Flag description: divided diagonally from the lower hoist side
by a yellow band; the upper triangle (hoist side) is green and the lower
triangle is red; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia
Location: Western Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean,
between Angola and Gabon
Geographic coordinates: 1 00 S, 15 00 E
Climate: The climate is tropical; the year is evenly divided
into a rainy season (November-April) and a dry season (May-October). Average
annual temperatures range between 20 deg and 27 deg C (68 deg and 81 deg
F). Rainfall is abundant--a minimum of 1,220 mm (48 in) annually.
Vegetation includes great stretches of tropical rain forest, coastal and
swampy areas of mangrove trees and water grasses, and savanna grasslands.
Coconut palms and plantain trees are also common.
Independence: 15 August 1960 (from France)
Nationality: Congolese (singular and plural)
Capital City: Brazzaville
Head of State:
Area: 342,000 sq km
Type of Government: republic
Currency: 1 Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (CFAF) = 100
Major peoples: Kongo 48%, Sangha 20%, M'Bochi 12%, Teke
17%, Europeans NA%; note - Europeans estimated at 8,500, mostly French,
before the 1997 civil war; may be half of that in 1998, following the widespread
destruction of foreign businesses in 1997 Small minorities of Binga
Pygmies are also found there.
Religion: Christian 50%, animist 48%, Muslim 2%
Official Language: French
Principal Languages: French (official), Lingala and Monokutuba
(lingua franca trade languages), many local languages and dialects (of
which Kikongo has the most users)
Major Exports: petroleum 50%, lumber, plywood, sugar, cocoa,
late 15th century First visited by Portuguese explorers,
at which time the Bakongo (a six-state confederation centered South of the Congo River in Angola) and Bateke, both
Bantu groups, were the chief kingdoms.
16th century Portuguese, in collaboration with coastal
peoples, exported slaves from the interior to plantations in Brazil and São Tomé; missionaries spread
1880 French explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza established
French claims to coastal region, with the makoko (king) of the Bateke accepting French protection.
1905 International outrage at revelations of the brutalities
of forced labour, which decimated the population, as ivory and rubber resources were ruthlessly exploited
by private concessionaries.
1910 As Moyen-Congo, became part of French Equatorial
Africa, which also comprised Gabon and the Central African Republic, with the capital at Brazzaville.
1920s More than 17,000 were killed as forced labour used
to build the Congo-Ocean railroad; first Bakongo political organization founded.
1940-44 Supported the `Free French´ anti-Nazi resistance
cause during World War II, Brazzaville serving as capital for Gen Charles
de Gaulle's forces.
1946 Became autonomous, with a territorial assembly and
representation in French parliament.
1960 Achieved independence from France, with Abbé
Fulbert Youlou, a moderate Catholic Bakongo priest,
as the first president.
1963 Youlou forced to resign after labour unrest. Alphonse
Massamba- Débat became president with Pascal Lissouba as prime minister, and a single-party state was established
under the socialist National Revolutionary Movement (MNR).
1968 Military coup, led by Capt Marien Ngouabi, ousted
1970 A Marxist People's Republic declared, with Ngouabi's
PCT the only legal party.
1977 Ngouabi assassinated in a plot by Massamba-Débat,
who was executed; Col Joachim Yhombi-Opango became president.
1979 Yhombi-Opango handed over the presidency to the PCT,
who chose Col Denis Sassou-Nguessou as his successor.
early 1980s Petroleum production increased fivefold.
1990 With the collapse of Eastern European communism,
the PCT abandoned Marxist-Leninism and promised multiparty politics and market-centred reforms in an economy
crippled by foreign debt.
1992 Multiparty elections gave the coalition dominated
by the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (UPADS) an assembly majority, with Pascal Lissouba elected president.
1993 Yhombi-Opango appointed prime minister; violent strikes
and unrest after opposition disputed election results.
1994 International panel appointed to investigate results;
UPADS-dominated coalition declared winner.
1995 New broad-based government formed, including opposition
groups; market-centred economic reforms, including privatization.
1996 Charles David Ganao appointed prime minister.
1997 Violence between factions continued despite unity
government. Sassou-Nguesso took over presidency.