Facts about Congo, Republic

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Republic of the CongoUpon independence in 1960, the former French region of Middle Congo became the Republic of the Congo. A quarter century of experimentation with Marxism was abandoned in 1990 and a democratically elected government took office in 1992. A brief civil war in 1997 restored former Marxist President Denis SASSOU-NGUESSO, and ushered in a period of ethnic and political unrest. Southern-based rebel groups agreed to a final peace accord in March 2003, but the calm is tenuous and refugees continue to present a humanitarian crisis. The Republic of Congo was once one of Africa's largest petroleum producers, but with declining production it will need to hope for new offshore oil finds to sustain its oil earnings over the long term.

Geography of the Republic of the Congo

Western Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Angola and Gabon
1 00 S, 15 00 E
total: 342,000 sq km
water: 500 sq km
land: 341,500 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than Montana
Land boundaries:
total: 5,504 km
border countries: Angola 201 km, Cameroon 523 km, Central African Republic 467 km, Democratic Republic of the Congo 2,410 km, Gabon 1,903 km
169 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 200 NM
tropical; rainy season (March to June); dry season (June to October); constantly high temperatures and humidity; particularly enervating climate astride the Equator
coastal plain, southern basin, central plateau, northern basin
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Berongou 903 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, timber, potash, lead, zinc, uranium, copper, phosphates, natural gas, hydropower
Natural hazards:
seasonal flooding
Environment - current issues:
air pollution from vehicle emissions; water pollution from the dumping of raw sewage; tap water is not potable; deforestation
Geography - note:
about 70% of the population lives in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, or along the railroad between them

Population of the Republic of the Congo

3,903,318 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 46.4% (male 864,407/female 853,728)
15-64 years: 50.7% (male 930,390/female 945,545)
65 years and over: 2.9% (male 44,430/female 63,814)
Median age:
16.6 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
85.29 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 52.8 years
male: 51.65 years
female: 53.98 years
Total fertility rate:
6.07 children born/woman
noun: Congolese (singular and plural)
adjective: Congolese or Congo
Ethnic groups:
Kongo 48%, Sangha 20%, M'Bochi 12%, Teke 17%, Europeans and other 3%
note: Europeans estimated at 8,500, mostly French, before the 1997 civil war; may be half that in 1998, following the widespread destruction of foreign businesses in 1997
Christian 50%, animist 48%, Muslim 2%
French (official), Lingala and Monokutuba (lingua franca trade languages), many local languages and dialects (of which Kikongo is the most widespread)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.8%
male: 89.6%
female: 78.4% 


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of the Congo
conventional short form: Congo (Brazzaville)
former: Middle Congo, Congo/Brazzaville, Congo
local long form: Republique du Congo
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
10 regions (regions, singular - region) and 1 commune*; Bouenza, Brazzaville*, Cuvette, Cuvette-Ouest, Kouilou, Lekoumou, Likouala, Niari, Plateaux, Pool, Sangha
15 August 1960 (from France)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 15 August (1960)
constitution approved by referendum 20 January 2002
Legal system:
based on French civil law system and customary law
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Denis SASSOU-NGUESSO (since 25 October 1997, following the civil war in which he toppled elected president Pascal LISSOUBA);
head of government: Prime Minister Isidore MVOUBA (since 7 January 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 10 March 2002 (next to be held in 2009)
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (66 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and the National Assembly (137 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Cour Supreme


The economy is a mixture of subsistence agriculture, an industrial sector based largely on oil, and support services, and a government characterized by budget problems and overstaffing. Oil has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy, providing a major share of government revenues and exports. In the early 1980s, rapidly rising oil revenues enabled the government to finance large-scale development projects with GDP growth averaging 5% annually, one of the highest rates in Africa. The government has mortgaged a substantial portion of its oil earnings through oil-backed loans that have contributed to a growing debt burden and chronic revenue shortfalls. Economic reform efforts have been undertaken with the support of international organizations, notably the World Bank and the IMF. However, the reform program came to a halt in June 1997 when civil war erupted. Denis SASSOU-NGUESSO, who returned to power when the war ended in October 1997, publicly expressed interest in moving forward on economic reforms and privatization and in renewing cooperation with international financial institutions. Economic progress was badly hurt by slumping oil prices and the resumption of armed conflict in December 1998, which worsened the republic's budget deficit. The current administration presides over an uneasy internal peace and faces difficult economic challenges of stimulating recovery and reducing poverty. Recovery of oil prices has boosted the economy's GDP and near-term prospects. In March 2006, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) treatment for Congo.

$12.86 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 6.2%
industry: 57%
services: 36.9%
Inflation rate:
revenues: $1.328 billion
expenditures: $1.065 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 0.3%
hydro: 99.7%
other: 0% 
petroleum extraction, cement, lumber, brewing, sugar, palm oil, soap, flour, cigarettes
cassava (tapioca), sugar, rice, corn, peanuts, vegetables, coffee, cocoa; forest products
petroleum, lumber, plywood, sugar, cocoa, coffee, diamonds
Export partners:
China 45.7%, US 34%, Taiwan 4.2%
capital equipment, construction materials, foodstuffs
Import partners:
France 30%, China 13.2%, US 9.5%, Italy 8.1%, Belgium 6%, Netherlands 4.5%
Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF); note - responsible authority is the Bank of the Central African States

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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