An Atlas of African Affairs

By Andrew Boyd; Patrick Van Rensburg | Go to book overview

16. 'Equatorial' Africa

In 1960 what had been French Equatorial Africa, a federated dependency with its capital at Brazzaville, attained sovereignty as four republics -- Gabon, Congo (formerly Middle Congo), Chad and the Central African Republic (formerly Ubangui-Chari). The ex-French Congo Republic is now termed ' Congo ( Brazzaville)', to distinguish it from the larger, ex-Belgian, Congo Republic across the river, which for the same reason is known as ' Congo ( Leopoldville)'.

Less than six million people inhabit this great area, although only north of Lake Chad does the desert begin. There is some concentration of population around the lake, but while Chad contains 21/2 million people, Gabon has only 400,000, Congo ( Brazzaville) 800,000, and the Central African Republic 1.2 million. The thinly peopled interior is little developed. Communications are poor, except where the rivers are navigable. The only railway links the coast with Brazzaville and the extensive river system upstream -- the Congo below Brazzaville is not navigable, owing to rapids (22, 24). The densely forested equatorial south produces palm oil and timber, the drier north cotton. Rich manganese deposits near Franceville have not yet been exploited. Lambaréné is known for the mission hospital associated with the philosopher, Dr Albert Schweitzer.

Brazzaville, with over 100,000 inhabitants, is the only important town, and although it is no longer the federal capital the inland republics are still linked with it by various ties. In an attempt to counter the 'balkanization' that resulted from the setting up of separate republics, Chad, Central African Republic and Congo ( Brazzaville) created a 'Union of Central African Republics', but Gabon, being relatively more developed and prosperous, held aloof from this scheme, although it was only a loose and temporary association. The four, however, maintained a customs union, which Cameroon too joined in 1961.

Brazzaville is politically dominated by the (Ba-)Kongo people, who also inhabit adjoining areas of the ex-Belgian Congo and Portuguese Angola. Aspirations for reunion of the Kongo people, who once constituted a large African state, have been one of the forces straining the territorial unity of the ex-Belgian Congo (24).

-78-

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An Atlas of African Affairs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • A. Population 10
  • B. Regions and Barriers 12
  • C. Languages and Peoples 14
  • D. European and Asian Settlement 20
  • E. 'Pre-European' History 22
  • F. Europeans on the Coast 24
  • G. the European 'scramble' 26
  • H. the New Political Map 28
  • I. British and French Heritages 30
  • J. United Nations Activity 32
  • K. Pan-Africanism and Regional Unity 34
  • L. Africa Overseas 36
  • M. Education 38
  • N. Health and Pests 40
  • O. Minerals 42
  • P. Transport 44
  • Q. Power, Development And Research 46
  • 1. the Maghreb 48
  • 2. Morocco and Mauritania 50
  • 3. Algeria 52
  • 4. Tunisia and Libya 54
  • 5. Egypt and Its Neighbours 57
  • 6. Suez Canal 58
  • 7. Suez-Sinai Conflict, 1956 60
  • 8. the Nile 62
  • 9. Egypt 64
  • 10. the Sudan 66
  • 11. Ethiopia 68
  • 12. the Somalis 70
  • 13. West Africa 72
  • 14. Ex-French Africa 74
  • 15. Ex-French West Africa 76
  • 16. 'Equatorial' Africa 78
  • 17. Commonwealth West Africa 80
  • 18- Senegambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia 82
  • 19. Ghana and Its Neighbours 84
  • 20. Nigeria 86
  • 21. Cameroons 88
  • 22. Two Congos 90
  • 23. Post-Belgian Congo 92
  • 24. Lower Congo 94
  • 25. Between the Lakes 96
  • 26. Ruanda-Urundi 98
  • 27. British East and Central Africa 100
  • 28. Uganda 102
  • 29. Kenya 104
  • 30. Tanganyika and Zanzibar 106
  • 31. the Rhodesias 108
  • 32. Katanga and Copperbelt 110
  • 33. Nyasaland 112
  • 34. Angola and Mozambique 114
  • 35. Malagasy (madagascar) 116
  • 36. South Africa and Its Neighbours 118
  • 37. Protectorates and S.W. Africa 120
  • 38. Eastern South Africa 122
  • Index 125
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