A former French colony, the Republic of Congo is not to be confused with its volatile neighbor the Democratic Republic of Congo. Having escaped the conflict dominating many of its neigbours, tourism in the Republic of Congo is entering its fledgling stage.
The north of the country lies in the heart of the Congo Basin. This area of pristine rainforest contains approximately 25% of the earth's tropical hardwood trees and spans six countries. It is drained by some of the planet's most powerful river systems, including the mighty Congo River, the deepest river in the world. Home to a tremendous variety of flora and fauna endemic to this area: the Congo is home to approximately 400 mammal species, 1,000 bird species, 700 fish and nearly 10,000 plant species. Large mammals in this area include forest elephants, bongo, chimpanzees, gorillas and forest buffalo.
The deep forest of the Congo have been home to hunter-gatherer communities for hundreds of years. However, over the past few decades, pressure on the forest's animals has risen dramatically. Loss of habitat through the deforestation caused by commercial logging, and increased pressure through hunting for bushmeat and traditional medicines is pushing many of the forest's inhabitants onto endangered lists. The Republic of Congo receives support from the Wildlife Conservation Society in managing its national parks: Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, Conkouati-Douli National Park, and Odzala-Kokua National Park.