Republic of the Congo

The Republic of the Congo (pronunciation  French: République du Congo, Kongo: Repubilika ya Kôngo), also known as Congo-Brazzaville, the Congo Republic[5], ROC or simply the Congo, is a country located in the western coast of Central Africa. It is bordered by five countries: Gabon to its west; Cameroon to its northwest and the Central African Republic to its northeast; the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southeast and the Angolan exclave of Cabinda to its south; and the Atlantic Ocean to its southwest.

The region was dominated by Bantu-speaking tribes at least 3,000 years ago, who built trade links leading into the Congo River basin. Congo was formerly part of the French colony of Equatorial Africa.[6] The Republic of the Congo was established on the 28th of November 1958 but gained independence from France in 1960. The sovereign state has had multi-party elections 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 33 of the past 38 years.

The Republic of the Congo has become the fourth-largest oil producer in the Gulf of Guinea, providing the country with a degree of prosperity despite political and economic instability in some areas and unequal distribution of oil revenue nationwide. Congo's economy is heavily dependent on the oil sector, and economic growth has slowed considerably since the post-2015 drop in oil prices.

Coordinates: 1°26′24″S 15°33′22″E / 1.44°S 15.556°E

Republic of the Congo

République du Congo  (French)
Repubilika ya Kôngo  (Kongo)
Republíki ya Kongó  (Lingala)
Motto: "Unité, Travail, Progrès" (French)
(English: "Unity, Work, Progress")
Anthem: La Congolaise  (French)
(English: "The Congolese")
Location of Republic of the Congo (dark blue) – in Africa (light blue & dark grey) – in the African Union (light blue)
Location of Republic of the Congo (dark blue)

– in Africa (light blue & dark grey)
– in the African Union (light blue)

Capital
and largest city
Brazzaville
4°16′S 15°17′E / 4.267°S 15.283°E
Official languagesFrench
Recognised regional languages
Ethnic groups
Demonym(s)Congolese
GovernmentUnitary dominant-party semi-presidential republic
• President
Denis Sassou Nguesso
Clément Mouamba
LegislatureParliament
Senate
National Assembly
Independence
• from France
15 August 1960
Area
• Total
342,000 km2 (132,000 sq mi) (64th)
• Water (%)
3.3
Population
• 2016 estimate
5,125,821[1] (124th)
• Density
12.8/km2 (33.2/sq mi) (204th)
GDP (PPP)2018 estimate
• Total
$34.054 billion[2]
• Per capita
$7,323[2]
GDP (nominal)2018 estimate
• Total
$9.210 billion[2]
• Per capita
$1,981[2]
Gini (2011)40.2[3]
medium
HDI (2017)Decrease 0.606[4]
medium · 137th
CurrencyCentral African CFA franc (XAF)
Time zoneUTC+1 (WAT)
Driving sideright
Calling code+242
ISO 3166 codeCG
Internet TLD.cg

History

Pre-colonial

Bantu-speaking peoples who founded tribes during the Bantu expansions largely displaced and absorbed the earliest inhabitants of the region, the Pygmy people, about 1500 BC. The Bakongo, a Bantu ethnic group that also occupied parts of present-day Angola, Gabon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formed the basis for ethnic affinities and rivalries among those countries. Several Bantu kingdoms—notably those of the Kongo, the Loango, and the Teke—built trade links leading into the Congo River basin.[7]

The Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão reached the mouth of the Congo in 1484.[8] Commercial relationships quickly grew between the inland Bantu kingdoms and European merchants who traded various commodities, manufactured goods, and people captured from the hinterlands. After centuries as a major hub for transatlantic trade, direct European colonization of the Congo river delta began in the late 19th century, subsequently eroding the power of the Bantu societies in the region.[9]

French colonial era

Court of Loango
The court of N'Gangue M'voumbe Niambi, from the book Description of Africa (1668)

The area north of the Congo River came under French sovereignty in 1880 as a result of Pierre de Brazza's treaty with King Makoko[10] of the Bateke.[8] This Congo Colony became known first as French Congo, then as Middle Congo in 1903. In 1908, France organized French Equatorial Africa (AEF), comprising Middle Congo, Gabon, Chad, and Oubangui-Chari (the modern Central African Republic). The French designated Brazzaville as the federal capital. Economic development during the first 50 years of colonial rule in Congo centered on natural-resource extraction. The methods were often brutal: construction of the Congo–Ocean Railroad following World War I has been estimated to have cost at least 14,000 lives.[8]

During the Nazi occupation of France during World War II, Brazzaville functioned as the symbolic capital of Free France between 1940 and 1943.[11] The Brazzaville Conference of 1944 heralded a period of major reform in French colonial policy. Congo benefited from the postwar expansion of colonial administrative and infrastructure spending as a result of its central geographic location within AEF and the federal capital at Brazzaville.[7] It also received a local legislature after the adoption of the 1946 constitution that established the Fourth Republic.

Following the revision of the French constitution that established the Fifth Republic in 1958, the AEF dissolved into its constituent parts, each of which became an autonomous colony within the French Community. During these reforms, Middle Congo became known as the Republic of the Congo in 1958[12] and published its first constitution in 1959.[13] Antagonism between the Mbochis (who favored Jacques Opangault) and the Laris and Kongos (who favored Fulbert Youlou, the first black mayor elected in French Equatorial Africa) resulted in a series of riots in Brazzaville in February 1959, which the French Army subdued.[14]

New elections took place in April 1959. By the time the Congo became independent in August 1960, Opangault, the former opponent of Youlou, agreed to serve under him. Youlou became the first President of the Republic of the Congo.[15] Since the political tension was so high in Pointe-Noire, Youlou moved the capital to Brazzaville.

Post-independence era

Alphonse Massamba-Debat
Alphonse Massamba-Débat's one-party rule (1963–1968) attempted to implement a political economic strategy of "scientific socialism"

The Republic of the Congo received full independence from France on 15 August 1960. Youlou ruled as the country's first president until labour elements and rival political parties instigated a three-day uprising that ousted him.[16] The Congolese military briefly took charge of the country, and installed a civilian provisional government headed by Alphonse Massamba-Débat.

Under the 1963 constitution, Massamba-Débat was elected President for a five-year term.[7] During Massamba-Débat's term in office the regime adopted "scientific socialism" as the country's constitutional ideology.[17] In 1965, Congo established relations with the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, North Korea and North Vietnam.[17] Massamba-Débat's regime also invited several hundred Cuban army troops into the country to train his party's militia units and these troops helped his government survive a coup d'état in 1966 led by paratroopers loyal to future President Marien Ngouabi. Nevertheless, Massamba-Débat was unable to reconcile various institutional, tribal and ideological factions within the country[17] and his regime ended abruptly with a bloodless coup in September 1968.

Congo 1972 (cropped)
Marien Ngouabi changed the country's name to the People's Republic of the Congo, declaring it to be Africa's first Marxist–Leninist state. He was assassinated in 1977.

Ngouabi, who had participated in the coup, assumed the presidency on 31 December 1968. One year later, President Ngouabi proclaimed Congo Africa's first "people's republic", the People's Republic of the Congo, and announced the decision of the National Revolutionary Movement to change its name to the Congolese Labour Party (PCT). He survived an attempted coup in 1972 but was assassinated on 16 March 1977. An 11-member Military Committee of the Party (CMP) was then named to head an interim government, with Joachim Yhombi-Opango to serve as President of the Republic. Two years later, Yhombi-Opango was forced from power and Denis Sassou Nguesso become the new president.[7]

Sassou Nguesso aligned the country with the Eastern Bloc and signed a twenty-year friendship pact with the Soviet Union. Over the years, Sassou had to rely more on political repression and less on patronage to maintain his dictatorship.[18]

Pascal Lissouba, who became Congo's first elected president (1992–1997) during the period of multi-party democracy, attempted to implement economic reforms with IMF backing to liberalize the economy. In June 1996, the IMF approved a three-year SDR69.5m (US$100m) enhanced structural adjustment facility (ESAF) and was on the verge of announcing a renewed annual agreement when civil war broke out in Congo in mid-1997.[19]

Congo's democratic progress was derailed in 1997, when Lissouba and Sassou started to fight for power in the civil war. As presidential elections scheduled for July 1997 approached, tensions between the Lissouba and Sassou camps mounted. On 5 June, President Lissouba's government forces surrounded Sassou's compound in Brazzaville and Sassou ordered members of his private militia (known as "Cobras") to resist. Thus began a four-month conflict that destroyed or damaged much of Brazzaville and caused tens of thousands of civilian deaths. In early October, the Angolan régime began an invasion of Congo to install Sassou in power. In mid-October, the Lissouba government fell. Soon thereafter, Sassou declared himself president.[7]

Pro-constitutional reform demonstration in Brazzaville - 2015-10 (21518932913)
A pro-constitutional reform rally in Brazzaville during October 2015. The constitution's controversial reforms were subsequently approved in a disputed election which saw demonstrations and violence.

In the controversial elections in 2002, Sassou won with almost 90% of the vote cast. His two main rivals, Lissouba and Bernard Kolelas, were prevented from competing and the only remaining credible rival, André Milongo, advised his supporters to boycott the elections and then withdrew from the race.[20] A new constitution, agreed upon by referendum in January 2002, granted the president new powers, extended his term to seven years, and introduced a new bicameral assembly. International observers took issue with the organization of the presidential election and the constitutional referendum, both of which were reminiscent in their organization of Congo's era of the one-party state.[21] Following the presidential elections, fighting restarted in the Pool region between government forces and rebels led by Pastor Ntumi; a peace treaty to end the conflict was signed in April 2003.[22]

Sassou also won the following presidential election in July 2009.[23] According to the Congolese Observatory of Human Rights, a non-governmental organization, the election was marked by "very low" turnout and "fraud and irregularities".[24] In March 2015 Sassou announced that he wanted to run for yet another term in office and a constitutional referendum in October resulted in a changed constitution which allowed him to run during the 2016 presidential election. He won the election believed by many to be fraudulent. After violent protests in the capital, Sassou attacked the Pool region, where the Ninja rebels of the civil war used to be based, in what was believed to be a distraction. This led to a revival of the Ninja rebels who launched attacks against the army in April 2016, leading 80,000 people to flee their homes. A ceasefire deal was signed in December 2017.[25]

Government and politics

Denis Sassou-Nguesso
Denis Sassou Nguesso served as President from 1979 to 1992 and has remained in power ever since his rebel forces ousted President Pascal Lissouba during the 1997 Civil War.

Congo-Brazzaville has had a multi-party political system since the early 1990s, although the system is heavily dominated by President Denis Sassou Nguesso; he has lacked serious competition in the presidential elections held under his rule. Sassou Nguesso is backed by his own Congolese Labour Party (French: Parti Congolais du Travail) as well as a range of smaller parties.

Sassou's regime has been hit by corruption revelations despite attempts to censor them. One French investigation found over 110 bank accounts and dozens of lavish properties in France; Sassou denounced embezzlement investigations as "racist" and "colonial".[26][27][28] Denis Christel Sassou-Nguesso, son of Denis Sassou Nguesso, has been named in association with the Panama Papers.[29]

On 27 March 2015, Sassou Nguesso announced that his government would hold a referendum on changing the country's 2002 constitution to allow him to run for a third consecutive term in office.[30] On October 25 the government held a referendum to allow Sassou Nguesso to run in the next election. The government claimed that the proposal was approved by 92% of voters with 72% of eligible voters participating. The opposition, who boycotted the referendum, said that the government's statistics were false and the vote was a sham.[31]

The election raised questions and was accompanied by civil unrest and police shootings of protesters;[32] at least 18 people were killed by security forces during opposition rallies leading up to the referendum held in October.

Media

In 2008, the main media were owned by the government, but much more privately run forms of media were being created. There is one government-owned television station and around 10 small private television channels.

Human rights

Many Pygmies belong from birth to Bantus in a relationship many refer to as slavery.[33][34] The Congolese Human Rights Observatory says that the Pygmies are treated as property the same way "pets" are.[33] On 30 December 2010, the Congolese parliament adopted a law for the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples. This law is the first of its kind in Africa, and its adoption is a historic development for indigenous peoples on the continent.[35]

Administrative divisions

Congo departments named
Map of the Republic of the Congo exhibiting its twelve departments.

The Republic of the Congo is divided into 12 départements (departments). Departments are divided into communes and districts.[36] These are:

Geography and climate

Climate Brazzaville
Climate diagram for Brazzaville
Koppen-Geiger Map COG present
Republic of the Congo map of Köppen climate classification.

Congo is located in the central-western part of sub-Saharan Africa, along the Equator, lying between latitudes 4°N and 5°S, and longitudes 11° and 19°E. To the south and east of it is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also bounded by Gabon to the west, Cameroon and the Central African Republic to the north, and Cabinda (Angola) to the southwest. It has a short coast on the Atlantic Ocean.

The capital, Brazzaville, is located on the Congo River, in the south of the country, immediately across from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The southwest 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. Forests are under increasing exploitation pressure.[37]

Since the country is located on the Equator, the climate is consistent year-round, with the average day temperature a humid 24 °C (75 °F) and nights generally between 16 °C (61 °F) and 21 °C (70 °F). The average yearly rainfall ranges from 1,100 millimetres (43 in) in the Niari Valley in the south to over 2,000 millimetres (79 in) in central parts of the country. The dry season is from June to August, while in the majority of the country the wet season has two rainfall maxima: one in March–May and another in September–November.[38]

In 2006–07, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society studied gorillas in heavily forested regions centered on the Ouesso district of the Sangha Region. They suggest a population on the order of 125,000 western lowland gorillas, whose isolation from humans has been largely preserved by inhospitable swamps.[39]

Economy

Manihot esculenta - Köhler–s Medizinal-Pflanzen-090
Cassava is an important food crop in the Republic of the Congo.

The economy is a mixture of village agriculture and handicrafts, an industrial sector based largely on petroleum,[40] support services, and a government characterized by budget problems and overstaffing. Petroleum extraction has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy. In 2008, oil sector accounted for 65% of the GDP, 85% of government revenue, and 92% of exports.[41] The country also has large untapped mineral wealth.

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 petroleum earnings, contributing to a shortage of revenues. 12 January 1994 devaluation of Franc Zone currencies by 50% resulted in inflation of 46% in 1994, but inflation has subsided since.[42]

Jeunes filles apprenant la couture - Ecole Spéciale de Brazzaville
Young women learning to sew, Brazzaville

Economic reform efforts continued with the support of international organizations, notably the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The reform program came to a halt in June 1997 when civil war erupted. When Sassou Nguesso returned to power at the end of the war in October 1997, he publicly expressed interest in moving forward on economic reforms and privatization and in renewing cooperation with international financial institutions. However, 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 problems of stimulating recovery and reducing poverty, despite record-high oil prices since 2003. Natural gas and diamonds are also recent major Congolese exports, although Congo was excluded from the Kimberley Process in 2004 amid allegations that most of its diamond exports were in fact being smuggled out of the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo; it was re-admitted to the group in 2007.[43][44]

The Republic of the Congo also has large untapped base metal, gold, iron and phosphate deposits.[45] The country is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).[46] The Congolese government signed an agreement in 2009 to lease 200,000 hectares of land to South African farmers to reduce its dependence on imports.[47][48]

The GDP of the Republic of the Congo grew by 6% in 2014 and is expected to have grown by 7.5% in 2015.[49][50]

In 2018, the Republic of the Congo joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.[51]

Transportation

Transport in the Republic of the Congo includes land, air and water transportation. The country's rail system was built by forced laborers during the 1930s and largely remains in operation. There are also over 1000 km of paved roads and two major international airports (Maya-Maya Airport and Pointe Noire Airport) which have flights to destinations in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The country also has a large port on the Atlantic Ocean at Pointe-Noire and others along the Congo River at Brazzaville and Impfondo.

Demographics

Religion in the Republic of the Congo by Pew Research Center (2011)[52]

  Protestantism (51.4%)
  Catholicism (30.1%)
  Other Christian (4.4%)
  Other religions (14.1%)
Population[1]
Year Million
1950 0.8
2000 3.2
2016 5.1

The Republic of the Congo's sparse population is concentrated in the southwestern portion of the country, leaving the vast areas of tropical jungle in the north virtually uninhabited. Thus, Congo is one of the most urbanized countries in Africa, with 70% of its total population living in a few urban areas, namely in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire or one of the small cities or villages lining the 534-kilometre (332 mi) railway which connects the two cities. In rural areas, industrial and commercial activity has declined rapidly in recent years, leaving rural economies dependent on the government for support and subsistence.[53]

Ethnically and linguistically the population of the Republic of the Congo is diverse—Ethnologue recognises 62 spoken languages in the country[54]—but can be grouped into three categories. The Kongo are the largest ethnic group and form roughly half of the population. The most significant subgroups of the Kongo are Laari in Brazzaville and Pool regions and Vili around Pointe-Noire and along the Atlantic coast. The second largest group are the Teke who live to the north of Brazzaville with 17% of the population. Boulangui (M’Boshi) live in the northwest and in Brazzaville and form 12% of the population.[55][56] Pygmies make up 2% of Congo's population.[57]

Before the 1997 war, about 9,000 Europeans and other non-Africans lived in Congo, most of whom were French; only a fraction of this number remains.[53] Around 300 American expatriates reside in the Congo.[53]

According to CIA World Factbook, the people of the Republic of the Congo are largely a mix of Catholics (33.1%), Awakening Lutherans (22.3%) and other Protestants (19.9%). Followers of Islam make up 1.6%, and this is primarily due to an influx of foreign workers into the urban centers.[6]

According to a 2011–12 survey, total fertility rate was 5.1 children born per woman, with 4.5 in urban areas and 6.5 in rural areas.[58]

Health

Public expenditure health was at 8.9% of the GDP in 2004, whereas private expenditure was at 1.3%.[59] As of 2012, the HIV/AIDS prevalence was at 2.8% among 15- to 49-year-olds.[6] Health expenditure was at US$30 per capita in 2004.[59] A large proportion of the population is undernourished,[59] with malnutrition being a problem in Congo-Brazzaville.[60] There were 20 physicians per 100,000 persons in the early 2000s (decade).[59]

As of 2010, the maternal mortality rate was 560 deaths/100,000 live births, and the infant mortality rate was 59.34 deaths/1,000 live births.[6] Female genital mutilation (FGM) is rare in the country, being confined to limited geographic areas of the country.[61]

Culture

The Congolese culture has been influenced by a wide variety of natural landscapes, stretching from the savannah plains in the North Niari flooded forests, to the great Congo River, to rugged mountains and forest of Mayombe, and including 170 km of beaches along the Atlantic coast. The presence of numerous ethnic groups and various political structures once (Kongo Empire, Kingdom of Loango kingdom Teke, Northern chiefdoms) provided an enormous amount of diversity in the traditional cultures as well as in many ancient artistic expressions. Vili Nail fetishes, Bembe statuettes which are very expressive despite their small size, the strange masks of the Punu and Kwele, reliquaries Kinabalu, Teke fetishes, curious cemeteries, with their monumental tombs and the Lari country are all such features. The Congolese also have a considerable colonial architectural heritage, which they are rediscovering today as part of their ancestry, and their tourist capital. They are also taking great pains to restore these artefacts, at least in Brazzaville.

Tourism remains a very marginal resource in the Congo, reception facilities based out of Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville lack a sufficient and consistent communications network. Many sites are difficult to visit but, paradoxically, some of the South's most populous and developed locations are often the least accessible. For example, the massive Chaillu Mountains are almost impossible to visit.

Many Congolese singers have carried the country's image to the furthest reaches of the globe: the Franco-Congolese rapper Passi playing in France to whom we owe the release of several hit albums to like the "Temptations" with the famous song "I zap and I mate", without forgetting the M'Passi singer of the former group Melgroove, rappers Calbo of Arsenik group, Ben J of Neg Marrons, Mystic, RCFA, The group Bisso Na Bisso and Casimir Zao.

The Republic of Congo has several writers recognised in Africa and the French-speaking world: Alain Mabanckou, Jean-Baptiste Tati Loutard Jeannette Ballou Tchichelle, Henri Lopes, Lassy Mbouity and Tchicaya U Tam'si.

Other artistic genres such as movies often struggle to make breakthroughs. After a promising start in the 1970s, the troubled political situation and the closure of cinemas made production difficult. The country produces no feature film each year and generally the filmmakers directly broadcast their video production. Unfortunately, Congolese culture, art, and media has remained a poor investment due to the various successive governments creating instability.

Education

SAINTE RITA CONG-BR2
School children in the classroom, Republic of the Congo

Public expenditure of the GDP was less in 2002–05 than in 1991.[59] Public education is theoretically free and mandatory for under-16-year-olds[62] but, in practice, expenses exist.[62] Net primary enrollment rate was 44% in 2005, much less than the 79% in 1991.[59] Education between ages six and sixteen is compulsory. Pupils who complete six years of primary school and seven years of secondary school obtain a baccalaureate.

The country has universities. At university, students can obtain a bachelor's degree in three years and a master's after four. Marien Ngouabi University—which offers courses in medicine, law, and other fields—is the country's only public university.

Instruction at all levels is in French, and the educational system as a whole models the French system.

See also

References

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Further reading

  • Maria Petringa, Brazza, A Life for Africa (2006) ISBN 978-1-4259-1198-0

External links

Government
General
Tourism
Brazzaville

Brazzaville (French pronunciation: ​[bʁazavil], Kongo: Balazavile) is the capital and largest city of the Republic of the Congo (Congo Republic). Constituting the financial and administrative centre of the country, it is located on the north side of the Congo River, opposite Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). The population of the capital is estimated to exceed 1.8 million residents, comprising more than a third of the national populace, 40% of whom are employed in non-agricultural professions. During World War II, Brazzaville was also the capital of Free France between 1940 and 1942.

In 2013, Brazzaville was designated a City of Music by UNESCO, and has been a member of the Creative Cities Network since then.

DR Congo national football team

The Democratic Republic of the Congo national football team (formerly known as Zaire, alternatively known as Congo-Kinshasa) is the national team of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is controlled by the Congolese Association Football Federation. They are nicknamed the Leopards.DR Congo have been ranked as high as 28 in the FIFA Rankings. As Zaire they were the first Sub-Saharan African team to qualify for the FIFA World Cup and twice won the Africa Cup of Nations.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (pronunciation French: République démocratique du Congo [kɔ̃ɡo]), also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. It is sometimes anachronistically referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997. It is, by area, the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa (after Algeria), and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 78 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated officially Francophone country, the fourth-most-populated country in Africa, and the 16th-most-populated country in the world. Currently, eastern DR Congo is the scene of ongoing military conflict in Kivu, since 2015.

Centred on the Congo Basin, the territory of the DRC was first inhabited by Central African foragers around 90,000 years ago and was reached by the Bantu expansion about 3,000 years ago. In the west, the Kingdom of Kongo ruled around the mouth of the Congo River from the 14th to 19th centuries. In the centre and east, the kingdoms of Luba and Lunda ruled from the 16th and 17th centuries to the 19th century. In the 1870s, just before the onset of the Scramble for Africa, European exploration of the Congo Basin was carried out, first led by Henry Morton Stanley under the sponsorship of Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold formally acquired rights to the Congo territory at the Berlin Conference in 1885 and made the land his private property, naming it the Congo Free State. During the Free State, the colonial military unit, the Force Publique, forced the local population to produce rubber, and from 1885 to 1908, millions of Congolese died as a consequence of disease and exploitation. In 1908, Belgium, despite initial reluctance, formally annexed the Free State, which became the Belgian Congo.

The Belgian Congo achieved independence on 30 June 1960 under the name Republic of the Congo. Congolese nationalist Patrice Lumumba was elected the first Prime Minister, while Joseph Kasa-Vubu became the first President. Conflict arose over the administration of the territory, which became known as the Congo Crisis. The provinces of Katanga, under Moïse Tshombe, and South Kasai attempted to secede. After Lumumba turned to the Soviet Union for assistance in the crisis, the U.S. and Belgium became wary and oversaw his removal from office by Kasa-Vubu on 5 September and ultimate execution by Belgian-led Katangese troops on 17 January 1961. On 25 November 1965, Army Chief of Staff Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who later renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko, officially came into power through a coup d'état. In 1971, he renamed the country Zaire. The country was run as a dictatorial one-party state, with his Popular Movement of the Revolution as the sole legal party. Mobutu's government received considerable support from the United States, due to its anti-communist stance during the Cold War. By the early 1990s, Mobutu's government began to weaken. Destabilisation in the east resulting from the 1994 Rwandan genocide and disenfranchisement among the eastern Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsi) population led to a 1996 invasion led by Tutsi FPR-ruled Rwanda, which began the First Congo War.On 17 May 1997, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, a leader of Tutsi forces from the province of South Kivu, became President after Mobutu fled to Morocco, reverting the country's name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tensions between President Kabila and the Rwandan and Tutsi presence in the country led to the Second Congo War from 1998 to 2003. Ultimately, nine African countries and around twenty armed groups became involved in the war, which resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people. The two wars devastated the country. President Laurent-Désiré Kabila was assassinated by one of his bodyguards on 16 January 2001 and was succeeded eight days later as President by his son Joseph.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely rich in natural resources but has had political instability, a lack of infrastructure, issues with corruption and centuries of both commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation with little holistic development. Besides the capital Kinshasa, the two next largest cities Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi are both mining communities. DR Congo's largest export is raw minerals, with China accepting over 50% of DRC's exports in 2012. In 2016, DR Congo's level of human development was ranked 176th out of 187 countries by the Human Development Index. As of 2018, around 600,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring countries from conflicts in the centre and east of the DRC. Two million children risk starvation, and the fighting has displaced 4.5 million people. The sovereign state is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, African Union, and COMESA.

Democratic Republic of the Congo cuisine

The cuisine of the Democratic Republic of the Congo varies widely, representing the food of indigenous people. Cassava is generally the staple food usually eaten with other side dishes.

Kinshasa

Kinshasa (; French: [kinʃasa]; formerly Léopoldville (French: Léopoldville or Dutch Leopoldstad )) is the capital and the largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is situated alongside the Congo River.

Once a site of fishing and trading villages, Kinshasa is now a megacity with an estimated population of more than 11 million. It faces Brazzaville, the capital of the neighbouring Republic of the Congo, which can be seen in the distance across the wide Congo River, making them the world's second-closest pair of capital cities after Rome and Vatican City. The city of Kinshasa is also one of the DRC's 26 provinces. Because the administrative boundaries of the city-province cover a vast area, over 90 percent of the city-province's land is rural in nature, and the urban area occupies a small but expanding section on the western side.Kinshasa is Africa's third-largest urban area after Cairo and Lagos. It is also the world's largest Francophone urban area (surpassing Paris in population), with French being the language of government, schools, newspapers, public services, and high-end commerce in the city, while Lingala is used as a lingua franca in the street. Kinshasa hosted the 14th Francophonie Summit in October 2012.Residents of Kinshasa are known as Kinois (in French and sometimes in English) or Kinshasans (English). The indigenous people of the area include the Humbu and Teke.

Laurent-Désiré Kabila

Laurent-Désiré Kabila (November 27, 1939 – January 16, 2001), or simply Laurent Kabila (US: pronunciation ), was a Congolese revolutionary and politician who served as the third President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from May 17, 1997, when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, until his assassination by one of his bodyguards on January 16, 2001. He was succeeded eight days later by his 29-year-old son Joseph.

List of Presidents of the Republic of the Congo

This is a list of Presidents of the Republic of the Congo since the formation of the post of President in 1960, to the present day.

A total of six people have served as President of the Republic of the Congo (not counting one Acting/Interim Head of State and two collective presidencies). Additionally, one person, Denis Sassou Nguesso, has served on two non-consecutive occasions.

MONUSCO

The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or MONUSCO, an acronym based on its French name (French: Mission de l'Organisation des Nations unies pour la stabilisation en République démocratique du Congo), is a United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which was established by the United Nations Security Council in resolutions 1279 (1999) and 1291 (2000) of the United Nations Security Council to monitor the peace process of the Second Congo War, though much of its focus subsequently turned to the Ituri conflict, the Kivu conflict and the Dongo conflict. The mission was known as the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo or MONUC, an acronym of its French name Mission de l'Organisation des Nations Unies en République démocratique du Congo, until 2010.

The initial UN presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, before the passing of Resolution 1291, was a force of military observers to observe and report on the compliance on factions with the peace accords, a deployment authorised by the earlier Resolution 1258 (1999). Resolution 2348 (2017) provides the authority for the current MONUSCO mandate.

Since 1999, about US$8.74 billion has been spent to fund the UN peacekeeping effort in DRC. As of October 2017, the total strength of UN peacekeeping troops in DRC is approximately 18,300. More than thirty nations have contributed military and police personnel for peacekeeping effort, with India being the single largest contributor. In June 2011, it was reported that India is preparing to gradually scale back its military commitment to MONUSCO.

People's Republic of the Congo

The People's Republic of the Congo (French: République populaire du Congo) was a Marxist–Leninist socialist state that was established in 1969 in the Republic of the Congo. Led by the Congolese Party of Labour (French: Parti congolais du travail, PCT), it existed until 1991 when, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the country's earlier name was restored and André Milongo was named transitional prime minister.

President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (French: Président de la République démocratique du Congo, Swahili: Rais wa Jamhuri ya Kidemokrasia ya Kongo, Lingala: Mokonzi wa Republíki ya Kongó Demokratíki), is the head of state of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

The position of president in the DRC has existed since the first constitution – known as The Fundamental Law – of 1960. However the powers of this position have varied over the years, from a limited shared role in the executive branch, with a prime minister, to a full-blown dictatorship. Under the current constitution, the President exists as the highest institution in a semi-presidential republic. The president is protected by the Republican Guard.

The constitutional mandate of the then president, Joseph Kabila, was due to expire on 20 December 2016 but was initially extended by him until the end of 2017 and he continued to remain in post until a presidential election was held in December 2018 when Félix Tshisekedi was elected and took office on 24 January 2019.

Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (French: Premier-ministre de la République démocratique du Congo, Swahili: Waziri Mkuu wa Jamhuri ya Kidemokrasia ya Kongo, Lingala: Minisele ya Yambo wa Republiki ya Kɔ́ngɔ Demokratiki) is Congo's head of government.

Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

There are currently twenty-five provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The capital, Kinshasa city, is administratively equivalent to a province.

Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville)

The Republic of the Congo (French: République du Congo) was a sovereign state in Central Africa that was created with the independence of the Belgian Congo in 1960. From 1960 to 1966, the country was often known as Congo-Léopoldville (after its capital) in order to distinguish it from its north-western neighbour, also called the Republic of the Congo or Congo-Brazzaville. With the renaming of Léopoldville as Kinshasa on 1 June 1966, it was known as Congo-Kinshasa until 1971.

On 1 August 1964, the state's official name was changed to Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1971, the state's name changed to Zaire.

The period between 1960 and 1965 is referred to as the First Congolese Republic, and the current Democratic Republic of the Congo is the Third Republic.

Unrest and rebellion continued to plague the government until 1965, when Lieutenant General Joseph Désiré Mobutu, commander-in-chief of the national army, seized control of the country. Mobutu changed the country's name to the Republic of Zaire in 1971 and remained its president until 1997.

Visa policy of the Republic of the Congo

Visitors to Republic of the Congo must obtain a visa from one of the Republic of the Congo diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries or countries that can obtain a visa on arrival.

Women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have not attained a position of full equality with men, with their struggle continuing to this day. Although the Mobutu regime paid lip service to the important role of women in society, and although women enjoy some legal rights (e.g., the right to own property and the right to participate in the economic and political sectors), custom and legal constraints still limit their opportunities.The inferiority of women has always been embedded in the indigenous social system and reemphasized in the colonial era. The colonial-era status of African women in urban areas was low. Adult women were legitimate urban dwellers if they were wives, widows, or elderly. Otherwise they were presumed to be femmes libres (free women) and were taxed as income-earning prostitutes, whether they were or not. From 1939 to 1943, over 30% of adult Congolese women in Stanleyville (now Kisangani) were so registered. The taxes they paid constituted the second largest source of tax revenue for Stanleyville.

Zaire

Zaire (), officially the Republic of Zaire (French: République du Zaïre; French pronunciation: ​[za.iʁ]), was the name of a sovereign state between 1971 and 1997 in Central Africa that is now known as Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country was a one-party totalitarian dictatorship, run by Mobutu Sese Seko and his ruling Popular Movement of the Revolution party. Zaire was established following Mobutu's seizure of power in a military coup in 1965, following five years of political upheaval following independence known as the Congo Crisis. Zaire had a strongly centralist constitution, and foreign assets were nationalised. The period is sometimes referred to as the Second Congolese Republic.

A wider campaign of Authenticité, ridding the country of the influences from the colonial era of the Belgian Congo, was also launched under Mobutu's direction. Weakened by the end of American support after the end of the Cold War, Mobutu was forced to declare a new republic in 1990 to cope with demands for change. By the time of its downfall, Mobutu's rule was characterised by widespread cronyism, corruption and economic mismanagement.

Zaire collapsed in the 1990s, amid the destabilization of the eastern parts of the state in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide and growing ethnic violence. In 1996, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, the head of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) militia, led a popular rebellion against Mobutu. With rebel forces successfully making gains beyond the east, Mobutu fled the country, leaving Kabila's forces in charge as the country restored its name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo the following year. Mobutu died within four months after he fled into exile in Morocco.

Republic of the Congo articles
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