Basic information about the territory
- System of governance and political tendencies in the country
- Foreign policy of the country
The system of governance and political tendencies in the country
The Republic of the Congo (République du Congo) is a country in Central Africa. It lies on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the equator passes through it. It borders Angola, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gabon. The Republic of Congo, until then a French colony, gained independence in 1960. From 1969 to 1990, a Marxist regime ruled. It was not until the early 1990s that a multi-party system was introduced, and then a new constitution (adopted in 1992) allowed for more transparent electoral procedures and reforms of government institutions. A sparse population, vast natural resources and considerable foreign support have helped make the Congo a relatively prosperous country in sub-Saharan Africa. Check cancermatters to learn more about Republic of the Congo political system.
Congo is currently a unitary republic practicing a presidential system of power with the existence of multiple political parties, created on the basis of a constitution adopted in 1992 (amended in 2002). Political and executive power is held firmly in the hands of the president of the republic, who is elected for a 7-year term by direct popular vote. The president appoints the members of the government. The legislative power is represented by a bicameral parliament, consisting of the Senate (72 members elected by indirect voting for 5 years) and the National Assembly (137 members elected by universal suffrage for 5 years). Opposition parties were only legalized in 1990. A total of 100 political parties are already registered, the ruling Congolese Labor Party (Parti congolais du travail); only two parties (Union panafricaine pour la démocratie sociale and Union pour la démocratie et la République-Mwinda) can be considered the real opposition. Most others support the president or collaborate directly with his party.
The president is General Denis Sassou Nguesso, who, in addition to the position of head of state, also holds the position of prime minister and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Born in 1943, he was president for the first time from 1979-1992 and then again from 1997-2003 (re-elected 2003 and 2009). He also defended his post in the presidential elections held in March 2016. The elections were accompanied by opposition protests and police repression by the government. However, the situation calmed down in the course of 2017. The main security challenge for Sassou Nguessa’s government thus remains the crisis in the Pool area west of Brazzaville, which has been ongoing with greater or lesser intensity for the past 20 years. Parliamentary and local elections were held in July 2017. The main political party, the Congolese Labor Party (PCT), won the majority of seats and, as expected, there were no major changes in key ministerial positions.
Foreign policy of the country
At the regional level, Congo focuses on the CEMAC countries, of which Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in particular. The families of the Gabonese president and the Congolese president are related. Relations with Angola are also intense. Relations with the DRC’s main neighbor are strained, but the Republic of Congo is heavily dependent on the DRC for electricity supplies. France has traditionally had a strong position in the country, but recently China has been competing with it. Other important partners include the USA, South Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Italy, Spain and Germany. Congo is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, La Francophonie, ACP, the African Development Bank (ADB). Among other international organizations, it is a member of ACCT, AU, BDEAC, FAO, FZ, G-77, IBRD, ICAC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO and WTO. It is also a member country of the Economic and Monetary Union of Central African Countries (CEMAC – Union économique et monetaire de l’Afrique centrale). The agreement to create this union was signed in Brazzaville in 1964 (originally as the UDEAC community) and its members include Chad, Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and, since 1985, Equatorial Guinea in addition to the Congo. The main goal of CEMAC is the creation of a single market with free movement of goods, people and capital (www.cemac.int). However, the Union is functional only to a very limited extent. There is an imbalance between the positions of richer and poorer member states, the movement of goods and people is heavily controlled and restricted in a number of countries (Equatorial Guinea, Gabon). CEMAC is part of a wider entity – the “Economic Community of Central African States” (ECCAS; it also includes Burundi, Rwanda, Angola. Check prozipcodes for Republic of the Congo defense and foreign policy.
- Number of inhabitants: million.
- Population density: 1inhabitants/km2
- Share of urban population: 65% (most of which in two cities: in Brazzaville – approx. million inhabitants and Pointe-Noire – approx. 850 thousand inhabitants).
- Share of economically active population: million (36%)
- Annual population growth: 1.94%
Age structure: • 0-14 years 41% • 15-64 56% • 65 years and over 3%
There are approximately 61 ethnic groups living in the country. The most important ethnic group is the Congolese, who live in the west of the country between Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. Other significant ethnicities are the Sangha, the Teke East and the Mboši. The most represented foreigners are the French, Greeks, Italians, Portuguese, Chinese, Lebanese and West Africans (a collective term for traders originally from the French-speaking countries of West Africa).
30% of the population subscribe to the Roman Catholic faith, 20% of the population subscribe to various Protestant churches. 48% of the population are animists or practice some of the Afro-Christian religions, 2% of the population are Muslims.
The official language is French. The main local languages are Monokutuba (a creole based on the Kikongo language), spoken by about 60% of the population, and Lingala (about 20%). About 97% of the population speak the Bantu languages Kikongo, Lingala, Teke and Mboshi.