Do you still consider the Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo to be one nation? Continue reading as we inform you about the Congo, a nation that is frequently misunderstood.
Africa is a continent with 54 countries, each with a wealth of natural resources and varied national customs, culture, and history.
No matter how rich our legacy is, it is necessary to learn more about it and, most importantly, to present the truth.
When you refer to the “Congo”, you are actually referring to one of the two nations that border the Congo River in central Africa.
There has been a lot of misunderstanding throughout the years regarding not only the names but also the significant similarities between these two nations.
Even if the two nations have comparable natural resources, languages, and cultures, it is still unclear what distinguishes them.
Conflicting colonialists from France and Belgium discovered the two nations in the 1880s across the Great Congo River, which at the time was a major trade hub.
There were diverse customs and languages as a result of the Belgian and French governments imposing their own norms during colonization.
In order to avoid misunderstanding once both nations gained independence in the 1960s, they agreed to remain separate while keeping their shared name of “Congo.”
Belgian Congo became the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with Kinshasa as its capital, while French Congo became the Republic of the Congo, with Brazzaville as its capital.
Congo has thus far been represented by two nations. The DRC is home to more than 200 ethnic groups, approximately 250 languages, and mineral deposits that are used to make components for technological devices like laptops and cell phones.
The famed Pygmy Tribe, on the other hand, is a completely separate tribe that calls the Republic of the Congo home.
Despite being divided by colonialism, both nations share the world’s deepest river and a vast rainforest that is home to a variety of wildlife.
The region’s native Bantu tribe, the Bakongo, gave rise to the name Congo. The Republic of the Congo, the smaller of the two countries, is situated in the northwest, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is larger, is situated in the southeast.
Each nation has its own fascinating history and statistics, despite the fact that they all share the same name.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Central African nation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, as it is officially known, is a landlocked nation with a 25-mile (40-km) Atlantic Ocean coastline.
Only Algeria is larger than it; it is the second-largest nation on the continent. About 320 miles (515 km) up the Congo River from the river’s mouth is where Kinshasa, the capital, is situated.
It is the largest city in central Africa and the official administrative, financial, and cultural hub of the nation.
The country is frequently referred to as the DRC or simply as Congo (Kinshasa), with the capital added in parentheses to distinguish it from the other Congo republic, which is officially known as the Republic of the Congo but is frequently referred to as Congo (Brazzaville).
About 80,000 years ago, people began to settle in the area that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Between the 14th to the beginning of the 19th centuries, the Kingdom of Kongo was still existent in the area.
When King Leopold II established the Congo Free State, Belgian colonialism got underway. In 1960, the Belgian monarchy granted the Democratic Republic of Congo its independence.
From 1960 until 1997, it was known as the Republic of Zaire after gaining its independence. Currently, this nation is referred to as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or Congo-Kinshasa.
Kinshasa, the largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is also its capital and is also referred to as “Congo-Kinshasa.” The Democratic Republic of Congo was once known as Zaire and the Belgian Congo before receiving its current name.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is bordered to the north by the Central African Republic and South Sudan, to the east by Zambia and Angola, to the south by Zambia and the Republic of the Congo, to the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the southeast by the Angolan exclave of Cabinda.
Through a 25-mile stretch of the Atlantic coastline at Muanda and the mouth of the Congo River, which empties into the Gulf of Guinea, the nation has access to the ocean.
With a total area of 2,344,858 square kilometers, the Democratic Republic of Congo is the second-largest country in Africa, slightly larger than Mexico and roughly one-fourth the size of the United States. The population is thought to be close to 86.8 million people (as of 2019).
Congo-Brazzaville—a.k.a. the Republic of Congo
The Congo is a small Central African nation that goes by the names Republic of Congo (French: République du Congo), Congo-Brazzaville, the Congo Republic, West Congo, the former French Congo, or simply the Congo.
The entire country of Congo is thinly populated, with more than half of its citizens residing in urban areas. The capital, Brazzaville, which is situated in the southeast of the nation and serves as a significant inland port on the Congo River, is the city with the most population.
Five nations border it, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is east of Congo-Brazzaville. Previously, the French colonized Congo-Brazzaville. Following its independence, the nation adopted the name Republic of the Congo.
The smaller of the two Congos, the Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo Brazzaville, is located on the western border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The largest city and the capital of the nation are both in Brazzaville. Previously, this region was part of the French colony known as Middle Congo.
There were 5.38 million people living in the 132,046 square mile Republic of the Congo as of the 2010 census (as of 2019).
The Kongo peoples, whose principal subgroups include the Sundi, Kongo, Lali, Kougni, Bembe, Kamba, Dondo, Vili, and Yombe, account for around half of Congo’s population.
The Makoua, Kouyou, Mboshi, Likouala, Ngala, and Bonga are among the Ubangi peoples. Subgroups are also established among the Teke and the Sanga, also known as “Gabonese Bantu.” The Binga Pygmies typically live in tiny bands as servants of the local farmers.
Unrest on the political and social fronts has occurred in both Congos. Since 1998, 3.5 million people have died as a result of war, sickness, and malnutrition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the CIA.
In the Republic of the Congo. After a brief civil conflict, Marxist President Denis Sassou-Nguesso regained control in 1997, scuttling the democratic transition that had occurred five years earlier. Sassou-Nguesso is still in charge of the nation as of 2020.
Similarities and differences between Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo
Despite having names that are nearly the same and cultures that are quite similar, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo can be distinguished from one another in a number of ways.
The Bakongo are a Bantu tribe that live in both nations and are the source of the name “Congo.”
The third-largest country in Africa is Congo-Kinshasa. Contrarily, Congo-Brazzaville is a fairly small country in both terms of size and population, with only five million inhabitants. There are more than 10 million people living in Congo-Kinshasa.
Although they had different colonizers, both nations achieved independence in 1960. While Belgium colonized Congo-Kinshasa, France colonized Congo-Brazzaville. Additionally, the national currencies of Congo-Kinshasa and Congo-Brazzaville are distinct.
The currency of Brazzaville is called the Central African CFA, while the U.S. dollar is the more generally accepted of the two primary currencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The other currency used in the D.R.C. is the Congolese franc, which travelers can exchange their money for.
Both Congo-Brazzaville and Congo-Kinshasa have French as their official language, along with the Lingala dialect of the region.
Despite this, there are numerous national languages spoken in both Congo-Kinshasa and Congo-Brazzaville. Some include Kituba, Mbochi, and Teke in Congo-Brazzaville.
While there are more than 200 ethnic languages spoken in the considerably larger country of Congo-Kinshasa, some of the most widespread include Kikongo, Lingala, Swahili, and Tshiluba.
Things to see and do
Despite their differences, Congo-Brazzaville and Congo-Kinshasa both provide incredible experiences for those seeking out the wonders of a less-traveled path. There are numerous national parks in both nations.
The largest and most ecologically significant national parks on earth, including Virunga National Park, Kundelungu National Park, and the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park, are all located in Kinshasa. For those who like to go on outdoor excursions, this nation is ideal.
Contrarily, Congo-Brazzaville has an equal number of national parks, such as Reserve de Lesio Louna, Côte Sauvage at Pointe Noire, Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, Odzala-Kokoua National Park, and Loufoulakari Falls. These locations are all ideal for boating, hiking, or just relaxing.