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What You Need To Know

Brazzaville is the capital and largest city of the Republic of the Congo and is located on the Congo River.
The explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza founded the capital of what is now known as the Republic of the Congo in 1880 on the site of the existing village of Nukuna and named it Brazzaville. It was later to become the capital of French Equatorial Africa in 1908 with comprised Middle Congo (Congo Brazzaville) along with Gabon, Chad and what is now known as the Central African Republic.

Before the civil war of 1997, Brazzaville was a well developed city however today it has a somewhat run down appearance although their is some recent new construction work. Despite this, Brazzaville is considered extremely expensive with goods often costing four times as much as in other countries. In a recent quality of living survey, Brazzaville came in at 209 out of 215 cities just ahead of N’Djamena in Chad and Bangui in the Central African Republic. The centre of Brazzaville is the administrative and commercial centre of the country, not least because of its river and port connections. The city is also home to the regional headquarters of the World Health Organization, national university, a Roman Catholic cathedral and the Poto-Poto School of African Art.

Area:100 km²
Population:1.827 milliom (2014)

Currency

  • The Republic of the Congo is primarily a cash economy and uses the Central African Franc (CFA), a common currency with Gabon, Chad, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Equatorial Guinea. U.S. dollars may be exchanged for local currency. Traveler’s checks can be cashed for a fee at some hotels. Two hotels in Brazzaville and several in Pointe Noire accept major credit cards but prefer payment in cash. Prices are usually quoted in CFA or Euros. Other businesses do not normally accept credit cards. Personal checks drawn on foreign accounts are not accepted. Western Union has offices in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire. There is one Automated Teller Machine (ATM )in Brazzaville that accepts foreign debit cards at the Credit du Congo Bank. ATMs at several of Credit du Congo’s branches in Pointe Noire also accept foreign debit cards.

Weather

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.

Language

The official language of the Republic of Congo is French. Other languages are mainly Bantu languages, and the two national languages in the country are Kituba and Lingala (13%), followed by Mboshi, Bateke (17.3%), and more than forty other languages, including Pygmy languages (1.4%), which are not Bantu languages.

Health and security

  • Medical facilities are limited in Brazzaville. Patients in need of complex operations or procedures requiring more sophisticated equipment will need to be transferred to a hospital in another country. Expats moving to Brazzaville should ensure that they have comprehensive healthcare insurance, which should cover the cost of transfers to another country should the need arise. You should also ensure that your healthcare plan includes dental care.

    Malaria is a problem in Brazzaville, so mosquito nets are widely used and anti-malaria tablets should be taken as required. Relevant vaccines for people moving to Brazzaville include typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, polio and yellow fever.

  • Crime levels in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire are low compared to other cities in the region, but you should take sensible precautions to safeguard yourself and your belongings. Don’t walk in the streets after dark, or carry large amounts of money or valuables. The chance of being targeted by criminals is higher in rural areas.
    Travellers between Brazzaville and Pointe Noire in vehicles and trains have been robbed by armed criminal gangs around the Pool region. Road travel in the Pool region requires a permit from the Congolese army.
    Avoid travelling around the country at night.
    Keep yourself updated on the local political and security situation and avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings.
    Demonstrations can be called at short notice. You should take extra care and avoid all large public gatherings.

DON’T

  • Taxis are not metered. Fares should be negotiated before passengers embark. Carry small bills: taxis are notorious for not having change and will always tend to round-up fares or not return change.
  • When confronted by an armed individual, the best practice is not to resist. Resistance or hesitation on the part of the victim can result in death or serious injury. Hands should be visible and instructions should be followed carefully. Any furtive movements might startle the attacker. Be as compliant as possible; the decision if and when to defend oneself is a personal choice dependent on each situation.
  • Do not carry credit cards, U.S. driver’s license or other important documents around town. Establishments in Brazzaville accept only Congolese Francs.

DO

  • Do not miss the finer and funner restaurants, bars, clubs, and music scenes, such as Lampadere for outdoor barbecue in BaCongo, Espace Kubia (“Gladis”) nearby for the best music and cheap beer in town
  • The Sainte-Anne Basilica of Congo with its roof that shades of green vary according to light the day ; the Sacred Heart Cathedral where you can admire the view over the city center and Kinshasa.