General issues: French overseas territory, self government 1959-1960, Republic 1960-1969, Peoples republic 1969-1991, Republic 1991-Present
Country name on general issues: Congo
Currency: 1 (CFA) Franc = 100 Centimes 1959-Present
Population: 951 000 in 1959, 4 662 000 in 2014
Political history Congo (Brazzaville)
Congo – commonly called Congo Brazzaville to distinguish it from neighboring Congo Kinshasa – is located in central Africa. The population consists of Bantu peoples, the largest population group being the Kongo. The first Europeans to explore Congo are the French. Having settled in neighboring Gabon from 1839, in subsequent years the interior is explored – an effort that gains momentum from 1875 when the French explorer De Brazza embarks on his first journey. De Brazza signs treaties of protection, and in 188o founds the city that will be named after him – Brazzaville – and that will become the capital of Congo. At the 1885 Berlin conference, where the colonial powers divide their respective spheres of interest in Africa, the territories explored by De Brazza are claimed by and awarded to France. The borders are initially defined in treaties with the neighboring countries between 1885 and 1900.
These French possessions go through a number of administrative changes. In 1903, effective 1904, the French colony of Middle Congo is established – part of the federation of French colonies that is first called French Congo, and from 1910 French Equatorial Africa. The borders of Middle Congo within French Equatorial Africa will be redefined a number of times until, in 1947, the borders are established as we know them today. Under French colonial rule, first rubber and next timber are developed as the basis for the Congo economy.
In 1946, Middle Congo becomes – as do all French possessions – a French overseas territory. In the 1950’s, Middle Congo moves towards independence. In 1958, self government is gained as the republic of Congo. The republic of Congo gains full independence in 1960.
Politically the Congo history has, for the first decades after independence, been one of frequent changes of power. In the 1960’s, Congo aligns itself with communist countries, becoming a socialist style peoples republic in 1969. In 1991, Congo is again proclaimed a republic and a multi party system is introduced. Conflicts remain unsettled, though, and escalate in a civil war in 1997. The civil war in 1997 brings the president to power, currently still in office. Although nominally a multi party republic, elections in Congo, as they have been held since 1997, are reported to have been flawed. Much of the population of Congo is employed in subsistence agriculture. The production of timber has been replaced by the production of oil on which Congo is largely dependent for its GDP and exports.
Postal history Congo (Brazzaville)
The first post office in the future Congo is opened in 1881 in Brazzaville, mail being processed through Gabon. The general issues for the French colonies are used and, from 1886, are superseded by the issues for Gabon. From 1891, the stamps of French Congo are used, from 1907 the stamps of Middle Congo and from 1936 the stamps of French Equatorial Africa.
Having gained self government, the republic of Congo issues its first stamps in 1959 – a single stamp commemorating the first anniversary of the republic of Congo. The independent republic of Congo issues stamps from 1960. The stamps issued are, until the 1990’s, a mix of themes of national interest and themes aimed at the thematic collectors market. In the 1990’s, stamps have been issued almost exclusively for the thematic collectors market. During the period of civil war, and its aftermath, post offices were plundered – after which preceding issues were declared valid for use only when overprinted first ‘Autorisé’ and later ‘Legal’.