The one minute summary on Congo

This is it: one minute to the best info on Congo. This info alone will put you ahead of 99% of foreigners visiting Congo, garner the admiration of the locals who will instantly want to be your friends, and the envy of your fellow travelers. Read on. You’ll make friends faster that way, become a traveler instead of simply being a tourist, and also enjoy your travels a lot more.

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 is 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.

congo photo

Photo by Julien Harneis

That was it. I promised one minute.

For other condensed info check also my other posts on local culture (don’t make the mistakes I made), local food or local drinks. And when you call your friends to tell them you were by far the most knowledgeable at the party, do that with confidence that you’ll not get hit with a 6.99 per minute bill. You’ll also pick the local food from the tray, and order a local drink with confidence.

  1. Cultural Mistakes To Avoid in  Congo
  2. Does my current phone work in  Congo ? Tips to cell phone usage in  Congo
  3. Local food you should try in  Congo and No miss drinks in  Congo

Now, cheers to the most Congo aware person at the cocktail party.

What are the key history moments for Congo?

For several millenia, the land that now forms the DRC was inhabited by hundreds of small hunter/gatherer tribes. The landscape of dense, tropical forests and the rainy climate kept the population of the region low and prevented the establishment of advanced societies like Europe, Asia, or the Americas and as a result few remnants of these societies remain today. The first and only significant political power was the Kongo Kingdom, founded around the 13th-14th centuries. The Kongo Kingdom, which spread across what is now northern Angola, Cabinda, Congo-Brazzaville, and Bas-Congo, became quite wealthy and powerful by trading with other African peoples in ivory, copperware, cloth, pottery, and slaves (long before Europeans arrived). The Portuguese made contact with the Kongos in 1483 and were soon able to convert the king to Christianity, with most of the population following. The Kongo Kingdom was a major source of slaves, who were sold in accordance to Kongo law and were mostly war captives. After reaching its height in the late 15th-early 16th century, the Kongo Kingdom saw violent competition for succession to the throne, war with tribes to the east, and a series of wars with the Portuguese.

congo photo

Photo by TRF_Mr_Hyde

The Kongo Kingdom was defeated by the Portuguese in 1665 and effectively ceased to exist, although the largely ceremonial position of King of Kongo remained until the 1880s and “Kongo” remained the name of a loose collection of tribes around the Congo River delta. Kivu and the areas near Uganda, Rwanda, & Burundi were a source of slaves to Arab merchants from Zanzibar. The Kuba Federation, in southern DRC, was isolated enough to avoid slaving and even repel Belgian attempts to make contact with them beginning in 1884. After its peak of power in the early 19th century, however, the Kuba Federation broke apart by 1900. Elsewhere, only small tribes and short-lived kingdoms existed. The land that is now the DRC was the last region of Africa to be explored by Europeans. The Portuguese never managed to travel more than a one to two hundred kilometers from the Atlantic coast. Dozens of attempts were made by explorers to travel up the Congo River, but rapids, the impenetrable jungle around them, tropical diseases, and hostile tribes prevented even the most well-equipped parties from traveling beyond the first cataract 160km inland.

Famed British explorer Dr Livingstone began exploring the Lualaba River, which he thought connected to the Nile but is actually the upper Congo, in the mid-1860s. After his famous meeting with Henry Morton Stanley in 1867, Livingstone traveled down the Congo River to Stanley Pool, which Kinshasa & Brazzaville now border. From there, he traveled overland to the Atlantic. In Belgium, the zealous King Leopold II desperately wanted Belgium to obtain a colony to keep up with other European powers, but was repeatedly thwarted by the Belgian government (he was a Constitutional monarch). Finally, he decided he would obtain a colony himself as an ordinary citizen and organized a “humanitarian” organization to establish a purpose to claim the Congo, and then set up several shell companies to do so. Meanwhile, Stanley sought a financier for his dream project—a railway past the Congo River’s lower cataracts, which would allow steamers on the upper 1,000 mile section of the Congo and open up the wealth of the “Heart of Africa”.

congo photo

Photo by e³°°°

Leopold found a match in Stanley, and tasked him with building a series of forts along the upper Congo River and buying sovereignty from tribal leaders (or killing those unwilling). Several forts were built on the upper Congo, with workers & materials traveling from Zanzibar. In 1883, Stanley managed to travel overland from the Atlantic to Stanley Pool. When he got upriver, he discovered that a powerful Zanzibari slaver got wind of his work and captured the area around the Lualaba River, allowing Stanley to build his final fort just below Stanley Falls (site of modern Kisangani).

The one minute summary for Congo geography

The DRC is truly vast. At 2,345,408 square kilometres (905,567 sq mi), it is larger than the combined areas of Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, and Norway—or nearly three and a half times the size of Texas. The defining feature of the country is the second largest rainforest in the world. Rivers large and small snake throughout the country and with a okay road network remains the main means of transport to this day. The Congo River is the third largest river in the world measured by discharge—it even continues into the Atlantic, forming a submarine canyon roughly 50 mi (80 km) to the edge of the continental shelf! It also has the distinction of being one of the deepest rivers in the world with depths up to 220m (720 ft). Because of the huge volume of water, depth, and rapids, the Congo River is home to a large number of endemic species. The Congo River “begins” at Boyoma Falls near Kisangani.

Above these falls, the river is known as the Lualaba River, whose longest tributary extends into Zambia. The Obangui River forms the border between the DRC and CAR/Congo-Brazzaville before flowing into the Congo River. The Albertine Rifft—a branch of the East African Rift—runs along the eastern border of the DRC. It is responsible for Lakes Tanganyika, Kivu, Edward, & Albert. The rift is flanked by a number of extinct volcanoes and two volcanoes that are still active today. The Rwenzori Mountains and Virunga Mountains along the border with Rwanda are quite scenic, rising in the midst of lush tropical forests and sometimes eerily shrouded in mist. Several peaks are over 4000m (13,000 feet). Mount Nyiragongo contains one of only four continuous lava lakes in the world. The only part of the country not covered by lush forests is the south, around the Kasai Province, which contains mostly savanna and grasslands.

Best places to see in Congo

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. Mount Nyiragongo – You can site this mountain in Goma, which is located in the extreme eastern part of Congo. The Nyiragongo volcano with a red lava lake is another popular place for excursion. Congo River – The river being the largest one in the Western Central Africa, is a popular attraction. The river and its surroundings largely attract the people coming to this exotic country.