A hippo swims down the Congo
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A hippo swims down the Congo

© Creative Commons / Peter Harrison

Republic of Congo Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

342,000 sq km (132,046 sq miles).

Population

4.6 million (2013).

Population density

13.4 per sq km.

Capital

Brazzaville.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from France in 1960.

Head of state

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso since 1997.

Head of government

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso since 1997.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs with two round pins are used.

The Republic of Congo is made up of a rich landscape of falls, swamps and rapids, with the northern country distinguished by huge tracts of virgin forest and an abundance of wildlife.

The forest is also home to several indigenous tribes who have maintained their traditional way of life. The narrow sandy coastal plain is broken by lagoons, behind which rise the Mayombe Mountains. The capital, Brazzaville, has a host of fascinating sights to see and places to explore, and local musicians enliven the atmosphere at night.

In 1960, the country now known as the Republic of Congo was granted full independence. Abbé Fulbert Youlou, a Catholic priest, was elected president and guided the Congo into a single-party state, in accordance with the trend throughout Africa.

Since independence, the country has been been plagued by civil wars and militia conflicts.The former French colony experienced the first of two destructive bouts of fighting when disputed parliamentary elections in 1993 led to bloody, ethnically-based fighting between pro-government forces and the opposition. In 1997, ethnic and political tensions exploded into a full-scale civil war, fuelled in part by the prize of the country's offshore oil wealth, which motivated many of the warlords.

By the end of 1999, the rebels had lost all their key positions to the government forces, who were backed by Angolan troops. Although a peace accord was signed with southern rebels in 2003, remnants of the civil war militias (known as ninjas) are still active in the southern Pool region.

Travel Advice

Travellers are advised against all but essential travel to the Pool region, as there is sporadic rebel activity there. This includes using the Brazzaville-Pointe Noire road and railway.

Travellers are also advised against all but essential travel along the Ubangi river in the Likouala region, where the river forms the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Avoid travelling at night throughout the whole country.

The threat from terrorism is low.

This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organisations for the latest travel advice:

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Tel: 020 7008 1500.
Website: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

US Department of State
Website: http://travel.state.gov/travel

Edited by Jane Duru
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