Denis Sassou-Nguesso

Congo, Republic of the

(pronounced "DEN-ee SAH-soo en-GESS-oo")

"We must respond to the call of history. In this country with a multitude of political groups, we must organize so that people see in us the fulfillment of their legitimate aspirations."

The Republic of the Congo lies in Western Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean and Gabon to the west, Cameroon and Central African Republic to the north; the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) lies across the Congo River to the country's east and south. The capital is Brazzaville, and the country is sometimes referred to as Congo-Brazzaville (to distinguish it from its neighbor, Democratic Republic of Congo, known as Congo-Kinshasa). The national territory encompasses 342,000 sq km (132,047 sq mi), which spans the equator.

The country's population was estimated at 2,958,448 in 2002. Ethnic groups are the Kongo (about 48% of the total population); Sangha (20%), M'Bochi (12%, mostly in the north); and Teke (17%, in the central area of the country). There were fewer than 10,000 Europeans (primarily French) in the country prior to political unrest in 1997, and many of these were evacuated. French is the official language, but African languages—especially Lingala, Monokutuba, and local dialects (such as Kikongo)—are spoken by many Congolese. About half of the people in the Republic of the Congo are Christians and almost as many (48%) practice animist religion. There is also a small (2%) Muslim population.

The Congolese economy, or what remains of it after the political turmoil in 1994 and 1997, consists primarily of two distinct sectors: village agriculture and handicrafts. Forestry, once the driving force of the Republic of the Congo's economy, has been surpassed by oil, which contributes significantly to both government revenues and exports. Other exports include lumber, plywood, sugar, cocoa, coffee, and diamonds. The Republic of the Congo imports capital equipment, petroleum products, and construction materials. The currency is the Communauté Financière franc (CFA Fr), also called the Central African franc.


Office of the President
Republic of Congo
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