Republic. Gained independence from Belgium in 1960.
Head of state:
President Joseph Kabila since 2001.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon since 2012.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs with two round pins are used.
Congo has many beautiful landscapes, with lakes and forests, waterfalls and wildlife. However, this is a vast country, with an almost non-existent transport infrastructure. It is mired in conflict and a long and intricate history.
A five-year civil war from 1998 to 2003 resulted in the deaths of around 3 million people, not only through the fighting itself, but also through hunger and disease.
Joseph Kabila, son of assassinated former president Laurent Kabila, was installed as president in 2001 and elected by the people in a historic presidential election in 2006. He now faces the formidable job of bringing back some level of normality to this scarred country, where the threat of civil war has not disappeared.
Visitors are advised to check the latest travel advice before visiting
Last updated: 04 March 2014
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the Likouala province due to a large influx of displaced people from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). UNHCR estimates around 110,000 refugees are currently in Likouala province.
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the Pool region.
There were reports of fighting and sporadic gunfire in Brazzaville on 16 December. This is believed to have been an isolated incident as a result of resistance during a military arrest.
There is no British Embassy in the Republic of Congo and the level of consular assistance the FCO can offer to British nationals is limited. If you need consular assistance you should contact the British Honorary Consul in Brazzaville, Mr Dominique Picard (telephone: +242 06647323 or 055513 251) or the British Embassy in Kinshasa, DRC.