OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of the Congo
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 341,945 Sq Km (132,026 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 3,328,000
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Congo is located in West Central
Africa. It is bound by Gabon to the west, Cameroon to the
northwest, Central African Republic to the north, Democratic
Republic of the Congo (Zaire) to the south and east as well
as Angola and the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest. The country
can be divided into four topographical zones, (1.) the coastal
plain which is a treeless plain with swamps, lakes and rivers
that extends along the Atlantic coast and inland to the
foothills of the Mayombe Mountains. (2.) The fertile Niari
Valley in the south central area which contains the country's
best soil. (3.) The central highlands or Bateke Plateau
which separates the basins of the Ogoove and Niari Rivers
and is covered by dense forests. (4.) The Zaire River Basin
in the north which is composed of impassable flood plains
in the lower areas and a dry savannah in the upper areas.
Much of the Congo is covered by dense grasslands, mangroves
and forests. Major Cities (pop. est.); Brazzaville 937,600,
Pointe-Noire 576,200, Loubomo 83,600, Nkayi 42,500 (1992).
Land Use; forested 62%, pastures 29%, agricultural-cultivated
1%, other 8% (1993).
CLIMATE: The Congo has a tropical climate characterised by high
temperatures with humidity around 80% and little seasonal variation. The
wet season is between April and late October while the dry season is from
November to March. Violent winds and squalls are also common in the wet
season. Average annual precipitation varies from 1,250 to 1,750 mm (49
to 69 inches) while it is heaviest in the north and decreases towards the
Atlantic Coast in the south. Average temperature ranges in Brazzavile are
from 17 to 28 degrees Celsius (63 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit) in July to
23 to 33 degrees Celsius (72 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit) in April.
PEOPLE: The population is composed of Bantu tribes except for
some isolated groups of Negrillos and Sudanese immigrants. Of the 15 main
ethnic groups which are divided into 75 tribes, the Kongo account for 52%
of the population while the Teke account for 17%, the Mboshi for 11.5%
and the Mbete for 5%. There are also a number of Europeans mainly French.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 7 persons per sq km (18
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 51.9% urban, 48.1% rural (1984).
Sex Distribution; 48.6% male, 51.4% female (1988). Life Expectancy at Birth;
50.1 years male, 55.3 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 45% under 15,
27% 15 to 29, 13% 30 to 44, 9% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1988).
Birth Rate; 46.1 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 14.6 per 1,000 (1990). Increase
Rate; 31.5 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 73.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians which account for around 93% of
the population, of which 54% are Roman Catholic, 25% are Protestant and
14% are African Christian. Around 5% of the population follow local native
tribal beliefs and the remainder are Muslims.
LANGUAGES: The official language is French which is used for
trade and official purposes. Every ethnic group has its own tribal language
with the most widely spoken, Kongo and Teke.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: N/A. Literacy;
literate population aged 15 or over 56.6% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1958 Congo gained internal
self government and in 1960 Congo became independent with Fulbert Youlou
as President, however, he was forced to resign in Aug. 1960 after moves
to create a single party state faced growing opposition and a general strike.
Alphonse Massamba-Debat then became President and in 1964 the communist
inspired ruling party was established as the sole party. The government
then nationalized industries and recognized communist governments such
as China, North Korea and North Vietnam. In 1968 military officers led
by Maj. Marien Ngoumbi removed Debat from office and set up an interim
government. In 1970 a new constitution was adopted which established a
single party state and a people's republic. Opposition to single party
rule resulted in the assassination of Ngoumbi in 1977 and an 11 member
Military Council took control of the government. They declared Martial
Law and nominated Joachim Yhombi-Opango as the new President. In Feb. 1979
Opango resigned and Col. Dennis Sassou-Nguessou became President. Later
that year a socialist constitution was adopted. In 1984 Nguessou was reelected
and in Nov. 1985 student rioting resulted in the death of three students.
In 1987 some 20 army officers from the north were charged with undermining
the state security and Opango also surrendered to security forces after
being implicated. In July 1990 several prominent politicians and journalists
were arrested and charged with plotting a coup. In Jan 1991 Pres. Nguessou
was forced to appoint a Prime Minister and Marxism was renounced by the
Congress while opposition parties were legalized. In June 1991 after the
conclusion of the National Conference a new constitution was drafted and
Andre Milongo was appointed Prime Minister of a transitional government
until scheduled elections in 1992.. During 1991 Cuban troops were withdrawn
from Congo after a 14 year presence while diplomatic relations with Israel
were restored. In Jan. 1992 there was a failed coup attempt while on Jan.
20, 1992 troops fired on demonstrators demanding the resignation of Prime
Minister Milongo. On Mar. 15, 1992 a referendum resulted in the approval
of the new constitution with legislative elections held in June and July
1992. In Aug. 1992 Pascal Lissouba of the Pan-African Union for Social
Democracy (UPADS) won presidential elections with Stephane Maurice Bongho-Nourra
forming a new government in Sept. 1992. On Oct. 31, 1992 Bonglo-Nourra's
government lost a vote of no confidence with President Lissouba calling
for new elections, which resulted in widespread demonstrations. On Dec.
6, 1992 Claude Antoine Dacosta was appointed as head of a government of
"national union". On May 2, 1993 the UPADS won further legislative
elections while violence erupted following runoff elections in June 1993.
In protest to Pres. Lissouba's appointment of former military rule Jacques
Yhombi-Opango as prime minister, the opposition leader Bernard Kolelas
established a rival government that led to further violence and some 20
deaths in July 1993. On July 16, 1993 Pres. Lissouba dismissed army chief
Gen. Jean-Marie Mokoko over fears of a possible military coup, which resulted
in a series of armed militia attacks on civilians and the imposition of
a state of emergency. On July 29, 1993 government and opposition representatives
meet in Gabon and agreed to uphold the May election results and hold a
fresh runoff. Ethnic violence continued throughout the year with some 60
deaths occurring in Dec. 1993.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the CFA Franc (Communaute
Financiere Africaine-CFAF) divided into 100 Centimes.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $2,307,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $4,097,000,000 (1993). Imports; CFAF 262,100,000,000 (1994).
Exports; CFAF 534,800,000,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $2,000,000
(1993). Balance of Trade; CFAF 272,700,000,000 (1994). Economically Active
Population; 886,000 or 37.4% of total population (1992). Unemployed; 2.3%
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA,
France, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Cassava, Cocoa, Coffee, Copper,
Crude Oil, Ground Nuts, Gold, Lead, Natural Gas, Palm Oil, Phosphates,
Potash, Rice, Sugar Cane, Sweet Potatoes, Timber, Uranium, Zinc.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Brewing, Cement, Chemicals, Crude
Oil Production and Refining, Food Processing, Forestry, Mining, Soap Manufacture,
Sugar Refining, Textiles.
MAIN EXPORTS: Cocoa, Coffee, Crude Oil, Diamonds, Timber and Timber
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 1,152 km (716 mi) (1988),
passenger-km 419,000,000 (260,354,000 passenger-mi) (1988), cargo ton-km
477,000,000 (326,697,000 short ton-mi) (1988). Roads; length 11,000 km
(6,835 mi) (1985). Vehicles; cars 26,000 (1989), trucks and buses 20,000
(1989). Merchant Marine; vessels 22 (1990), deadweight tonnage 10,840 (1990).
Air Transport; N/A.
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 6 with a total circulation
of 19,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 240,000 (1994). Television; receivers
8,500 (1994). Telephones; units 19,200 (1993).
MILITARY: 10,000 (1995) total active duty personnel with 80.0%
army, 8.0% navy and 12.0% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 5.8% (1992) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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