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Driving Directions Congo

CONGO, formerly a French colony and now a republic, is situated between Gabon to the west and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (previously Zaire) to the east on southern Africa’s west coast. The Congo river basin is in the northeast of the country, and the enormous River Congo forms most of the country’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Much of the country is a swamp, crisscrossed by river tributaries and a little over half the land covered with thick rainforests. The flatter coastal plain is essentially treeless with lagoons, and moving inland, and there are highlands. Congo’s capital, Brazzaville, lies very near to the border with the DRC (and its capital, Kinshasa). The majority of the population lives in the south, with roughly one-quarter in Brazzaville. The Congo has an equatorial climate with rains from October to December and January to May.

Cash crops, such as coffee and cacao, are mainly grown on large plantations, but food crops are grown on small farms usually worked by women. The natural resource of timber is an important part of the economy (about half the forests regarded as exploitable), and valuable hardwoods, such as mahogany, are exported. However, the principal source of wealth is offshore oil, accounting for about 90 percent of the Congo’s revenues and exports. There are other smaller mineral resources, including gold and copper, and a growing manufacturing industry.

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The country may be divided into four topographical regions. The coastal plain stretches northeast until it reaches the forested Mayombe Escarpment. The escarpment borders a vast plateau region to the north and east sometimes called the Central Highlands. Still farther northeast lies an expansive lowland area that includes a good part of the Congo Basin.

The Republic of the Congo has a coastline of 169 kilometers (105 miles) along the Atlantic Ocean.

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