Congo was Once One of Africas Largest Petroleum Producers

by : Douglas Scott

Congo is situated in Africa, bordered to the north by Cameroon and the Central African Republic, to the south and east by the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the southwest by the Atlantic, and to the west by Gabon. The Cabinda Enclave, belonging to Angola, lies to the southwest, on the Atlantic coast.

Vast areas are swamps, grassland or thick forests with rivers being virtually the only means of internal travel. The vast River Congo and its major tributaries form most of the countries border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, drawing much of its water from the swamplands in the north of the country. The narrow sandy coastal plain is broken by lagoons, behind which rise the Mayombe Mountains. Most of the population lives in the south of the country.

Upon independence in 1960, the former French region of Middle Congo became the Republic of the Congo. A quarter century of experimentation with Marxism was abandoned in 1990 and a democratically elected government took office in 1992. A brief civil war in 1997 restored former Marxist President and ushered in a period of ethnic and political unrest. Southern based rebel groups agreed to a final peace accord in March 2003, but the calm is tenuous and refugees continue to present a humanitarian crisis.

The Republic of Congo was once one of Africas largest petroleum producers, but with declining production it will need to hope for new offshore oil finds to sustain its oil earnings over the long term.

Equatorial climate with short rains from October to December and long rains between mid January and mid May. The main dry season is from June to October each year.

Sights include the beautiful Basilique Sainte Anne, the colourful suburb of Poto Poto, the Temple Mosque, the markets at Oluendze and Moungali, the National Museum, the Municipal Gardens and the house constructed for de Gaulle when Brazzaville was the capital of Free France.

The first church in Congo was built in 1882 by a French priest and is located in Linzolo, 30km from the capital. The city is also home to the regional seat of the World Health Organization and a very good market.

About 60 percent of the country is covered by tropical forest, roughly half of which can be exploited economically. Forestry is thus an important part of the economy and, along with agriculture, employs about two thirds of the working population.