The Republic of Congo – Travel Guide
Facts to assist you while travelling to the Republic of Congo.
Population of Congo
- 6 million.
- French, Kituba, Lingala.
- Central African CFA franc.
- 07:00 – 15:30.
- Saturday – Sunday.
- UTC +1.
- If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable.
- Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city.
- Denis Sassou Nguesso is the president of the Republic of Congo and has been in office since 1997.
- The Republic of Congo is situated along the Equator, and therefore has an equatorial climate. This entails that the weather is generally humid and warm. In the northern parts of the country the weather is hot and humid all year round, with no real dry season. While in the southern and central regions of the country, the weather is more tropical.
- The main airport in the Republic of Congo is the Maya-Maya Airport, located in Brazzaville. Other forms of transport in the country include land, air and water transportation. The country has a large port on the Atlantic Ocean at Pointe Noire and others along the Congo River at Brazzaville and Impfondo. The Congo-Ocean Railway connects Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. There are three main national highways; N1, N2, and N3.
- The main industries in Congo that contributes towards its GDP include petroleum extraction, cement, lumber, brewing, sugar, palm oil, soap, flour, cigarettes. The country’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture, oil, and support services. Oil is another primary source of government revenues and exports.
- The Republic of the Congo is a predominantly rural nation, as 56.98 % of the country’s population live in rural areas. There is a stark contrast between the way citizens live in the rural spaces compared to that of urban spaces, owing to the influence of western values. Rural communities in Congo take pride in their traditional way of life and tend to be more conservative. Congolese people are typically more formal when conducting business, especially with strangers. Politeness is emphasized and expected from all the members of the society regardless of their social status.
- There are over 200 different ethnic groups living in Congo, each with their own distinct customs and language. The most common language spoken in the country is Lingala, which is also the lingua franca. Other widely spoken languages include French, Swahili, and Kikongo. Due to the multitude of languages throughout the country, it is important that when greeting someone, you use the appropriate language for the person you are greeting. If you speak Lingala, the most common greeting you can use is “Mbote.” If you speak French, you can say “Bonjour,’’ if you speak Swahili, you can say “Habari,” and if you speak Kikongo, you can say “Moni.’’
- The Central African franc or CFA is the official currency of the Republic of Congo, as is for many other central African countries. The CFA is linked to the Euro by a fixed exchange rate of 1 Euro for 655.957 CFA Francs. The equivalence with other currencies is dependent on the fluctuations of the Euro.
- Public transportation is only available in the two main cities, so it is advised that you hire a car if you are travelling anywhere else in the country. Driving occurs on the right-hand side in Congo, and it is best to drive an SUV while here due to the country’s driving conditions and roads. The rules of the road in Congo are not implemented, and citizens tend to drive fast and aggressively. Going over the speed limit is common, and police officers often accept bribes.
- The Republic of Congo is a safe country to travel to. Petty crimes occur mostly in the capital cities, so make sure to take necessary precautions. It is better to travel in large groups, with a tour guide, or with a local who has experience and knows the areas. You will be required to follow the country’s health and safety protocols to ensure a smooth and secure visit. Although there are no laws against homosexuality in the Republic of the Congo, many locals and visitors who are part of the LGBTQ+ community have reported that they have faced discrimination and harassment. For your personal safety, it is best keeping public displays of affection to a minimum and avoid talking about sexual orientation to avoid causing offense.
- The Republic of Congo is renowned for its diversity and rich cultures. The pre-colonial expressions and celebrations typically revolved around music, dances, and the sculpting of tribal figurines. Some of this is still present in their cultures today, but to a much lesser degree. However, colonialism inevitably affected the traditional way of life of the locals, and since then the population has adopted more modern cultural aspects, due to the influence of western culture. However, locals still uphold some traditional systems. Children are expected to show respect to those older than them, and girls are taught how to care for their younger siblings and assist their parents from a young age. Elders and leaders deserve the most respect.
- The Republic of Congo has numerous stores, shopping centres, and malls that are modern like that of those in western countries, especially in its capital city. Therefore, shopping and entertainment should be no hassle.
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Written by Saudika Hendricks
Edited by Eloise Williams