Republic of the Congo

Republic of the Congo


The Republic of the Congo (French: Rpublique du Congo; Kongo: Repubilika ya Kongo; Lingala: Republiki ya Kong), also known as Congo-Brazzaville or the Congo, is a country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.


Background History

Upon 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 new offshore oil finds to sustain its oil earnings over the long term.

Government

Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of the Congo
  • conventional short form: Congo (Brazzaville)
  • local long form: Republique du Congo
  • former: Middle Congo, Congo/Brazzaville, Congo

Capital:

  • name: Brazzaville
  • population: 1,292,000
  • geographic coordinates: 4 15 S, 15 17 E
  • time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Independence:

  • 15 August 1960 (from France)

Government Type:

  • republic

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: President Denis Sassou-Nguesso (since 25 October 1997); note - the position of prime minister was abolished in September 2009
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate and the National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court

People & Society

Population:

  • 4,366,266 (global rank: 125)
  • growth rate: 2.849% (global rank: 15)

Nationality:

  • noun: Congolese (singular and plural)
  • adjective: Congolese or Congo

Major Cities:

  • Brazzaville (capital): 1.292 million

Ethnic Groups:

  • Kongo 48%, Sangha 20%, M'Bochi 12%, Teke 17%, Europeans and other 3%

Religions:

  • Christian 50%, animist 48%, Muslim 2%

Languages:

  • French (official), Lingala and Monokutuba (lingua franca trade languages), many local languages and dialects (of which Kikongo is the most widespread)

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 55.27 years (global rank: 199)
  • male: 53.95 years
  • female: 56.62 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 74.22 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 17)
  • male: 79.58 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 68.7 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS:

  • adult prevalence rate: 3.4% (2009 est.) (global rank: 18)
  • people living with AIDS: 77,000 (2009 est.) (global rank: 46)

Literacy:

  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 83.8%
  • male: 89.6%
  • female: 78.4%

Economy

The economy is a mixture of subsistence agriculture, an industrial sector based largely on oil and support services, and government spending. 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. Characterized by budget problems and overstaffing, 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. The drop in oil prices during the global crisis reduced oil revenue by about 30%, but the subsequent 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, receiving $1.9 billion in debt relief under the program in 2010.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $18.36 billion (global rank: 131)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $4,600 (global rank: 152)
  • real growth rate: 5% (global rank: 75)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 4.1%, industry: 68.7%, services: 27.2%

Currency:

  • currency: Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale Francs
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 473.7

Poverty:

  • population below poverty line: NA
  • unemployment rate: NA

Agricultural Products:

  • cassava (tapioca), sugar, rice, corn, peanuts, vegetables, coffee, cocoa; forest products

Industries:

  • petroleum extraction, cement, lumber, brewing, sugar, palm oil, soap, flour, cigarettes

Exports Commodities:

  • petroleum, lumber, plywood, sugar, cocoa, coffee, diamonds

Imports Commodities:

  • capital equipment, construction materials, foodstuffs

Geography

Location:

  • Central Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Angola and Gabon

Area:

  • total:342,000 sq km (global rank: 64)
  • land: 341,500 sq km
  • water: 500 sq km
  • comparative: slightly smaller than Montana

Climate:

  • tropical; rainy season (March to June); dry season (June to October); persistent high temperatures and humidity; particularly enervating climate astride the Equator

Land Use:

  • arable land: 1.45%
  • permanent crops: 0.15%
  • other: 98.4%

Natural Resources:

  • petroleum, timber, potash, lead, zinc, uranium, copper, phosphates, gold, magnesium, natural gas, hydropower

Current Environmental Issues:

  • air pollution from vehicle emissions; water pollution from the dumping of raw sewage; tap water is not potable; deforestation

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: the location of the boundary in the broad Congo River with the Democratic Republic of the Congo is indefinite except in the Pool Malebo/Stanley Pool area
  • refugees (country of origin): 46,341 (Democratic Republic of Congo); 6,564 (Rwanda)
  • internally displaced persons: 48,000 (multiple civil wars since 1992; most IDPs are ethnic Lari)
  • human trafficking: Republic of the Congo is a source and destination country for children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor or, to a lesser extent, sex trafficking; most child trafficking victims are from Benin, though Togo, Mali, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are also sources of victims subjected to forced domestic labor, market vending, and fishing, as well as commercial sexual exploitation


Published: Friday, February 13, 2009