Cruising to the Republic of the Congo
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 to hope for new offshore oil finds to sustain its oil earnings over the long term.
Location: Western Africa, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, between Angola and
Territorial sea: 200 nm
Tropical; rainy season (March to June); dry season (June to October); persistent high temperatures and humidity; particularly enervating climate astride the Equator
Coastal plain, southern basin, central plateau, northern basin
Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
The economy is a mixture of village agriculture and handicrafts, an industrial sector based largely on oil, support services, and a government characterized by budget problems and overstaffing. 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.
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. Recovery of oil prices has boosted the economy's GDP and near-term prospects. The Republic of Congo may be eligible for an IMF-World Bank heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative in early 2006, provided it meets the strict fiscal and monetary targets set out for it under a new three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) with the IMF.
Airports: 32 (2005)
4,385 km (on Congo and Oubanqui rivers) (2005)
By type: cargo 1
Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals
Brazzaville, Djeno, Impfondo, Ouesso, Oyo, Pointe-Noire
Other Sailing Destinations in the Region