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Indigenous peoples in the Republic of Congo

The Republic of Congo covers an area of some 342,000 km2. It has estimated forest cover of 22,471,271 hectares (or approx. 2/3 of its total area) and a deforestation rate of 0.08%. 

According to the Second Congolese Household Survey (ECOM) from 2011 the country has an estimated total of 4,085,422 inhabitants. The population is made up of two different groups of people: the indigenous peoples and the Bantu.

Official estimates of the indigenous peoples stand at around 50,000 individuals, or approx. 1.2% of the total 2007 population. However, a 2008 study  gave a much larger estimate of their demographic weight, as much as 10%. 

Indigenus Peoples in the Republic of Congo

The indigenous population include the:

  • Bakola
  • Tswa or Batwa
  • Babongo
  • Baaka
  • Mbendjele
  • Mikaya
  • Bagombe
  • Babi

These peoples mainly reside in the departments of:

  • Lékoumou
  • Likouala
  • Niari
  • Sangha
  • Plateaux

The indigenous peoples are also present in increasing numbers in the big cities, such as Brazzaville, and Pointe-Noire.

The indigenous peoples are traditionally nomadic or semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, although some of them have now become settled and are employed in farm work, livestock raising, commercial hunting or as trackers, prospectors or workers for logging companies. 

According to the different sources available, the indigenous people are among the poorest and most marginalised sectors of society.

Legislation concering indigenous  peoples and recent developments

The Republic of Congo has not ratified ILO Convention 169 but did vote in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007.

In 2011, the Republic of Congo became the first country in Africa to promulgate a specific law on indigenous peoples: the Law on the Promotion and Protection of the Right of the indiegnous Populations in the Republic of Congo.

For further information see: law on the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, which can be downloaded here

Yearly Update 

Download the 2016 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Republic of Congo to learn about major developments and events during 2015