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The Republic of the Congo, sometimes known as the Congo Republic or the Congo, is a Central African country with a short coastline on the Atlantic. It is bounded by Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Cabinda, an enclave of Angola that is under dispute.

The Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are the only two countries in the world named after the same river, which of course is the Congo River, which forms the border for a portion of the boundary between the two countries. The Ubangi River forms another portion of the border between the Congo Republic and the DRC.

The region was previously inhabited by pygmy people, a designation that could refer to the Aka, Efé, Mbuti, or the Twa, but they were displaced or subjugated by the Bantu.

Today, the Congo's population is concentrated in the southwest, leaving the large expanse of jungle in the north largely unpopulated. The forests were once the home of the pygmy people, but they have been evicted or not allowed to hunt on land that is now designated as national parks or heritage sites.

With roughly 70% of its population in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, or along the railroad that connects the two cities, the Congo is one of the most urbanized of the African countries.

Prior to the 1997 civil war, there are nearly ten thousand Europeans on the Congo, mostly French, but only a small number of these remain.

The first European contacts were in the late 1400s and, before long, the Bantus had a brisk business trading slaves captured in the interior. When the slave trade ended in the 1800s, the power of the Bantus diminished.

The French took control of the region in the 1880s and, by 1990 the entire region was a French protectorate. In 1908, the French created French Equatorial Africa, made up of what is now the Congo, Gabon, Chad, and the land that is now the Central African Republic. Brazzaville was its administrative center. The French exploited the area's natural resources, and used forced labor to build the Congo-Ocean Railway from 1924 to 1934.

During World War II, France ended its policies of forced labor and granted French citizenship to colonial subjects, as well as a degree of local autonomy. The Congo Republic became fully independent in 1960.

Its first president was overthrown in a coup three years after taking office, and all members of his government were removed from office, and many were arrested. Over the next several years, the Republic of the Congo has been through several coups and insurrections, including an invasion by Angolan troops, who provided assistance to coup leaders. President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who is currently in office, as of December of 2017, took office twice through a coup and was twice elected in controversial elections.

Although the Republic of the Congo has had a multi-party system since the early 1990s, it has been dominated by President Nguesso, whose government has been frequently accused of corruption, including the deaths of opposition members.

The Congo's economy consists of petroleum as its chief industrial export, but it also includes village agriculture, handicrafts, and support services. Although oil exports account for 65% of its gross domestic product, the government has borrowed more than it's bringing in, mortgaging its petroleum income. Congolese exports also include natural gas and diamonds, and its natural resources include gold, iron, and phosphate deposits that have not been exploited. Tourism is a marginal resource. Although the Congo contains much that might attract tourists, much of it is largely inaccessible to visitors, and travel advisories are discouraging.

The country's railroad system was constructed by forced laborers during the French colonial era, but remains operative. The Congo Republic also has two major international airports, more than six hundred miles of paved roads, and a large ocean port at Pointe-Noire, as well as other ports at Brazzaville and Impfondo.

The country's population are largely Bantu, Kongo being the largest ethnic subgroup, followed by the Laari, Teke, and Boulangui. Pygmies make up about 2% of the population today, and the Congolese Human Rights Observatory reports that the pygmies are held in a form of slavery to the Bantu, and treated much the same as pets.

Most of the country's population identify as Christian, with Islam claiming fewer than 2%. By edict, public education is free and mandatory for children under the age of sixteen. In practice, there are expenses that many cannot afford, and the government does not invest heavily in education. Nevertheless, nearly 80% of the country's population is literate, much higher among males than females. French is the language of its educational system, which does include a public university.

 

 

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