CONGOLESE Facts & Figures
Size: 132,047 square miles
Currency: Central African Franc
Weather / Climate:
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 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 Atlantic coast.
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.
Since the country is located on the Equator, the climate is consistent year-round, with the average day temperature being 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 south in the Niari valley 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.
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.
Taken from wikipedia
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a multilingual country where an estimated total of 242 languages are spoken (Ethnologue.com lists 214 living languages). The official language, inherited from the colonial period, is French. Four indigenous languages have the status of national language: Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili and Tshiluba.
When the country was a Belgian colony, it had already instituted teaching and use of the four national languages in primary schools, making it one of the few African nations to have had literacy in local languages during the European colonial period. During the colonial period both Dutch and French were the official languages but French was by far the most important.
French is the official language of the country since its colonial period under Belgian rule. Therefore, the variety of French used in the DRC has many similarities with Belgian French. The colonial language has been kept as the official language since the time of independence because it is widely spoken around the educated groups in the country, as it belongs to none of the indigenous ethnic groups and eases communication between them as well as with the rest of the Francophonie. According to the OIF, 6,080,000 or 10% of the population were proficient French speakers in 2005 whereas another 18,240,000 or 30,0% were partially French speaking. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is currently the most populous French-speaking country.
Kituba is a widely used lingua franca in Central Africa. It is a creole language based on Kikongo, a family of closely related Bantu languages. It is an official language in Congo-Brazzaville and Congo-Kinshasa.
It is not entirely accurate to call Kituba a creole language as it lacks the distinction between superstrate and substrate influence that is typical of creole development.
Taken from wikipedia
The Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) is a developing nation in central Africa. The largest cities are the capital, Brazzaville, located on the Congo River, and Pointe Noire, on the Atlantic coast. Parts of the capital and large areas in the south of the country were damaged during civil conflict in 1997 and 1998-1999. The last rebel group signed a cease-fire accord with the government in March 2003. Facilities for tourism are very limited.
Civil wars and militia conflicts have plagued the Republic of Congo, which is sometimes referred to as Congo-Brazzaville. After three coup-ridden but relatively peaceful decades of independence, the former French colony experienced the first of two destructive bouts of fighting when disputed parliamentary elections in 1993 led to bloody, ethnically-based fighting between pro-government forces and the opposition.
A ceasefire and the inclusion of some opposition members in the government helped to restore peace. In 1997 ethnic and political tensions exploded into a full-scale civil war, fuelled in part by the prize of the country's offshore oil wealth, which motivated many of the warlords.
The army split along ethnic lines, with most northern officers joining President Denis Sassou Nguesso's side, and most southerners backing the rebels. These were supporters of the former president, Pascal Lissouba, and his prime minister, Bernard Kolelas, who had been deposed by President Sassou Nguesso in 1997.
By the end of 1999 the rebels had lost all their key positions to the government forces, who were backed by Angolan troops. The rebels then agreed to a ceasefire. Remnants of the civil war militias, known as Ninjas, are still active in the southern Pool region. Most of them have yet to disarm and many have turned to banditry.
The Republic of Congo is one of sub-Saharan Africa's main oil producers, though 70 percent of the population lives in poverty. Oil is the mainstay of the economy and in recent years the country has tried to increase financial transparency in the sector.
In 2004 the country was expelled from the Kimberley Process that is supposed to prevent conflict diamonds from entering the world supply market. This followed investigations which found that the Republic of Congo could not account for the origin of large quantities of rough diamonds that it was officially exporting.
IMF debt relief to the country was delayed in 2006 following allegations of corruption.
· 01 January – New Year's Day
· 01 May – Labour Day
· 10 June – Reconciliation Day, Commemoration of the Conference on National Sovereignty
· April – Easter
· June – Ascension Day
· June – Pentecost
· 15 August – Independence Day
· 01 November – All Saints’ Day
· 25 December – Christmas
Christianity is the majority religion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, followed by about 95.1% of the population. Denominations include Protestant (including Kimbanguism) 46.5%, Roman Catholic 41.5%, Orthodox 0.1%, other Christian 6.9%, Indigenous 2.8%, Muslim 0.9%, Non-religious 0.7%, Hindu 0.1%, and other 0.5%. Kimbanguism was seen as a threat to the colonial regime and was banned by the Belgians. Kimbanguism, officially "the church of Christ on Earth by the prophet Simon Kimbangu", now has about three million members, primarily among the Bakongo of Bas-Congo and Kinshasa. The largest concentration of Christians following William Branham is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it is estimated that there are up to 2,000,000 followers.
71,712,867 Note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and gender than would otherwise be expected (July 2011 est.)
Restaurants in Brazzaville offer you interesting culinary experiences. Local food is familiar with French influences and uses a lot of chicken and sea ingredients such as fish, oysters and shrimps. One particularly popular dish is Brazzaville is mouamba, which is chicken in palm oil. Additionally the menus of most restaurants in Brazzaville include also chicken piri piri, which means tasted with strong pepper. If you want to play safe, there are also some western style restaurants available in Brazzaville. Most of the best restaurants inside the city are located on the banks of the Congo river, thus offering you also a fascinating view to admire while you eat.
Congo Brazzaville food recipes are centered around the same range of food items eaten all across this continent. The bulk of the Congolese food is made from cassava (yaka), palm soup (mouamba ngagi), rice, maize, beans, peanuts, various fresh vegetables, sweet potatoes, cassava leaves (ntoba), yams, plantain, games, fresh fish, eggs, and poultry.
Before the exploring Portuguese step their feet on the coastal soil of the Congo in the 1500s, Eleusine coracana, otherwise referred to as Finger millet or luku by the natives was the staple food in this beautiful African paradise.
Manioc was introduced by the European traders and has since gained the prime stage as the staple in both Congos (Congo Brazzaville and Democratic Republic of Congo - formerly Zaire).
We bring you a list of the top foods in Congo:
Cassava Leaves Soup
Also called Ntoba, this is a very popular Congolese soup dish prepared from chopped cassava leaves, cooked with palm oil, fresh fish and peanut butter.
It is served with luku (fufu) made from millet or cassava or nshima.
Palm Fruit Soup
Also referred to as Mouamba ngagi. It is a rich African soup dish (stew) prepared from using the squeezed juice from freshly boiled palm nut fruit. It makes a thick red creamy sauce, into which spices and fish - fresh or dried (smoked), is added with vegetables and cooked. Salt fish is also an alternative.
Okra can be included as a soup thickener or to give it a unique texture and flavour.
Again, this delicious African stew can be served with ground millet, yam, plantain, or any fufu.
This is another very popular Congo food. Referred to simply as as Madezo or saka madesu. This meal is cooked with white beans, meat or smoked fish, palm oil or vegetable oil, onions and other spices to taste,and vegetables like cassava leaves.
As expected with most legume based meals, this Congolese food is very rich in protein, filling and will be a good addition to a weight loss diet. Can be eaten alone with fruit desserts, or as part of main meal served with bread, yam, or fufu.
Peanut Butter Soup (Mouamba Ngouba)
Also referred to as muamba nsusu by ethnicities along the Congo river down to Angola. This is the Congolese version of peanut butter tomatoes stew. It is prepared with peanut butter, palm oil, chicken or salted fish, tomatoes, onion, red chilli pepper, and other condiments to taste.
Serve with fufu or rice or boiled plantain or yam.
Bouillon of Bush Meat (Bouillon Sausage)
This is considered a treat. A greater part of Northern Congo Brazzaville is sparsely populated, teaming with wild forest games. This meal is therefore more popular amongst the nomadic population and made from wild boars, porcupines, deers, elephants or monkeys.
Places to go in CONGO BRAZZAVILLE
There is an artisan mart, as well as boutiques in the market near the BDEAC (Banque Developpement pour les Etats de l'Afrique Centrale). Really beautiful jewelry, masks, paintings, and other artwork are available.
Brazzaville was a relatively well-developed and thriving city before the civil war began in 1997. Although there is still some fighting in the rural areas, it is a safe city to visit, but the infrastructure has been run down. Many new restaurants and hotels are being built and it can be a pleasant stopover to Pointe Noire or visits to the Congolese rain forests.
Basilique Sainte-Anne of the Congo, built by Roger Erell, 1949, one of the most beautiful modern churches in the world.
Palais du Peuple, nice colonial palace built in 1901, today presidential palace. Cathedral Sacre-Coeur is a Catholic church constructed by Mr. Augouard and offers views of downtown areas such as Poto Poto and Centreville, and Kinshasa, the capital of DRC across the river. Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza Memorial is a brand new marble construction in memory of Pierre Savorgnan and his family. Located next to the former U.S. Embassy. Le Palais des Congres – The Palace of the Congresses (across from the new Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Avenue Des Armees).
If you enjoy outdoor sports, bring equipment that you may need, such as picnic supplies, golf equipment, and sports attire. All equipment available locally is expensive.
Tennis Club facilities include 10 clay courts with lights, a squash court, a swimming pool, and a large bar. Balls are supplied free. This club is located on the dirt road that is adjacent to the road leading to the National Stadium (close to roundabout going to Maya Maya Airport).
Brazzaville Golf Club has a well-kept, nine-hole course (which by clever use of tees converts into an 18-hole course) with sand greens. It is on the grounds of the regional headquarters of the WHO, 20 minutes South from Brazzaville, and has a spectacular view of the Congo River and the rapids.
The market of Poto Poto is fabulous. This is the West African quarter. The Bakongo neighborhood is great for wandering around; at night there are a plethora of plastic-chaired bars and street food to choose from
Pointe Noire is the second city of the Republic of the Congo. It is also a major sea port and a tourist destination. The town has a very French feel to it, because of the colonial past and the still large number of French expatriates and tourists.
Diosso Gorge. Just outside Pointe Noire, there's the spectacular Diosso gorges. One can negotiate a taxi for the day to go there and forth.
Mazra Club, Songolo. Seaside in the district of Songolo there is the Mazra Club, a beach club near a stretch of mangrove. The mangrove ecosystem, the seaside location and the different private ‘paillottes’ make this a comfortable place to hang out. Be sure to ask the cab driver if he knows the place, because it's rather hard to find.
Conkouati-Douli National Park.
A five hour drive (in the dry season) North of Pointe Noire, near the Gabonese border is the vast and relatively scarcely visited national park of Conkouati-Douli. Elephants, gorillas and chimpanzees can be seen here. Be sure to strenuously ask your guide to do a tour of the Ngongo river as late as possible and to go down the river with the engine turned off to see elephants and gorillas.
Taken from www.wikitravel.org
Doing business in CONGO BRAZZAVILLE
The economy is a mixture of village agriculture and handicrafts, an industrial sector based largely on petroleum, 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.
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. The January 12, 1994 devaluation of Franc Zone currencies by 50% resulted in inflation of 46% in 1994, but inflation has subsided since.
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 Congo; it was re-admitted to the group in 2007.
The Republic of the Congo also has base metal, gold, iron and phosphate deposits. The country is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA). The Congolese government has signed an agreement to lease 200,000 hectares of land to South African farmers to reduce its dependence on imports.
Taken from wikipedia
CONGO BRAZZAVILLE: useful links