The Republic of the Congo, not to be confused although closely intertwined with the Democratic Republic of Congo, is one of Africa’s least-known nations. Although more than 5 million people live between its capital Brazzaville and port-city Point-Noire, the ROC is yet to make its true mark on the map. Here are some interesting facts about the Republic of the Congo.
Facts About Republic of Congo
1. The Republic of Congo is known by many different names.
Although the official name of the country is Republic of the Congo, it is also known as Congo-Brazzaville, the Congo Republic, and simply Congo. It is also referred to as ROC. The country derives its name from its major waterway, the Congo river, which in turn derives its name from the historic Kongo kingdom and its people, the Bakongo.
2. The Republic of the Congo shares land borders with 5 countries.
ROC shared land borders with a total of 5 countries. To its north lie Cameroon (494 km / 307 mi) and the Central African Republic (487 km / 303 mi), to the south the Democratic Republic of the Congo (1229 km / 764 mi) and Angola (231 km / 144 mi), and to its west lies Gabon (2567 km / 1595 mi).
3. The Republic of the Congo was once a French colony.
The land that constitutes the Republic of the Congo today was colonized by France in 1880 and first known as the French Congo, later as the Middle Congo. The Congo remained under French rule for 80 years until its independence in 1960.
4. Brazzaville was once the de-facto capital of France.
During World War II, when large parts of Frace were occupied by Nazi Germany, Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo served as the de-facto capital for France’s government in exile, also known as Free France. It also served as the location of the so-called Brazzaville Conference in 1944 which essentially marked the first step in the French decolonization of Africa.
5. About 70% of ROC is covered by rainforest.
The terrain of the Republic of the Congo is fairly diverse, but most interestingly, about two-thirds of ROC is covered by the Congolese rainforest which in itself spans over 6 countries.
6. Pygmies make up an estimated 10% of ROC’s population.
Pygmies are an ethnic group inhabiting large parts of central Africa and are best recognized for their short stature. In the Republic of the Congo, it is estimated that they constitute anywhere between 2% and 10% of the country’s population. Unfortunately, a large proportion of Pygmies are enslaved by the Bantu majority and suffer human rights violations every day.
7. Oil accounts for 89% of all ROC exports.
The Republic of the Congo emerged as one of Africa’s premier oil producers and exporters in the 1980s. During that time, the country’s GDP grew by over 5% annually, faster than most other African nations. While revenue in this sector has reduced in the last years, the petroleum industry is still leading in the Congo. Most oil is sourced off-shore by foreign companies.
8. Republic of the Congo has never won a medal at the Olympics.
Although the ROC has been competing in the Olympic games since 1964 (with the exception of 1968 and 1976) but has never won an Olympic medal until today. Most Congolese athletes compete in track and field disciplines such as Franck Elemba who finished fourth in the men’s shot put at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
9. The Republic of the Congo was a Marxist–Leninist state for over 20 years.
From 1969 to 1992, the country that is now the Republic of the Congo was known as the People’s Republic of the Congo. A single-party system had previously been instated in 1964 by president Alphonse Massamba-Débat. He was followed by Marien Ngouabi who proclaimed the country a Popular Republic in 1969.
The Congolese Workers’ Party (PCT) remained in charge until the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991. During these years, several socialist policies were introduced, such as nationalizing the means of production.
10. The main language used in the Congo is French.
French has functioned as a lingua franca in the Republic of the Congo since the French colonial era but is limited primarily to academic and administrative use. Besides French, the two more commonly spoken languages in ROC are the national languages Kituba and Lingala.
11. The main religion in the Republic of the Congo is Christianity.
Perhaps not a very surprising ROC fact is that the main religion practiced in the country is Christianity. About 86% of the population adhere to the faith, while the remainder mostly adheres to traditional faiths.
12. The highest peak in the Republic of the Congo is Mont Nabemba.
Standing at 1,020 m (3,346 ft), Mont Nabemba in the Sangha department is the highest peak in the Republic of the Congo. It is also the site of a major iron ore deposit that is actively being mined.
13. The national anthem of the Congo is called La Congolaise.
It was adopted following independence from France.
14. The Congo has the only Pan-Africanist flag utilizing a diagonal pattern.
The Congolese flag consists of three elements – a diagonal tricolor of green, yellow, and red. The green is said to represent the lush forests of the Congo while the yellow stands for the “friendship and nobility” of the Congolese people. The red band stands for the struggle of its people for independence.
15. The Republic of the Congo is ruled by a de-facto dictator.
Coming out of a bloody civil war, the current president Denis Sassou Nguesso defeated the former Lissouba government and took control of the country. In a controversial election in 2002, he managed to secure nearly 90% of the votes and was further re-elected in 2009 after the presidential term had been extended to 7 years in constitutional reform. He ran for president a third (unlawful) time in 2009 and has remained in power until today.
16. The currency of the Republic of the Congo is the Central African CFA franc (XAF).
The Republic of the Congo shares its currency, the Central African Franc, with 5 other countries. It was first introduced in 1945.
17. The ROC only has one UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The one and only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Republic of the Congo is Sangha Trinational and is, as its name indicates, shared with two other countries. The site consists of three national parks totaling around 7,500 km² (2,896 sq mi).
It is the home to many critically endangered species and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2012.