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Africa-Congo

Background
Upon independence in 1960, the former French region of Middle Congo became the Republic of the Congo. A quarter century of experimentation with Marxism was abandoned in 1990 and a democratically elected government took office in 1992. A brief civil war in 1997 restored former Marxist President Denis SASSOU-Nguesso, and ushered in a period of ethnic and political unrest. Southern-based rebel groups agreed to a final peace accord in March 2003, but the calm is tenuous and refugees continue to present a humanitarian crisis. The Republic of Congo was once one of Africa's largest petroleum producers, but with declining production it will need new offshore oil finds to sustain its oil earnings over the long term.


Geography
Location:
Central Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Angola and Gabon

Area:
total: 342,000 sq km

Country comparison to the world:
64
land: 341,500 sq km
water: 500 sq km


Climate
tropical; rainy season (March to June); dry season (June to October); persistent high temperatures and humidity; particularly enervating climate astride the Equator.

Natural Resources:
petroleum, timber, potash, lead, zinc, uranium, copper, phosphates, gold, magnesium, natural gas, hydropower



People
Population: 4,366,266 (July 2012 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125.



Ethnic groups
Kongo 48%, Sangha 20%, M'Bochi 12%, Teke 17%, Europeans and other 3%.


Religions
Christian 50%, animist 48%, Muslim 2%.


Languages
French (official), Lingala and Monokutuba (lingua franca trade languages), many local languages and dialects (of which Kikongo is the most widespread).


Literacy
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 83.8%
male: 89.6%
female: 78.4% (2003 est.)



Government
Government type: republic
Capital:
name: Brazzaville
geographic coordinates: 4 15 S, 15 17 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Independence:
15 August 1960 (from France)

Legal system:
mixed legal system of French civil law and customary law

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Denis SASSOU-Nguesso (since 25 October 1997, following the civil war in which he toppled elected president Pascal LISSOUBA); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Denis SASSOU-Nguesso (since 25 October 1997); note - the position of prime minister was abolished in September 2009

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )

elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 12 July 2009 (next to be held in 2016)
election results: Denis SASSOU-Nguesso reelected president; percent of vote - Denis SASSOU-Nguesso 78.6%, Joseph Kignoumbi Kia MBOUNGOU 7.5%, Nicephore Fylla de SAINT-EUDES 7%, other 6i.9%

Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate (72 seats; members elected by indirect vote to serve five-year terms) and the National Assembly (137 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

elections: Senate - last held on 5 August 2008 (next to be held in 2013); National Assembly - last held on 24 June and 5 August 2007 (next to be held in 2012)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - RMP 33, FDU 23, UPADS 2, independents 7, other 7; National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PCT 46, MCDDI 11, UPADS 11, MAR 5, MSD 5, independents 37, other 22

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Cour Supreme


Economy Overview
The economy is a mixture of subsistence agriculture, an industrial sector based largely on oil and support services, and government spending. Oil has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy, providing a major share of government revenues and exports. In the early 1980s, rapidly rising oil revenues enabled the government to finance large-scale development projects with GDP growth averaging 5% annually, one of the highest rates in Africa. Characterized by budget problems and overstaffing, the government has mortgaged a substantial portion of its oil earnings through oil-backed loans that have contributed to a growing debt burden and chronic revenue shortfalls. Economic reform efforts have been undertaken with the support of international organizations, notably the World Bank and the IMF. However, the reform program came to a halt in June 1997 when civil war erupted. Denis SASSOU-Nguesso, who returned to power when the war ended in October 1997, publicly expressed interest in moving forward on economic reforms and privatization and in renewing cooperation with international financial institutions. Economic progress was badly hurt by slumping oil prices and the resumption of armed conflict in December 1998, which worsened the republic's budget deficit. The current administration presides over an uneasy internal peace and faces difficult economic challenges of stimulating recovery and reducing poverty. The drop in oil prices during the global crisis reduced oil revenue by about 30%, but the subsequent recovery of oil prices has boosted the economy's GDP and near-term prospects. In March 2006, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) treatment for Congo, receiving $1.9 billion in debt relief under the program in 2010..


Key Economic Indicators
GDP – real growth rate:
5% (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 77
8.8% (2010 est.)
7.5% (2009 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$4,600 (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 152
$4,500 (2010 est.)
$4,300 (2009 est.)
note: data are in 2011 US dollars
GDP – composition by sector

agriculture:4.1%
industry: 68.7%
services: 27.2% (2011 est.)

Labor force:
1.514 million (2007)
country comparison to the world: 128

Budget:
revenues: $3.85 billion
expenditures: $3.154 billion (2011 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6% (2011 est.)

country comparison to the world: 135
5.2% (2010 est.)

Agriculture – products:
cassava (tapioca), sugar, rice, corn, peanuts, vegetables, coffee, cocoa; forest products

Industries:
petroleum extraction, cement, lumber, brewing, sugar, palm oil, soap, flour, cigarettes

Exports:
$13.25 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 82
$9.621 billion (2010 est.)

Exports – commodities:
petroleum, lumber, plywood, sugar, cocoa, coffee, diamonds

Exports - partners
US 31.1%, China 29%, France 6.8%, India 6.1%, Spain 4.4% (2010)

Imports:
$3.727 billion (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
$3.186 billion (2010 est.)

Imports – commodities:
capital equipment, construction materials, foodstuffs

Imports – Partners

France 19.6%, China 11.7%, US 8.5%, Italy 8%, India 7.9% (2010)

Exchange rates:
Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs per US dollar -
473.7 (2011 est.)
495.28 (2010 est.)
472.19 (2009)
447.81 (2008)
483.6 (2007)

Communications

42,000 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 169
Telephones – mobile cellular:3.799 million (2010)

country comparison to the world: 114
Telephone system:
general assessment: primary network consists of microwave radio relay and coaxial cable with services barely adequate for government use; key exchanges are in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, and Loubomo; intercity lines frequently out of order
domestic: fixed-line infrastructure inadequate providing only 1 connection per 100 persons; in the absence of an adequate fixed line infrastructure, mobile-cellular subscribership has surged and now exceeds 90 per 100 persons
international: country code - 242; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2010)
Internet country code: .cg
Internet hosts: 42 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 213
Internet Users: 245,200 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 136