The Republic of the Congo is a state in Central Africa, a former colonial possession of France, from 1970 to 1991 - the People's Republic of the Congo.

The country is bordered to the west by Gabon, to the northwest by Cameroon and to the northeast by the Central African Republic, to the southeast by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south by the Angolan exclave of Cabinda, and to the southwest by the Atlantic Ocean. French is the official language of the Republic of the Congo.

The capital is the city of Brazzaville.

3,000 years ago, the region was dominated by Bantu-speaking tribes who built trade links leading to the Congo Basin. The Congo was formerly part of the French colony of Equatorial Africa. The Republic of the Congo was formed on November 28, 1958 and gained independence from France in 1960. It was a Marxist-Leninist state from 1969 to 1992 called the People's Republic of the Congo. The sovereign state has held multi-party elections since 1992, although the democratically elected government was overthrown in the civil war in the Republic of the Congo in 1997, and President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who first came to power in 1979, has been in power for more than 4 decades.

The Republic of the Congo is a member of the African Union, the United Nations, the Francophone Community, the Economic Community of Central African States and the Non-Aligned Movement. It has become the fourth largest oil producer in the Gulf of Guinea, providing the country with a certain degree of prosperity, despite political and economic instability in some areas and the unequal distribution of oil revenues throughout the country. Congo's economy is heavily dependent on the oil sector, and economic growth has slowed significantly since the fall in oil prices after 2015. With a population of 5.2 million, 88.5% of the country is Christian.



The Republic of Congo consists of several regions divided into departments. Here are the regions (roughly equivalent to provinces) of the Republic of Congo:

Brazzaville: This is the capital region and is located in the southwest of the country. It is the economic and political center of the country.

Cuvette: Located in the north of the country, this region is known for its lakes and rivers, including the Congo River.

Cuvette-Ouest: This is a neighboring region of Cuvette and is also in the north of the country.

Sangha: Located in the northwest, this region is known for its abundance of forests and wildlife.

Plateaux: The Plateaux region is located in the central part of the country and is characterized by hills and plateaus.

Pool: Located south of Brazzaville, Pool was formerly a contested area during the civil war in the 1990s.

Bouenza: Located southwest of Brazzaville, this region is known for its agricultural production.

Lékoumou: Lékoumou is located in the southeast of the country and is also of agricultural importance.

Niari: This region is located in the southwest and is rich in mineral resources such as petroleum and timber.

Likouala: Located in the northeast, this region is known for its waterways and lakes.

Kouilou: Kouilou is located in the southwest and also plays a significant role in the petroleum industry.

Pointe-Noire: Although Pointe-Noire is a city, it is often considered a separate region. It is the second largest city in the country and an important port for the export of petroleum.



1 Brazzaville. As the country's capital, Brazzaville is the most important economic and cultural hub. Here you will find museums, markets and historical attractions such as Brazzaville Cathedral and the Poto-Poto district.
2 Pointe Noire. This port city is the second largest city in the country and an important economic hub. Pointe-Noire's beaches are popular with locals and tourists alike.
3 Dolisie. Dolisie is a town in the southwest of the country and a good starting point for trips to the Lésio Louna Gorilla National Park, where you have the opportunity to observe gorillas and other wildlife in their natural habitat.
4 Ouesso. This city is located in the northeast of the country and is a good starting point for tours to the Odzala-Kokoua National Park, known for its diverse wildlife and lush vegetation.


Other destinations

1 Dimonika Biosphere Reserve. (Reserve de la biosphere de Dimonika). The Dimonika Biosphere Reserve in the Republic of Congo is an important protected area in the northwest of the country. It covers an area of approximately 4,400 square kilometers and offers a rich variety of animal and plant species, including lowland gorillas, forest elephants and impressive birdlife. The reserve is a UNESCO biosphere reserve and an important contribution to the protection of endangered species and ecosystems in Central Africa.
Diosso and its Canon, about 25km north of Pointe-Noire. The Kingdom of Loango had its center here.
2 Odzala-Kokoua National Park (parc national d'Odzala) . This national park is one of the most impressive wildlife sanctuaries in Central Africa and boasts a wealth of wildlife including gorillas, forest elephants, hippos and numerous bird species. The park consists of jungle, rivers and lagoons and offers opportunities for trekking and wildlife viewing. Safari camps open December to the end of April.
3 Lesio-Louna Nature Reserve (Réserve de Lésio-Louna) . This reserve is located northeast of Brazzaville and is a protected area for lowland gorillas. Visitors have the opportunity to observe gorillas in their natural environment and learn more about their way of life.
4 Sangha River (Trinational de la Sangha) . This river crosses the northwest of the country and offers opportunities for canoeing and boat trips. The area is surrounded by lush rainforest rich in wildlife.
5 Lefini Reserve (réserve de la Léfini) . This reserve is located south of Brazzaville and is known for its population of lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. It offers opportunities for trekking and wildlife watching.
6 Congo-Océan Railway (chemin de fer Congo-Océan) . The old railway line between Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire offers a scenic journey through the Congo countryside. It leads through jungles, rivers and small villages and offers insights into rural life in the country.


Getting here

getting there
Entry requirements
A visa is required to enter the Republic of Congo. The passport must be valid for another 6 months upon entry. In any case, a yellow fever vaccination certificate must be presented when submitting the application. Hotel bookings are required from tourists. Anyone who wants to stay longer than 60 days also needs a police clearance certificate.

The introduction of an eVisa has been planned since 2019. Some consular departments, such as those in Paris, have already introduced the procedure.

Embassy of the Republic of Congo in Germany, Wallstrasse 69, 10179 Berlin (Mitte). Tel.: +49 30 49400753, Email: . The embassy in Berlin is also accredited for Austria. Business travel visas are only valid for 30 days. The honorary consulate in Vienna does not issue visas. Open: Mon-Fri 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Price: 2021: €80 for 15 days, €155 for 3 months, multiple entry; Express surcharge €5.
Embassy of the Republic of Congo in Switzerland, Rue Chabrey 8, 1202 Geneva. Tel.: +41 22 7318821, email: Price: 80 sfr for 15 days; Business visa 15 days 130 sfr; Express surcharge double price.

Since May 2019, company representatives have been required to present a confirmation from the local social insurance company CNSS that the mandatory contributions have been paid when leaving the country (“certificat de non-redevance”).

The only airport accessible from Europe is in Brazzaville. Only Air France flies here from Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

African companies serve the Agostinho-Neto International Airport in Pointe-Noire regionally.

No cross-border passenger services.

No cross-border passenger services.

The possibility of entering the country by land from Gabon or Cameroon only exists on paper, as the roads are muddy and impassable, especially in the rainy season. Interruptions in the supply of gasoline lasting several days occasionally occur, even in the capital.

The international driving license is required and is only valid in conjunction with the national German driving license.

There are regular ferry connections from Kinshasa (DR Congo).

At least during the rainy season, June to December, there are rides on the Congo/Ubangi to Bangui (1120 km). Here you should first familiarize yourself with the security situation.


Local transport

For shorter river trips you can arrange a ride on so-called Baleinières, which are 10-20 meter long wooden boats. Freighters always carry passengers, but you don't expect service or comfort.

The 900km between Brazza and Ouesso take 9 days, or longer if the water is low. It takes just as long to cover the 850km between immunization and the capital. Large ships can only sail here from May to January.

Road traffic
Rental cars are almost non-existent in the Republic of Congo, so you largely rely on bush taxis. The road network is only paved around Brazzaville.

National roads
Brazzaville – Pointe Noire 550km
Brazzaville – Ouésso 815km
Dolisie – Moussogo – border with Gabon 230km
Pointe-Noire – Nzassi – border to Angola 40km
Pointe-Noire – Madingo-Kayes 130km
Doungou – Niali 160km
National road No. 1 from Brazzaville towards Kinkala and further via Mindouli to Pointe-Noiree is subject to tolls.

Air traffic
See the List of airports in the Republic of the Congo

Rail transport
The renovation of the railway lines in Kapsur, financed by the World Bank since 2010, is having some effect. Since Brazzaville station reopened in 2019, there has been irregular passenger traffic to Pointe-Noire and from there to Mbinda, but usually only once a week due to a lack of carriages.



The official language is French. Knowledge of French is mandatory as German and English are hardly spoken.

Bantu languages and the Creole Kituba, a simplification of Kikongo, are common. Lingala, which is widespread in the north, has become more important in recent decades.



The currency in the Republic of Congo is the CFA franc BEAC (XAF). Due to strong overvaluation, shopping is not a bargain. The rate is set at 655.96 per euro.

Plastic money is almost not accepted at all, and at the same time there is almost always a chronic shortage of small change. You should therefore take enough cash with you from home and exchange it in the local banks.



The food differs little from that in Gabon or western Congo-Kinshasa.


Public holidays

State holidays are New Year's Day, Labor Day on May 1st, Atonement Day on June 10th and national holidays on August 15th and November 28th.

In addition, there are the Catholic-Christian holidays taken over from the French colonial rulers: Ascension Day May 9, 2024, Pentecost May 19, 2024, All Saints' Day on November 1st and Christmas.



Open crime against travelers is comparatively rare, but opportunistic thefts occur, as in probably every area frequented by tourists.

You should no longer spend time outdoors at night, especially in the poorer districts of Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.

“Military operations in the southern Department Pool have ended. The rebels have been disarmed. Only travel to the Department Pool during daylight hours and by land.”



Medical care on land is completely inadequate, which is why it is definitely advisable to take out international travel health insurance with return transport to Germany. At most, there are halfway equipped clinics in the two large cities, but they remain far below European standards.

As in many African countries, tap water is undrinkable, so you should use pre-packaged bottles from the supermarket.

You have to prevent malaria tropica all year round. Since 2019, chikungunya fever has been reported in several provinces. There were Ebola cases in May 2020.


Rules and respect

There is a general ban on taking photos in sensitive areas, i.e. airports, military personnel, etc. This can also be enforced on palm oil plantations and clearing areas in the rainforest.

As in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, homosexual acts are viewed very negatively.



Since the 10th century, Batéké and other Bantu tribes who migrated from Nigeria settled in the lower Congo Basin. Various kingdoms arose there in the 13th century, but most of them were destroyed by the slave trade at the mouth of the Congo in the 17th and 18th centuries. The French mission began in 1766, and Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza began exploring the country in 1875. Around 1880, the Teke Empire of the Batéké became a French protectorate through a so-called protection treaty. A military post was soon founded on the Congo, from which the city of Brazzaville emerged. The founding of Pointe Noire began in 1883. Around 1891 the empire became the French colony of Congo (called "Middle Congo" - "Moyen Congo" from 1903). In 1910 it was declared, together with Gabon, the General Government of French Equatorial Africa. Brazzaville had around 6,000 inhabitants at the time, but grew rapidly due to the influx of migrant workers who came from as far away as Chad and Dahomey. This created a colorful mix of peoples and languages in Brazzaville. In 1911 the northern part of the colony went to Cameroon, and after the First World War the area was reincorporated.

In 1946 the Congo became a French overseas territory. According to the Loi Lamine Guèye law of May 7, 1946, all citizens of the Overseas Territories had the same citizenship as people in the mother country and thus the right to vote in elections to the French Parliament and in local elections; The passive right to vote is not explicitly mentioned, but neither is it excluded. But it was elected in two classes, which gave the population of French origin an advantage. This two-class voting right was only abolished on June 23, 1956 by the loi-cadre Defferre and confirmed upon independence.

Law number 47-162 on territorial assemblies of August 29, 1947 established the right to vote for these assemblies. Initially, universal suffrage at the national level was limited to Europeans and Africans who could read and write. In 1951 the right was extended to everyone with a valid identification document. This electoral system was renewed in 1952 and replaced in 1957 when the loi-cadre Defferre of 1956 came into force.

In 1958, the Congo became an autonomous republic in the Union Française and finally in 1960 the independent Congolese Republic (Congo-Brazzaville) (in contrast to the then Republic of the Congo (Congo-Leopoldville), today's Democratic Republic of the Congo on the left bank of the river). The capital had around 100,000 inhabitants at that time and around 400,000 around 1980. Article 4 of the Constitution of March 2, 1961 recognized pre-existing rights. Some sources cite December 8, 1963 as the date when women were granted passive suffrage. Since women were elected to parliament for the first time in December 1963, it is possible that this information is based on the first exercise of the right to vote, not the granting of it.

In August 1963, the pro-French regime of priest Fulbert Youlou was overthrown and a policy of moderate socialism was proclaimed. On December 31, 1969, Marien Ngouabi proclaimed the People's Republic of the Congo, which was dominated by the Parti Congolais du Travail.

Ngouabi was assassinated in 1977. In 1979, Denis Sassou-Nguesso restored the People's Republic. In 1982, projects began for the socialist restructuring of the economy and agriculture, as well as for the development of the poorly developed north of the country and the intensification of oil production.

In 1990, after the loss of support from the socialist states, the move away from socialism began and in 1991 the “Republic of the Congo” was finally proclaimed. Only from 1992 were there real democratic elections, in which Sassou-Nguesso was defeated by Pascal Lissouba. From 1997 to 1999, however, a paralyzing civil war raged in the country, which ended with the victory of the so-called Cobra militias of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who had returned from exile in France, over the militias of the incumbent President Pascal Lissouba and the former presidential candidate Bernard Kolelas, who was defeated in 1992. Since then, Sassou-Nguesso has been in power as the country's president without interruption.



The Republic of the Congo is located in the extreme north-west of the Congo Basin and is bordered to the east and south-east by the Congo River and its tributary, the Ubangi. The capital, Brazzaville, sits on the Pool Malebo, a sealike expanse of the Congo. Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is on the opposite bank.

The Republic of the Congo stretches on both sides of the equator and therefore has a tropical climate. The two rainy seasons occur from January to May and October to mid-December. The annual precipitation is 1400 mm to 1900 mm, less on the coast. After the narrow coastal plain with mangrove vegetation and wet savannah, the country rises to a high plateau that rises to a height of 1040 m at the border with Gabon. At 57.2 percent, the largest part of the country is covered by tropical rainforest. In the northeast, on the lower Ubangi and Sangha, are extensive wetlands. The Congo is only navigable above Pool Malebo.



Republic of the Congo had 5.5 million inhabitants in 2020. Annual population growth was +2.5%. A surplus of births (birth rate: 32.0 per 1000 inhabitants vs. death rate: 6.5 per 1000 inhabitants) contributed to population growth. The number of births per woman was statistically 4.3 in 2020. The median age of the population in 2020 was 19.2 years.



98 percent of Congolese see themselves as Bantus. Half of the population are the eponymous Congo, of which more than 40 percent Bakongo as well as Vili or Bavili (on the Atlantic). A quarter are Batéké with six percent and Bavili. Of the remaining quarter, the Mboschi make up the largest share with twelve percent and the Kuyu with eleven percent. Only one percent are pygmies - mainly in the forest and swamp areas of the northeast, and there are few Europeans.

In 2017, 7.6% of the population was foreign-born. The largest group came from neighboring DR Congo with 170,000 people. Foreigners are either refugees or are attracted by the comparatively high income level.



French is – as a legacy of the colonial era – the official language. In addition, the lingua franca Lingala and Kituba are recognized as “national lingua francas” in the constitution of the Republic of the Congo. Lingala is most widespread in the north, which is spoken by half of the total population. Kituba, on the other hand, also known as Kongo ya Leta, is spoken primarily by the Bakongo in the south of the country, but also serves as a lingua franca. The most important languages of the individual ethnic groups are the conventional Kikongo as well as Mbosi, Koyo and Teke.



The majority of the total population of the Republic of Congo is Christian (about 33.1 percent Catholic, 22.3 percent Revivalist/Christian Revival, 19.9 percent Protestant, 2.2 percent Salvationist, about 1.5 percent Kimbanguist, and New Apostolic Christians). Another large part of the population adheres to traditional religions and around 1.6 percent now belong to smaller Muslim communities. 11.3 percent of the population are non-denominational.



In 1950, the first magazine for politics and culture (Liaison) was founded in Brazzaville. also published evidence of oral culture. Today in the Republic of Congo there is a relatively developed literary and theater scene, especially in Brazzaville but also in Pointe Noire, which is shaped by the French realists and by the Nouveau Roman as well as by folk traditions, fairy tales, surrealism and magic. In his novels Demain j'aurais vingt ans and Les cigognes sont immortelles, the author Alain Mabanckou tells of a youth in Pointe Noire against the background of the country's recent history. Above all, the theater builds on village storytelling traditions. Mention should be made, inter alia, the collaborator of the liaison and playwright Sylvain Bemba, the chemist and novelist Emmanuel Dongala (b. 1941), who now lives in the USA (group photo on the riverbank) and the former Prime Minister and novelist Henri Lopès, a critic of Négritude (Tribaliques, 1971 ).

In the multicultural Poto-Poto district of Brazzaville, populated by migrant workers from the north at the beginning of the 20th century, a painting tradition of its own developed (Marcel Gotène, Eugène Malonga, Jacques Zigoma). Brazzaville had a fine artistic pottery tradition, but it has largely been forgotten. The State Art National Museum has been closed for years, but has an extensive inventory of valuable anthropological objects and contemporary paintings. Traditional themes dominate in music and dance. Gestures and facial expressions make it easier to understand language in a multicultural environment.



Despite extensive resources of oil, tropical rainforest and agricultural land as well as the low population density, the economy is still characterized by mass unemployment and poor conditions of government, administration and transport structures as well as a high demand for food imports. A major cause here is corruption. In addition, the three civil wars of the 1990s caused material damage estimated at two to three billion euros.

The state used to be the largest employer in the country with 80,000 employees. The World Bank and other international financial institutions forced the Republic of Congo to introduce reforms in this area in order to reduce the bureaucracy, the maintenance of which consumed more than a fifth of the gross domestic product in 1993.

The end of the civil war was also the prerequisite for positive economic development. It was boosted by the government's €780 million post-war reconstruction program, which was largely self-financed but also supported by the World Bank.

Nevertheless, the population was denied participation in the country's wealth of resources due to the unprofessional handling of state finances and widespread corruption. 54 percent lived in absolute poverty in 2014. The unemployment rate in the same year was reported to be 36%.

Efforts to increase diversification have not been very successful so far. One focus was on expanding sustainable forestry, which is already being practiced on a large scale. It is the country's second most important economic sector, but in 2014 timber exports only accounted for around 2% of total exports. Other industries include the textile, cement and chemical industries.


Key figures

Gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017 is estimated at $26.4 billion. In purchasing power parity terms, GDP is $28.9 billion, or $6,600 per capita. This makes the Republic of Congo one of the richer countries in Africa and has a GDP per capita almost ten times higher than in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. However, wealth is distributed extremely unevenly and the real standard of living is hardly higher than in neighboring countries. Due to falling raw material prices, economic output fell by 4.6% in 2017 and national debt is now around 120% of GDP.



Although agriculture employs 40 percent of the working population, it only contributes eight percent to the overall economy and is far from covering domestic food needs. In order to meet the population's food needs, around 70 percent of food had to be imported in 2014, especially wheat, rice and corn.

For self-sufficiency, cassava, corn, peanuts, yams and plantains are grown, and small amounts of coffee, cocoa and sugar cane are grown for export. Livestock farming hardly takes place, mainly because of the tsetse fly.


Mineral resources

Since the 1980s, the state's most important source of income has been the extraction, processing and export of crude oil. Over 90 percent of export revenue, 80 percent of state revenue and 65 percent of gross domestic product come from this business. This sector of the economy was largely spared from the civil war. The growth since around 2006 has been based solely on the oil industry, so the country's dependence on oil has not decreased in the last 10 years. In 2014, the Republic of Congo was the fourth largest sub-Saharan oil producer. The oil is produced by TotalEnergies and ENI, and increasingly also by Chinese companies. On June 22, 2018, the country became a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The deposits of potash salts, iron and copper ores, gold, diamonds, phosphate, bauxite and other mineral resources have so far been little exploited. In 2004, a project to mine and process 60,000 tons of magnesium per year was planned, which has not yet been implemented in 2014.


Foreign trade

The largest foreign trade partners are the United States, South Korea and the People's Republic of China. After record growth in previous years, the export surplus fell again in 2003, but the balance remains positive, as it has been for years, at the equivalent of 1.5 billion euros. In 2010, the country had its debts completely canceled by international creditors.

The country is a member of the Economic Community of Central African States and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community. The national currency, the CFA franc, is linked to the euro via the French vault at a fixed exchange rate of 1 to 656. The Republic of Congo is also a member of the Organization for the Approximation of Trade Law in Africa (OHADA).


State budget

In 2016, the state budget included expenditures of the equivalent of $4.233 billion, compared to revenues of the equivalent of $3.562 billion. This results in a budget deficit of 8.4 percent of GDP. National debt was 83.0% of economic output in 2016.