Brazzaville (French pronunciation: [bʁazavil], Kongo: Balazavile) is the capital and largest city of the Republic of the Congo (Congo Republic). Constituting the financial and administrative centre of the country, it is located on the north side of the Congo River, opposite Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo). The population of the capital is estimated to exceed 1.8 million residents, comprising more than a third of the national populace, 40% of whom are employed in non-agricultural professions. During World War II, Brazzaville was also the capital of Free France between 1940 and 1942.


Brazzaville's downtown
Map of the Republic of Congo showing Brazzaville.
Brazzaville (Africa)
Coordinates: 4°16′4″S 15°17′31″E
CountryRepublic of the Congo
Capital districtBrazzaville
Founded byPierre Savorgnan de Brazza
  MayorChristian Roger Okemba (PCT)
  Total263.9 km2 (101.9 sq mi)
320 m (1,050 ft)
 (2007 census)[1][2]
  Density5,200/km2 (13,000/sq mi)
Area code(s)242
HDI (2017)0.642[3]

In 2013, Brazzaville was designated a City of Music by UNESCO, and has been a member of the Creative Cities Network since then.[4]


Brazzaville lies on a large area to the north of the Congo River, near the Pool Malebo. Mbamu, a large island within the Pool, is part of the Republic of Congo's territory.

Brazzaville is 506 kilometres (314 miles) inland from the Atlantic Ocean and approximately 474 kilometres (295 miles) south of the equator. The city is a commune that is separated from the other regions of the republic; it is surrounded by the Pool Department. Around the city are large plains. The town is relatively flat, and situated at an altitude of 317 metres (1,040 feet).

To distinguish between the two African countries with "Congo" in their names, the Republic of the Congo is sometimes called Congo-Brazzaville, as opposed to Congo-Kinshasa (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known from 1971 to 1997 as Zaïre, the capital of which is Kinshasa). Kinshasa lies on the southern bank of the Congo, directly across from Brazzaville. This is the only place in the world where two national capital cities are on opposite banks of a river, within sight of each other.[5] Since the mid-19th century the two cities have been rivals in trade, sports and power.[5] There have been proposals to connect the two capitals by a Brazzaville–Kinshasa Bridge. In 2018, the African Development Bank and Africa50 signed a deal with both governments to develop the project.[6]


Brazzaville was founded by the French colonial empire upon an existing indigenous Bateke settlement called Ncuna, as part of the Scramble for Africa.[7] The Italian-born explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, granted French citizenship in 1874, officially founded the settlement which commemorates his name on 10 September 1880.[8] [7] The local King, Makoko of the Téké, signed a treaty of protection with de Brazza which subjugated his lands to the French Empire.[7] From October 1880 until May 1882 a small squad of troops led by Senegalese Sergeant Malamine Camara occupied the site, preventing the land from falling into Belgian hands. The first large scale building work of the city only began four years later in order as a competitor with Léopoldville (now Kinshasa) which Belgian colonists built on the other side of the river.[7]

The Berlin Conference of 1884 placed French control over the area on an official footing. The city became the capital of the French Congo in 1904.[9] It then continued as capital with the creation of French Equatorial Africa, a federation founded in 1910, of French colonial states which encompassed Gabon, the Central African Republic and Chad until 1960.[9] 1910–1915 saw the construction of major municipal buildings, including a courthouse and headquarters for the Banque de l'AEF and Institut Pasteur.[10] In 1934 the Congo-Océan railway came into service, linking Brazzaville with the Atlantic port of Pointe-Noire. Construction of the railway resulted in the death of over 17,000 Africans, which led to a revolt in 1928.[11]

During World War II Brazzaville and the rest of French Equatorial Africa remained beyond the control of Vichy France; the city served as the capital of France Libre from 1940–1943.[10] In 1944, Brazzaville hosted a meeting of the French resistance forces and representatives of France's African colonies. The resulting Brazzaville Declaration represented an attempt to redefine the relationship between France and its African colonies.[9]

Until the 1960s, the city was divided into European (the centre of the city) and African sections (Poto-Poto, Bacongo, and Makélékélé). In 1980 it became a "commune" separated from the surrounding Pool Department and divided into nine "arrondissements" (boroughs).

The city has frequently been a staging ground for wars, including conflicts between rebel and government forces and between forces of the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DCR), and Angola. It was also the scene of bloody civil wars throughout the 1990s which resulted in thousands of civilian deaths and which forced hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee the city. More recently thousands of people leaving the DRC have found their way to Brazzaville; the local United Nations force and the DRC government have accused the city of deporting thousands of these refugees.[12][13]

In April 2016 fighting occurred between police and local militia units, with at least 18 people killed.[14]


Historical population

As of the 2007 census, it had a population of 1.37 million. The projection of the CNSEE (national statistics centre) shows an increase to 1.7 million by 2015,[1] but the projection was made before 2007 and based on a lower estimate of the population (1.26 million) than recorded in the census. The United Nations Population Division estimate for 2014 is 1.83 million. The populous city of Kinshasa (more than 10 million inhabitants in 2014),[2] capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, lies across the Congo River from Brazzaville. Together with Kinshasa, the combined conurbation of Kinshasa-Brazzaville would thus have about 12 million inhabitants, although significant political and infrastructure challenges prevent the two cities from functioning with any meaningful connection.[15] [16]


Brazzaville, like Pointe-Noire, has both the status of a commune (municipality) and a department. It is thus governed by a municipal council and a departmental council. The mayor is the president of the municipal council.[17]

The city is divided into nine arrondissements (boroughs):[18]

  1. Bacongo
  2. Djiri
  3. Madibou
  4. Makélékélé
  5. Mfilou
  6. Moungali
  7. Ouenzé
  8. Poto-Poto
  9. Talangaï


The location of Brazzaville near the pool of the Congo River enabled it to grow as an industrial, trading and port settlement, in part due to the accumulation of raw materials extracted during the colonial period.[9] Industries present in Brazzaville include machine shops, textiles, tanning, and manufacturing. As a key port on the Congo River, the city takes deliveries of raw materials, such as rubber, wood and agricultural products. From here they are generally sent onward to Pointe-Noire for export.

As the capital city of the Republic of Congo, many companies, government organizations and NGOs have regional offices in the city. The World Health Organization has its regional office for Africa located in Brazzaville.[19] Companies headquartered in Brazzaville include Equatorial Congo Airlines[20] and the mobile operator Warid Congo.[21]


Erell also designed a house in the city for Charles de Gaulle. Other buildings include the Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza Mausoleum, the Nabemba Tower and the Congressional Palace (Brazzaville). Other features include the Marien Ngouabi Mausoleum, Brazzaville Zoo and the Poto-Poto School of Painting.

Places of worship

Among the places of worship, they are predominantly Christian churches and temples : Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brazzaville (Catholic Church), Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Brazzaville and Gabon (Patriarchate of Alexandreia and All Africa), Evangelical Church of Congo (World Communion of Reformed Churches) and Assemblies of God. [22]


The Marien Ngouabi University is a public university in Brazzaville.[23] The university was founded in December, 1971 and has approximately 26,000 students.[23]

International schools:


Brazzaville, much like neighboring Kinshasa, features a tropical wet and dry climate. Its wet season, which runs from October–May, is longer than its dry season, which covers the remaining months. Brazzaville's driest months, July and August, see on average no significant precipitation. Since Brazzaville is south of the equator, its dry season begins at around its "winter" solstice, which is the month of June. The city experiences relatively consistent temperatures throughout the course of the year. Recently, in March 2018, Brazzaville declaration was signed to promote better management and communications conservation of Cuvette central region in Congo basin. The declaration was signed by Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Indonesia to save peatlands as world's largest terrestrial organic carbon stock.

Climate data for Brazzaville (Maya-Maya Airport) 1961–1990, extremes 1932–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 37.5
Average high °C (°F) 30.5
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.0
Average low °C (°F) 21.4
Record low °C (°F) 17.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 160
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10 8 11 12 8 1 0 0 4 9 14 12 89
Average relative humidity (%) 81 80 79 81 81 79 77 73 71 76 81 82 78
Mean monthly sunshine hours 171 167 192 181 177 141 127 133 145 152 157 154 1,897
Source #1: Deutscher Wetterdienst (humidity, 1951–1990)[24][25][lower-alpha 1]
Source #2: Meteo Climat (record highs and lows)[26]


The city is home to Maya-Maya Airport, which lies in the centre of the city and which has regular flights to Pointe-Noire as well as international destinations in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. A flight operates twice weekly between Brazzaville and Kinshasa, but the flight time is only five minutes.[5]

The Congo-Ocean Railway has a station in the city and in 2014 was operating the La Gazelle train service every other day to Pointe-Noire and intermediate destinations.[27]

The city is an important river port, with ferries sailing to Kinshasa and to Bangui via Impfondo.[5] Ferries and fast private boats serve as the primary means of connection between Kinshasa and Brazzaville.[5] The Livingstone Falls lie on the outskirts of the city, where the Djoué River meets the Congo, rendering river transport to the coast impossible, qualifying the railway as a portage railway.

Although there is no organised public transport system, privately owned buses are available in the capital.[28]

Taxis are available on every street and are easily recognized, being painted with a green body and white top, and the fare for a short trip is CF700. About twenty percent of the vehicles in Brazzaville are taxis. There are also collective taxis that drive certain routes and charge CF150.

Notable people

  • Gaitana, Ukrainian singer who lived in Brazzaville for five years.
  • Serge Ibaka, professional basketball player born in Brazzaville.
  • Cyril Kongo, a French painter and graffiti artist, lived in Brazzaville in the 80s.
  • Verone Mankou, a congolese entrepreneur who launched the first ever African tab smartphone

Twin towns and sister cities

See also


  1. Station ID for Brazzaville/ Maya–Maya is 64450 Use this station ID to locate the sunshine duration


  1. "Répartition de la population par Départements et Communes en 1984 et projetée de 2000 à 2015" (in French). Centre National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (CNSEE), Republic of the Congo. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  2. "Monographie de la Ville de Kinshasa" (in French). Unité de Pilotage du Processus d'Elaboration et de mise œuvre de la Stratégie pour la Réduction de la Pauvreté (UPPE-SRP). Archived from the original (SWF) on 9 February 2007. Retrieved 19 January 2007.
  3. "Sub-national HDI - Area Database - Global Data Lab". Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  4. "Brazzaville, Zahlé, Kraków and Fabriano designated UNESCO Creative Cities". UN News. 21 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  5. "Face-off over the Congo: the long rivalry between Kinshasa and Brazzaville". Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  6. Siphelele Dludla, "DRC, Congo sign $500m deal to build Kinshasa-Brazzaville connecting bridge", IOL, 8 November 2018
  7. Pakenham, Thomas (1991). The Scramble for Africa. Abacus. p. 150.
  8. Roman Adrian Cybriwsky, Capital Cities around the World: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History, and Culture, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2013, p. 60
  9. Thomas, Dominic (2005). Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century African History. Routledge.
  10. Jean-Jacques Youlou & Scholastique Dianzinga, "Une capitale dans l'histoire"; Chapter 1 in Ziavoula (2006).
  11. "Republic of Congo profile". 11 April 2017 via
  12. "Deportation comments anger Congo", Independent Online (SAPA-AFP), 28 May 2014.
  13. James Butty, "DRC Threatens Legal Action over Deportations from Congo-Brazzaville", VOA News, 27 May 2014.
  14. "Heavy gunfire in Congo-Brazzaville capital as police battle militia". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  17. (site officiel de la commune de Brazzaville), "L'administration municipale"; accessed 16 July 2017.
  18. "Les arrondissements". (in French). Commune de Brazzaville, Congo. Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  19. "Regional Office for Africa".
  20. "ECAir Fleet Details and History". Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  21. "Company Overview of Warid Congo S.A."
  22. J. Gordon Melton, Martin Baumann, Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, ABC-CLIO, USA, 2010, p. 773
  23. "Quick Facts". Archived from the original on 4 September 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  24. "Klimatafel von Brazzaville (Flugh.) / Kongo" (PDF). Baseline climate means (1961–1990) from stations all over the world (in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  25. "Station 64450 Brazzaville/ Maya–Maya". Global station data 1961–1990—Sunshine Duration. Deutscher Wetterdienst. Archived from the original on 17 October 2017. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  26. "Station Brazzaville" (in French). Meteo Climat. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  27. Planet, Lonely. "La Gazelle train Brazzaville to Pointe Noire".
  28. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 January 2010. Retrieved 2014-09-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. "Coopération". (in French). Commune de Brazzaville, Congo. Archived from the original on 5 September 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.


  • Ziavoula, Robert Edmond, ed. (2006). Brazzaville, une ville à reconstruire. Paris: Karthala. ISBN 2-84586-825-1.


  • Chavannes, Charles de. (1929) "Le Sergent Sénégalais Malamine." Annales de l'Académie des Sciences Coloniales, vol. 3:159–187.
  • Petringa, Maria. (2006) Brazza, A Life for Africa (2006) ISBN 978-1-4259-1198-0
  • Tiepolo, M. (1996) "City Profile: Brazzaville" in Cities v. 13, pp. 117–124
  • Brisset-Guibert, Hervé (2007) Brazzaville petit guide historique, in the site ("palais presidentiel")
  • Cultural reference: In the final scene of the 1942 film, Casablanca, it is to Brazzaville that Captain Renault (Claude Rains) suggests he and Rick (Humphrey Bogart) might escape to together for "vacation" and, as Rick counters, "the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

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