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Congo, Republic of the


Introduction: 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...

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History: First inhabited by indigenous people, Congo was later settled by Bantu groups that also occupied parts of present-day Angola, Gabon, and Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), forming the basis for ethnic affinities and rivalries among those states. Several Bantu kingdoms -- notably those of the Kongo, the Loango, and the Teke -- built trade links leading into the Congo River basin. ...

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History: The first European contact with the country dates from the late 15th century. But it was not until 1880 that an explorer, Pierre de Brazza, concluded the treaties that secured the new territory as a colony for France. In 1910 the Republic of Congo became the administrative centre of the Federation of French Equatorial Africa (AEF). It achieved independence in August 1960.

The post-independence experience of civilian government was short-lived. In 1963 a one-party Marxist-Leninist state was introduced. In 1968 there was a military coup. For the next 24 years, there was a succession of military governments – led by ...

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