Country Profiles:
Republic of The Congo

Republic of the Congo, officially called the Republic of the Congo, or Congo (Brazzaville) or simply Congo, with its capital added parenthetically, to distinguish it from its twin country Democratic Republic of the Congo. The RoC is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola (Cabinda); RoC also has a 170 km coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. Civil wars and militia conflicts have plagued the Republic of Congo.

Congo-Brazzaville was a former French colony of Equatorial Africa. The country gained independence in 1960,  and  became the Republic of the Congo. The People’s Republic of the Congo was a Marxist–Leninist one-party state from 1970 to 1991. Multi-party elections have been held since 1992, although a democratically elected government was ousted in the 1997 Republic of the Congo Civil War and President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who first came to power in 1979, has ruled for 38, making him currently the longest-serving leader in the continent with the recent resignation of former president of Zimbabwe, Mugabe as of November 2017. President Nguesso gained his latest seven-year term after elections in March 2016.

The economy is heavily dependent on oil and is among the top ten producers of oil in the continent.

In 2016 the government expected oil to contribute 60% of government revenues. With the fall in prices, the World Bank estimates the number to be closer to 50%. The country is largely covered by tropical forests, and has abundant unused arable land equivalent to about one third of its total area. Most importantly, it is endowed with significant hydrocarbon reserves with an estimated proven 1.6 billion barrels of oil reserves and 90 billion cubic meters of natural gas. In addition, the country benefits from significant mining resources according to the World Bank. Even with these numbers, the country has yet to fully tap into the potential in leveraging them to achieve robust socio-economic outcomes.

As an equatorial country there are two rainy seasons from March to May and from September to November. The southwest region of the country is a coastal plain for which the primary drainage is the Kouilou-Niari River; the interior of the country consists of a central plateau between two basins to the south and north. In the north lies Mt. Nabemba among the mountain chains of Mayombé Massif.

Congo is highly urbanized with more than half its population living in the two largest cities, Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. Over 60 different languages and dialects are spoken in the country, however, the Bantu group makes over 90% of the people which are divided into sub tribal groups consisting of the Kongo, Teke, Sangha, and M’Bochi. The official languages are French, Lingala and Kituba.

Republic of Congo cuisine is similar to the Democratic Republic of Congo in that both countries share the same dishes like Maboke, Satori, Chikwanga, and Fufu.

Typical Congolese meals consist of a starchy food with sauce or stew. Maize and cornmeal flour, cassava flour. The Congo River and the other rivers and lakes are an endless source of freshwater fish and shrimps.

The Republic of the Congo is an African nation with close musical ties to its neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s homegrown pop music, soukous, is popular across the border, and musicians from both countries have fluidly traveled throughout the region playing similarly styled music, including Nino Malapet and Jean Serge Essous. Brazzaville had a major music scene until unrest in the late 1990s, and produced popular bands like Bantous de la Capitale that played an integral role in the development of soukous and other styles of Congolese popular music. The Hip-Hop group “Bisso na Bisso” also hails from Congo-Brazzaville.

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