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Congo-Brazzaville (the Republic of the Congo) borders Gabon and the Atlantic (west), Cameroon and the Central African Republic (north), and Congo-Kinshasa and Angola (Cabinda exclave) (south and east).
Bantus displaced the Baka (Pygmy) hunter-gatherers around 1500 BC, evolving into the Kongo, Loango, and Teke kingdoms that traded in the Congo River basin. Portuguese explorers arrived in 1484 and Europeans created a trading hub at the mouth of the river.
Colonisation began in 1880 with the north taken by the French by treaty to become French Congo (including Gabon and the CAR), renamed Middle Congo in 1903. In 1908 France established French Equatorial Africa with Brazzaville as the federal capital, brutally exploiting the area for resources. Brazzaville was the symbolic capital of Free France in World War 2.
Renamed the Republic of the Congo in 1958 as an autonomous colony, it achieved full independence in 1960. The country adopted socialism and, after a coup, became a Marxist–Leninist state from 1970. It reverted back to democracy in 1992 but this period was interrupted by a civil war in 1997 when the government was removed.
Relative political stability since then, and exploitation of hydrocarbons, have helped the economy recover although there remains a considerable gap between rich and poor.
Congo-Brazzaville lies along the Equator. The capital, Brazzaville on the Congo River, is immediately across from Kinshasa, the capital of Congo (Kinshasa).
The country only has a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. The southwest comprises a narrow coastal plain overlying the Congo Basin whilst the interior is a central plateau between two older basins to the south and north.
Congo-Brazzaville has been producing oil onshore from the Congo Basin since 1960, first from the Pointe Indienne field near the coast then, after 1980, from several smaller fields in the same area.
The basin was thought to be almost depleted until oil was discovered at the M'boundi field in 2001. Onshore output may now expand, with the addition of an oil sand which is also being developed at Tchikatanga-Makola.
Shallow water production from the basin began in 1972 and rose to a peak in 1999 but is now in decline. New deep water developments then began to come onstream from 2008. Several fields have been developed although results have been mixed.
Gas production, which has been minimal, is forecast to grow by Globalshift as new infrastructure, and perhaps later an LNG plant, are installed to reduce flaring.
Map and National Flag
Land area (sq kms)
Oil prod (000s b/d)
Gas prod (bcm/yr)
Oil cons (000s b/d)
Gas cons (bcm/yr)
Congo-Brazzaville is a presidential republic, with the President head of state and head of government. Parliament is bicameral.
The National Assembly elects its members to 5-year terms. The members of the Senate are elected for a 6-year term by district, local and regional councils.
The oil and gas industry is overseen by the Ministry of Hydrocarbons with resources managed by the state-owned company, Société nationale des pétroles du Congo (SNPC), responsible for research and exploitation directly through its subsidiaries or in partnership with companies.
The country joined OPEC in June 2018.
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