Congo Geography, The population is distributed among a wide range of ethnic
groups; except approximately 15,000 pygmies in the country's most northerly region are
all Bantu people. There are significant cultural differences between the
northern and southern peoples; it is a contradiction that can be found in the
country's political history.
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The birth rate is high, which together with a decreasing frequency of death
leads to a population growth of approximately 3% per year; this does not include the
refugee flows that occasionally cross the Congo River from the troubled
neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. The northern parts of the country are
very sparsely populated; a large part of the population lives in a narrow belt
from Brazzaville to the port city of Pointe-Noire. Here, there is strong urban
growth and a significant emigration from rural areas.
Less than 2% of the land is cultivated. In addition pastures and fields with
periodic cultivation (slash), but agricultural plays a minor role in the DRC
than in most other developing countries and the country importing 3/4 of
the food supply. Cassava is by far the most important crop.
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Up to two-thirds of the country is forest, and timber was long the country's
most important export product. In particular, forests in the southern part of
the Congo are exploited, while the northern part has very significant areas of
pristine rainforest, and there are still good opportunities to expand timber
harvesting. After 2000, exports of hardwoods have grown substantially.
Oil is the dominant product for the economy. The extraction began in 1960 as
offshore production off Pointe-Noire, handled by foreign companies. Crude oil
represents just under 90% of total exports.
The Congo River with the Oubangui tributary continues to play a key role in
transport in the inner parts of the country. The river is not navigable on the
stretch from Brazzaville to the Atlantic, and it was crucial to solve the
transportation problem of the many goods transported by the river early in the
colonial period. The construction of the railroad from Brazzaville to
Pointe-Noire was a tremendous task which took 14 years to complete. The work was
very difficult in the unhealthy climate and harsh terrain and was carried out
with extensive use of forced-release workers. The labor force was picked up in
the villages; therefore, famine broke out several times, and for the whole
of French Equatorial Africa It is estimated that the population around 1900 was
up to ten times larger than when the construction was completed in 1938. Now the
railway is heavily worn and requires large investments in equipment and railway
The road network is only expanded in the southern part of the country with
Brazzaville as the hub. North of Owando, the roads are harmless during the rainy
The vast majority of the country lies in the catchment area of the Congo
River and the tributary of Oubangui. The climate is everywhere
humid tropical and large areas are pristine rainforest. The majority is on a low
plateau (200-800 m asl) intersected by swampy river valleys. The wide coastal
plain with the town of Pointe-Noire is separated from the rest of the Congo by a
smaller, but very passable, mountain range. The wildlife is especially rich in
the north with, among other things, a significant stock of elephants. Some
smaller areas are classified as national parks. Congo does not have significant
tourism, which is due to the extremely humid tropical climate, the unstable
political conditions and the difficult transport conditions.