Often confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and sometimes-called Congo-Brazzaville is a nation slightly smaller than the state of Montana. This lush, green land lies immediately to the north of the great Congo River directly on the equator. Noted for its lowland gorillas and wild chimpanzees (the country contains over 80% of the world’s population of these species). The Congo is characterized by dense rainforest witch remain largely unknown and unexplored to this day. Wildlife and unexplored jungles aside the Congo’s greatest assets are the 3.7 million Congolese people that make this land there home.
Upon independence in 1960, the former French region of Middle Congo became the Republic of the Congo. A quarter century of experimentation with Marxism was abandoned in 1990 and a democratically elected government took office in 1992. A brief civil war in 1997 restored former Marxist President Denis SASSOU-NGUESSO, and ushered in a period of ethnic and political unrest. Southern-based rebel groups agreed to a final peace accord in March 2003, but the calm is tenuous and refugees continue to present a humanitarian crisis. The Republic of Congo was once one of Africa’s largest petroleum producers, but with declining production it will need new offshore oil finds to sustain its oil earnings over the long term.
The Republic of Congo is one of the most urbanized countries in the world with 70% of the population living along the 332-mile railroad line between the coastal city of Pointe-Noire and the capital city Brazzaville. The country also boasts one of the largest literacy rates among African nations at 85%. This is due largely in part by the fact that 95% of the countries children attend Primary School.
- The infant mortality rate of the country ranks at number 20 in the world. For every one thousand babies born, 80 of these infants die.
- The Congo ranks as one of the top 20 countries with people living with HIV/AIDS.
- Nearly half of the population is between the age of 0-15 years old.
- The average life expectancy is 54 years old.
- 62 different languages spoken with French as the official language.
The people of Republic of the Congo are largely a mix of Christians and animists, who account for 50% and 48% of the population respectively. The majority of Christians in the country are Catholic, 90%, while the remaining 10% comprises various other Christian denominations. Followers of Islam make up 2% of the population.
The weather in the Congo is a bit sticky. Average temperatures range in the high 90’s with humidity at 80% most of the year. The dry season with cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels occur between May and September.