Capital : Brazzaville
Size: 132 000 sq m Popn: 2 368 000
The probable original inhabitants, the pygmies, were displaced by the Bantu. The Bakongo, Bateke and Sanga occupied the area and Portuguese slave traders arrived in the C16th.
France took over in 1889 and in 1908-10 the Middle Congo became a territory in French Equatorial Africa and was given its own assembly in 1946. It became autonomous within the French Community as the Congo Republic in 1958 and gained full independence under Abb¾ Fulbert Youlou in 1960. He lost support over pro-Western policies and Alphonse Massamba-Débat took over after the rebellion of 1963, establishing a Marxist-Leninist party whose radicalism led to the army coup under Major Marion Ngouabi in 1968.
In 1970 the country's name was changed to the People's Republic of the Congo and became a Marxist state although ecomomic links with France were retained. Ngouabi could not achieve stability or crush Ange Diawara's rebellion despite considerable popular support and was assassinated, after several attempts, in 1977 allowing Colonel Joachim Yhombi-Opango to take over in 1978. He was replaced in 1979 by Colonel Denis Sassou-Nguesso who liberalised economic policy and tried to reconcile various factions. He was elected for another five year term in 1984 and took increased control by combining the posts of head of state, head of government and president of the central committee of the ruling PCT (Congolese Labour Party).
In 1990, the PCT abandoned communism and renamed the country 'The Republic of the Congo' in 1991. A new constitution was approved and multi-party elections held. There was no overall majority but UPADS had most seats and Pascal Lissouba became the first democratically elected president.
The ethnic groups of Vili, Kongo, Teke, M'bochi and Sanga have French as their official language and Kongo and Teke are also spoken with Christianity and traditional beliefs being the religions.
This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.
Copies may be made for personal use only.
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