Brazzaville is the capital and largest city of the Republic of the Congo and is located on the Congo River.
The populous city of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, lies across the Congo River from Brazzaville. Together with Kinshasa, the combined conurbation of Kinshasa-Brazzaville has thus about 12 million inhabitants (although significant political and infrastructure challenges prevent the two cities from functioning with any meaningful connection).
Over a third of the population of the Republic of Congo lives in the capital, and it is home to 40% of non-agricultural employment. It is also a financial and administrative capital.
|POPULATION :||City: 1,827,000|
|TIME ZONE :|
|LANGUAGE :||French (official), Lingala and Monokutuba (lingua franca trade languages), many local languages and dialects|
|RELIGION :||Christian 50%, animist 48%, Muslim 2%|
|AREA :||263.9 km2 (101.9 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||320 m (1,050 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||4°16′4″S 15°17′31″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.99% |
• Female: 50.01%
|ETHNIC :||Kongo 48%, Sangha 20%, M'Bochi 12%, Teke 17%, Europeans and other 3%|
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+242|
Brazzaville was a relatively well-developed and thriving city before the civil war began in 1997. Although there is still some fighting in the rural areas, it is a safe city to visit, but the infrastructure has been run down. Many new restaurants and hotels are being built—especially by Lebanese immigrants—and it can be a pleasant stopover to Pointe Noire or visits to the Congolese rain forests.
The city was founded on 10 September 1880 on the site of a Bateke village named Nkuna by an Italo-French explorer, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, after whom the city was named.
The local leader, Makoko of the Téké, signed a treaty of protection with de Brazza which subjugated his lands to the French Empire. The city was built four years later in order to become a competitor with Léopoldville (now Kinshasa) which was built by the Belgians on the other side of the river. The site was occupied from October 1880 until May 1882 by a small squad of troops led by Senegalese Sergeant Malamine Camara, who prevented the land from falling into Belgian hands.
French control over the area was made official by the Berlin Conference of 1884. The city became the capital first of the French Congo, and then of French Equatorial Africa, a federation of states which encompassed Gabon, the Central African Republic and Chad. In 1924, the Congo-Océan railway was brought into service which linked Brazzaville with the port of Pointe-Noire. Construction of the railway resulted in the death of over 17,000 Africans which led to a revolt in 1928.
During World War II Brazzaville, and the rest of French Equatorial Africa, remained beyond the control of Vichy France. In 1944, Brazzaville hosted a meeting of the Free French forces and representatives of France's African colonies. The resulting Brazzaville Declaration was intended to redefine the relationship between France and its African colonies after the war.
The city has frequently been a staging ground for wars, including conflicts between rebel and government forces and between forces of the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola. It was also the scene of bloody civil wars throughout the 1990s which resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and which forced hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee the city.
Brazzaville, much like neighboring Kinshasa, features a tropical wet and dry climate.
Its wet season, which runs from October–May, is longer than its dry season, which covers the remaining months.
Brazzaville's driest months, July and August, see on average no significant precipitation.
Since Brazzaville is south of the equator, its dry season begins at around its "winter" solstice, which is the month of June. The city experiences relatively consistent temperatures throughout the course of the year.
Industries present in Brazzaville include machine shops, textiles, tanning, and manufacturing. As a key port on the Congo River, the city takes deliveries of raw materials, such as rubber, wood and agricultural products. From here they are generally sent onward to Pointe-Noire for export.
As the capital city of the Republic of Congo, many companies, government organizations and NGOs have regional offices in the city. The World Health Organization has its regional office for Africa located in Brazzaville.
Until the 1960s, the city was divided into European (the center of the city) and African sections (Poto-Poto, Bacongo, and Makélékélé). In 1980 it became a "commune" separated from the Pool Region and divided into nine "arrondissements": Makélékélé (1), Bacongo (2), Poto-Poto (3), Moungali (4), Ouenzé (5), Talangaï (6), Mfilou (7), Madibou (8), and Djiri (9).