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.
Today around a third of the entire population of the country lives
in Brazzaville, over a million people, but it remains dwarfed by the capital of
the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa, which lies directly across the Congo
River with its population of some ten million.
The two cities are the
two closest capitals on Earth by distance and are connected by ferry.
This area of the River Congo is known as the Pool Region reflecting the
Congo at its widest, whilst Brazzaville itself on its landed sides is
surrounded by savannah.
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.
If visiting Brazzaville places worth
seeing include the Musee National du Congo with its collection of art and
historical indigenous artefacts; the Basilica of Sainte-Anne which was
constructed during the Second World war and, ironically, damaged during the
civil war of 1997 however has now been largely restored. You can also take in
People's Palace built in 1901 and restored in 1982 after the war which, today,
still serves as the presidential palace. If you are really short of things to do
check out Brazzaville Zoo, which for many years after the war was renowned for
not actually having an animals, although, today it is home to a motley
collection of primates.
This short video about Brazzaville
shows slum areas of the city and some of the people who live there. You can
explore Brazzaville in more detail using our interactive map below.