CONGO, REPUBLIC OF THE
Capital | Brazzaville
Population | 4,125,916 (July 2010 est.)
Area | 342,000 SQ KM
Official Language | French
Holidays | Independence Day, 15 August (1960 – from France)
Currency | Cooperation Financiere en Afrique Centrale francs (XAF)
Time Zone | UTC +1
Best Time to Visit | June to September, when the season is dry
Connecting with the Culture | Enjoying the intoxicating blend of Congolese food, culture and music. Walking through Brazzaville’s colorful markets where you can pick up useful items such as caterpillars, bats, palm wine, and aphrodisiacs. Playing a rowdy game of babyfoot (table football) with friendly Congolese locals. Watching water hyacinths float down the Congo river and local marketers paddle their pirogues (traditional canoes) while sitting in a café in Brazzaville.
Read | Congo Journey by naturalist Redmond O’Hanlon
Listen | to Brazzaville, an atmospheric compilation of jazz, samba, and soul fusion tracks.
Eat | maboke, river fish cooked with chilli and wrapped in manioc (cassava) leaves.
Drink | a huge bottle of refreshing Ngok (‘crocodile’) beer
In a Word | Bonjour (hello)
Characteristics | A nation of lively, enthusiastic conversationalists; color; beaches; gorillas and chimps; a country of recovery; candlelit night markets; Congo River; elephants; civil war; towering office blocks housing foreign oil companies.
Surprises | Even Brazzavillois don’t know the street names in their city! Instead, everyone makes reference to landmarks.