Congo, Republic of the at English => English (The Britannica Concise) Of Explained:
Republic, W central Africa. Area: 132,047 sq mi (342,000 sq km). Population (1997): 2,583,000. Capital: Brazzaville. Nearly half of the population belongs to one of the Kongo tribes. The Teki are less numerous, as are the Ubangi people. Language: French (official), various Bantu languages. Religions: Christianity, traditional religions. Currency: CFA franc. A narrow coastal plain edges the Congo's 100-mi (160-km) stretch of Atlantic coastline, rising into low mountains and plateaus that slope eastward in a vast plain to the Congo River. The country straddles the equator; rain forests cover nearly two-thirds of the country, and wildlife is abundant. The Congo has a centrally planned, developing economy. Mining products, crude petroleum and natural gas, account for more than 90% of the country's exports. A 1997 transitional constitution vested executive power in the president and legislative power in a national transitional council. In precolonial days the area was home to several thriving kingdoms, incl. the Kongo, which had its beginnings in the 1st millennium AD. The slave trade began in the 15th cent. with the arrival of the Portuguese; it supported the local kingdoms and dominated the area until its suppression in the 19th. cent. The French arrived in the mid-19th cent. and established treaties with two of the kingdoms, placing them under French protection prior to becoming part of the colony of French Congo. In 1910 it was renamed French Equatorial Africa and the area of the Congo became known as Middle (Moyen) Congo. In 1946 Middle Congo became a French overseas territory and in 1958 voted to become an autonomous republic within the French Community. Full independence came two years later. The area has suffered from political instability since independence. Congo's first president was ousted in 1963. A Marxist party, the Congolese Labor Party, gained strength, and in 1968 another coup, led by Major Marien Ngouabi, created the People's Republic of the Congo. Ngouabi was assassinated in 1977. A series of military rulers followed, at first militantly socialist but later oriented toward social democracy. Fighting between local militias in 1997 badly disrupted the economy; a peace process was under way in 2000.