The Republic of Congo, which is also known by title Republique du Congo, is an African nation that is located in West-Central Africa and lies on the Congo basin. The nation shares the basin with its larger neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the DRC. The name Congo-Brazzaville is also commonly used to refer to the nation because its capital is Brazzaville to distinguish it from its neighbor DRC, which is also referred to as Congo-Kinshasa.
Congo-Brazzaville shares its borders with the DRC to the south and to the east, with Cabinda, an Angolan enclave to the south-west, with Gabon to the west, and with the C.A.R (Central African Republic) to the north. The nation also has a 100-mile coastline with the Atlantic Ocean south of its border with Gabon and to the north of its border point with Cabinda. The nation occupies a total area of 342,000 square miles and is mainly sparsely populated with 37.8 persons per square mile. The majority of its 4.992 million people residing in urban areas such as Brazzaville. Only an estimated 34.6% of the population lives in rural areas.
Republic of the Congo’s History
The nation gets its name from the Kingdom of Kongo which used to occupy parts of the present-day Republic of the Congo. The kingdom comprised of a Bantu speaking community by the name Bakongo. Other kingdoms that occupied the present day nation are Loango, Kouilou, and the Tio. The slave trade boom between 1600 and 1800 in the river region and coast which had been initiated previously by the Portuguese led to increased interaction and interest from other European powers such as the British and French. The present-day Congo was established by the French when they signed a treaty over the jurisdiction of the area with the Toi ruler in 1880. The colony was later proclaimed as French Congo in 1891. The colony of Congo was joined with neighboring French colonies in 1910 to form the Federation of French Equatorial Africa with its administrative headquarters in Brazzaville.
Establishment of the Republic of the Congo
Congo was declared an overseas territory of French in 1946, and ten years later the Loi Cadre paved the way for an elected government in the colony. In 1958 Congo became a republic of the French Community. French Equatorial Africa as a federation was dissolved in the same year. Congo later attained independence in August 1960.
Congo-Brazzaville and the DRC Border
The two nations were formerly part of the old Kongo Kingdom. The nations share a 763-mile border and a rich history. The countries also have the closest capital cities after the Vatican and Rome with the flight distance between the two capitals being only 5 minutes apart. Part of the boundary is demarcated by River Congo which was previously known as Zaire but was changed when Congo Brazzaville’s eastern neighbor changed its name from Zaire to the D.R.C. Despite the cultural closeness and the people's close interaction, the two nations have had an estranged relationship with DRC accusing Congo Brazzaville of harboring rebels. In some areas, the Chiloango River forms the border between the Republic of Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo. The same river also forms about half of the border between Cabinda and DRC, and Angola.
Congo Brazzaville and Gabon Border
The Republic of Congo shares a 1595-mile boundary with its western neighbor nation of Gabon. Both nations are heavily reliant on natural resource exploitation. The two nations have relatively good relations with both maintaining embassies in the capital of the other. The two nations have also partnered in strengthening their fiber optic connection to the world through the Central African Backbone regional project. The Aina River, which is a tributary of the River Ivindo, originates from Cameroon and part of it forms the border between Republic of Congo and Gabon.
Republic of the Congo and Angola Border
The two nations share a 143.5-mile border in the Cabinda region which is an enclave separate from the rest of Angola. During the civil war that rocked the Republic of the Congo, Angola’s intervention through its army helped to decisively end the conflict. The small enclave of Cabinda has vast amounts of oil deposits that contribute immensely to the Angolan economy. The enclave which is a mere 37 miles across the territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo, however, it shares deeper cultural links with its neighbor’s, Congo Brazzaville, and DRC due to the Bantu Bakongo connecting and shared history with the Kakongo and Loango kingdoms. The enclave has experienced civil unrest over the years with Cabindan Separatist forces seeking to secede from Angola. The Republic of Congo is currently home to thousands of exiled Cabindan people. The nation has also hosted peace talks between the warring parties which resulted in a ceasefire agreement.
Congo Brazzaville and the Central African Republic
The two nations share a French colonial history and a 302-mile border. Both nations were in what was previously French Equatorial Africa before it was dissolved in1958. The Central African Republic has been engulfed in what has been termed as one of Africa’s longest and bloodiest civil wars. The Republic of the Congo currently houses over 120,000 refugees from its war-ravaged neighbor a majority of who are found in Betou to the north. The population of the Republic of the Congo is also concentrated towards the south while the population of the Central African Republic is concentrated in the Central and western regions. Currently, the government of the Republic of the Congo has been working with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to repatriate refugees who are willing to go back across the border to their home.
Congo-Brazzaville and Cameroon
Cameroon and Congo Brazzaville are both former French colonies and were in what was previously French Equatorial Africa before it was dissolved in 1958. The two nations share a 306-mile long border and have a population of predominantly Bantu speaking people.
Congo Brazzaville’s Maritime Territory
The country has a coastline extending 105 miles long and lays claim to maritime of territorial sea water of 12 nautical miles, an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles, and a contiguous zone extending 24 nautical miles.