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Holidays in Congo, Republic of the

Understanding Congo, Republic of the

Following independence as the Congo Republic on August 15, 1960, Fulbert Youlou ruled as the country's first president until labour elements and rival political parties instigated a three-day uprising that ousted him The Congolese military took charge of the country briefly and installed a civilian provisional government headed by Alphonse Massamba-Débat

Under the 1963 constitution, Massamba-Débat was elected President for a five-year term but it was ended abruptly with an August 1968 coup d'état Capt Marien Ngouabi, who had participated in the coup, assumed the presidency on December 31, 1968 One year later, President Ngouabi proclaimed Congo to be Africa's first "people's republic" and announced the decision of the National Revolutionary Movement to change its name to the Congolese Labour Party PCT On March 16, 1977, President Ngouabi was assassinated An 11-member Military Committee of the Party CMP was named to head an interim government with Col later Gen Joachim Yhombi-Opango to serve as President of the Republic

After decades of turbulent politics bolstered by Marxist-Leninist rhetoric, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Congo completed a transition to multi-party democracy with elections in August 1992 Denis Sassou Nguesso conceded defeat and Congo's new president, Prof Pascal Lissouba, was inaugurated on August 31, 1992

However, Congo's democratic progress was derailed in 1997 As presidential elections scheduled for July 1997 approached, tensions between the Lissouba and Sassou camps mounted On June 5, President Lissouba's government forces surrounded Sassou's compound in Brazzaville and Sassou ordered members of his private militia, known as "Cobras", to resist Thus began a 4-month conflict that destroyed or damaged much of Brazzaville and caused tens of thousands of civilian deaths In early October, Angolan troops invaded Congo on the side of Sassou and, in mid-October, the Lissouba government fell Soon thereafter, Sassou declared himself President The Congo Civil War continued for another year and a half until a peace deal was struck between the various factions in December 1999

Sham elections in 2002 saw Sassou win with almost 90% of the vote cast His two main rivals Lissouba and Bernard Kolelas were prevented from competing and the only remaining credible rival, Andre Milongo, advised his supporters to boycott the elections and then withdrew from the race A new constitution, agreed upon by referendum in January 2002, granted the president new powers and also extended his term to seven years as well as introducing a new bicameral assembly International observers took issue with the organization of the presidential election as well as the constitutional referendum, both of which were reminiscent in their organization of Congo's era of the one-party state Currently, Congo holds a rotating seat in the UN Security Council

Elections in July 2009 were boycotted by opposition parties Inevitably, Sassou was re-elected, but with a questionably high turnout Demonstrations in Brazzaville were firmly put down by riot police

The Republic of the Congo's sparse population is concentrated in the southwestern portion of the country, leaving the vast areas of tropical jungle in the north virtually uninhabited Thus, Congo is one of the most urbanized countries in Africa, with 85% of its total population living in a few urban areas, namely in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, or one of the small cities or villages lining the 332-mile 534 km railway which connects the two cities In rural areas, industrial and commercial activity has declined rapidly in recent years, leaving rural economies dependent on the government for support and subsistence Before the 1997 war, about 15,000 Europeans and other non-Africans lived in Congo, most of whom were French Presently, only about 9,500 remain

Talking in Congo, Republic of the

The official language of the RoC is French The main indigenous languages are Kituba & Lingala

What to see in Congo, Republic of the

The "Academie des Beaux-Arts" is often considered a touristic site and is in itself and with its gallery a good place to meet the famous artists of this country Big names like Alfred Liyolo, Lema Kusa oder Roger Botembe are teaching here as well as the only purely abstract working artist Henri Kalama Akulez, whose private studio is worth a visit

What to do in Congo, Republic of the

Congo is the centre of popular African music The rhythms are irresistible, once you get the feel for it Try visiting a local bar or disco, in Bandal or Matonge both in Kinshasa, if possible with live soukouss music, and just hit the dance floor!

Buying stuff in Congo, Republic of the

There is an artisan mart, as well as boutiques in the market near the BDEAC Banque Developpement pour les Etats de l'Afrique Centrale Really beautiful jewelry, masks, paintings, and other artwork


The Central African CFA Franc is the official local currency The US dollar is not widely accepted Currently, the exchange rate is 530 CFA to the US dollar, but fluctuates daily All business is conducted in cash Small change is very scarce and hard to come by Do not accept torn or taped banknotes

Food and eating in Congo, Republic of the

There is good and healthy Chinese food at Osaka Restaurant, in Pointe Noire The average price for a meal was US$12-18 All meals were served in nice clean dishes, the restaurant is indoors and has AC, with a back-up generator, just in case Some of the workers speak English and French

There are several great restaurants in Brazzaville Any taxi driver can take you to one of these nicer places 5000 - 15000 CFA Most places are closed on Sundays Expect beers to be overpriced here 1000 to 2000 CFA

Drinking in Congo, Republic of the

Palm wine is a local favorite in the village Beer is the favorite in town next to Fanta, Coke etc There is also a local red wine SOVINCO imported from Gabon and the "brique", a liter of imported, mostly Spanish wine from the box

There is a big price range on beer 500 to 5000 CFA depending on what neighborhood and type of bar/restaurant you're at

Produced in Congo under Heineken supervision: N'Gok meaning "Crocodile", blond, Congolese Primus blond, Belgium, Central Africa Mütsig blond, French Alsace Region Guinness dark, Ireland Turbo King dark, Central Africa

Imported: Heineken Bavaria

If the above is too much there is also water of various local and imported brands sold in 15 litre plastic bottles

Accommodation in Congo, Republic of the

It's easy to stumble into a brothel, if you don't know any better

Cities in Congo, Republic of the

What do you think about Congo, Republic of the?, your travel companion

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