The World Factbook (1990)/Congo

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 See regional map VII


Total area: 342,000 km²; land area: 341,500km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Montana

Land boundaries: 5,504 km total; Angola 201 km, Cameroon 523 km, Central African Republic 467 km, Gabon 1 ,903 km, Zaire 2,410 km

Coastline: 169 km

Maritime claims:

Territorial sea: 200 nm

Disputes: long section with Zaire along the Congo River is indefinite (no division of the river or its islands has been made)

Climate: tropical; rainy season (March to June); dry season (June to October); constantly high temperatures and humidity; particularly enervating climate astride the Equator

Terrain: coastal plain, southern basin, central plateau, northern basin

Natural resources: petroleum, timber, potash, lead, zinc, uranium, copper, phosphates, natural gas

Land use: 2% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; 29% meadows and pastures; 62% forest and woodland; 7% other

Environment: deforestation; about 70% of the population lives in Brazzaville, Pointe Noire, or along the railroad between them


Population: 2,242,274 (July 1990), growth rate 3.0% (1990)

Birth rate: 43 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 14 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 110 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 52 years male, 55 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 5.8 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Congolese (sing., pl.); adjective—Congolese or Congo

Ethnic divisions: about 15 ethnic groups divided into some 75 tribes, almost all Bantu; most important ethnic groups are Kongo (48%) in the south, Sangha (20%) and M'Bochi (12%) in the north, Teke (17%) in the center; about 8,500 Europeans, mostly French

Religion: 50% Christian, 48% animist, 2% Muslim

Language: French (official); many African languages with Lingala and Kikongo most widely used

Literacy: 62.9%

Labor force: 79,100 wage earners; 75% agriculture, 25% commerce, industry, and government; 51% of population of working age; 40% of population economically active (1985)

Organized labor: 20% of labor force (1979 est.)


Long-form name: People's Republic of the Congo

Type: people's republic

Capital: Brazzaville

Administrative divisions: 9 regions (régions, singular—région); Bouenza, Cuvette, Kouilou, Lékoumou, Likouala, Niari, Plateaux, Pool, Sangha; note—there may be a new capital district of Brazzaville

Independence: 15 August 1960 (from France; formerly Congo/Brazzaville)

Constitution: 8 July 1979

Legal system: based on French civil law system and customary law

National holiday: National Day, 15 August (1960)

Executive branch: president, prime minister, Council of Ministers (cabinet)

Legislative branch: unicameral People's National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale Populaire)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Suprême)

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Denis SASSOU-NGUESSO (since 8 February 1979); Prime Minister Alphonse POATY-SOUCHLATY (since 6 August 1989)

Political parties and leaders: only party Congolese Labor Party (PCT), President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, leader

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: President—last held 26-31 July 1989 (next to be held July 1993); results—President Sassou-Nguesso unanimously reelected leader of the PCT by the Party Congress, which automatically makes him president;

People's National Assembly—last held 24 September 1989 (next to be held 1993); results—PCT is the only party; seats—(153 total) single list of candidates nominated by the PCT

Communists: unknown number of Communists and sympathizers

Other political or pressure groups: Union of Congolese Socialist Youth (UJSC), Congolese Trade Union Congress (CSC), Revolutionary Union of Congolese Women (URFC), General Union of Congolese Pupils and Students (UGEEC)

Member of: ACP, AfDB, CCC, Conference of East and Central African States, EAMA, ECA, EIB (associate), FAO, G-77, GATT, IBRD, ICAO, ICO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, ITU, NAM, OAU, UDEAC, UEAC, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Benjamin BOUNKOULOU; Chancery at 4891 Colorado Avenue NW, Washington DC 20011; telephone (202) 726-5500; US Ambassador Leonard G. SHURTLEFF; Embassy at Avenue Amilcar Cabral, Brazzaville (mailing address is B. P. 1015, Brazzaville, or Box C, APO New York 09662-0006); telephone 83-20-70 or 83-26-24

Flag: red with the national emblem in the upper hoist-side corner; the emblem includes a yellow five-pointed star above a crossed hoe and hammer (like the hammer and sickle design) in yellow, flanked by two curved green palm branches; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia


Overview: Oil has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy, providing about two-thirds of government revenues and exports. In the early 1980s rapidly rising oil revenues enabled Congo to finance large-scale development projects with growth averaging 5% annually, one of the highest rates in Africa. The world decline in oil prices, however, has forced the government to launch an austerity program to cope with declining receipts and mounting foreign debts.

GDP: $2.2 billion, per capita $1,000; real growth rate -3% (1988 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.5% (1988)

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget: revenues $382 million; expenditures $575 million, including capital expenditures of $118 million (1988)

Exports: $912 million (f.o.b., 1987); commodities—crude petroleum 72%, lumber, plywood, coffee, cocoa, sugar, diamonds; partners—US, France, other EC

Imports: $494.4 million (c.i.f., 1987); commodities—foodstuffs, consumer goods, intermediate manufactures, capital equipment; partners—France, Italy, other EC, US, FRG, Spain, Japan, Brazil

External debt: $4.5 billion (December 1988)

Industrial production: growth rate -5.9% (1987)

Electricity: 133,000 kW capacity; 300 million kWh produced, 130 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: crude oil, cement, sawmills, brewery, sugar mill, palm oil, soap, cigarettes

Agriculture: accounts for 11% of GDP (including fishing and forestry); cassava accounts for 90% of food output; other crops—rice, corn, peanuts, vegetables; cash crops include coffee and cocoa; forest products important export earner; imports over 90% of food needs

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $56 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $2.1 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $15 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $338 million

Currency: Communauté Financière Africaine franc (plural—francs); 1 CFA franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Communauté Financière Africaine francs (CFAF) per US$1—287.99 (January 1990), 319.01 (1989), 297.85 (1988), 300.54 (1987), 346.30 (1986), 449.26 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 797 km, 1.067-meter gauge, single track (includes 285 km that are privately owned)

Highways: 12,000 km total; 560 km bituminous surface treated; 850 km gravel, laterite; 5,350 km improved earth; 5,240 km unimproved roads

Inland waterways: the Congo and Ubangi (Oubangui) Rivers provide 1,120 km of commercially navigable water transport; the rest are used for local traffic only

Pipelines: crude oil 25 km

Ports: Pointe-Noire (ocean port), Brazzaville (river port)

Civil air: 4 major transport aircraft

Airports: 51 total, 46 usable; 5 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 17 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: services adequate for government use; primary network is composed of radio relay routes and coaxial cables; key centers are Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, and Loubomo; 18,100 telephones; stations—3 AM, 1 FM, 4 TV; 1 Atlantic Ocean satellite station

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, paramilitary National People's Militia

Military manpower: males 15-49, 492,419; 250,478 fit for military service; 23,622 reach military age (20) annually

Defense expenditures: 4.6% of GDP (1987)