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Congo History Timeline

1300 - 1600

  • (1300s) Bakongo people crossed Congo River, founded Kongo Kingdom which included parts of (present day) Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola
  • (1400s) Two kingdoms occupied region: Loango in the south, the Binga pygmies in the north
  • (1483) Portuguese navigator, Diogo Cao and his crew were first Europeans to find mouth of Congo River
  • (1483) Nzinga Nkuwu was first African ruler contacted by Europeans
  • (1506) Kongo leader Nzingo Mbemba gained throne, converted to Christianity, changed name to Afonzo I
  • (1506) Afonzo I campaigned against African slavery by Europeans
  • (1543) Afonzo I died, succeeded by son Pedro
  • (1568) Alvaro I became king
  • (1568) Kongo Kingdom attacked by rebels opposed to King Alvaro, sent him to exile
  • (1576) Portuguese helped King Alvaro I regain his throne
  • (1600) Loango Kingdom evolved into decentralized administration with each province governing
  • (1622) Territorial conflict arose between Bakongo and Portuguese who founded colony of Angola
  • (1665) Four decades of war between Kongo Kingdom and Portuguese ended with Battle of Mbwila, left Kongo seriously weakened
1800s
  • (1839) French traders arrived along coast
  • (1849) Libreville (in present day Gabon) settled by free slaves
  • (1874) Henry Morton Stanley of Wales, began exploration of Congo River's course
  • (1875) Italian-born explorer, Count Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, began expedition to Congo for the French
  • (1880) Explorer Count Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza founded station at Ntamo on Congo River
  • (1880) French Protectorate created over north bank of Congo River
  • (1883) Count Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza developed territorial agreements in Loango Kingdom
  • (1886) Congo Francais (French Congo) and Gabon granted separate administrations, financial autonomy
  • (1891) France united territories of Congo Francais and Gabon
  • (1892) Berlin Conference acknowledged Colony of Congo Francais
  • (1892) Congo Francais partitioned into 40 concessions by the French, leased for 30 years; concessions included exploitation of rubber and ivory
1900s
  • (1902) Congo Francais was administered by Commissioner-General based in Libreville, Gabon and Lieutenant Governor at Brazzaville
  • (1902) Poll tax introduced
  • (1903) Congo Francais renamed Moyen-Congo (Middle Congo)
  • (1905) Count Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza sent to investigate concession companies and use of forced labor and brutality under Governor Emile Gentil
  • (1905 - 1906) Population in Middle Congo decimated by forced labor and porterage, causing major scandals
  • (1907) Following widespread outrage over brutalities of forced labor, France restricted role of concessionaires
  • (1910) Middle Congo became colony of French Equatorial Africa
  • (1921 - 1935) Congo-Ocean Railway was built between Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville, over 20,000 African forced laborers died
  • (1928) Forced labor, other abuses sparked revolt

1900s continued

  • (1934) French administration divided federation into 20 administrative districts, attempted reforms intended to reduce costs
  • (1937) Federation of 20 administrative districts reverted back to original structure
  • (1940 - 1945) Free French forces used Middle Congo as a stronghold during conflicts in World War II against Germans and Vichy regimes
  • (1944) At end of World War II, General Charles de Gaulle met with French colonial officials to discuss reorganization of French colonies in Africa
  • (1946) Middle Congo granted a territorial assembly, representation in French Parliament
  • (1946) Use of forced labor ended
  • (1956) All African subjects in French colonies granted universal adult suffrage
  • (1958) Chad, Gabon, Middle Congo became autonomous republics of French community
  • (1958) Middle Congo Province of French Equatorial Africa voted for independence as the Congo Republic
  • (1960) Congo became independent from France as Republic of Congo, Fulbert Youlou became president
  • (1961) New constitution was introduced, granting significant power to the office of president
  • (1963) President Youlou forced to resign following labor unrest, rising ethnic tensions
  • (1963) Alphonse Massamba-Debat became president, Pascal Lissouba became prime minister
  • (1964) President Massemba-Debat declared Mouvement National de la Revolution (MNR, National Revolutionary Movement) to be sole political party
  • (1968) President Massemba-Debat ousted in military coup led by Captain Marien Ngouabi; Alfred Raoul became prime minister
  • (1968) Following coup, Captain Marien Ngouabi took over control as Chairman of the National Council of the Revolution
  • (1969) Captain Ngouabi replaced Alfred Raoul as Acting Head of State
  • (1970) Ngouabi proclaimed Congo to be Marxist People's Republic with the Congolese Workers Party (PCT) as sole party
  • (1970) Marien Ngouabi became president of the Republic of Congo
  • (1970) Republic of Congo renamed to People's Republic of Congo
  • (1973) New constitution approved in national referendum, National Assembly created with regional councils, all members of PCT
  • (1973) Henri Lopes became prime minister
  • (1974) President Ngouabi reelected
  • (1975) President Ngouabi dissolved government, established new five-member Special Revolutionary General Staff to help govern
  • (1975) Louis Sylvain-Goma became prime minister

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