Congo Information

General Information for Congo

Country: Congo
Location: Central Africa
Independence: August 15, 1960
Nationality: Congolese
Capital City: Brazzaville
Population: 2,504,996
Important Cities: Poite Noire, Madingou, Owando
Head of State: Pascal Lissouba
Area: 349,650
Type of Government: Republic
Currency: 500 FCFA=1 USD
Major peoples: Kongo,Sanga,M'bochi,Teke
Religion: Christian 50%, African religion 48%, Muslim 2%
Climate: Equatorial
Literacy: 57%
Official Language: French
Principal Languages: Lingala, Kikongo, Teke
Major Exports: Wood, Petroleum, Natural gas
Pre-Colonial History The early history of the Congo was focused on three ancient kingdoms-the Kongo, the Loango, and the Teke. The Kongo Kingdom was established in the 14th century A.D. and developed a close commercial relationship with the Portuguese, the first Europeans to explore the area. With the development of the slave trade, the Portuguese turned their attention from the Kongo Kingdom to the Loango. When the slave trade was prohibited by European powers in the 1800s, the Loango kingdom was broken up into small regional centers of power. The Teke Kingdom lost its independence in 1883, when the King concluded a treaty with Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, placing Teke lands and people under French protection. The area occupied by the Teke was known as Middle Congo. In 1910, Middle Congo became part of French Equatorial Africa, which included Gabon, the Central African Republic, and Chad. In 1944 at Brazzaville, Gen. Charles de Gaulle promised reforms , including decentralization of political power in French Africa. Later in the 1950s, Middle Congo, under the name Republic of the Congo, and the three other territories of French Equatorial Africa became fully autonomous members of the French colonial community.
Post-Colonial History Congo became independent on April 15, 1960. The postindependence era was dominated by President Fulbert Youlou, but in August 1963, he was deposed from office in an uprising led by labor elements. Under the 1963 constitution, Massamba-Debate was elected president for a five-year term; his term ended abruptly in 1968, when Capt. Marien Ngouabi and other army officers toppled the government in a coup. In 1969, President Ngouabi proclaimed Africa's first "people's republic" and changed the name of the National Revolutionary Party to the Congolese Labor Party (PCT). On March 1977, President Ngouabi was assassinated. The third Congress of PCT held in 1979 elected Sassou-Nguesso President of the Central Committee and President of the Republic of Congo. In 1986, the Congolese Government signed a loan agreement for a structural adjustment program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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