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Republic of Congo Timeline -- Part 1: From Prehistory to Membership of La Communauté (1946)

A Chronology of Key Events in Republic of Congo

By Alistair Boddy-Evans, About.com

Late 14th Century Bakongo people cross the River Congo and found the Kongo Kingdom which covers parts of what is now the Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola.
Bateke and Sanga ethnic groups also arrive in the region.
1400s Region occupied by two kingdoms -- the Loango in the south (between the Kouilou and Niari rivers) and the Teke inland (north of the Malebo Pool). The land to the north is dominated by hunter-gatherer Binga pygmies. Loango comes under the rule of the Kongo kingdom further to the south, in what is now Angola.
1483 Portuguese navigator Diogo Cão and his crew are the first Europeans to find the mouth of the River Congo. Nzinga Nkuwu becomes the first African ruler to be contacted by Europeans.
1506 Nzinga Mbemba of the Kongo gains the throne and converts to Christianity under the name Afonzo I. He campaigns against African slavery encouraged by Europeans.
1568 Capital of the Kongo kingdom is attacked by rebels opposed to King Alvaro and send him into exile.
1576 King Alvaro of the Kongo regains his throne with the aid of the Portuguese.
1600 The Loango kingdom has evolved into a decentralized administration. Each province in turn assumes the government of the whole state. Trading extends inland to the Teke people around the Malebo Pool and into what is now Gabon.
1622 Territorial conflict between the Bakongo and the Portuguese who have founded the colony of Angola to the south.
29 October 1665 Battle of Mbwila ends four decades of war between Kongo kingdom and the Portuguese. The Kongo is seriously weakened by its defeat.
18th Century Zenith of the trans-Atlantic slave trade gains particular importance in the Tio kingdom as alliances are created with local chiefs who seek to undermine the authority of the king.
1839 Arrival of French traders along coast. (Louis Édouard Bouët-Willaumez makes a treaty with the king of Gabon to the north.)
1849 Settlement of Libreville by free slaves in what is now Gabon
1860 Libreville (in what is now Gabon) becomes that capital of French authority in the region.
1874 Henry Morton Stanley begins his exploration of the course of the Congo.
1875 Count Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza, Italian born explorer for the French begins an expedition to the Congo.
1879-82 Count Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza makes a treaty with King Makoko of the Bateke and Tio preventing Henry Morton Stanley acquiring territory to the north of the Congo River for King Léopold II.
1880 Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza founds a station at Ntamo, on the River Congo. French protectorate created over north bank of the River Congo.
January 1881 French Special Commander in the Gabon has his area of authority expanded to cover what is now the Republic of the Congo.
20 November 1892 Colony of Congo Français ('French Congo') founded by the French to the north of the River Congo (River Zaïre) centred around Stanley Pool (Malebo pool).
1883 Count Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza develops additional territorial agreements in the Loango kingdom.
1894 French colony of Congo Français ('French Congo') acknowledged by the Berlin Conference.
1886 Congo Français ('French Congo') and Gabon are given separate administrations and financial autonomy.
1891 April France unites the territories of Congo Français ('French Congo') and Gabon.
1898 French government partitions Congo Français ('French Congo') into 40 concessions, leased for 30 years. The concession include the exploitation of natural resources, particularly rubber and ivory, but not minerals.
1901 Congo Français ('French Congo') incorporates what is now Gabon.
5 July 1902 Congo Français ('French Congo') is now administered by a Commissioner-General based at Libreville (in the Gabon) and a Lieutenant Governor at Brazzaville. A poll tax ('capitation') is introduced.
1903 Congo Français ('French Congo') renamed Moyen-Congo ('Middle Congo').
1905 Count Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza is sent to investigate the use of forced labor and brutality under the Governor Emile Gentil and the concession companies in the Moyen-Congo ('Middle Congo'). However the resultant report was suppressed.
1907 As a minor success for Count Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza's investigation into the use of forced labor, concessionaries are restricted.
June 1908 Moyen-Congo ('Middle Congo') becomes part of Afrique Équatoriale Française (AEF, French Equatorial Africa). The whole federation is governed by a Governor-General with individual territories administered by a Lieutenant-Governor and a local council which looks after financial and legal issues.
1911 To the north of Afrique Équatoriale Française (AEF, French Equatorial Africa) France cedes territory to Germany which is incorporated into the colony of Kamerun (German Cameroon) in exchange for Germany dropping claims to Morocco.
1914-17 At the end of the First World War France regains territory previously ceded to Germany and incorporated into Cameroon.
1921-35 Chemin de fer Congo-Océan (CFCO, Congo-Ocean Railway) between Pointe-Noire on the coast and Brazzaville (and then Mayombe in the Belgian Congo), costs 20,000 African forced laborers (recruited from what is now Chad and the Central African Republic) their lives. The 502 kilometre (310 miles) route by-passes the rapids along the lower reaches of the River Congo. (Up-river from Brazzaville is more easily navigated.)
1928 Minor revolt by workers on the Chemin de fer Congo-Océan (CFCO, Congo-Ocean Railway).
June 1934 French administration in Afrique Équatoriale Française (AEF, French Equatorial Africa) attempts to introduce reforms to reduce costs -- the whole federation is divided into 20 administrative districts. The change lasts only until 1937, at which point it reverted to its original administrative structure.
1940 General Felix Eboue, the French governor of Moyen-Congo ('Middle Congo') supports Charles de Gaulle and rejects the pro-Nazi Vichy government of France.
28 January 1944 General Charles de Gaulle holds a conference with French colonial officials at Brazzaville to discuss the reorganization of France's colonies in Africa (for after the end of World War II).
1946 Practice of forced labor ended in French colonies.
French overseas territorial (Territoires d'Outre-mer) assemblies are created for each of France's African colonies as part of the French Community (La Communauté). Each assembly has two colleges -- one for French residents and selected, educated members of the African elite and the second for the rest of the African population. Territories have elected representation in the French parliament.

More on the History of Republic of Congo
Part 2: From Membership of La Communauté (1946) to President Denis Sassou-Nguesso (14 August 1979)
Part 3: From President Denis Sassou-Nguesso (14 August 1979) to the 1999 Ceasefire
Part 4: From the 1999 Ceasefire to Present Day

History Resources for the Republic of Congo
Leaders of the Republic of Congo Since Independence

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