), Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative—bicameral legislature made up of a Senate and a National Assembly. Judicial—Supreme Court, Court of Accounts and Budgetary Discipline, Courts of Appeal (Title VIII of the 2002 constitution), and the Constitutional Court (Title IX of the 2002 constitution). Other—Economic Council and Human Rights Commission.

Administrative subdivisions:

10 departments, divided into districts, plus the capital district.

Political parties:

More than 100 new parties formed (but not all function) since multi-party democracy was introduced in 1990. The largest are the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (UPADS), Congolese Labor Party (PCT), Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development (MCDDI), Coalition for Democracy and Social Progress (RDPS), Coalition for Democracy and Development (RDD), Union of Democratic Forces (UFD), Union of Democratic Renewal (URD), Union for Development and Social Progress (UDPS). Following the June-October 1997 war and the 1998-99 civil conflict, many parties, including UPADS and MCDDI, were left in disarray as their leadership fled the country. By 2002, many of the leaders had returned, with several notable exceptions—including former Presidents Pascal Lissouba and Joachim Yhomby-Opango.

Suffrage:

Universal adult.

Economy

GDP (2003 est.):

$2.186 billion.

Per capita income (2003):

$700.

Natural resources:

Petroleum, wood, potash, lead, zinc, uranium, phosphates, natural gas, hydropower.

Structure of production (2001):

Government and services—40.3%; petroleum sector—38.9%; agriculture and forestry—10.5%; utilities and industry—6.0%; other—4.3%.

Agriculture:

Products—manioc, sugar, rice, corn, peanuts, vegetables, coffee, cocoa, forest products. Land—less than 2% cultivated.

Trade (2003 est.):

Exports—$2.293 billion: petroleum (89% of export earnings), lumber, plywood, sugar, cocoa, coffee, diamonds. Imports—(2003 est.) $666.9 million: capital equipment, construction materials, foodstuffs.


PEOPLE

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 Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, or along the 332-mile railway that connects them. In southern rural areas, industrial and commercial activity suffered as a consequence of the civil wars in the late 1990s. Except in Kouilou province and Pointe Noire, commercial activity other than subsistence activity came nearly to a halt. A slow recovery began in 2000.

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.


HISTORY

First inhabited by Pygmies, Congo was later settled by Bantu groups that also occupied parts of present-day Angola, Gabon, and Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), 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.

The area came under French sovereignty in the 1880s. Pierre Savorgnon de Brazza, a French empire builder, competed with agents of Belgian King Leopold's International Congo Association (later Zaire) for control of the Congo River basin. Between 1882 and 1891, treaties were secured with all the main local rulers on the river's right bank, placing their lands under French protection. 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 by private companies. In 1924-34, the Congo-Ocean Railway (CFCO) was built at a considerable human and financial cost, opening the way for growth of the ocean port of Pointe-Noire and towns along its route.

During World War II, the AEF administration sided with Charles DeGaulle, and Brazzaville became the symbolic capital of Free France during 1940-43. The Brazzaville Conference of 1944 heralded a period of major reform in French colonial policy, including the abolition of forced labor, granting of French citizenship to colonial subjects, decentralization of certain powers, and election of local advisory assemblies. 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.

The Loi Cadre (framework law) of 1956 ended dual voting roles and provided for partial self-government for the individual overseas territories. Ethnic rivalries then produced sharp struggles among the emerging Congolese political parties and sparked severe riots in Brazzaville in 1959. After the September 1958 referendum approving the new French Constitution, AEF was dissolved. Its four territories became autonomous members of the French Community, and Middle Congo was renamed the Congo Republic. Formal independence was granted in August 1960.

Congo's first President was Fulbert Youlou, a former Catholic priest from the Pool region in the southeast. He rose to political prominence after 1956, and was narrowly elected President by the National Assembly at independence. Youlou's 3 years in power were marked by ethnic tensions and political rivalry. In August 1963, Youlou was overthrown in a 3-day popular uprising (Les Trois Glorieuses) led by labor elements and joined by rival political parties. All members of the Youlou government were arrested or removed from office. The Congolese military took charge of the country briefly and installed a civilian provisional government headed by Alphonse Massamba-Debat. Under the 1963 constitution, Massamba-Debat was elected President for a 5-year term and named Pascal Lissouba to serve as Prime Minister. However, President Massamba-Debat's term ended abruptly in August 1968, when Capt. Marien Ngouabi and other army officers toppled the government in a coup. After a period of consolidation under the newly formed National Revolutionary Council, Major Ngouabi 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 Labor Party (PCT).

On March 18, 1977, President Ngouabi was assassinated. Although the persons accused of shooting Ngouabi were tried and some of them executed, the motivation behind the assassination is still not clear. An 11-member Military Committee of the Party (CMP) was named to head an interim government with Colonel (later General) Joachim Yhomby-Opango to serve as President of the Republic. Accused of corruption and deviation from party directives, Yhomby-Opango was removed from office on February 5, 1979, by the Central Committee of the PCT, which then simultaneously designated Vice President and Defense Minister Col. Denis Sassou-Nguesso as interim President. The Central Committee directed Sassou-Nguesso to take charge of preparations for the Third

Extraordinary Congress of the PCT, which proceeded to elect him President of the Central Committee and President of the Republic. Under a congressional resolution, Yhomby-Opango was stripped of all powers, rank, and possessions and placed under arrest to await trial for high treason. He was released from house arrest in late 1984 and ordered back to his native village of Owando.

After two decades of turbulent politics bolstered by Marxist-Leninist rhetoric, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Congolese gradually moderated their economic and political views to the point that, in 1992, Congo completed a transition to multi-party democracy.

Ending a long history of one-party Marxist rule, a specific agenda for this transition was laid out during Congo's national conference of 1991 and culminated in August 1992 with multi-party presidential elections. Sassou-Nguesso conceded defeat and Congo's new President, Prof. Pascal Lissouba, was inaugurated on August 31, 1992.

Congolese democracy experienced severe trials in 1993 and early 1994. President Lissouba dissolved the National Assembly in November 1992, calling for new elections in May 1993. The results of those elections were disputed, touching off violent civil unrest in June and again in November. In February 1994, all parties accepted the decisions of an international board of arbiters, and the risk of large-scale insurrection subsided.

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. When President Lissouba's government forces surrounded Sassou's compound in Brazzaville with armored vehicles on June 5, Sassou ordered his militia to resist. Thus began a 4-month conflict that destroyed or damaged much of Brazzaville. 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 and named a 33-member government.

In January 1998, the Sassou regime held a National Forum for Reconciliation to determine the nature and duration of the transition period. The forum, tightly controlled by the government, decided elections should be held in about 3 years, elected a transition advisory legislature, and announced that a constitutional convention would finalize a draft constitution. However, the eruption in late 1998 of fighting between Sassou's government forces and a pro-Lissouba and pro-Kolelas armed opposition disrupted the transition to democracy. This new violence also closed the economically vital Brazzaville-Pointe Noire railroad, caused great destruction and loss of life in southern Brazzaville and in the Pool, Bouenza, and Niari regions, and displaced hundreds of thousands of persons. In November and December 1999, the government signed agreements with representatives of many, though not all, of the rebel groups.

The December accord, mediated by President Omar Bongo of Gabon, called for follow-on, inclusive political negotiations between the government and the opposition. During the years 2000-01, Sassou-Nguesso's government conducted a national dialogue (Dialogue Sans Exclusif), in which the opposition parties and the government agreed to continue on the path to peace. Ex-President Lissouba and ex-Prime Minister Kolelas refused to agree and were exiled. They were tried in absentia and convicted in Brazzaville of charges ranging from treason to misappropriation of government funds. Ex-militiamen were granted amnesty, and many were provided micro-loans to aid their reinsertion into civil society. Not all opposition members participated. One group, referred to as "Ninjas," actively opposed the government in a low-level guerrilla war in the Pool region of the country. Other members of opposition parties have returned and have opted to participate to some degree in political life. A new constitution was drafted in 2001, approved by the provisional legislature (National Transition Council), and approved by the people of Congo in a national referendum in January 2002. Presidential elections were held in March 2002, and Sassou-Nguesso was declared the winner. Legislative elections were held in May and June 2002. In March 2003 the government signed a peace accord with the Ninjas, and the country has remained stable and calm since the signing. Internally displaced persons are returning to the Pool region. President Sassou allowed Kolelas to return to Congo for his wife's funeral in October 2005 and subsequently asked that Parliament grant Kolelas amnesty. Parliament complied with Sassou's request in December 2005.


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Before the 1997 war, the Congolese system of government was similar to that of the French. However, after taking power, Sassou suspended the constitution approved in 1992 upon which this system was based. The 2002 constitution provides for a 7-year presidential term. There is a parliament of two houses, whose members serve for 5 years.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 8/22/2005

President: Denis SASSOU-NGUESSO
Min. of the Presidency in Charge of National Defense: Jacques Yvon NDOLOU, Brig. Gen.
Min. of the Presidency in Charge of the Presidential Cabinet & State Control: Simon MFOUTOU
Min. of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, & Women Affairs: Jeanne DAMBENZET
Min. of Civil Service & State Reform: Gabriel ENTCHA-EBIA
Min. of Commerce, Consumption, & Supplies: Adelaide MOUNDELENGOLO
Min. of Communications in Charge of Relations with Parliament: Alain AKOUALAT
Min. of Construction, Town Planning, Housing, & Land Reform: Clause Alphonse NSILOU
Min. of Culture, Arts, & Tourism: Jean-Claude GAKOSSO
Min. of Economy, Finance, & Budget: Roger Rigobert ANDELY
Min. of Equipment & Public Works: Florent NTSIBA, Brig. Gen.
Min. of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, & Relations With Francophone Countries: Rodolphe ADADA
Min. of Forestry Economy &Environment: Henri DJOMBO
Min. of Health & Population: Alain MOKA
Min. of Higher Education & Scientific Research: Henri OSSEBI
Min. of Industrial Development, Small & Medium-Size Enterprises & Handicrafts: Emile MABONZOT
Min. of Justice, Human Rights, & Keeper of the Seals: Jean-Martin MBEMBA
Min. of Labor, Employment, & Social Security: Andre Okombi SALISSA
Min. of Mines, Energy, & Hydraulics: Philippe MVOUO
Min. of Petroleum Affairs: Jean-Baptiste TATI LOUTARD
Min. of Planning, Territory Improvement, & Economic Integration: Pierre MOUSSA
Min. of Posts & Telecommunications: Jean DELLO
Min. of Primary & Secondary Education in Charge of Literacy: Rosalie KAMA
Min. of Security & the Police: Pierre OBA, Brig. Gen.
Min. of Social, Solidarity, Humanitarian Action, Disabled War Veterans, & Family Affairs: Emilienne RAOUL
Min. of Sports & Youth: Marcel MBANI
Min. of Technical Education & Professional Training: Pierre Michel NGUIMBI
Min. of Territory Administration & Decentralization: Francois IBOVI
Min. of Transports & Privatization in Charge of Government Action Coordination: Isidore MVOUBA
Dir., Central Bank: Ange Edouard POUNGUI
Ambassador to the US: Serge MOMBOULI
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Basile IKOUEBE

The Congo maintains an embassy in the United States at 4891 Colorado Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20011 (tel: 202-726-5500). The Congolese Mission to the United Nations is at 14 East 65th Street, New York, NY 10021 (tel: 212-744-7840).


ECONOMY

The Congo's economy is based primarily on its petroleum sector, which is by far the country's major revenue earner. The Congolese oil sector is dominated by the French oil company TotalFinaElf. In second position is the Italian oil firm Agip. ChevronTexaco (in partnership with TotalFinaElf) is the primary American oil company active in petroleum exploration or production. Murphy Oil has signed a contract but has not begun exploration or production. Congo's oil production is expected to decline over the next 15 years with fields yielding less. However, based on an agreement with Angola signed in 2002 to jointly administer certain Congo-Cabinda border areas, Congo's production could rise if exploration is successful. Murphy Oil signed a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with Congo in 2003 for two deepwater offshore permits. Congo hopes to offset declining production in other fields with these new PSAs.

The country's abundant northern rain forests are the source of timber. Forestry, which led Congolese exports before the discovery of oil, now generates less than 7% of export earnings. Wood production came to a standstill during the war years but has recommenced, and new concessions were leased in 2001.

Earlier in the decade, Congo's major employer was the state bureaucracy, which had 80,000 employees on its payroll—enormous for a country of Congo's size. The World Bank and other international financial institutions pressured Congo to institute sweeping civil service reforms in order to reduce the size of the state bureaucracy and pare back a civil service payroll that amounted to more than 20% of GDP in 1993. The effort to cut back began in 1994 with a 50% devaluation that cut the payroll in half in dollar terms. By the middle of 1994, there was a reduction of nearly 8,000 in civil service employees.

Between 1994-96, the Congolese economy underwent a difficult transition. The prospects for building the foundation of a healthy economy, however, were better than at any time in the previous 15 years. Congo took a number of measures to liberalize its economy, including reforming the tax, investment, labor, timber, and hydrocarbon codes. In 2002-03 Congo privatized key parastatals, primarily banks, telecommunications, and transportation monopolies, to help improve a dilapidated and unreliable infrastructure. As of the end of 2003, Congo remained in discussion with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) regarding fiscal changes that need to be further advanced to secure an IMF program.

By the end of 1996, Congo had made substantial progress in various areas targeted for reform. It made significant strides toward macroeconomic stabilization through improving public finances and restructuring external debt. This change was accompanied by improvements in the structure of expenditures, with a reduction in personnel expenditures. Further, Congo benefited from debt restructuring from a Paris Club agreement in July 1996.

This reform program came to a halt, however, in early June 1997 when war broke out, and the return of armed conflict in 1998-99 hindered economic reform and recovery. President Sassou-Nguesso has moved forward on improved governance, economic reforms, and privatization, as well as on cooperation with international financial institutions. President Sassou-Nguesso also has made speeches outlining the need for good governance and transparency in the Congo, particularly during his 2003 and 2004 National Day Addresses.

Before June 1997, Congo and the United States ratified a bilateral investment treaty designed to facilitate and protect foreign investment. The country also adopted a new investment code intended to attract foreign capital. The country has made some commendable efforts at political and economic reform, but despite these successes, Congo's investment climate has challenges, offering few meaningful incentives for new investors. High costs for labor, energy, raw materials, and transportation; a restrictive labor code; low productivity and high production costs; and a deteriorating transportation infrastructure have been among the factors discouraging investment. Five years of civil conflict (1997-2003) further damaged infrastructure, though the privatization of some statal and parastatal enterprises has generated some interest from U.S. companies. In 2004, the IMF noted improvement in Congolese efforts toward greater fiscal responsibility and transparency, though significant challenges remain, and has agreed to a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility. The Congolese government will consistently need to meet its large arrears payments to bilateral and multilateral creditors.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

For the two decades preceding Congo's 1991 national conference, the country was firmly in the socialist camp, allied principally with the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc nations. Educational, economic, and foreign aid links between Congo and its Eastern bloc allies were extensive, with the Congolese military and security forces receiving significant Soviet, East German, and Cuban assistance.

France, the former colonial power, maintained a continuing but somewhat subdued relationship with Congo, offering a variety of cultural, educational, and economic assistance. The principal element in the French-Congolese relationship was the highly successful oil sector investment of the French petroleum parastatal Elf-Aquitaine (now called TotalFinaElf), which entered the Congo in 1968 and has continued to grow.

After the worldwide collapse of communism and Congo's adoption of multi-party democracy in 1991, Congo's bilateral relations with its former socialist allies have become relatively less important. France is now by far Congo's principal external partner, contributing significant amounts of economic assistance, while playing a highly influential role. However, there is a growing interest in attracting American investors.

Congo is a member of the United Nations, African Union, African Development Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), Central African Customs and Economic Union (UDEAC), International Coffee Organization, Economic Community of Central African States ECCAS/CEEAC), INTERPOL, the Nonaligned Movement, and the Group of 77. Congo currently holds a seat on the United Nations Security Council, as well as on the UN Commission for Human Rights.


U.S.-CONGOLESE RELATIONS

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Congo were broken during the most radical Congolese-Marxist period, 1965-77. The U.S. Embassy reopened in 1977 with the restoration of relations, which remained distant until the end of the socialist era. The late 1980s were marked by a progressive warming of Congolese relations with Western countries, including the United States. Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso made a state visit to Washington in 1990, where he was received by President George H.W. Bush.

With the advent of democracy in 1991, Congo's relations with the United States improved and were cooperative. The United States has enthusiastically supported Congolese democratization efforts, contributing aid to the country's electoral process. The Congolese Government demonstrated an active interest in deepening and broadening its relations with the United States. Transition Prime Minister Andre Milongo made an official visit to Washington in 1992, where President Bush received him at the White House.

Then-presidential candidate Pascal Lissouba traveled to Washington in 1992, meeting with a variety of officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman J. Cohen. After his election in August 1992, President Lissouba expressed interest in expanding U.S.-Congo links, seeking increased U.S. development aid, university exchanges, and greater U.S. investment in Congo. With the outbreak of the 1997 war, the U.S. Embassy was evacuated. The Embassy was closed, and its personnel became resident in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 2001 Embassy-suspended operations were lifted, and Embassy personnel were allowed to travel to Brazzaville for periods of extended temporary duty from the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. As a result, U.S.-Congo bilateral relations have been reinvigorated. In 2003 and 2004 this practice continued, and the Embassy in Brazzaville is working toward establishing an interim office facility in which to conduct temporary duties. A site for eventual construction of a new Embassy was acquired in July 2004. Relations between the United States and the government of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso are strong, positive, and cooperative.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

BRAZZAVILLE (E) Address: Rue Leon Jacob 70, Brazzaville; APO/FPO: Unit 31550, APO AE 09828-1550; Phone: 243-81-225-5872 (Kinshasa); Fax: 243-81-3010561; Work-week: M-F /0730-1630

AMB:Charge d'affaires Mark J. Biedlingmaier
AMB OMS:Ada Hellyer
DCM:Mark Biedlingmaier
CON:Chelsea Bakken (See ECO)
MGT:TDY (Vacant)
DAO:Roderic Jackson (based in Kinshasa)
ECO:Chelsea Bakken
EEO:Eva L. Robinson (Embassy Kinshasa)
ICASS Chair:vacant (see MGT)
LAB:Chelsea Bakken (see ECO)
PAO:vacant (see DCM)
RSO:Christopher A. Bakken (Embassy Kinshas)
Last Updated: 12/27/2005

The U.S. Embassy's operations in Brazzaville were suspended on June 18, 1997, because of the war. The suspension was officially lifted in 2001, but there is no permanent office facility yet in Brazzaville. An office representing U.S. interests in Brazzaville is located at U.S. Embassy Kinshasa, 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its mailing address is Brazzaville Embassy office, c/o American Embassy Kinshasa, Unit 31550, APO AE 09828-1550, tel: (243) 81-225-5872 x2141.


TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

January 12, 2006

Country Description:

The Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) is a developing nation in central Africa. The official language is French. The largest cities are the capital, Brazzaville, on the Congo River, and Point Noire on the coast. Civil conflict in 1997 and again in 1998-99 damaged parts of the capital and large areas in the south of the country. The last rebel group still engaged in armed struggle signed a cease-fire accord with the government in March 2003. Facilities for tourism are very limited.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A passport, visa and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required for entry. Additional information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Congo, 4891 Colorado Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20011, telephone (202) 726-5500, or from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Congo to the United Nations, 14 E. 65th St., New York, NY, 10021, telephone (212) 744-7840. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate.

Safety and Security:

As a result of past conflicts, there is extensive damage to the infrastructure in Brazzaville and in the southern part of the country, and the government is working to reconstruct roads and buildings. Fighting broke out in March and June of 2002 when rebel groups launched attacks first in the Pool region, and later, at the Brazzaville airport. The fighting in Brazzaville was quickly contained and the rebels were repulsed. In March 2003, the rebels and the government signed a cease-fire accord, which remains in effect, although there was some violence in Brazzaville in December 2003.

Tensions in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo have led to insecurity in border areas in the north of the Republic of the Congo along the Ubangui River. Travel to these regions is not recommended. Night travel outside of town and cities should be avoided. U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

The Department of State suspended operations at the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville in 1997. The Brazzaville U.S. Embassy office is co-located at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. While the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville is still not open for normal operations, there is usually an Embassy officer in Brazzaville to provide information and guidance to American citizens. He or she can be contacted through the Embassy's workshop in the Mpila neighborhood of Brazzaville. The reduced staff in Brazzaville has limited ability to provide emergency services. Please see the below section on Registration/Embassy Location for more information.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime:

In the Congo, petty street crime targeting foreigners is rare. Muggings and pickpocketings 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 for burglary. Perpetrators often carry firearms and are not deterred by risk of confrontation with occupants. They usually operate in groups of two to four and may be gratuitously violent.

Police resources are limited and response to emergency calls is often too slow (15 minutes or longer). Travelers should note that in the case of theft and robbery, legal recourse is limited and therefore, they may wish to leave all valuable items at home.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical facilities are extremely limited. Some medicines are in short supply, particularly outside the larger cities. Travelers should carry their own supply of properly labeled medications.

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. Plasmodium falciparum malaria, the type that predominates in the Congo, is resistant to the antimalarial drug chloroquine. Because travelers to the Congo are at high risk for contracting malaria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that travelers should take one of the following anti-malarial drugs: mefloquine (LariamTM), doxycycline, or atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone -TM). Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel history and what antimalarials they have been taking. For additional information on malaria, including protective measures, see the CDC Travelers' Health web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/malinfo.htm.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Congo is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Road conditions are generally poor and deteriorate significantly during the rainy season, November-May. Maintenance of the few paved roads is limited. Overland travel off the main roads requires a four-wheel drive vehicle. Poorly marked checkpoints, sometimes manned by undisciplined soldiers, exist in many areas of the countryside.

Aviation Safety Oversight:

As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and the Congo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Congo's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

Special Circumstances:

Ferry service between Brazzaville and Kinshasa normally operates from 8 A.M to 4 P.M Monday through Friday, but it may close completely with minimal notice. A special exit permit from the Republic of the Congo's Immigration Service and a visa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo's embassy/consulate are required to cross the Congo River from Brazzaville to Kinshasa.

Passenger travel on the railroad is discouraged, as there are frequent reports of extortion by undisciplined security forces and robberies by criminal elements along the route.

The Congo is primarily a cash economy and uses the Central African Franc (CFA), a common currency with Gabon, Chad, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea. U.S. dollars may be exchanged for local currency. Traveler's checks can be cashed for a fee at some hotels. Two hotels in Brazzaville, and several in Pointe Noire, accept major credit cards, but prefer payment in cash. Prices are usually quoted in CFA or Euros. Other businesses do not normally accept credit cards. Personal checks drawn on foreign accounts are not accepted. Western Union has offices in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, and one bank in Brazzaville has an ATM.

Airport police and customs officials routinely inspect incoming and outgoing luggage, even for internal travel. For a complete list of prohibited items, please contact the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate.

Local security forces in areas outside Brazzaville and Pointe Noire may detain foreigners to solicit bribes. Detention of U.S. citizens, particularly in remote areas, may not always be promptly reported to the U.S. Government by Congolese authorities. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. If detained or arrested, U.S. citizens should always ask to be allowed to contact the U.S. Embassy.

In general there are no restrictions on photography; however photographs of government buildings or military installations, port facilities or the airport should not be taken. When photographing human beings in remote areas where populations adhere to traditional beliefs, it is best to request permission first. If permission is refused, the photo should not be taken.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Congolese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Congo are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

Americans living or traveling in the Congo are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

The Brazzaville U.S. Embassy office is co-located at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. While the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville is still not open for normal operations, one American officer and some staff members are normally available in Brazzaville to provide information and guidance to American citizens.

The staff may be contacted through the workshop in the Mpila neighborhood of Brazzaville on telephone 242-81-14-73. U.S. citizens living in or visiting the Congo are encouraged to register with either the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa or the workshop in Mpila. The Embassy in Kinshasa is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, Gombe. The telephone number is 243-081-225-5872 (do not dial the zero when calling from abroad into the Congo), and the mailing address from the U.S. is Brazzaville Embassy Office, American Embassy Kinshasa, Unite 31550, APO AE, 09828-1550.

Entrance to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa is on Avenue Dumi, opposite Ste. Anne residence.

The Consular Section of the Embassy may be reached at tel. 243-88-43608, 243-88-46859 or 243-44609; fax 243-88-00228, 243-88-43467 or 243-88-03276.

Cellular phones are the norm, as other telephone service is often unreliable; website: http://kinshasa. usembassy.gov/.

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Congo

Congo

Compiled from the December 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Democratic Republic of the Congo

PROFILE

GEOGRAPHY

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-CONGOLESE RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Location: Central Africa. Bordering nations—Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.

Area: 2.345 sq. km. (905,063 sq. mi.; about the size of the U.S. east of the Mississippi).

Cities: Capital—Kinshasa (pop. 6.5 million). Regional capitals—Band-undu, Bukavu, Goma, Kananga, Kindu, Kisangani, Lubumbashi, Matadi, Mbandaka, Mbuji-Mayi.

Terrain: Varies from tropical rainforests to mountainous terraces, plateau, savannas, dense grasslands, and mountains.

Climate: Equatorial; ranges from tropical rainforest in the Congo River basin, hot and humid in much of the north and west, cooler and drier in the south central area and the east.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Congolese.

Population: (2004 est.) 58 million.

Annual growth rate: (2004 est.) 2.99%.

Ethnic groups: More than 200 African ethnic groups; the Luba, Kongo, and Anamongo are some of the larger groupings of tribes.

Religions: (2004 est.) Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, other syncretic sects and traditional beliefs 10%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%.

Language: Official—French. National languages—Lingala, Swahili, Kikongo, Tshiluba.

Education: Literacy (2004 est.)—65.5% in French or local language. Schooling (2000 est.)—none 41.7%, primary 42.2%, secondary 15.4%, university 0.7%.

Health: (2004 est.) Infant mortality rate—94.69/1,000 live births. Life expectancy—49 yrs.

Government

Type: Republic; highly centralized with executive power vested in the president.

Independence: June 30, 1960 (from Belgium).

Constitution: June 24, 1967; amended August 1974; revised February 15, 1978; amended April 1990; transitional constitution promulgated April 1994; Constitutional Act promulgated May 1997; draft constitution proposed but not finalized March 1998; transitional constitution adopted on April 2, 2003. A new constitution was passed by the transitional parliament on May 2005. The D.R.C. held a constitutional referendum on December 18-19, 2005. Official results indicated that 84% of voters approved the constitution. The new constitution was promulgated in a ceremony on February 18, 2006.

Government branches: Executive—President is head of state and head of government. Cabinet is appointed by president. Prime minister is elected by the parliament. Legislative—The 500-member lower house of parliament was elected in July 30, 2006 national elections. Provincial Assemblies, elected in October 29, 2006 elections, will elect the Senate. The Senate will elect provincial governors and the prime minister. Judicial—Supreme Court (Cour Supreme).

Political subdivisions: Ten provinces and the capital city, Kinshasa.

Political parties: President Joseph Kabila’s party is Parti du Peuple pour la Reconstruction et le Developpement (PPRD). Two main coalitions represent President Kabila and his presidential run-off challenger, former Transitional Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba. Other opposition parties include Union pour la Democratie et le Progres Social (UDPS), Forces du Futur (FDF), Forces Novatrices pour l’Union et la Solidarite (FONUS), Parti Democrate Social Chretien (PDSC), Mouvement Social Democratie et Developpement (MSDD), Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution—Fait Prive (MPR-FP), Union des Nationalistes et des Federalistes Congolais (UNAFEC), and Mouvement National Congolais/Lumumba (MNC/L). Former rebel movements-turned-political parties include the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD), Mouvement pour la Liberation du Congo (MLC), and independent splinter groups of the RCD (RCD-ML, RCD-N).

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory.

Economy

GDP: (2003) $5.6 billion.

Annual GDP growth rate: (2005) 6%.

Per capita GDP: (2005) $120.

Natural resources: Copper, cobalt, diamonds, gold, other minerals; petroleum; wood; hydroelectric potential.

Agriculture: Cash crops—coffee, rubber, palm oil, cotton, cocoa, sugar, tea. Food crops—manioc, corn, legumes, plantains, peanuts.

Land use: Agriculture 3%; pasture 7%; forest/woodland 77%; other 13%.

Industry: Types—processed and unprocessed minerals; consumer products, including textiles, plastics, footwear, cigarettes, metal products; processed foods and beverages, cement, timber.

Currency: Congolese franc (FC).

Trade: Exports (2002)—$1.040 billion. Products—diamonds, cobalt, copper, coffee, petroleum. Partners—E.U., Japan, South Africa, U.S., China. Imports (2002)—$1.216 billion. Products—consumer goods (food, textiles), capital equipment, refined petroleum products. Partners—E.U., China, South Africa, U.S.

Total external debt: (2002) $8.211 billion. (Currently under revision due to HIPC decision point in 2003.)

GEOGRAPHY

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) includes the greater part of the Congo River basin, which covers an area of almost 1 million square kilometers (400,000 sq. mi.). The country’s only outlet to the Atlantic Ocean is a narrow strip of land on the north bank of the Congo River.

The vast, low-lying central area is a basin-shaped plateau sloping toward the west and covered by tropical rain-forest. This area is surrounded by mountainous terraces in the west, plateaus merging into savannas in the south and southwest, and dense grasslands extending beyond the Congo River in the north. High mountains are found in the extreme eastern region.

D.R.C. lies on the Equator, with one-third of the country to the north and two-thirds to the south. The climate is hot and humid in the river basin and cool and dry in the southern highlands. South of the Equator, the rainy season lasts from October to May and north of the Equator, from April to November. Along the Equator, rainfall is fairly regular throughout the year. During the wet season, thunderstorms often are violent but seldom last more than a few hours. The average rainfall for the entire country is about 107 centimeters (42 in.).

PEOPLE

The population of D.R.C. was estimated at 58 million in 2004. As many as 250 ethnic groups have been distinguished and named. Some of the larger groupings of tribes are the Kongo, Luba, and Anamongo. Although 700 local languages and dialects are spoken, the linguistic variety is bridged both by the use of French and the intermediary languages Kikongo, Tshiluba, Swahili, and Lingala.

About 50% of the Congolese population is Christian, predominantly Roman Catholic. Most of the non-Christians adhere to either traditional religions or syncretic sects. Traditional religions include concepts such as monotheism, animism, vitalism, spirit and ancestor worship, witchcraft, and sorcery and vary widely among ethnic groups; none is formalized. The syncretic sects often merge Christianity with traditional beliefs and rituals. The most popular of these sects, Kimbanguism, was seen as a threat to the colonial regime and was banned by the Belgians. Kimbanguism, officially “the church of Christ on Earth by the prophet Simon Kimbangu,” now claims about 3 million members, primarily among the Bakongo tribe of Bas-Congo and Kinshasa. In 1969, it was the first independent African church admitted to the World Council of Churches.

Before independence, education was largely in the hands of religious groups. The primary school system was well developed at independence; however, the secondary school system was limited, and higher education was almost nonexistent in most regions of the country. The principal objective of this system was to train low-level administrators and clerks. Since independence, efforts have been made to increase access to education, and secondary and higher education have been made available to many more Congolese. According to estimates made in 2000, 41.7% of the population has no schooling, 42.2% has primary schooling, 15.4% has secondary schooling, and 0.7% has university schooling. At all levels of education, males greatly outnumber females. The largest state-run universities are the University of Kinshasa, the University of Lubumbashi, and the University of Kisangani. The elite continue to send their children abroad to be educated, primarily in Western Europe.

HISTORY

The area known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo was populated as early as 10,000 years ago and settled in the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. by Bantus from present-day Nigeria. Discovered in 1482 by Portuguese navigator Diego Cao and later explored by English journalist Henry Morton Stanley, the area was officially colonized in 1885 as a personal possession of Belgian King Leopold II as the Congo Free State. In 1907, administration shifted to the Belgian Government, which renamed the country the Belgian Congo. Following a series of riots and unrest, the Belgian Congo was granted its independence on June 30, 1960.

Parliamentary elections in 1960 produced Patrice Lumumba as prime minister and Joseph Kasavubu as president of the renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo. Within the first year of independence, several events destabilized the country: the army mutinied; the governor of Katanga province attempted secession; a UN peacekeeping force was called in to restore order; Prime Minister Lumumba died under mysterious circumstances; and Col. Joseph Désiré Mobutu (later Mobutu Sese Seko) took over the government and ceded it again to President Kasavubu. Unrest and rebellion plagued the government until 1965, when Lieutenant General Mobutu, by then commander in chief of the national army, again seized control of the country and declared himself president for 5 years. Mobutu quickly centralized power into his own hands and was elected unopposed as president in 1970. Embarking on a campaign of cultural awareness, Mobutu renamed the country the Republic of Zaire and required citizens to adopt African names. Relative peace and stability prevailed until 1977 and 1978 when Katangan rebels, staged in Angola, launched a series of invasions into the Katanga region. The rebels were driven out with the aid of Belgian paratroopers.

During the 1980s, Mobutu continued to enforce his one-party system of rule. Although Mobutu successfully maintained control during this period, opposition parties, most notably the Union pour la Democratie et le Progres Social (UDPS), were active. Mobutu’s attempts to quell these groups drew significant international criticism.

As the Cold War came to a close, internal and external pressures on Mobutu increased. In late 1989 and early 1990, Mobutu was weakened by a series of domestic protests, by heightened international criticism of his regime’s human rights practices, and by a faltering economy. In April 1990 Mobutu agreed to the principle of a multi-party system with elections and a constitution. As details of a reform package were delayed, soldiers in September 1991 began looting Kinshasa to protest their unpaid wages. Two thousand French and Belgian troops, some of whom were flown in on U.S. Air Force planes, arrived to evacuate the 20,000 endangered foreign nationals in Kinshasa.

In 1992, after previous similar attempts, the long-promised Sovereign National Conference was staged, encompassing more than 2,000 representatives from various political parties. The conference gave itself a legislative mandate and elected Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo as its chairman, along with Etienne Tshisekedi, leader of the UDPS, as prime minister. By the end of the year Mobutu had created a rival government with its own prime minister. The ensuing stalemate produced a compromise merger of the two governments into the High Council of Republic-Parliament of Transition (HCR-PT) in 1994, with Mobutu as head of state and Kengo Wa Dondo as prime minister. Although presidential and legislative elections were scheduled repeatedly over the next 2 years, they never took place.

By 1996, the war and genocide in neighboring Rwanda had spilled over to Zaire. Rwandan Hutu militia forces (Interahamwe), who fled Rwanda following the ascension of a Tutsi-led government, were using Hutu refugee camps in eastern Zaire as bases for incursions against Rwanda.

In October 1996, Rwandan troops (RPA) entered Zaire, simultaneously with the formation of an armed coalition led by Laurent-Desire Kabila known as the Alliance des Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL). With the goal of forcibly ousting Mobutu, the AFDL, supported by Rwanda and Uganda, began a military campaign toward Kinshasa. Following failed peace talks between Mobutu and Kabila in May 1997, Mobutu left the country, and Kabila marched into Kinshasa on May 17, 1997. Kabila declared himself president, consolidated power around himself and the AFDL, and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.). Kabila’s Army Chief and the Secretary General of the AFDL were Rwandan, and RPA units continued to operate tangentially with the D.R.C.’s military, which was renamed the Forces Armees Congolaises (FAC).

Over the next year, relations between Kabila and his foreign backers deteriorated. In July 1998, Kabila ordered all foreign troops to leave the D.R.C. Most refused to leave. On August 2, fighting erupted throughout the D.R.C. as Rwandan troops in the D.R.C. “mutinied,” and fresh Rwandan and Ugandan troops entered the D.R.C. Two days later, Rwandan troops flew to Bas-Congo, with the intention of marching on Kinshasa, ousting Laurent Kabila, and replacing him with the newly formed Rwandan-backed rebel group called the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD). The Rwandan campaign was thwarted at the last minute when Angolan, Zimbabwean, and Namibian troops intervened on behalf of the D.R.C. Government. The Rwandans and the RCD withdrew to eastern D.R.C., where they established de facto control over portions of eastern D.R.C. and continued to fight the Congolese Army and its foreign allies.

In February 1999, Uganda backed the formation of a rebel group called the Mouvement pour la Liberation du Congo (MLC), which drew support from among ex-Mobutuists and ex-FAZ soldiers in Equateur province (Mobutu’s home province). Together, Uganda and the MLC established control over the northern third of the D.R.C.

At this stage, the D.R.C. was divided de facto into three segments, and the parties controlling each segment had reached military deadlock. In July 1999, a ceasefire was proposed in Lusaka, Zambia, which all parties signed by the end of August. The Lusaka Accord called for a ceasefire, the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation, MONUC, the withdrawal of foreign troops, and the launching of an “Inter-Congolese Dialogue” to form a transitional government leading to elections. The parties to the Lusaka Accord failed to fully implement its provisions in 1999 and 2000. Laurent Kabila drew increasing international criticism for blocking full deployment of UN troops, hindering progress toward an Inter-Congolese Dialogue, and suppressing internal political activity.

On January 16, 2001, Laurent Kabila was assassinated. He was succeeded by his son, Joseph Kabila. Joseph Kabila reversed many of his father’s negative policies; over the next year, MONUC deployed throughout the country, and the Inter-Congolese Dialogue proceeded. By the end of 2002, all Angolan, Namibian, and Zimbabwean troops had withdrawn from the D.R.C. Following D.R.C.-Rwanda talks in South Africa that culminated in the Pretoria Accord in July 2002, Rwandan troops officially withdrew from the D.R.C. in October 2002, although there were continued, unconfirmed reports that Rwandan soldiers and military advisers remained integrated with RCD/G forces in eastern D.R.C. Ugandan troops officially withdrew from the D.R.C. in May 2003.

In October 2001, the Inter-Congolese Dialogue began in Addis Ababa under the auspices of Facilitator Ketumile Masire (former president of Botswana). The initial meetings made little progress and were adjourned. On February 25, 2002, the dialogue was reconvened in South Africa. It included representatives from the government, rebel groups, political opposition, civil society, and Mai-Mai (Congolese local defense militias). The talks ended inconclusively on April 19, 2002, when the government and the MLC brokered an agreement that was signed by the majority of delegates at the dialogue but left out the RCD/G and opposition UDPS party, among others.

This partial agreement was never implemented, and negotiations resumed in South Africa in October 2002. This time, the talks led to an all-inclusive powersharing agreement, which was signed by delegates in Pretoria on December 17, 2002, and formally ratified by all parties on April 2, 2003. Following nominations by each of the various signatory groups, President Kabila on June 30, 2003 issued a decree that formally announced the transitional government lineup. The four vice presidents took the oath of office on July 17, 2003, and most incoming ministers assumed their new functions within days thereafter.

Joseph Kabila won the 2006 presidential elections, and was inaugurated in December.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

A transitional constitution was adopted on April 2, 2003; a new constitution was promulgated February 2006. Extensive executive, legislative, and military powers are vested in the president. The legislature does not have the power to overturn the government through a vote of no confidence. The judiciary is nominally independent; the president has the power to dismiss and appoint judges. The president is head of a 35-member cabinet of ministers.

President Joseph Kabila has made significant progress in liberalizing domestic political activity, establishing a transitional government, and undertaking economic reforms in cooperation with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, serious human rights problems remain in the security services and justice system. The eastern part of the country is characterized by ongoing violence and armed conflict, which has created a humanitarian disaster and contributed to civilian deaths (more than 3.8 million, according to a prominent international non-governmental organization). MONUC continues to play an important peacekeeping role in the D.R.C., and in October 2004, its authorized force strength increased to 16,700.

On July 30, 2006 the D.R.C. held its first free, democratic, multi-party elections in more than 40 years. The D.R.C.’s 25 million registered voters were charged with electing a president (from a field of 33 candidates) and 500 deputies to the National Assembly (out of a total of 9,709 candidates). Despite some unexpected technical and logistical difficulties, coupled with isolated incidents of violence and intimidation, the elections were held in a largely calm and orderly fashion. Voter turnout nationwide was high, particularly in the eastern provinces, compared to the December 2005 constitutional referendum.

The Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) on August 20, 2006 announced official provisional results from the July 30 presidential elections. According to CEI figures, incumbent Joseph Kabila won 44.81% of the votes cast versus Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba’s 20.3%. As no candidate won a majority of votes in the first round and in accordance with the country’s electoral law, the top two recipients, Kabila and Bemba faced off in a second round of balloting. Threats to the D.R.C.’s transitional process were marked by military clashes in Kinshasa just hours after provisional election results were announced. This crisis was exclusively confined to central Kinshasa in the Gombe area and was essentially a clash between Vice President Bemba and President Kabila’s militias. The runoff presidential elections were held on October 29, 2006. On November 27, 2006 the Congolese Supreme Court declared President Kabila the winner over Vice President Bemba by a margin of 58% to 42%. Kabila was inaugurated on December 6, 2006.

Voters in July 2006 also chose from among 9,709 legislative candidates to fill 500 seats in the National Assembly, representing 169 electoral districts. Approximately one-third of these districts elected one deputy by a simple majority. The rest were multiple-seat districts, ranging from two representatives to a maximum of 17 (in one of Kinshasa’s voting districts). In these areas, deputies were chosen by proportional representation using open party lists. To select the winners in multiple-seat districts, all valid votes cast were first divided according to political party. Next, an “electoral quotient” was determined by dividing the number of votes cast by the number of representatives to be elected. Finally, the number of votes a party received was divided by this “electoral quotient” to determine how many seats the party will win. The candidates ultimately elected are those who received the highest number of votes within their particular party lists. National Assembly deputies will also serve five-year terms and there is no restriction on the number of times they can be reelected.

Organizing the D.R.C.’s July 2006 elections presented significant logistical challenges. Supported in large part by the MONUC peacekeeping mission, the Independent Electoral Commission opened more than 50,000 polling stations nationwide and employed some 300,000-poll workers on election day and to oversee the ballot counting process. The presidential and legislative ballots were printed in South Africa and altogether weighed nearly 1,800 tons, requiring 75 round-trip flights between the D.R.C. and South Africa.

The population of the D.R.C. is estimated to be about 60 million, and the country’s electoral law grants the right to vote to those ages 18 or older. For the July 2006 elections, the CEI reported that of the 25,420,99 registered voters, 17,931,238 went to the polls, a voter participation rate of 70.54%. Of the 17.9 million ballots cast, 993,704 (approximately 5%) were disqualified due to empty ballots or marking errors. In 2005, approximately 25.7 million Congolese registered as voters (out of an original estimate of 28 million eligible to do so). In the D.R.C.’s December 2005 constitutional referendum, roughly two-thirds of all registered voters participated. The D.R.C. legislature held its first session on September 22, 2006.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 1/5/2007

Pres.: Joseph KABILA

Prime Min.: Antoine GIZENGA

Min. of State for Agriculture: Francois Joseph MOBUTU NZANGA Ngbangawe

Min. of State for Interior, Decentralization, & Security: Denis KALUME Numbi

Min. of State for Foreign Affairs & Intl. Cooperation: Antipas MBUSA Nyamwisi

Min. of State for Higher Education: Sylvain NGABU Chumbu

Min. of State for Infrastructure, Public Works, & Reconstruction: Pierre LUMBI Okongo

Min. of State at the Presidency: Nkulu MITUMBA Kilombo

Min. of Budget: Adolphe MUZITO

Min. of Culture & Arts: Marcel MALENSO Ndodila

Min. of Defense & Veterans Affairs: Chikez DIEMU

Min. of Energy: Salomon BANAMUHERE Baliene

Min. of the Environment: Didace PEMBE Bokiaga

Min. of Finance: Athanase MATENDA Kyelu

Min. of Human Rights: Eugene LOKWA Ilwaloma

Min. of Humanitarian Affairs: Jean-Claude MUYAMBO Kyassa

Min. of Industry: Simon MBOSO Kiamputu

Min. of Information, Press, & Communication: Toussaint TSHILOMBO Send

Min. of Justice: Georges MINSAY Booka

Min. of Labor & Social Security: Marie-Ange LUKIANA Mufwankolo

Min. of Lands: Liliane PANDE Muaba

Min. of Mines: Martin KABWELULU Labilo

Min. of National Economy: Sylvain Joel BIFWILA Tchamwala

Min. of Petroleum: Lambert MENDE Omalanga

Min. of Plan: Olivier KAMITATU Etsu

Min. of Portfolio: Jeannine MABUNDA Lioko

Min. of Post, Telephones, & Telecommunications: Kyamusoke BAMUSULANGA Nta-Bote

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Atoki Christian ILEKA

ECONOMY

Sparsely populated in relation to its area, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to a vast potential of natural resources and mineral wealth. Nevertheless, the D.R.C. is one of the poorest countries in the world, with per capita annual income of about $98 in 2003. This is the result of years of mismanagement, corruption, and war. In 2001, the Government of the D.R.C. under Joseph Kabila undertook a series of economic reforms to reverse this steep decline. Reforms were monitored by the IMF and included liberalization of petroleum prices and exchange rates and adoption of disciplined fiscal and monetary policies. The reform program reduced inflation from over 500% per year in 2000 to only about 7% at an annual rate in 2003. In June 2002, the World Bank and IMF approved new credits for the D.R.C. for the first time in over a decade. Bilateral donors, whose assistance has been almost entirely dedicated to humanitarian interventions in recent years, also are beginning to fund development projects in the D.R.C. In October 2003, the World Bank launched a multi-sector plan for development and reconstruction. The Paris Club also granted the D.R.C. Highly Indebted Poor Country status in July 2003. This will help alleviate the D.R.C.’s external sovereign debt burden and potentially free funds for economic development.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the Congolese economy, accounting for 56.3% of GDP in 2002. The main cash crops include coffee, palm oil, rubber, cotton, sugar, tea, and cocoa. Food crops include cassava, plantains, maize, groundnuts, and rice. Industry, especially the mining sector, is underdeveloped relative to its potential in the D.R.C. In 2002, industry accounted for only 18.8% of GDP, with only 3.9% attributed to manufacturing. Services reached 24.9% of GDP. The Congo was the world’s fourth-largest producer of industrial diamonds during the 1980s, and diamonds continue to dominate exports, accounting for over half of exports ($642 million) in 2003. The Congo’s main copper and cobalt interests are dominated by Gecamines, the state-owned mining giant. Gecamines production has been severely affected by corruption, civil unrest, world market trends, and failure to reinvest. For decades, corruption and misguided policy have created a dual economy in the D.R.C. Individuals and businesses in the formal sector operated with high costs under arbitrarily enforced laws. As a consequence, the informal sector now dominates the economy. In 2002, with the population of the D.R.C. estimated at 56 million, only 230,000 Congolese working in private enterprise in the formal sector were enrolled in the social security system. Approximately 600,000 Congolese were employed by the government. In the past year, the Congolese Government has approved a new investment code and a new mining code and has designed a new commercial court. The goal of these initiatives is to attract investment by promising fair and transparent treatment to private business. The World Bank also is supporting efforts to restructure the D.R.C.’s large parastatal sector, including Gecamines, and to rehabilitate the D.R.C.’s neglected infrastructure, including the Inga Dam hydroelectric system.

The outbreak of war in the early days of August 1998 caused a major decline in economic activity. Economic growth, however, resumed in 2002 with a 3% growth rate continuing in 2003 at 5%. The country had been divided de facto into different territories by the war, and commerce between the territories had halted. With the installation of the transitional government in July 2003, the country has been “de jure” reunified, and economic and commercial links have begun to reconnect.

In June 2000, the United Nations established a Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Congolese Resources to examine links between the war and economic exploitation. Reports issued by the panel indicate that countries involved in the war in Congo have developed significant economic interests. These interests may complicate efforts by the government to better control its natural resources and to reform the mining sector. A final panel report was issued in October 2003. The Panel of Experts mandate was not renewed.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Its location in the center of Africa has made D.R.C. a key player in the region since independence. Because of its size, mineral wealth, and strategic location, Zaire was able to capitalize on Cold War tensions to garner support from the West. In the early 1990s, however, in the face of growing evidence of human rights abuses, Western support for the incumbent government waned as pressure for internal reform increased.

D.R.C.’s relations with neighboring countries have often been driven by security concerns, leading to intricate and interlocking alliances. Domestic conflicts in the Central African Republic, Sudan, Uganda, Angola, Rwanda, and Burundi have at various times created bilateral and regional tensions. The current crisis in eastern D.R.C. has its roots both in the use of the Congo as a base by various insurgency groups attacking neighboring countries and in the absence of a strong Congolese Government with a military capable of securing Congo’s borders. The war has been exacerbated and prolonged by the exploitation of Congo’s resources by neighboring countries. Although 2003 and early 2004 saw a number of improvements in regional relations, mid-to-late 2004 was marked by increased tension between the D.R.C. and Rwanda.

U.S.-CONGOLESE RELATIONS

Its dominant position in Central Africa makes stability in the D.R.C. an important element of overall stability in the region. In December 2006, the D.R.C. inaugurated its first democratically elected president in over 40 years, the culmination of the Congolese people’s efforts to choose their leaders through a peaceful, democratic process. The United States is proud to have played a role in the peace process in the D.R.C., and encourages peace, prosperity, democracy, and respect for human rights in the D.R.C. The United States remains a partner with the D.R.C. and other central African nations in their quest for stability and growth on the continent, and facilitated the signing of a tripartite agreement on regional security in the Great Lakes region between the D.R.C., Rwanda, and Uganda in October 2004. Burundi formally joined the Tripartite Commission in September 2005, and the Tripartite Commission is now Tripartite Plus. The United States also strongly supported U.N. efforts to create a Joint Verification Mechanism to monitor the border between the D.R.C. and Rwanda. From the start of the Congo crisis, the United States has pursued an active diplomatic strategy in support of these objectives. In the long term, the United States seeks to strengthen the process of internal reconciliation and democratization within all the states of the region to promote stable, developing, and democratic nations with which it can work to address security interests on the continent and with which it can develop mutually beneficial economic relations. The United States appointed its current ambassador to the D.R.C. in 2004. The D.R.C. appointed its current ambassador to the United States in 2000. The Congo has been on the State Department’s travel advisory list since 1977.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

KINSHASA (E) Address: 310 AVENUE DES AVIATEURS, KINSHASA-GOMBE; APO/FPO: AMERICAN EMBASSY UNIT 31550, APO AE 09828; Phone: 011-243-81-225-5872; Fax: 011-243-81-301-0561; INMARSAT Tel: 881-6414-55177 (POST 1); Workweek: M-Th, 7:30–17:15 and Fri 07:30-12:30; Website: http://kinshasa.usembassy.gov.

AMB:ROGER A MEECE
AMB OMS:WANDA WOOD
DCM:J.THOMAS DOUGHERTY
DCM OMS:PATRICIA McCARTHY
POL:DAVID K. BROWN
CON:LAURIE J. MEININGER
MGT:MAUREEN E. PARK
AID:ROBERT HELLYER
CDC:KAREN HAWKINS REED
CLO:SUSAN McCARTHY
DAO:SCOTT BRYSON
ECO:GREGORY GROTH
EEO:VELLA MBENNA/GREGORY GROTH
FMO:DEBRA TRACEY
GSO:BEVERLY WILEY
ICASS Chair:FRANK SKINNER
IMO:VELLA MBENNA
IRS:KATHY BECK (resident in Paris)
ISSO:DAVID YEAGER
PAO:CHRISTOPHER DAVIS
RSO:BILL McCARTHY

Last Updated: 1/30/2007

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : June 5, 2006

Country Description: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) located in central Africa, is the third largest country on the continent. The capital is Kinshasa. French is the official language. Years of civil war and corruption have badly damaged the country’s infrastructure.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport, visa and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required for entry. Some travelers arriving in the DRC without proper proof of yellow fever vaccination have been temporarily detained, had their passports confiscated, or been required to pay a fine. Visas should be obtained from an embassy of the DRC prior to arrival.

Dual nationals arriving in the DRC should carefully consider which passport they use to enter the DRC. For departure from the DRC, airlines will require a valid visa for all destination countries before they will issue a ticket or allow a passenger to board. Airlines also require that the passenger have the correct entry stamp in the passport they wish to use to exit the country. Passengers who are unable to leave the country on the passport they used to enter the DRC may not be able to continue on their travel itinerary.

Additional information about visas may be obtained from the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1726 M Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036, tel. (202) 234-7690, or the DRC’s Permanent Mission to the U.N, 866 United Nations Plaza, Room 511, New York, NY 10017, tel. 212-319-8061, fax: 212-319-8232, web site http://www.un.int/drcongo. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate.

Safety and Security: The DRC remains unstable despite significant efforts to advance the peace process since the April 2003 formation of a power-sharing government of transition. Democratic elections have been announced for July 30, 2006 and the electoral process may create additional tensions as this transition government winds down. During civil disturbances there have been incidents of hostility towards U.S. citizens and other expatriates.

Both inside and outside Kinshasa, there can be military roadblocks, especially after dark. Vehicles are often searched for weapons and valuables, and travelers are checked for identity papers. Troops regularly seek bribes. If confronted with such a situation, it is suggested that U.S. citizens remain courteous and calm. If detained, report the incident to the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa as soon as possible. Attacks against isolated villages continue sporadically in the Ituri region of Orientale province, and in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Maniema provinces, where illegal armed groups that have yet to cede control to the authority of the new transitional government continue to mount periodic attacks. They include individuals who perpetrated the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The large number of rebel and government soldiers to be decommissioned as a result of the peace process is another source of potential security concerns.

The United Nations has authorized up to 16,700 military personnel to deploy in the Congo and their operations in the east are ongoing. Prior to the upsurge in violence in May and June 2004, security had been improving in most areas where the U.N. Mission to the DRC (known by its French acronym, MONUC) has deployed. Elsewhere, it remains tenuous.

Regional Terrorism also exists. One of the many extremist rebel factions in the Great Lakes region, the Rwandan Force for Democracy and Liberty, has committed violent acts against American citizens and interests. This faction was responsible for the March 1999 kidnapping and murder in Uganda of several western tourists, including Americans. In April 2001, six employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross were murdered while working in the DRC, near Bunia in Orientale province. In May of 2001, irregular Congolese Mai-Mai forces kidnapped more than 20 individuals employed by a Thai logging company in North Kivu Province. In northeastern Congo, members of the Lord’s Resistance Army have made incursions into the DRC from southern Sudan, near the DRC border, in and around the area of Garamba National Park.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: In the DRC, poor economic conditions continue to foster crime, especially in urban areas. Travel in many sections of Kinshasa, Kisangani, Lubumbashi and most other major cities, is generally safe during daylight hours, but travelers are urged to be vigilant against criminal activity which targets non-Congolese, particularly in highly congested traffic and areas surrounding hotels and stores. Outlying areas are less secure due to high levels of criminal activity and the lack of adequate training/supervision of the security forces present.

Vehicle theft, burglary, and armed robbery occur throughout the country. Driving with doors locked and windows closed is recommended at all times. Carjacking occurs in some regions. If confronted by members of the military or security forces, visitors should be wary of permitting soldiers or police officers to enter their vehicles or of getting into the vehicle of anyone purporting to be a security official. It is recommended that in such instances U.S. citizens remain courteous and calm and, if threatened, not resist. All incidents should be reported to the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. Consistency in administering laws and regulations is notably absent. Travelers should note that in cases of theft and robbery, legal recourse is limited. Therefore, valuable items may be safer if kept at home or another secure location. Individuals purporting to be legitimate police authorities have detained and later robbed American citizens in the city of Kinshasa. This type of crime has increased in recent months, but generally occurs more frequently during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Travelers using public transportation or visiting high pedestrian traffic areas of any type are advised to be vigilant against pick pocketing which is a persistent problem in all major cities in the DRC.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: In the DRC, medical facilities are limited, and medical materials are in short supply. Travelers should carry properly labeled prescription drugs and other medications with them and should not expect to find an adequate supply of prescription or over-the-counter drugs in local stores or pharmacies. For planning purposes, the minimum estimated cost of medical air evacuation to the nearest suitable health care facility (in South Africa) is $35,000. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the DRC is provided for general reference only, and may vary according to location or circumstance.

Inter-city roads are scarce, in poor condition, and often impassable in the rainy season. When driving in cities, keep windows up and doors locked. At roadblocks or checkpoints, documents should be shown through closed windows. In the event of a traffic incident involving bodily injury to a third party or pedestrian, do not stop to offer assistance under any circumstances. Proceed directly to the nearest police station or gendarmerie to report the incident and request official government intervention. Attempting to provide assistance may further aggravate the incident, resulting in a hostile mob reaction such as stoning or beating.

Presidential and other official motorcades pose serious risks to drivers and pedestrians in Kinshasa. When hearing sirens or seeing security forces announcing the motorcade’s approach, drivers should pull off the road as far as possible, stop their vehicles, and extinguish headlights. Vehicles should not attempt to move until the entire motorcade has passed by; the security forces will physically indicate when this has occurred. Failure to comply may result in arrest.

Public transportation of all forms is generally unsafe and unreliable. Taxis, minibuses, and trains are in poor mechanical condition and are invariably filled beyond capacity. Visitors who wish to travel in the mining areas must first obtain government approval.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of the DRC as not being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for the oversight of Congo’s air carrier operations. For more information, visit the website at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa/. In-country air travel schedules are unreliable and aviation safety varies widely between airlines. Planes may often be overloaded with passengers and/or cargo and mechanical maintenance standards are below U.S. industry standards. Numerous airplane crashes in recent years resulted in the deaths of several dozen passengers.

Special Circumstances: Drivers should stop their cars and pedestrians should stand still when passing a government installation during the raising and lowering of the Congolese flag. This ceremony occurs at roughly 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Travelers should note that photography in public places in Kinshasa and around any public or government building or monument is strictly forbidden. Persons caught photographing such sites will likely have their photographic equipment confiscated and risk detention and possible arrest.

Ferry service to and from Kinshasa and Brazzaville stops running in the late afternoon, does not operate on Sundays, and may close completely with minimal notice. If ferry service is functioning, a special exit permit from the DRC’s Immigration Service and a visa from the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) are required for U.S. citizens to cross the Congo River from Kinshasa to Brazzaville.

Ferry and riverboat service to the Central African Republic is suspended due to rebel control of the Ubangui River.

In the DRC, cellular phones are the norm, as other telephone service is unreliable.

U.S. currency is widely accepted, but most vendors and banking institutions will accept only new Series 1996 bills, with the large, off-center portraits, that provide stronger protection against counterfeiting. In addition, new bills must be in near perfect condition; even those with minor stains or small tears will often be rejected. U.S. bills should be examined before they are accepted to ensure that they are legitimate.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Congolese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Congo are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in the DRC are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website, so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within the Congo. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, tel. 243-081-225-5872 (do not dial the zero when calling from abroad). Entrance to the Consular Section of the Embassy is on Avenue Dumi, opposite the Ste. Anne residence. The Consular Section of the Embassy may be reached at tel. 243-081-884-6859 or 243-081-884-4609; fax 243-081-301-0560 (do not dial the first zero when calling from abroad).

International Adoption : June 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/ family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: Although the Ministry of Justice has jurisdiction over adoptions, individual cases are handled by the Tribunal de Paix in the region where a prospective adoptive child resides. Mailing addresses do not exist as there is no mail service. Attorneys have current contacts at appropriate courts.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Adopting parents may be married, single, widowed or divorced. Persons in these last three groups may not adopt a child of the opposite sex unless the court grants an exemption. Couples should have been married for at least five years and be at least 15 years older than the intended adoptee.

This “15-year rule” may be waived if the adoptee is a biological child of one of the parents. Any person who has a prior history of child abuse is not permitted to adopt. There is no age limit for adopting parents. No couple may adopt more than three children unless a subsequent prospective adoptee is the biological child of one of the parents.

Parents may not already have more than two children when they adopt. No adoptive parent may marry the adopted child. There is no medical ineligibility for adoptive parents.

Residency Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents do not need be permanent or long-term residents of the DRC.

Time Frame: It can take from a minimum of three months to a maximum of one year to complete the adoption process from child placement to visa issuance.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: There are no adoption agencies in DRC. However, orphanages must be licensed or accredited by the Congolese government. It is customary and accepted practice to engage Congolese lawyers to carry out adoption proceedings. Lawyers are automatically accredited by the government by virtue of their professional training. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa maintains a list of attorneys known to work with U.S. citizens on its web site. http://kinshasa.usembassy.gov/attorneys_in_congo.html. This list does not imply an endorsement of specific attorneys by the Embassy.

Adoption Fees: Court fees for an adoption case average between $100 and $300. Lawyer fees can range from $1,000 to $2,500. Fees can be kept to a minimum if, prior to the first consultation, adopting parents secure any required documents such as birth, death, marriage and relevant court records on their own.

Adoption Procedures: Prospective parents apply for permission to adopt by sending a letter to the Tribunal de Paix in the region where the child resides. There is no application form. The Judge from the Tribunal de Paix approves foreign adoptive parents for adoption. If the adoptive parents choose the adoptive child at an orphanage, they do so according to their own criteria (age, gender, etc.). A lawyer may represent the adoptive parents, but adoptive parents’ criteria are taken into consideration, rather than a governmental agency or social organization.

The court will require consent to the adoption be settled before granting a judgment. Biological parents, or other family members if one or both parents are deceased, must give their consent.

After obtaining the proper consent, the prospective adoptive parents request a hearing in open court at the Tribunal de Paix in the area where the child resides. Along with the request for hearing, the prospective adoptive parents must submit copies of their birth certificates and the birth certificate of the prospective adoptee. The adoptive parents and prospective adopted child (if over age 10) must appear personally in court before the judge. After the initial hearing, the court conducts an investigation to determine that all conditions for placement or final adoption have been met and that all documents are legitimate. Adopting parents are not required to remain in DRC after the hearing while waiting for the judgment.

Once the investigation is completed and all requirements have been satisfied, the court will issue a judgment of adoption. The date of the adoption will be retroactive to the date of the first court appearance. The adopted child’s name on the judgment will incorporate his/her original name along with the newly adopted family name. At the time of adoption, choices concerning citizenship will be made by the adoptive parent (in the case of minors) or by the adoptee (if 18 years or older). The adoptive parents must register the judgment at the local city hall or magistrate within one month or the adoption is null and void. This is done either where the adoptive parents live (if they live within DRC) or where the child resides (if the adoptive parents do not live in the DRC).

Please review current reports online at travel.state.gov/family.

Documentary Requirements: The adopting parents must submit copies of their own birth certificates, the birth certificate of the prospective adoptee, police certificates from the adoptive parents place of birth and attestations of good conduct from their city hall or local embassy or consulate.

Embassy in the United States:
Embassy of the Democratic Republic
of Congo
1726 M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Telephone: (202) 234-7690

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adopting parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at travel. state.gov/family.

U.S. Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: The Entrance to the Consular Section of the Embassy is on Avenue Dumi, opposite Ste. Anne residence and the telephone number is 243-81-225-5872. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa is located on 310 Avenue des Aviateurs.

Additional Information: Specific questions about intercountry adoption in the Democratic Republic of Congo may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

Travel Warning : December 18, 2006

This revised Travel Warning for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) provides an update on the country’s security situation. It further notes that the Department has authorized the return of Embassy personnel’s family members, who may have elected to depart Kinshasa earlier this year due to security concerns. This Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for the Democratic Republic of the Congo issued October 20, 2006.

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and notes that while the current security situation in the DRC has stabilized following the second round of Presidential elections and the inauguration of President Joseph Kabila on December 6, 2006, there remain many dangerous conditions for both residents and visitors.

U.N. peacekeeping forces remain in the DRC, including in the capital city of Kinshasa, and travel in the eastern provinces, especially in rural areas, remains unsafe due to continued sporadic attacks by uncontrolled militias. Despite advances in the peace process, and recent countrywide elections, periodic fighting continues in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, northern Katanga province, and Ituri District. Clashes in November and December 2006 resulted in temporary displacements of many citizens.

Although U.N. observer forces are deployed throughout the country, armed militia groups and some active duty troops are known to pillage, car-jack and steal vehicles, kill extra-judicially, rape, kidnap, and carry out military/paramilitary operations. The large number of soldiers to be integrated into the Congolese army or reinserted in civilian society as a result of the peace process remains a security concern.

Travelers have been detained and questioned by ill-disciplined security forces at numerous military roadblocks throughout the country. Government-imposed curfews, not currently in effect, could be reinstated upon short notice if the security situation deteriorates. Visitors should restrict their travel, particularly at night, to areas with which they are familiar. In the event of political disturbances, they should avoid the areas where the disturbances occur, especially at night. During periods of violence, the number of checkpoints in and around Kinshasa increases. These checkpoints bring traffic delays and demands for payment of bribes in order to be allowed to proceed.

Travelers to the DRC frequently experience difficulties at the airport and other ports of entry, such as temporary detention, passport confiscation and demands by immigration and security personnel for unofficial “special fees.” Visas are not available at ports of entry. All resident foreigners, including Americans, are required to register at the office of the Direction General de Migration (DGM) in the commune of their place of residence. Travelers should note that border closures of 24-48 hours in duration can occur without much advance notice.

Americans should avoid all public demonstrations and areas where crowds are gathered, exercise extreme caution, closely watch and listen for local and international news from reliable sources. Radio Okapi broadcasts in French on 103.5 FM at 0700, 0800, 1200 and 1800 as well as “flash” updates throughout the day. English-language news can be found on BBC at 92.7 FM. In times of emergency, the Belgian Embassy operates a French-language radio broadcast system at FM 98.8. Changes in security conditions may occasionally restrict the travel of U.S. Mission personnel.

U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in the DRC despite this Travel Warning are strongly urged to register with the Embassy in Kinshasa or through the State Department’s travel registration website at https://travelregistration.state.gov. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs; entrance to the Consular Section is on Avenue Dumi, opposite Ste. Anne residence. The Embassy’s 24-hour number is 243-81-225-5872; callers within DRC should dial 081 225-5872. All Embassy telephone numbers are cellular phones as land-lines are unreliable. The Embassy website is http://kinshasa.usembassy.gov.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s most recent Consular Information Sheet for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, both located on the Department’s Internet website at http://travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on safety and security is available toll free at 1-888-407-4747, or at regular toll rates at 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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Congo

Congo

Compiled from the November 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of the Congo

PROFILE

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

U.S.-CONGOLESE RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 342,000 sq. km (132,000 sq. mi.); slightly larger than New Mexico.

Cities: Capital—Brazzaville (pop. 800,000). Other cities—Pointe-Noire (450,000), Dolisie (150,000).

Climate: Tropical. Tropical jungle in the North (country seasonally split—half lies above the Equator; half below the Equator).

Terrain: Coastal plains, fertile valleys, central plateau, forested flood plains.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Congolese (sing. and pl.).

Population: (2004 est.) 2,998,040.

Annual growth rate: (2004 est.) 1.4%.

Ethnic groups: 15 principal Bantu groups; more than 70 subgroups. Largest groups are Bacongo, Vili, Bateke, M’Bochi, and Sangha. Also present is a small population (less than 100,000) of Pygmies, ethnically unrelated to the Bantu majority.

Religions: Traditional beliefs 50%, Roman Catholic 35%, other Christian 15%, Muslim 2%.

Languages: French (official), Lingala and Munukutuba (national).

Health: Infant mortality rate (2004 est.)—93.86 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy (2004 est.)—49.51 yrs.

Work force: About 40% of population, two-thirds of whom work in agriculture.

Government

Type: Republic.

Independence: August 15, 1960.

Constitution: New constitution adopted in nationwide referendum on January 20, 2002.

Government branches: Executive—president (chief of state), Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative—bicameral legislature made up of a Senate and a National Assembly. Judicial—Supreme Court, Court of Accounts and Budgetary Discipline, Courts of Appeal (Title VIII of the 2002 constitution), and the Constitutional Court (Title IX of the 2002 constitution). Other—Economic Council and Human Rights Commission.

Political subdivisions: 10 departments, divided into districts, plus the capital district.

Political parties: More than 100 new parties formed (but not all function) since multi-party democracy was introduced in 1990. The largest are the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (UPADS), Congolese Labor Party (PCT), Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development (MCDDI), Coalition for Democracy and Social Progress (RDPS), Coalition for Democracy and Development (RDD), Union of Democratic Forces (UFD), Union of Democratic Renewal (URD), Union for Development and Social Progress (UDPS). Following the June-October 1997 war and the 1998-99 civil conflict, many parties, including UPADS and MCDDI, were left in disarray as their leadership fled the country. By 2002, many of the leaders had returned, with several notable exceptions—including former Presidents Pascal Lissouba and Joachim Yhomby-Opango.

Suffrage: Universal adult.

Economy

GDP: (2003 est.) $2.186 billion.

Per capita income: (2003) $700.

Natural resources: Petroleum, wood, potash, lead, zinc, uranium, phosphates, natural gas, hydropower.

Structure of production: (2001) Government and services—40.3%; petroleum sector—38.9%; agriculture and forestry—10.5%; utilities and industry—6.0%; other—4.3%.

Agriculture: Products—manioc, sugar, rice, corn, peanuts, vegetables, coffee, cocoa, forest products. Land—less than 2% cultivated.

Trade: (2003 est.) Exports—$2.293 billion: petroleum (89% of export earnings), lumber, plywood, sugar, cocoa, coffee, diamonds. Imports— (2003 est.) $666.9 million: capital equipment, construction materials, foodstuffs.

PEOPLE

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 Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, or along the 332-mile railway that connects them. In southern rural areas, industrial and commercial activity suffered as a consequence of the civil wars in the late 1990s. Except in Kouilou province and Pointe Noire, commercial activity other than subsistence activity came nearly to a halt. A slow recovery began in 2000.

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.

HISTORY

First inhabited by Pygmies, Congo was later settled by Bantu groups that also occupied parts of present-day Angola, Gabon, and Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), 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.

The area came under French sovereignty in the 1880s. Pierre Savorgnon de Brazza, a French empire builder, competed with agents of Belgian King Leopold’s International Congo Association (later Zaire) for control of the Congo River basin. Between 1882 and 1891, treaties were secured with all the main local rulers on the river’s right bank, placing their lands under French protection. 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 by private companies. In 1924-34, the Congo-Ocean Railway (CFCO) was built at a considerable human and financial cost, opening the way for growth of the ocean port of Pointe-Noire and towns along its route.

During World War II, the AEF administration sided with Charles DeGaulle, and Brazzaville became the symbolic capital of Free France during 1940-43. The Brazzaville Conference of 1944 heralded a period of major reform in French colonial policy, including the abolition of forced labor, granting of French citizenship to colonial subjects, decentralization of certain powers, and election of local advisory assemblies. 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.

The Loi Cadre (framework law) of 1956 ended dual voting roles and provided for partial self-government for the individual overseas territories. Ethnic rivalries then produced sharp struggles among the emerging Congolese political parties and sparked severe riots in Brazzaville in 1959. After the September 1958 referendum approving the new French Constitution, AEF was dissolved. Its four territories became autonomous members of the French Community, and Middle Congo was renamed the Congo Republic. Formal independence was granted in August 1960.

Congo’s first President was Fulbert Youlou, a former Catholic priest from the Pool region in the southeast. He rose to political prominence after 1956, and was narrowly elected President by the National Assembly at independence. Youlou’s 3 years in power were marked by ethnic tensions and political rivalry. In August 1963, Youlou was overthrown in a 3-day popular uprising (Les Trois Glorieuses) led by labor elements and joined by rival political parties. All members of the Youlou government were arrested or removed from office. The Congolese military took charge of the country briefly and installed a civilian provisional government headed by Alphonse Massamba-Debat. Under the 1963 constitution, Massamba-Debat was elected President for a 5-year term and named Pascal Lissouba to serve as Prime Minister. However, President Massamba-Debat’s term ended abruptly in August 1968, when Capt. Marien Ngouabi and other army officers toppled the government in a coup. After a period of consolidation under the newly formed National Revolutionary Council, Major Ngouabi 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 Labor Party (PCT).

On March 18, 1977, President Ngouabi was assassinated. Although the persons accused of shooting Ngouabi were tried and some of them executed, the motivation behind the assassination is still not clear. An 11-member Military Committee of the Party (CMP) was named to head an interim government with Colonel (later General) Joachim Yhomby-Opango to serve as President of the Republic. Accused of corruption and deviation from party directives, Yhomby-Opango was removed from office on February 5, 1979, by the Central Committee of the PCT, which then simultaneously designated Vice President and Defense Minister Col. Denis Sassou-Nguesso as interim President. The Central Committee directed Sassou-Nguesso to take charge of preparations for the Third

Extraordinary Congress of the PCT, which proceeded to elect him President of the Central Committee and President of the Republic. Under a congressional resolution, Yhomby-Opango was stripped of all powers, rank, and possessions and placed under arrest to await trial for high treason. He was released from house arrest in late 1984 and ordered back to his native village of Owando.

After two decades of turbulent politics bolstered by Marxist-Leninist rhetoric, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Congolese gradually moderated their economic and political views to the point that, in 1992, Congo completed a transition to multi-party democracy. Ending a long history of one-party Marxist rule, a specific agenda for this transition was laid out during Congo’s national conference of 1991 and culminated in August 1992 with multi-party presidential elections. Sassou-Nguesso conceded defeat and Congo’s new President, Prof. Pascal Lissouba, was inaugurated on August 31, 1992.

Congolese democracy experienced severe trials in 1993 and early 1994. President Lissouba dissolved the National Assembly in November 1992, calling for new elections in May 1993. The results of those elections were disputed, touching off violent civil unrest in June and again in November. In February 1994, all parties accepted the decisions of an international board of arbiters, and the risk of large-scale insurrection subsided.

However, Congo’s democratic progress was derailed in 1997. As presidential elections scheduled for July 1997 approached, tensions between the Lissouba and Sassou-Nguesso camps mounted. When President Lissouba’s government forces surrounded Sassou-Nguesso’s compound in Brazzaville with armored vehicles on June 5, Sassou-Nguesso ordered his militia to resist. Thus began a 4-month conflict that destroyed or damaged much of Brazzaville. In early October, Angolan troops invaded Congo on the side of Sassou-Nguesso and, in mid-October, the Lissouba government fell. Soon thereafter, Sassou-Nguesso declared himself President and named a 33-member government.

In January 1998, the Sassou-Nguesso regime held a National Forum for Reconciliation to determine the nature and duration of the transition period. The forum, tightly controlled by the government, decided elections should be held in about 3 years, elected a transition advisory legislature, and announced that a constitutional convention would finalize a draft constitution. However, the eruption in late 1998 of fighting between Sassou-Nguesso’s government forces and a pro-Lissouba and pro-Kolelas armed opposition disrupted the transition to democracy. This new violence also closed the economically vital Brazzaville-Pointe Noire railroad, caused great destruction and loss of life in southern Brazzaville and in the Pool, Bouenza, and Niari regions, and displaced hundreds of thousands of persons. In November and December 1999, the government signed agreements with representatives of many, though not all, of the rebel groups.

The December accord, mediated by President Omar Bongo of Gabon, called for follow-on, inclusive political negotiations between the government and the opposition. During the years 2000-01, Sassou-Nguesso’s government conducted a national dialogue (Dialogue Sans Exclusif), in which the opposition parties and the government agreed to continue on the path to peace. Ex-President Lissouba and ex-Prime Minister Kolelas refused to agree and were exiled. They were tried in absentia and convicted in Brazzaville of charges ranging from treason to misappropriation of government funds. Ex-militiamen were granted amnesty, and many were provided micro-loans to aid their reinsertion into civil society. Not all opposition members participated. One group, referred to as “Ninjas,” actively opposed the government in a low-level guerrilla war in the Pool region of the country. Other members of opposition parties have returned and have opted to participate to some degree in political life. A new constitution was drafted in 2001, approved by the provisional legislature (National Transition Council), and approved by the people of Congo in a national referendum in January 2002. Presidential elections were held in March 2002, and Sassou-Nguesso was declared the winner. Legislative elections were held in May and June 2002. In March 2003 the government signed a peace accord with the Ninjas, and the country has remained stable and calm since the signing. Internally displaced persons are returning to the Pool region. President Sassou-Nguesso allowed Kolelas to return to Congo for his wife’s funeral in October 2005 and subsequently asked that Parliament grant Kolelas amnesty. Parliament complied with Sassou-Nguesso’s request in December 2005.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS

Before the 1997 war, the Congolese system of government was similar to that of the French. However, after taking power, Sassou-Nguesso suspended the constitution approved in 1992 upon which this system was based. The 2002 constitution provides for a 7-year presidential term. There is a parliament of two houses, whose members serve for 5 years.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 6/15/2006

President: Denis SASSOU-Nguesso

Prime Minister: Isidore MVOUBA

Min. of the Presidency in Charge of National Defense: Jacques Yvon NDOLOU, Brig. Gen.

Min. of the Presidency in Charge of the Presidential Cabinet & State Control: Simon MFOUTOU

Min. of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, & Women Affairs: Jeanne DAMBENZET

Min. of Civil Service & State Reform: Gabriel ENTCHA-EBIA

Min. of Commerce, Consumption, & Supplies: Adelaide MOUNDELENGOLO

Min. of Communications in Charge of Relations with Parliament: Alain AKOUALAT

Min. of Construction, Town Planning, Housing, & Land Reform: Clause Alphonse NSILOU

Min. of Culture, Arts, & Tourism: Jean-Claude GAKOSSO

Min. of Economy, Finance, & Budget: Roger Rigobert ANDELY

Min. of Equipment & Public Works: Florent NTSIBA, Brig. Gen.

Min. of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, & Relations With Francophone Countries: Rodolphe ADADA

Min. of Forestry Economy &Environment: Henri DJOMBO

Min. of Health & Population: Alain MOKA

Min. of Higher Education & Scientific Research: Henri OSSEBI

Min. of Industrial Development, Small & Medium-Size Enterprises & Handicrafts: Emile MABONZOT

Min. of Justice, Human Rights, & Keeper of the Seals: Jean-Martin MBEMBA

Min. of Labor, Employment, & Social Security: Andre Okombi SALISSA

Min. of Mines, Energy, & Hydraulics: Philippe MVOUO

Min. of Petroleum Affairs: Jean-Baptiste TATI LOUTARD

Min. of Planning, Territory Improvement, & Economic Integration: Pierre MOUSSA

Min. of Posts & Telecommunications: Jean DELLO

Min. of Primary & Secondary Education in Charge of Literacy: Rosalie KAMA

Min. of Security & the Police: Pierre OBA, Brig. Gen.

Min. of Social, Solidarity, Humanitarian Action, Disabled War Veterans, & Family Affairs: Emilienne RAOUL

Min. of Sports & Youth: Marcel MBANI

Min. of Technical Education & Professional Training: Pierre Michel NGUIMBI

Min. of Territory Administration & Decentralization: Francois IBOVI

Min. of Transports & Privatization in Charge of Government Action Coordination: Isidore MVOUBA

Dir., Central Bank: Ange Edouard POUNGUI

Ambassador to the US: Serge MOMBOULI

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Basile IKOUEBE

The Congo maintains an embassy in the United States at 4891 Colorado Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20011 (tel: 202-726-5500). The Congolese Mission to the United Nations is at 14 East 65th Street, New York, NY 10021 (tel: 212-744-7840).

ECONOMY

The Congo’s economy is based primarily on its petroleum sector, which is by far the country’s major revenue earner. The Congolese oil sector is dominated by the French oil company TotalFinaElf. In second position is the Italian oil firm Agip. ChevronTexaco (in partnership with TotalFinaElf) is the primary American oil company active in petroleum exploration or production. Murphy Oil has signed a contract but has not begun exploration or production. Congo’s oil production is expected to decline over the next 15 years with fields yielding less. However, based on an agreement with Angola signed in 2002 to jointly administer certain Congo-Cabinda border areas, Congo’s production could rise if exploration is successful. Murphy Oil signed a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) with Congo in 2003 for two deepwater offshore permits. Congo hopes to offset declining production in other fields with these new PSAs. The country’s abundant northern rain forests are the source of timber. Forestry, which led Congolese exports before the discovery of oil, now generates less than 7% of export earnings. Wood production came to a standstill during the war years but has recommenced, and new concessions were leased in 2001.

Earlier in the decade, Congo’s major employer was the state bureaucracy, which had 80,000 employees on its payroll—enormous for a country of Congo’s size. The World Bank and other international financial institutions pressured Congo to institute sweeping civil service reforms in order to reduce the size of the state bureaucracy and pare back a civil service payroll that amounted to more than 20% of GDP in 1993. The effort to cut back began in 1994 with a 50% devaluation that cut the payroll in half in dollar terms. By the middle of 1994, there was a reduction of nearly 8,000 in civil service employees.

Between 1994-96, the Congolese economy underwent a difficult transition. The prospects for building the foundation of a healthy economy, however, were better than at any time in the previous 15 years. Congo took a number of measures to liberalize its economy, including reforming the tax, investment, labor, timber, and hydrocarbon codes. In 2002-03 Congo privatized key parastatals, primarily banks, telecommunications, and transportation monopolies, to help improve a dilapidated and unreliable infrastructure.

By the end of 1996, Congo had made substantial progress in various areas targeted for reform. It made significant strides toward macroeconomic stabilization through improving public finances and restructuring external debt. This change was accompanied by improvements in the structure of expenditures, with a reduction in personnel expenditures. Further, Congo benefited from debt restructuring from a Paris Club agreement in July 1996.

This reform program came to a halt, however, in early June 1997 when war broke out, and the return of armed conflict in 1998-99 hindered economic reform and recovery. President Sassou-Nguesso has moved forward on improved governance, economic reforms, and privatization, as well as on cooperation with international financial institutions. President Sassou-Nguesso also has made speeches outlining the need for good governance and transparency in the Congo, particularly during his 2003 and 2004 National Day Addresses.

Before June 1997, Congo and the United States ratified a bilateral investment treaty designed to facilitate and protect foreign investment. The country also adopted a new investment code intended to attract foreign capital. The country has made some commendable efforts at political and economic reform, but despite these successes, Congo’s investment climate has challenges, offering few meaningful incentives for new investors. High costs for labor, energy, raw materials, and transportation; a restrictive labor code; low productivity and high production costs; and a deteriorating transportation infrastructure have been among the factors discouraging investment. Five years of civil conflict (1997-2003) further damaged infrastructure, though the privatization of some statal and parastatal enterprises has generated some interest from U.S. companies.

In March 2006, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) decision point treatment for Congo, noting that Congo has performed satisfactorily on an IMF-supported program and developed an interim Poverty Reduction Strategy. The IMF and World Bank also noted, however, that Congo needed to address serious concerns about governance and financial transparency in order to qualify for completion point and irrevocable debt relief. Specifically, Congo needs to bring the internal controls and accounting system of the state-owned oil company (SNPC) up to internationally recognized standards; prevent conflicts of interests in the marketing of oil; require SNPC officials to publicly declare and divest any interests in companies having a business relationship with SNPC; and implement an anti-corruption action plan with international support. Any resources that are freed by interim debt relief granted to Congo must be used for poverty reduction under a reform program closely monitored by the international financial institutions.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

For the two decades preceding Congo’s 1991 national conference, the country was firmly in the socialist camp, allied principally with the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc nations. Educational, economic, and foreign aid links between Congo and its Eastern bloc allies were extensive, with the Congolese military and security forces receiving significant Soviet, East German, and Cuban assistance.

France, the former colonial power, maintained a continuing but somewhat subdued relationship with Congo, offering a variety of cultural, educational, and economic assistance. The principal element in the French-Congolese relationship was the highly successful oil sector investment of the French petroleum parastatal Elf-Aquitaine (now called TotalFinaElf), which entered the Congo in 1968 and has continued to grow.

After the worldwide collapse of communism and Congo’s adoption of multi-party democracy in 1991, Congo’s bilateral relations with its former socialist allies became relatively less important. France is now by far Congo’s principal external partner, contributing significant amounts of economic assistance, while playing a highly influential role. However, there is a growing interest in attracting American investors.

Congo is a member of the United Nations, African Union, African Development Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC), Central African Customs and Economic Union (UDEAC), International Coffee Organization, Economic Community of Central African States ECCAS/CEEAC), INTERPOL, the Nonaligned Movement, and the Group of 77. Congo holds a seat on the United Nations Security Council during 2006-2007. In January 2006, President Sassou-Nguesso was elected Chairman of the African Union.

U.S.-CONGOLESE RELATIONS

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Congo were broken during the most radical Congolese-Marxist period, 1965-77. The U.S. Embassy reopened in 1977 with the restoration of relations, which remained distant until the end of the socialist era. The late 1980s were marked by a progressive warming of Congolese relations with Western countries, including the United States. Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso made a state visit to Washington in 1990, where he was received by President George H.W. Bush.

With the advent of democracy in 1991, Congo’s relations with the United States improved and were cooperative. The United States has enthusiastically supported Congolese democratization efforts, contributing aid to the country’s electoral process. The Congolese Government demonstrated an active interest in deepening and broadening its relations with the United States. Transition Prime Minister Andre Milongo made an official visit to Washington in 1992, where President Bush received him at the White House.

Then-presidential candidate Pascal Lissouba traveled to Washington in 1992, meeting with a variety of officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman J. Cohen. After his election in August 1992, President Lissouba expressed interest in expanding U.S.-Congo links, seeking increased U.S. development aid, university exchanges, and greater U.S. investment in Congo. With the outbreak of the 1997 war, the U.S. Embassy was evacuated. The Embassy was closed, and its personnel became resident in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 2001 Embassy-suspended operations were lifted, and Embassy personnel were allowed to travel to Brazzaville for periods of extended temporary duty from the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. As a result, U.S.-Congo bilateral relations have been reinvigorated. In 2003 and 2004 this practice continued, and the Embassy in Brazzaville is working toward establishing an interim office facility in which to conduct temporary duties. A site for eventual construction of a new Embassy was acquired in July 2004. Relations between the United States and the government of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso are strong, positive, and cooperative.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

BRAZZAVILLE (E) Address: Rue Leon Jacob 70, Brazzaville; APO/FPO: Unit 31550, APO AE 09828-1550; Phone: 243-81-225-5872 (Kinshasa); Fax: 243-81-3010561; Workweek: M-F/0730-1630.

AMB:Robert Weisberg
AMB OMS:Ina Erickson
DCM:Mark Biedlingmaier
DCM OMS:Ada Hellyer
POL:vacant (see AMB, DCM)
CON:Chelsea Bakken (See ECO)
MGT:Marcia Oshinaike
CDC:Karen Hawkins Reed
DAO:Maj. Scott Bryson (Kinshasa)
ECO:Chelsea Bakken
FMO:vacant (see DCM)
GSO:vacant (see MGT)
ICASS Chair:vacant (see MGT)
IRS:Kathy J. Beck (Resident in Paris
LAB:Chelsea Bakken (see ECO)
PAO:vacant (see DCM)
RSO:Christopher A. Bakken (Embassy Kinshas)
State ICASS:vacant (see DCM)

Last Updated: 1/29/2007

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : September 13, 2006

Country Description: The Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) is a developing nation in central Africa. The official language is French. The largest cities are the capital, Brazzaville, on the Congo River, and Pointe Noire on the coast. Civil conflict in 1997 and again in 1998-99 damaged parts of the capital and large areas in the south of the country. The last rebel group still engaged in armed struggle signed a ceasefire accord with the government in March 2003. Facilities for tourism are very limited.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport, visa and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required for entry. Additional information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Congo, 4891 Colorado Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20011, telephone (202) 726-5500, or from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Congo to the United Nations, 14 E. 65th St., New York, NY, 10021, telephone (212) 744-7840. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate.

Safety and Security: As a result of past conflicts, there is extensive damage to the infrastructure in Brazzaville and in the southern part of the country, and the government is working to reconstruct roads and buildings. Fighting broke out in March and June of 2002 when rebel groups launched attacks first in the Pool region, and later, at the Brazzaville airport. The fighting in Brazzaville was quickly contained and the rebels were repulsed. In March 2003, the rebels and the government signed a ceasefire accord, which remains in effect, although there was some violence in Brazzaville in December 2003.

Tensions in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo have led to insecurity in border areas in the north of the Republic of the Congo along the Ubangui River. Travel to these regions is not recommended. Night travel outside of town and cities should be avoided.

U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

The Department of State suspended operations at the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville in 1997. The Brazzaville U.S. Embassy office is co-located at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. While the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville is still not open for normal operations, there is usually an Embassy officer in Brazzaville to provide information and guidance to American citizens. He or she can be contacted through the Embassy’s interim offices. The reduced staff in Brazzaville has limited ability to provide emergency services. Please see the below section on Registration/Embassy Location for more information.

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Crime: In the Congo, petty street crime targeting foreigners is rare. Mugging and pickpocketing happens 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 for burglary. Perpetrators often carry firearms and are not deterred by risk of confrontation with occupants. They usually operate in groups of two to four and may be gratuitously violent.

Police resources are limited and response to emergency calls is often too slow (15 minutes or longer). Travelers should note that in the case of theft and robbery, legal recourse is limited and therefore, they may wish to leave all valuable items at home.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities are extremely limited. Some medicines are in short supply, particularly outside the larger cities. Travelers should carry their own supply of properly labeled medications.

Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. Plasmodium falciparum malaria, the type that predominates in the Congo, is resistant to the antimalarial drug chloroquine. Because travelers to the Congo are at high risk for contracting malaria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that travelers should take one of the following anti-malarial drugs: mefloquine (Lariam), doxycycline, or atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone). Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and tell the physician their travel his- tory and what antimalarials they have been taking. For additional information on malaria, including protective measures, see the CDC Travelers’ Health web site at http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning the Republic of the Congo is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Road conditions are generally poor and deteriorate significantly during the rainy season, November-May. Maintenance of the few paved roads is limited. Overland travel off the main roads requires a four-wheel drive vehicle. Poorly marked checkpoints, sometimes manned by undisciplined soldiers, exist in many areas of the countryside.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and the Republic of the Congo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Republic of the Congo’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, visit the website at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.

Special Circumstances: Ferry service between Brazzaville and Kinshasa normally operates from 8 A.M to 4 P.M Monday through Friday, but it may close completely with minimal notice. A special exit permit from the Republic of the Congo’s Immigration Service and a visa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s embassy/consulate are required to cross the Congo River from Brazzaville to Kinshasa. Passenger travel on the railroad is discouraged, as there are frequent reports of extortion by undisciplined security forces and robberies by criminal elements along the route.

The Congo is primarily a cash economy and uses the Central African Franc (CFA), a common currency with Gabon, Chad, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea. U.S. dollars may be exchanged for local currency. Traveler’s checks can be cashed for a fee at some hotels. Two hotels in Brazzaville, and several in Pointe Noire, accept major credit cards, but prefer payment in cash. Prices are usually quoted in CFA or Euros. Other businesses do not normally accept credit cards. Personal checks drawn on foreign accounts are not accepted. Western Union has offices in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, and one bank in Brazzaville has an ATM.

Airport police and customs officials routinely inspect incoming and outgoing luggage, even for internal travel. For a complete list of prohibited items, please contact the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate.

Local security forces in areas outside Brazzaville and Pointe Noire may detain foreigners to solicit bribes. Detention of U.S. citizens, particularly in remote areas, may not always be promptly reported to the U.S. Government by Congolese authorities. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their passports with them at all times so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. If detained or arrested, U.S. citizens should always ask to be allowed to contact the U.S. Embassy.

In general there are no restrictions on photography; however photographs of government buildings or military installations, port facilities or the airport should not be taken. When photographing human beings in remote areas where populations adhere to traditional beliefs, it is best to request permission first. If permission is refused, the photo should not be taken.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.

Persons violating Congolese laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Republic of the Congo are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: Americans living or traveling in the Republic of the Congo are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within the Republic of the Congo. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa or at the interim offices in Brazzaville. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The Brazzaville U.S. Embassy office is co-located at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. Although the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville is not yet open for normal operations, one or more American officers and some local staff members are normally available in Brazzaville to provide information and guidance to American citizens. The Embassy in Brazzaville has interim offices located in the B.D.E.A.C Building, 4th Floor, Place du Gouvernment, Plateau de Centre Ville, Brazzaville. The telephone number during regular business hours (7:30 am until 4:30 pm, M-F) is 242-81-14-81. The Embassy in Kinshasa is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, Gombe; tel. 243-081-225-5872 (do not dial the zero when calling from abroad into the Congo), and the mailing address from the U.S. is Brazzaville Embassy Office, American Embassy Kinshasa, Unite 31550, APO AE, 09828-1550. Entrance to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa is on Avenue Dumi, opposite Ste. Anne residence. The Consular Section of the Embassy in Kinshasa may be reached at cellular tel. 243-81-8844609, 243-81-884-6859 or 243-81-225-5872; fax 243-81-301-0560. For after-hours emergencies, use 243-81-225-5872. (Cellular phones are the norm, as other telephone service is often unreliable); website: http://kinshasa.usembassy.gov/.

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Congo

Congo

At a Glance

Official Name: Republic of the Congo

Continent: Africa

Area: 131,853 square miles (341,500 sq km)

Population: 2,894,336

Capital City: Brazzaville

Largest City: Brazzaville (596,200)

Unit of Money: CFA franc

Major Language: French (official)

Literacy: 75%

Land Use: 2% arable, 29% meadow, 62% forest, 7% other

Natural Resources: Petroleum, timber, potash, lead

Government: Republic lead by a president

Defense: 50 million

The Place

The Republic of the Congo is in west central Africa. Its only coastline is in the southwestern part of the country and extends for about 44 miles (71 km) along the Atlantic Ocean.

The Republic of the Congo can be split into six geographical regions. In the southwest, the Coastal Plain extends from the Atlantic Ocean to about 40 miles (64 km) inland. The Mayombe Escarpment lies beyond the Coastal Plain. This group of plateaus ranges from 1,600 to 2,600 feet (490 to 790 m) above sea level. To the north of these plateaus is the Niari Valley. This farming region is covered by forests and grassland. To the east of this valley is the Stanley Pool Region, which is also used for agriculture.

The Bateke Plateau is located in the center of the Congo. This grassy area has deep, wooded valleys. The Congo River Basin lies in the northern part of the country and has many swamps. The majority of the country experiences hot and humid weather throughout the year. Southern coastal areas receive the most rainfall.

The People

There are four main ethnic groups in the Congo. The largest group is the Kongo, and they live mostly in the southwest region near Brazzaville. The Kongo are farmers. The M'Bochi inhabit the northern area where the savanna and the forest meet. Many M'Bochi work as clerks. The Sangha also share the northern forest region. The Teke live in the central region of the Congo. They hunt and fish for a living. Life expectancy is 47 years.

The Congolese population is almost evenly divided between urban and rural areas. The population density averages 21 people per square mile (7 people per sq km). The densest parts of the Congo are the southeastern border near Brazzaville and the southwestern coastal area.

Economic conditions for the middle class are fairly stable—Congolese earn higher wages than workers in most other African countries. Approximately 75% of Congolese work in agriculture, while the other 25% work in commerce.

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Congo (DROC)

Congo (DROC)

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Zairians and Congolese

35 Bibliography

Democratic Republic of the Congo

République Democratique du Congo

CAPITAL: Kinshasa

FLAG: The flag is a sky blue field divided diagonally from the lower hoist corner to upper fly corner by a red stripe bordered by two narrow yellow stripes; a yellow, five-pointed star appears in the upper hoist corner.

ANTHEM: Song of Independence.

MONETARY UNIT: In 1997, the New Congo replaced the zaire (Z) as the national currency with the Congolese franc (cf). cf1 = $0.00228 (or $1 = cf437.86) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year’s Day, 1 January; Commemoration of Martyrs of Independence, 4 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Anniversary of the Popular Movement of the Revolution, 20 May; Promulgation of the 1967 Constitution, 24 June; Independence Day, 30 June; Parents’ Day, 1 August; Youth Day, 14 October; Army Day, 17 November; the Anniversary of the Regime, 24 November; and Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: In Kinshasa, 1 pm = noon GMT; in Lubumbashi, 2 pm = noon GMT.

1 Location and Size

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC) is crossed by the equator in its north-central region. The third-largest country in Africa, it covers an area of 2,345,410 square kilometers (905,563 square miles), or slightly less than one-quarter the size of the United States. The country shares borders with the Central African Republic, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, and the Republic of the Congo (ROC). It has a total land boundary length of 10,730 kilometers (6,667 miles) and a coastline (on the Atlantic Ocean) of 37 kilometers (23 miles). The DROC’s capital city, Kinshasa, is located in the western part of the country.

2 Topography

The longest river is the Congo, which stretches through both the DROC and the ROC with a total length of 4,344 kilometers (2,700 miles).

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 2,345,410 sq km (905,563 sq mi)

Size ranking: 12 of 194

Highest elevation: 5,110 meters (16,765 feet) at Margherita Peak (Mount Stanley)

Lowest elevation: Sea level at the Atlantic Ocean

Land Use*

Arable land: 3%

Permanent crops: 0%

Other: 97%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: 137.1 centimeters (54.0 inches) Precipitation in the eastern highlands averages 120–180 centimeters (47–71 inches).

Average temperature in January: (Kinshasa): 21–31°c (70–88°f)

Average temperature in July: (Kinshasa): 18–27°c (64–81°f) Temperatures are cooler in the upper regions of the east. The average temperature range in Lubumbashi, in the southeastern corner of the country, is 16–28°c (61–82°f) in January and 6–26°c (43–79°f) in July.

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

The gigantic semicircular bend in the river, which is called the Lualaba in its upper course, creates a central depression known as the cuvette, with an average altitude of about 400 meters (1,312 feet). Around this densely forested section, which covers nearly half the area of the country, plateaus rise gradually to heights of 900 to 1,000 meters (2,950 to 3,280 feet) to the north and south. The highest altitudes are found along the eastern fringe of the country, on the edge of the Great Rift Valley, which is characterized by important volcanic and mountain masses, the most notable of which is Margherita Peak, rising to 5,110 meters (16,765 feet), the highest point in the country and the third highest in Africa. The lowest point is at sea level (Atlantic Ocean).

Savanna and park forest vegetation predominate north and south of the equatorial forest belt. The southern savanna belt is far more extensive than the northern one. All major rivers are tributaries of the Congo; these include the Lomami, Aruwimi or Ituri, Ubangi, Uélé, Kasai, Sankuru, Lulua, Kwango, and Kwilu. The largest lakes include Tanganyika (32,000 square kilometers/12,480 square miles), Albert, Edward, Kivu, and Mweru, all of which form parts of the eastern border. Other large lakes are Mai-Ndombe and Tumba.

3 Climate

The climate is tropically hot and humid in the lower western and central regions. In the cuvette, the densely forested central section, temperatures average 24°c (75°f), with high humidity and almost no seasonal variation. Annual rainfall is between 130 and 200 centimeters (51 and 79 inches). In the northern and southern plateaus

there are wet and dry seasons and annual rainfall of 100 to 160 centimeters (39 to 63 inches). The eastern highlands have temperatures averaging 18°c (64°f) and 24°c (75°f), depending on the season. Rainfall averages 120 to 180 centimeters (47 to 71 inches).

4 Plants and Animals

The plants and animals of the DROC include about 95% of all the varieties found in Africa. Among the many species of trees are red cedar, mahogany, oak, walnut, the silk-cotton tree, and various palms. Orchids, lilies, lobelias, and gladioli are some of the flowers found. Larger species of mammals include the lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, zebra, leopard, cheetah, and gorilla. Hippopotamuses and crocodiles are found in the rivers. Lizards and chameleons are among the numerous small reptiles.

Birds are mainly of species common to much of Africa, including the eagle, vulture, owl, goose, duck, parrot, pigeon, sunbird, and cuckoo. The rivers and lakes have many kinds of fish, among them catfish, tigerfish, and electric eels. Insects include various dragonflies, bees, wasps, beetles, mosquitoes, and the tsetse fly, as well as scorpions, spiders, centipedes, ants, and termites.

5 Environment

Deforestation is caused by farming activity and the nation’s dependency on wood for fuel. By 1985, 3,701 square kilometers (1,429 square miles) of forestland had been lost. The DROC has nine national parks. There are five UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites, three biosphere reserves, and two Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance. As of 2003, about 5% of the DROC’s total land area was protected.

Another main environmental problem is poor water and sanitation systems, which result in the spread of insect- and rodent-borne diseases. The water is polluted by untreated sewage, industrial chemicals, and mining byproducts.

In 2006, threatened species included 29 types of mammals, 30 species of birds, 2 types of reptiles, 10 species of fish, and 65 species of plants. Endangered species in the DROC include the Marunga sunbird and the northern white and northern square-lipped rhinoceros.

6 Population

The United Nations estimated the population at 60.7 million in 2005. A population of 107.9 million was projected for the year 2025. Population density in 2005 was approximately 26 persons per square kilometer (67 per square mile). Kinshasa, the capital, had an estimated population of 5.2 million in 2005.

7 Migration

Political tensions and crises in neighboring African countries have resulted in large-scale migration to the DROC. As a result of internal conflict that started in August 1998, more than 700,000 people were internally displaced. Some 95,000 sought asylum in Tanzania and 25,000 fled to Zambia. In 2004, there were an estimated 3.4 million internally displaced persons.

The estimated net migration rate in 2005 was -0.17 migrants per 1,000 population, or a loss of 340,000 people.

8 Ethnic Groups

There are more than 200 African ethnic groups represented in the Congolese population, of which the majority are Bantu. The four largest tribes—Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu–Azande (Hamitic)—make up about 45% of the total population. About 80,000–100,000 people are Pygmies. Other groups include the Lunda, Chokwe, Bemba, Hemba, Kwango, and Kasai. Non-Africans include Belgians, Greeks, Lebanese, and Asian Indians.

9 Languages

As many as 700 languages and dialects are spoken in the DROC. Serving as regional common languages are the four African languages of Lingala, Swahili, Kikongo, and Tshiluba. Lomongo is widely spoken in the cuvette. French is the official language and is widely used in government and commerce.

10 Religions

About 50% of the population is Roman Catholic and about 20% are Protestant. The three main Christian churches are the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Christ, and the charismatic Kimbanguist Church, which claims to be the largest independent African church. Kimbanguists account for about 10% of the population. Currently, there are other minority Protestant groups, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). There is a Muslim minority in the northeast, accounting for about 10% of the population. Others practice traditional African beliefs.

11 Transportation

Inland waterways (rivers and lakes) are the main channels of transportation. A total of 15,000 kilometers (9,321 miles) of river and lake waterways are in service. The chief seaport and only deepwater port is Matadi on the Congo River, 148 kilometers (92 miles) from the Atlantic

Ocean. In 2002, there were about 157,000 kilometers (97,560 miles) of roads, but most of this was mere tracks. Motor vehicles in 2003 included 148,900 passenger cars and 135,000 commercial vehicles.

There were 5,138 kilometers (3,192 miles) of railway in 2004. The southeastern network connects with the Angolan and Zambian railroad systems. Air transport has become an important factor in the country’s economy. The DROC has five international airports—N’Djili (Kinshasa), Luano (Lubumbashi), Bukavu, Goma, and Kisangani—which can accommodate long-distance jet aircraft. In total, there were about 230 airports in 2004, of which 25 had paved runways as of 2005. In 2003, about 95,000 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

12 History

Bantu-speaking peoples (from central and southern Africa) entered the area now called the DROC from the west by ad 150, while non-Bantu speakers penetrated what is now northern DROC from the north. These peoples brought with them agriculture and developed iron tools. In 1482, the Portuguese navigator Diogo Cão visited the mouth of the Congo River, marking the first known European contact with the region.

In 1789, a Portuguese explorer, José Lacerdu e Almeida, explored the cuvette, the nation’s central area, where he learned of its rich copper mines. A thriving Arab trade in slaves and ivory reached the region from the east in the late 1850s or early 1860s.

In 1876–77, King Leopold II of Belgium commissioned Welsh-American explorer Henry M. Stanley to undertake explorations and make treaties with the tribal chiefs. The Berlin Conference of 1884–85 recognized the Independent State of the Congo, set up by Leopold under his personal rule. The new country’s boundaries were established by treaties with other colonial powers. In 1908 the territory was transferred to Belgium as a colony called the Belgian Congo, and the Colonial Charter set up its basic structure of government.

The rise of nationalism in the various African territories following World War II (1939–45) seemed to have bypassed the colony, which remained without self-government (except for a few large cities) until 1959. Then Congolese demanded independence and rioted, first in Léopoldville (now Kinshasa) and then elsewhere. At first, the Belgian government proposed gradual progress toward self-rule in the colony, but as the independence movement persisted and grew, Belgium agreed to grant the Congo its independence in mid-1960 and to continue economic and other aid after independence.

Independence Brings Problems The newly independent Republic of the Congo was inaugurated on 30 June 1960, with Joseph Kasavubu as its first head of state and Patrice Lumumba its first premier. It was immediately confronted by massive economic, political, and social problems. A week after independence the armed forces mutinied (rebelled), as separatist movements and intertribal conflict threatened to split the country.

A major blow to the new republic was the secession of the mineral-rich southwest province, announced on 11 July 1960 by Moïse Tshombe, head of the provincial government. The central government was crippled by the loss of revenues from its richest province and by the departure of Belgian civil servants, doctors, teachers, and technicians. Faced with the threatened collapse of a new nation, the United Nations (UN) responded with what grew into a program of massive assistance—financial, military, administrative, and technical.

In September 1960, Kasavubu and Lumumba each attempted to remove the other from the government. Finally, Kasavubu, with the help of army chief of staff Colonel Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, took Lumumba prisoner and turned him over to the authorities in the province that had seceded. They put Lumumba to death early in 1961.

In September 1961, UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld flew to the Congo, where he boarded a plane for Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) to meet with Moïse Tshombe, head of the government of Katanga, the seceded province. The plane crashed, killing him and all others on board. United Nations troops eventually resorted to broad-scale military operations to disarm the Katanga forces throughout the province. Tshombe yielded, and the secession of Katanga was ended on 14 January 1963.

A new series of rebellions soon began. However, United Nations troops were withdrawn on 30 June 1964. The self-exiled Tshombe was recalled and offered the position of prime minister. Rebel-held Stanleyville (now Kisangani) was recaptured in November 1964.

Mobutu Assumes Power On 13 October 1965 Tshombe was removed from office by Kasavubu, who attempted to replace him with Evariste Kimba, also from Katanga. When Kimba was not endorsed by the parliament, General Mobutu, commander in chief of the Congolese National Army, seized power in a coup d’état (forced takeover) on 24 November 1965 and assumed the presidency. Tshombe’s hopes for a comeback were dashed when he was kidnapped in June 1967 and imprisoned in Algeria, where he died two years later.

The country was officially transformed into a one-party state in 1970. In 1971, the name of the country was changed from Congo to Zaire. Mobutu was elected without opposition to a new seven-year term as president in 1977, but he continued to face opposition, both external and internal. In 1982, Mobutu resumed diplomatic ties with Israel, which had been broken in 1974; five Arab nations quickly cut ties with Zaire, and $350 million in promised Arab aid to Zaire was blocked. In 1983, Zaire sent 2,700 troops to Chad to aid the government against Libyan-backed rebels; they were withdrawn in 1984. Mobutu was reelected “unopposed” to a new seven-year presidential term in July 1984.

Zaire supported U.S. positions throughout the era of tension between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies, known as the Cold War. For this Zaire, and in particular Mobutu, were handsomely rewarded. Mobutu was said to be the wealthiest person in Africa. However, widely publicized human rights violations in the late 1980s put Mobutu on the defensive.

In September 1991 Mobutu was forced to call a National Conference of some 2,800 delegates to draft a new constitution. It often failed to arrive at a consensus, and when it did, Mobutu thwarted its decisions. In November 1991, Mobutu split the coalition known as the Sacred Union by naming Nguza Karl-I-Bond of the Union of Federalists and Independent Republicans (UFERI) as prime minister. Nguza closed the National Conference in February 1992. On 14 August 1992, the Conference elected Etienne Tshisekedi of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) as prime minister of a transitional government.

Mobutu, who countered by forming a new government under his control and dismissing Tshisekedi in December 1992, controlled the army, the central bank, and the police. The High Council of the Republic, the interim legislature, continued to recognize Tshisekedi as did Zaire’s principal economic partners abroad.

Two parallel governments attempted to rule Zaire. One controlled the country’s wealth and the media, while the other had a popular following and professed support from Western governments.

In 1993, Mobutu’s Bank of Zaire introduced new currency on three occasions, but it soon became worthless. Merchants would not accept it and riots broke out when soldiers could not spend their pay. Anarchy, corruption, uncontrolled violence, and poverty prevailed. Government authority dissolved, leaving the country to pillaging soldiers and roaming gangs. The southwest province of Shaba (formerly Katanga) had declared its autonomy. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) was rampant. In 1995, a new outbreak of the Ebola virus was reported, which caused 250 deaths. Ebola is a contagious deadly disease which cannot be treated and may kill as many as 90% of those infected by it.

The civil strife in neighboring Rwanda in 1994–95 forced more than one million people to flee into Zaire. Many of the refugees were Rwandan Hutus who had participated in the genocide against the Tutsis. The refugees quickly became a great strain on the region’s resources, and Zaire’s government stepped up the efforts to return them to Rwanda in August 1995. When the Zairian government began to expel Hutu refugees, many were afraid of being imprisoned or killed by Rwanda’s Tutsi-led government.

In October 1996, the government of the Zairian province of South Kivu began a crackdown not only against Rwandan refugees but against a group of Rwandans who had lived in Zaire for more than a century. As a result, the Rwandans began a rebellion. By November, the provincial government had been overthrown, and the major cities of the province had come under rebel control. At this point, Laurent Désiré Kabila emerged as a leader of the rebellion, and he shifted its focus from protecting Rwandans to organizing a rebellion against the Zairian government itself. The rebels’ influence grew throughout eastern Zaire, and soon included many Zairians of different ethnicities.

Kabila Assumes Power During the first few months of the rebellion, President Mobutu had been out of the country. In December 1996, Mobutu returned and reorganized the army command. In January 1997, the army launched an attack against the rebels, but it was soundly defeated and the rebels gained territory. The rebels had gained control of most of the eastern provinces by February 1997 and were threatening to overrun the entire country unless Mobutu stepped down. Peace talks failed, and the rebels gained control over Lubumbashi (the second largest city) and the diamond-rich province of Kasai.

As the rebels closed in on Kinshasa in May 1997, South African president Nelson Mandela hosted talks between Kabila and Mobutu aboard a South African ship. As rebel forces drew ever closer, Mobutu gave up any hope of retaining power, and he fled to his northern hometown and then abroad. Kabila’s forces entered Kinshasa to a hero’s welcome. Kabila announced that the country’s name would go back to the one it had used between 1960 and 1970, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The citizens were glad to be rid of the brutal and corrupt government of Mobutu, which had been an embarrassing Cold War ally to many Western nations. Kabila’s administration estimated that Mobutu embezzled almost $8 billion of the country’s money during his rule. Kabila, however, soon proved to be a suspicious hero. Most of Kabila’s top associates were Tutsis and were connected with the mass killings of Rwandan Hutu refugees in the eastern provinces they had controlled since late 1996. Kabila refused to cooperate with United Nations investigators who were looking into the alleged abuses, and the United Nations decided to recall its human rights investigators in April 1998. Kabila’s support plummeted during his first year in power, as he alienated many of those who had helped him to power.

In July 1998, a new group of rebels opposed to Kabila captured three eastern towns, while forces sympathetic with the rebels fought with Kabila’s forces in Kinshasa. In July 1999, all sides signed the Lukasa peace accords, but there were many breaches, with various sides blaming the others.

In January 2001, President Laurent Kabila was assassinated. His son, Joseph Kabila, was then promptly appointed as acting president. Given his youth and inexperience, few observers thought Joseph Kabila would be able to manage the power-sharing agreement made on 17 December 2002 between his government and opposition forces. The agreement allowed Kabila to remain president until elections were held.

In his new role as president, Joseph Kabila concluded peace deals with Rwanda in August 2002 and with Uganda in September 2002 and in March 2003. By April 2003, most (but not all) foreign troops had withdrawn. However, fierce fighting continued over control of Bunia, a town in the northeast. Fighting also continued into mid-2003 in other parts of the country. In August 2003, a transitional government was formed to prepare the country for democratic elections, which were held in two rounds in 2006. Joseph Kabila won election as president.

Progress was made in moving the political transition forward. But renewed clashes between armed factions operating in the Ituri district and North Kivu province threatened to derail the process. In late 2005, the United Nations (UN) had a peacekeeping force of 16,500 members, along with additional police, who were authorized to maintain order in the run-up to the elections.

13 Government

After his takeover in November 1965, General Mobutu combined the office of prime minister with the presidency. In June 1967, a new constitution provided for a highly centralized form of presidential government. In 1970 a single-party system was established, with the Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR) as the republic’s sole party. Instead of directly electing the president of the republic, voters confirmed the choice made by the MPR for its chairman, who automatically became the head of state and head of the government. The MPR governed through an eighty-member Central Committee; the sixteen-member Political Bureau; the Party Congress, which was supposed to meet every five years; the National Executive Council (or cabinet); and the National Legislative Council, a single-chamber body with 310 members. However, most government functions were directly controlled by President Mobutu.

A rival legislature, the 435-member High Council of the Republic (HCR), was established by the National Conference in December 1992, and a government set up by the HCR and headed by Prime Minister Tshisekedi claimed to rule. Yet the army had evicted his officers from government facilities. Mobutu repeatedly tried to

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Joseph Kabila

Position: President of a dictatorship; presumably undergoing a transition to representative government

Took Office: 27 January 2001

Birthplace: Hewa Bora II, South Kivu, DRC

Birthdate: 4 June 1971

Religion: Protestant

Education: Completed his primary and intermediate education in Anglophone (English-language) schools in Tanzania.

Spouse: Olive Lembe

Children: One daughter

Of interest: Kabila was in command of the army when he was chosen to take over the presidency following the assassination of his father. He was raised in Tanzania and Uganda.

remove Tshisekedi from office. Mobutu had de facto (actual) control of the administration but it was unable to act effectively. As a result of this stalemate, the government virtually collapsed.

With the overthrow of the Mobutu government in 1997, there was a great deal of uncertainty over the structure of the new government. The late Laurent Kabila had named several associates to ministry-level posts but had given little indication of how he intended to structure the new government. He repeatedly had promised to restore democracy.

President Laurent Kabila was assassinated in an apparent coup attempt in January 2001. To prevent total chaos from breaking out, his son Joseph was chosen to become head of state. In June 2003, President Joseph Kabila named a transitional government to lead the country before democratic elections were held in 2006.

14 Political Parties

In 1970, General Mobutu established a single-party system, with the sole legal party the ruling MPR (Popular Movement of the Revolution). The chairman of the MPR automatically holds the office of head of state; party and state are effectively one, and every citizen is automatically a member of the MPR.

The constitution was amended to permit party activity in April 1990. The most important among the new parties combined to form a coalition known as the Sacred Union. These included the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), the Union of Federalists and Independent Republicans (UFERI), the Unified Lumumbist Party (PALU), and the Social Democratic Christian Party (PDSC).

Then-president Laurent Kabila outlawed all political parties until at least 1999. Kabila’s Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo ruled alone. Laurent Kabila was assassinated in 2001 and his son, Joseph Kabila succeeded him as president. Political parties were once again legalized in time for July 2006 elections. The dominant parties were Joseph Kabila’s Party of the People for the Reconstruction of Democracy (PPRD), the PDSC, Forces for Renovation for Union and Solidarity (FONUS), the National Congolese Lumumbist Movement (MNC), MPR, and UFERI.

15 Judicial System

The judicial system is based on both Belgian and tribal law. It includes courts of first hearing, appeals courts, a Supreme Court, and the Court of State Security. Many disputes are settled at the local level by administrative officials or traditional authorities.

Since 1998, and because of the war, the president appealed for a provisional court (la Cour d’Ordre Militaire). The judges are soldiers who apply the law vigorously, and sometimes the rights of the defendants are totally ignored.

16 Armed Forces

In 2005, the DROC army had 60,000 personnel. The navy of 1,800 had about eight patrol craft. The air force had 3,000 members. Paramilitary

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

forces operate at both national and provincial levels. In 1998, the DROC spent $364 million on defense, probably equal to about 6.6% of the gross domestic product (GDP). Recent data on defense spending has been unavailable.

17 Economy

The DROC has a wealth of natural resources that should provide the foundation for a stable economy. However, in September 1991 mutinous military troops looted all major urban centers, practically bringing the economy to a standstill. A large government deficit, primarily to pay salaries for the military and civil servants, was financed by printing currency. Severe inflation and economic collapse followed. Many multinational businesses left the country.

After the civil war began in August 1998, the government depreciated the currency four times to keep up with inflation. This did not help the

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

economy. The war has caused an increase of government debt; reduced government income and economic output; increased corruption; caused a collapse of the banking system; and, because many industries and businesses could not operate, caused much of the population to engage in only subsistence agriculture and barter.

18 Income

In 2006, the Democratic Republic of the Congo had a gross domestic product (GDP) of $8 billion, or about $700 per person. The average annual growth rate of the GDP was at -4% in 2001, but had reached 6.6% by 2005. The average inflation rate, as high as 358%.in 2001, had been controlled at 9% by 2005.

19 Industry

Much of the DROC’s industry involves the processing of agricultural products (sugar, flour) and mineral-bearing ore (copper, zinc, petroleum, cement). The production of consumer goods (beer, soft drinks, textiles) plays a leading role in the sector as well, as does palm oil processing and cigarette making.

Manufacturing was nearly nonexistent in 2003 and has remained so because of the internal strife, foreign exchange problems, and a decline in local purchasing power due to hyperinflation. Despite the war, reconstruction plans were underway in 2003–05, including building construction, construction for pipelines, communication and power lines, highways, roads, airfields, and railways. Construction for plants, mining and manufacturing, and buildings related to the oil and gas industry was also being undertaken.

20 Labor

Unemployment and underemployment have remained serious problems for the DROC. In 1998, there was an estimated labor force of 20 million. Perhaps fewer than 20% were wage and salary workers. Agriculture employs about 80% of the population.

The official workweek is 48 hours in 6 days. The legal minimum employment age is 18, although many children work to help feed their families. All wages and salaries are extremely low, and most people cannot maintain a decent lifestyle.

21 Agriculture

About 3% of the land is under annual or perennial crops. The principal crops for subsistent farming are manioc, corn, tubers, and sorghum. In 2004, food-crop production included manioc (14.9 million tons), sugarcane (1.78 million tons), corn (1.15 million tons), peanuts (364,000 tons), and rice (315,000 tons). In 2004, plantains totaled 1.1 million tons; sweet potatoes, 224,500 tons; bananas, 313,000 tons; yams, 84,000 tons; and pineapples, 193,000 tons. Domestic food production is insufficient to meet the country’s needs, and many basic food products have to be imported.

Of cash crops, Coffee is the DROC’s third most important export (after copper and crude oil) and is the leading agricultural export. An estimated 33,000 tons were produced in 2004. Only 10% to 15% of production is arabica coffee, the vast majority being robusta. Coffee exports are mostly sold to Italy, France, Belgium, and Switzerland.

Rubber is the second most important export cash crop. In 2004, production amounted to 7,000 tons. The same year, other cash crops included 3,700 tons of tobacco, 1,400 tons of tea, and 5,800 tons of cocoa.

22 Domesticated Animals

In 2004, domestic meat production was an estimated 218,000 tons, but only half of the meat demand is met domestically. The number of head of cattle in 2004 was estimated at 765.000; cattle are raised in the higher eastern regions, above the range of the tsetse fly (a disease-carrying insect that affects livestock). ONDE, a state agency, manages large ranches, mainly in Shaba and West Kasai. In 2004, there were an estimated 4 million goats, 953,000 hogs, and 897,000 sheep.

23 Fishing

Fish are the single most important source of animal protein in the DROC. Total production of marine, river, and lake fisheries in 2003 was estimated at 222,965 tons, all but 5,000 tons from inland waters. PEMARZA, a state agency, carries on marine fishing.

24 Forestry

Forests cover about 60% of the total land area. For a long time, the Mayumbe area of Lower Zaire was the major center of timber exploitation, but this area is almost totally depleted. In recent years, the far more extensive forest regions of the central cuvette and of the Ubangi River Valley have increasingly been tapped. In 2003, roundwood removals were estimated at 72.1 million cubic meters (2.5 billion cubic feet), with about 95% used for fuel. About 14 species of trees are presently being harvested. Exports of forest products in 2003 totaled $25.7 million.

25 Mining

Mining was the country’s leading industry in 2003. Gécamines, the country’s most important mining company, produced all of its coal, cobalt, copper, and zinc. The Congo also produced cadmium, columbium (niobium) and tantalum (locally referred to as “coltan”), germanium, gold, lime, manganese, petroleum, silver, crushed stone, sulfuric acid, tin, and tungsten. Uranium for the first U.S. atomic bomb was mined from the Congo.

The country is a leading producer of industrial diamonds. About 21.1 million carats of diamond were produced in 2003. Other products in 2003 included 52,700 metric tons of copper and 12,000 metric tons of cobalt from mined ore and 35,500 kilograms (78,264 pounds) of silver.

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

26 Foreign Trade

President Mobutu regularly channeled much of the former Zaire’s export revenues into special accounts held outside the country. The DROC is highly sensitive to changes in the world market prices for copper and cobalt, two of its principal exports. Other principal exports include crude oil, diamonds, and coffee. Principal imports are consumer goods, foodstuffs, mining equipment and other machinery, transport equipment, and fuels.

27 Energy and Power

Production of petroleum in 2004 totaled 21,100 barrels per day. Proven crude oil reserves amount to 187 million barrels. The DROC has vast resources for the development of hydroelectric power: its potential is thought to exceed 100,000 mega watts, enough to provide all of east and central Africa with energy. In 2003, electricity production was 6 billion kilowatt hours. In 2005, coal reserves amounted to 97 million short tons.

28 Social Development

A social insurance program provides pensions funds, disability, and death benefits. Discrimination against women is widespread. A married woman must have her husband’s permission to open a bank account, take a job, get a passport, or rent or sell real estate. Children have been forced into labor and military service. The human rights situation is extremely poor, especially in rebel-held areas. Abuses include large scale killing, disappearances, torture, rape, dismemberment, robbery, arbitrary arrest and detention, and harassment of human rights workers and journalists.

29 Health

In 2004, there was less than 1 physician, 44 nurses, and 1 dentist per 100,000 people. Most health care facilities are concentrated in major cities.

The first Ebola hemorrhagic fever identified in 40 years occurred in 1995. Of the 317 cases reported, an extremely high mortality rate was observed (77%). Common diseases include malaria, trypanosomiasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, measles, leprosy, dysentery, typhoid, and hookworm.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo lies in the area of Africa with the highest number

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorCongo (DROC) Low-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$680 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate2.8% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land25 803032
Life expectancy in years: male43 587675
female45 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people0.1 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)n.a. 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)66% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people2 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 peoplen.a. 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)293 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)0.03 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

of cases of AIDS. As of 2004, the number of people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS was estimated at 1.1 million. Deaths from AIDS in 2003 were estimated at 100,000. Malnutrition is a serious health problem; an estimated 34% of all children under five years old were malnourished in 2000.

In 2005, average life expectancy was 43 years for men and 45 years for women. The infant mortality rate that year was about 90 per 1,000 live births.

The massive migration to the cities that began after independence led to a fourfold increase in the population of Kinshasa, creating a massive housing problem that is still far from solved. Tens of thousands of squatters are crowded into squalid shantytowns on the outskirts of the capital. Unable to provide adequate alternatives, the government began extending basic utilities to the new settlements.

At last estimate, more than half of housing units were traditional one-room adobe, straw, or mud structures, and less than half were modern houses of durable or semi-durable material containing one or more rooms.

31 Education

Education is compulsory between ages 6 and 12. Primary school lasts for six years, followed by six years of general secondary school or six years of technical school. The pupil-teacher ratio in secondary schools is about 26 to 2. The primary language of instruction is French.

In August 1971, the existing higher-education institutes and the three universities were combined into a single national university system, the National University of Zaire, organized into three separate campuses located in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Kisangani. The three campuses were reorganized as separate universities in 1981. In 1998, all higher level institutions had about 60,000 pupils. The DROC also has numerous university institutes, including ones specializing in agriculture, applied technology, business, and the arts.

As of 2004, the adult literacy rate was estimated at 66% (males, 79.8%; females, 51.9%).

32 Media

The postal, telephone, and telegraph services are owned and operated by the government. In 2002, there were 10,000 mainline telephones in use nationwide. In 2003, there were about 19 cell phones in use for every 1,000 people.

In 2001, there were 3 AM and 11 FM radio stations and four television stations. In 2003, there were about 385 radios and 2 televisions for every 1,000 people. Internet access is limited, with only 2 Internet providers serving about 1,500 users in 2000.

Journalists must be members of the state-controlled union to practice their profession. The largest dailies are La Depeche (2002 circulation 20,000), Courier d’Afrique (15,000), and Salongo (10,000).

33 Tourism and Recreation

Virunga National Park in the Virunga Mountains around Lake Edward is one of the best game preserves in Africa and is particularly noted for lions, elephants, and hippopotamuses. Kahuzi-Biega Park, west of Lake Kivu, is one of the last refuges of the endangered mountain gorilla. Kinshasa has two zoos and a presidential garden. In 2003, there were 35,141 tourist arrivals. In that year, there were 5,829 hotel rooms and 10,000 beds with a 50% occupancy rate.

34 Famous Zairians and Congolese

In the period of the transition to independence, two Zairian political leaders emerged as national figures: Joseph Kasavubu (1917–1969) became the first chief of state and Patrice Emery Lumumba (1926–1961) became the new nation’s first premier. Lumumba’s subsequent murder made him a revolutionary martyr in communist and many third-world countries.

In 1960, Moïse Kapenda Tshombe (1919–1969), who headed the government of Katanga Province, became prominent when he declared Katanga an independent state with himself as its president and maintained the secession until early 1963. General Mobutu Sese Seko (Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, 1930–1997), commander in chief of the Congolese National Army from 1961 to 1965, assumed the presidency after he deposed President Kasavubu on November 25, 1965. Laurent Désiré Kabila (1941–2001) seized power in May 1997, declared himself president, and changed the name of the country back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After Kabila’s assassination in 2001, his son Joseph Kabila (1971–) became president.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Bobb, F. Scott. Historical Dictionary of Zaire. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1988.

Fish, Bruce. The Congo. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2000.

Gondola, Ch. Didier. The History of Congo. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Heale, Jay. Democratic Republic of the Congo. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1999.

Kushner, Nina. Democratic Republic of the Congo. Milwaukee: Gareth Stevens, 2001.

Mukenge, Tshilemalema. Culture and Customs of the Congo. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Wynaden, Jo. Welcome to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Milwaukee: Gareth Stevens, 2002.

WEB SITES

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/af/ci/cg/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Government Home Page. www.un.int/drcongo/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

World Heritage List. whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/cd. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

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Congo (ROC)

Congo (ROC)

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Congolese

35 Bibliography

Republic of the Congo

République du Congo

CAPITAL: Brazzaville

FLAG: The flag consists of a green triangular section at the hoist and a red triangular section at the fly, separated by a diagonal gold bar.

ANTHEM: The Congolaise.

MONETARY UNIT: The Communauté Financière Africaine franc (CFA Fr), which was originally pegged to the French franc, has been pegged to the euro since January 1999 with a rate of 655.957 CFA francs to 1 euro. The CFA franc is issued in coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 500 CFA francs and notes of 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, and 10,000 CFA francs. CFA Fr1 = $0.00208 (or $1 = CFA Fr480.56) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year’s Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Three Glorious Days, 13–15 August (including Independence Day, 15 August); Christmas Day, 25 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday and Easter Monday.

TIME: 1 pm = noon GMT.

1 Location and Size

Lying astride the Equator, the Republic of the Congo (ROC) occupies an area of about 342,000 square kilometers (132,046 square miles). Comparatively, the area occupied by the ROC is slightly smaller than the state of Montana. It shares borders with Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC), Angola, and Gabon, with a total land boundary length of 5,504 kilometers (3,413 miles) and a coastline (on the Atlantic Ocean) of 169 kilometers (105 miles). The ROC’s capital city, Brazzaville, is located in the southeastern part of the country.

2 Topography

The Congo is roughly divided into four topographical regions. The coastal region consists of a low, relatively treeless plain, with occasional high spurs jutting down from the Mayombé Escarpment. The escarpment region is made up of a series of parallel ranges of moderate height (600–900 meters/2,000–3,000 feet) that are almost completely forested. The highest point in

GEOGRAPHIC FEATURES

Geographic Features

Area: 342,000 sq km (132,046 sq mi)

Size ranking: 62 of 194

Highest elevation: 903 meters (2,962 feet) at Mount Berongou

Lowest elevation: Sea level at the Atlantic Ocean

Land Use*

Arable land: 1%

Permanent crops: 0%

Other: 99%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: 137.1 centimeters (54.0 inches)

Average temperature in January: 25.6°c (78.1°f)

Average temperature in July: 21.7°c (71.1°f)

*Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

**The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

the country is Mount Berongou at 903 meters (2,962 feet).

To the east and north of the escarpment lies the plateau region, with savanna covering more than 129,000 square kilometers (50,000 square miles) and separating the Congo and Ogooué river basins. The northeastern region of the country is a swampy lowland. The lowest point in the country is at sea level (Atlantic Ocean).

Flooding is seasonal, with different tributaries of the Congo River overflowing into one another. The country has two river systems: that of the coastal rivers, which flow into the Kouilou River, and that of the Congo River and its tributaries. The longest river is the Congo (also called the Zaire), which stretches through both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo with a total length of 4,344 kilometers (2,700 miles).

3 Climate

The ROC has a tropical climate characterized by high humidity and heat. There are two wet and two dry seasons. Annual rainfall varies from 105 centimeters (41 inches) at Pointe–Noire in the southwest to 185 centimeters (73 inches) at Impfondo in the northeast.

4 Plants and Animals

About half the land area is covered by okoumé, limba, and other trees of the heavy rainforest. On the plateaus, the forest gives way to savanna broken by patches of bushy undergrowth. The savanna supports jackals, hyenas, cheetahs, and several varieties of antelope. Elephants, wild boar, giraffes, and monkeys dwell in the forest.

5 Environment

The most significant environmental problems in the ROC are deforestation, increases in urban population, and the protection of its wildlife. The ROC’s forests are endangered by fires set to clean the land for agricultural purposes.

The forests are also used as a source of fuel. The most accessible forest, which is in the KouilouMayombé Mountains, has been overused. The Congo’s urban centers are hampered by air pollution from vehicles and water pollution from sewage.

As of 2000, the ROC had nine protected areas. The two largest, the 7,800-square–kilometer (3,000-square–mile) Léfini Reserve and the 2,600-square–kilometer (1,000-square–mile) Odzala National Park, were established during the French colonial era. The country has one Ramsar Wetland of International Importance at the Lake Télé Reserve. Altogether, 6.5% of the nation’s natural areas were protected as of 2003.

As of 2006, 14 species of mammals, 4 species of birds, 10 species of fish, and 35 species of plants were threatened.

6 Population

In 2005, the population was estimated at 3.9 million; the projection for the year 2025 is 7.4 million. At least four–fifths of the people live in the southern third of the country. In 2005, Brazzaville, the capital, had 1.1 million inhabitants, many of whom were once displaced by a long and violent civil war in the capital.

7 Migration

There is continuous migration to urban centers, but immigration from other African countries is negligible. Some French, Greek, and Lebanese immigrants have settled in the ROC. In 1995, the Congo was host to 15,500 refugees, 12,700 of whom were from Angola and 2,100 from Chad.

Civil conflict engulfed the ROC in 1998, resulting in the displacement of some 200,000 residents of the southern districts of Brazzaville. About 40,000 of those went to the DROC. In 2005, the estimated net migration rate for the Congo was -0.17 per 1,000 population.

8 Ethnic Groups

The population belongs to four major ethnic groups: the Kongo (48%), Sangha (20%), Teke (17%), and M’Bochi (12%). In addition, there are small groups of Pygmies, possibly Congo’s original inhabitants, in the high forest region. The major ethnic group, the Kongo, occupies the entire area southwest of Brazzaville and accounts for nearly half the nation’s population. The Teke, who live north of Brazzaville, are chiefly hunters and fishermen. The M’Bochi (or Boulangi) live where the savanna and the forest meet in the northwest. In regard to the non–African community, Europeans numbered 8,500, mostly French, before the 1997 civil war. However, the number was thought to be half that by 1998, following the widespread destruction of foreign businesses in 1997.

9 Languages

French is the official language. Several related African languages and dialects of the Bantu family are spoken. Kikongo has the most users. Monokutuba and Lingala are common trade languages.

10 Religions

Almost 50% of the population are Christian with about 90% of all Christians affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. A small number of Christians practice Kimbanquism, a combination of Christian and native customs and beliefs that originated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Less than 2% of the population are Muslim, mostly immigrants. The remainder practice traditional indigenous religions or no religion. With the approval of a new constitution in January 2002, freedom of religion is officially protected and discrimination on the basis of religious affiliation is specifically forbidden.

11 Transportation

The most important transportation system is the Congo–Ocean Railroad. Dense tropical forests, rugged terrain, and swamps, together with a hot, humid climate and heavy rainfall, make construction and maintenance of roads extremely costly. In 2002 there were about 12,800 kilometers (7,954 miles) of highways, but only about 1,242 kilometers (772 miles) were paved.

There are 4,385 kilometers (2,723 miles) of navigable waterways on the Congo and Oubanui Rivers. The river port of Brazzaville is an important center for trade with the Central African Republic, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire).

Because of the great distances and the inadequacy of land transportation, air travel and air freight services are rapidly expanding. Brazzaville and Pointe–Noire airports are the hubs of a network of air routes that connect the four equatorial republics with several European cities. In 2003, 52,000 passengers traveled on scheduled domestic and international flights.

12 History

The Congo Empire extended into present–day Angola and reached its height in the 16th century. By the end of the 17th century, however, this kingdom, as well as those of Loango and Anzico, all had grown weak.

The mouth of the Congo River was discovered by Diogo Cão in 1484. By 1785, more than

100 French ships annually sailed up the coast trading primarily slaves and ivory. The Congress of Berlin (1885) gave formal recognition to French claims to the region.

By 1910, Gabon, Middle Congo, and Ubangi–Shari (including Chad) constituted French Equatorial Africa, all under a governor general at Brazzaville. In World War II (1939–45), French Equatorial Africa joined the Free French movement and the Allied war effort against the Axis powers.

After the war, France promised reforms in French Africa. These reforms eventually led to

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: Denis Sassou–Nguesso

Position: President of a republic

Took Office: First term: February 1979–August 1992; Second term: 25 October 1997 after ousting leader; elected March 2002

Birthplace: Edou, Republic of the Congo

Birthdate: 1943

Education: Obtained a degree from a teacher’s college

Spouse: Marie–Antoinette

Children: Several children

independence and, on 28 November 1958, the Republic of the Congo was proclaimed. A constitution was adopted the following year, and Fulbert Youlou was elected prime minister and president. Youlou resigned in 1963, following antigovernment rioting. The military took control of the government, and Alphonse Massamba-Debat was installed as an interim president. He was subsequently elected to a five–year term. In 1964, relations were established with the former Soviet Union and China, and Massamba–Debat then announced the establishment of a “scientific Socialist state” with one–party control.

However, political stability proved difficult to achieve. Between 1968 and 1979, the ROC had four different presidents, one of whom, Marien Ngouabi, survived seven coup (forced takeover) attempts in seven years in office. On 5 February 1979, Denis Sassou–Nguesso became president, a post he held for the next 12 years. During his tenure, a 20-year treaty of friendship and cooperation was signed with the Soviet Union. (In 1991, the Soviet Union broke apart into 15 republics.)

In 1990, a conference of the ruling party agreed to abandon its Marxist ideology and its monopoly of power. Sassou–Nguesso was stripped of his powers the following year, and in 1992 a multiparty government with Pascal Lissouba as president was elected. Strikes, violent civil unrest, and a changing coalition of opposition parties threatened the new regime. Despite mediation by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and new elections in 1993, fighting continued into 1994 as armed forces loyal to Lissouba battled independent partisan militias.

In June 1997, civil war started in Brazzaville, killing hundreds over a span of four months. France sent 1,250 soldiers to restore order. Brazzaville was looted and reduced to ruins. The Lissouba regime was never able to impose order on the country and forces loyal to the former leader, Denis Sassou–Nguesso, continued to fight. Finally Sassou–Nguesso set up his own transitional government after ousting Lissouba. Sassou–Nguesso replaced the 1992 constitution with a new Fundamental Act, which gave him tremendous power. The act made him both head of state and government and commander–in–chief of the armed forces.

Fighting between the government and armed groups of southerners broke out again in mid-1998. An estimated 10,000 people died and 800,000 civilians were displaced during the fighting. The government signed a cease–fire and peace accord with leaders of some rebel groups in November 1999. In December 1999 Gabon’s President Omar Bongo sponsored another accord. With improved prospects for peace, Sassou–Nguesso declared a three–year transition period leading up to elections.

In March 2002 Sassou–Nguesso was elected president. In late March 2002 conflict erupted in the Pool region between government forces and “Ninja” rebels loyal to the Reverend Frederic Bitsangou. A peace agreement was reached in March 2003 between the government and the Ninja rebels.

In January 2004, Pasteur Ntoumi dealt the peace process a blow. He announced that unless the government engaged in a national dialogue, allowed political exiles to return, and formed a new government of national unity, his forces would no longer disarm. In January 2005, President Sassou–Nguesso further consolidated power by forming a new government without a single member of the opposition coalition.

13 Government

On 15 March 1992, voters approved a new constitution which provided for a mixed presidential–parliamentary form of government after the French model. This constitution was replaced in 1997 when the self–proclaimed leader Denis Sassou–Nguesso instituted the Fundamental Act, giving himself enhanced power. Under the constitution, the bicameral parliament consists of the Senate with 66 seats and the National Assembly with 137 seats. Members are elected to five–year terms. The president may serve for two seven–year terms.

There are 10 administrative regions and one federal district, each under the authority of a government commissioner.

14 Political Parties

The 1991 National Conference led to an interim government and multiparty elections in 1992. Continual shifts in parties and in coalitions of parties have taken place since. The Pan–African Union for Social Development was the largest in the National Assembly as civil society deteriorated in the face of continued civil war.

Elections due in July 1997 were delayed until the new constitution was adopted. The civil war and fighting between 1997 and 1999 restricted party activity. President Sassou–Nguesso allowed some politicians from the former government to

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

return and resume political activity in 1999. The National Transitional Council (NTC) included representatives of opposition parties and members of civil society, but the composition of the NTC was criticized by some as being government–controlled and not being broad–based enough for a fair representation of the Congo’s 15 political parties.

In the absence of any serious competition, Sassou–Nguesso’s coalition easily won the 2002 presidential and parliamentary elections.

15 Judicial System

Judicial bodies include a Supreme Court (appointed by the president), a court of appeals, a criminal court, regional and magistrate’s courts, labor courts, and courts of common law, where local chiefs apply traditional laws and customs. The 1992 constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but in practice the judicial system has been highly influenced by political leaders, and was nearly destroyed by the civil war.

16 Armed Forces

In 2005, the ROC had an army of 8,000 personnel, an air force of 1,200, and a navy of 800. There are several paramilitary forces operating in the country. The military budget in 2005 totaled $57.4 million.

17 Economy

The ROC’s economy is built on its petroleum resources, lumber, transport services, and agriculture. After several prosperous years in the early 1980s, the price of oil declined and cast the Congolese economy into the financial turmoil that has yet to stabilize. Continued political instability and a violent civil war have brought most economic production to a standstill. Petroleum is the ROC’s most significant resource, contributing over 90% of exports in 2005.

18 Income

In 2001 the ROC’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $2.5 billion, or about $900 per person. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 4.2%. After stagnating in 2002, the economy has grown steadily, reaching 8% annual growth in 2005. The average inflation rate in 2001 was 3%.

19 Industry

The largest industries are petroleum processing, followed by food processing, including beverages and tobacco, chemicals, woodworking, metalworking and electrical industries, nonmetallic

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

mineral products, paper and cardboard, and textiles. Other industries include sawmills, sugar refineries, and cement factories. Artisans create distinctive jewelry, ceramics, and ebony and ivory sculptures. The timber industry was reviving in 2003 and contributed 1.2% of exports in 2004.

20 Labor

There were about one million economically active people in 1998. Almost half of all salaried employees work for the government. As of 2005, nearly all workers in the public sector and around 50% of those in the formal wage sector belonged to a union. The minimum wage in 2005 was $100 a month in the formal economy. Child labor is prohibited in formal employment, but persists informally.

21 Agriculture

In 2004, total arable land was only about 1% of the total land area. Agricultural activity is concentrated in the south, especially in the Niari River Valley. In 1999, the main crops produced for local consumption were manioc (880,000 tons), plantains (73,000 tons), yams (12,000 tons), bananas (88,000 tons), sugarcane (460,000 tons), and peanuts (23,000 tons). Small amounts of tobacco are also grown.

Export crops are coffee, cocoa, and palm oil. In 2004, 1,700 tons of coffee and 1,260 tons of cocoa beans were produced. Production of oil from palm kernels was estimated at 16,300 tons in 2004.

22 Domesticated Animals

Livestock production has high government priority and the industry is steadily increasing. In 2004, there were an estimated 294,000 goats, 98,000 sheep, 46,000 hogs, 100,000 head of cattle, and 2.2 million chickens. Total meat production in 2004 was 30,423 tons.

23 Fishing

Most fishing takes place along the coast for local consumption. The catch rose from 45,577 tons in 1991 to 52,400 tons in 2003. Almost 50% of the annual catch is from saltwater fishing.

24 Forestry

Congolese forests cover about 22 million hectares (54.3 million acres), or 65% of the total area of the country. There are three main zones. The Mayombé forest is the oldest forest under commercial exploitation and is almost exhausted. The Niari forest along the Chaillu River was reopened for exploitation after completion of the Comilog railroad. The third zone, situated in the north, is the largest, but because of constant flooding it is the least exploited.

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

In 2003, total production of roundwood was 2.5 million cubic meters (86 million cubic feet) and exports of roundwood were valued at $165.5 million. Okoumé, sapele, sipo, tiama, moaki, limba, and nioré were the main species cut. Eucalyptus and pine are raised commercially in southern and coastal Congo. Forestry contributes only 3% to gross domestic product and forest products contribute over 5% to the value of all exports.

25 Mining

In 2004, diamonds were a leading export commodity with production totaling 50,000 carats. Lime output that year was estimated at 400 metric tons. Other mineral deposits, in addition to petroleum and natural gas, were bauxite, bentonite, granite, gypsum, kaolin, marble, talc, potassium, potash, phosphate, limestone, lead, zinc, copper, and iron. Gold production in 2003 was about 60 kilograms.

26 Foreign Trade

The ROC’s foreign trade is led by its exports of crude petroleum and byproducts. These account for 90% of export earnings. Other exports include diamonds, cement, and wood products, including lumber and plywood. Imports include food, fuels, industrial supplies, machinery, transportation equipment, and consumer goods.

Leading trade partners are China, North Korea, the United States, France, Germany, and Italy.

27 Energy and Power

Production of electricity rose from 29 million kilowatt hours in 1960 to 418 million kilowatt hours in 1998, and then declined to 358 million kilowatt hours in 2000. More than 98% of the country’s power production is hydroelectric. The 2004 petroleum output was 235,500 barrels per day. Proven oil reserves in 2005 stood at 1.5 billion barrels. Natural gas reserves are estimated to be 3.2 trillion cubic feet.

28 Social Development

A social insurance program is in place for all employees, providing pensions for old age, disability, and survivorship. Contributions are made by employers at a fixed percentage of the employee’s wage. Other payments include a pension plan, prenatal allowances, a lump sum payable at the birth of each of the first three children, and, if the mother is employed, a recuperation allowance for 15 weeks. There is a family

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low–income countries and high–income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorCongo (ROC) Low-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$740 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate3.2% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land11 803032
Life expectancy in years: male51 587675
female54 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people0.2 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)83 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)84% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people3 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people9 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)273 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)0.81 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

allowance for employed persons with one or more children. Marriage and family laws discriminate against women. Pygmy minorities also face discrimination. The human rights record has improved somewhat since the transition to democracy, but abuses have continued.

29 Health

In 2004, there were an estimated 25 doctors, 175 pharmacists, 185 nurses, and 25 midwives per 100,000 people. An endemic disease control service conducts vaccination and inoculation campaigns.

In 2005, infant mortality was 87.4 deaths per 1,000 live births and the average life expectancy was estimated at 52.3 years.

In 1990, 24% of children under five years old were considered malnourished. In 2004, the number of people living with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) was estimated at 90,000. Deaths from AIDS that year were estimated at 9,700.

At last estimate, more than 88% of all housing units were private houses. In 2000, only about 51% of the population had access to improved water systems.

31 Education

The educational system is patterned on that of France, but changes have been introduced gradually

to adapt the curriculum to local needs and traditions. The language of instruction is French. All private schools were taken over by the government in 1965. Primary education is compulsory and lasts for six years. Secondary education lasts for seven years, and either follows a general course of study or a technical program.

In 2001, there were 183,000 primary-school pupils in 1,612 schools and 7,060 teachers. In 1999, there were 214,650 secondary-school students and 7,173 teachers. The student-to-teacher ratio at the primary level was estimated at 83 to 1 in 2004.

The National University, which opened in Brazzaville in 1971, was later renamed Marien Ngouabi University. Higher-level institutions had more than 1,300 teachers and nearly 14,000 students in the mid-1990s.

As of 2004, the adult illiteracy rate was estimated at 16% (males, 11%; females, 23%).

32 Media

National and international communications are state owned and operated. In 2003, there were 2 mainline telephones and 94 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people. In 2004, there was one privately owned radio station and one privately owned television station. Radio Brazzaville broadcasts in French and local languages. A satellite communications station was inaugurated at Brazzaville in 1978. There are telecasts in French, Kikongo, and Lingala. In 2003, there were 109 radios and 3 televisions for every 1,000 people. Internet access is limited, with only 1 Internet provider serving 500 people in 2000.

In 2002, there were five daily newspapers, all published in Brazzaville: Mweti, published by the government information ministry (2002 circulation 7,000); ACI (Daily News Bulletin, circulation 1,000); Courrier d’Afrique; Journal de Brazzaville; and Journal Official de la Republique du Congo. There are also a few periodicals and magazines, the most popular among them being La Semaine Africaine, published by the Catholic Church, with a 1995 circulation of 8,000.

Though the constitution provides for free expression and a free press, the government has a monopoly over radio and television.

33 Tourism and Recreation

Reforms and restructuring have enhanced the ROC’s potential for tourism (especially ecotourism) depending on attraction of investment capital.

In 2002, about 21,611 tourists visited the ROC from other countries; more than 91% of the tourists were from Europe and Africa. In 2000, there were 2,522 rooms in hotels with a 41% occupancy rate. Tourism receipts from 1999 were about $12 million.

34 Famous Congolese

Abbé Fulbert Youlou (1917–1972) was a former Roman Catholic priest who served as president from 1960 to 1963, as well as mayor of Brazzaville. Denis Sassou-Nguesso (b.1943) served as president from 1979 to 1991; his loyal militia fought against government troops in the 1997 civil war, again bringing him to power. Prominent author and playwright Emmanuel Dongala-Boundzeki (b.1941) is also a chemistry professor at Marien Ngouabi University in Brazzaville.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Allen, Chris, Michael S. Radu, and Keith Somerville. Benin, The Congo, and Burkina Faso. New York: Pinter, 1989.

Chadwick, Douglas. “Ndoki-Last Place on Earth.” National Geographic, July 1995, 2–45.

Decalo, Samuel. Historical Dictionary of Congo. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1996.

Fegley, Randall. The Congo. Santa Barbara, CA: Clio, 1993.

Fish, Bruce, and Becky Durost Fish. The Congo. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000.

WEB SITES

Country Analysis Briefs. www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/Congo_Brazzaville/Background.html. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/af/ci/cf/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

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