Covering an area of almost 342 000 square kilometres, Republic of the Congo is slightly smaller than Montana. The population is a mere four million people, of which 70% live in the south-west in the urban centres of Brazzaville (the capital) and Pointe-Noire (the major port); the rest of the country is sparsely populated and largely pristine.
Straddling the equator, Congo has narrow coastal strip on the Atlantic Ocean. Its bordering countries include Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gabon. This little-known former French colony was spared the conflict of neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and not having shared neighbouring Gabon's recent limelight, tourism to the Congo is at a fledgling stage with an aura of exploration and discovery enhancing every journey into its interior.
The economy is a mixture of subsistence agriculture, an industrial sector based largely on oil and support services, and government spending. Oil has supplanted forestry as the mainstay of the economy, providing a major share of government revenues and exports.
While deforestation is a problem, the rainforests in the country's north lie in the heart of the Congo Basin which comprises the world's second largest expanse of tropical rainforest. Rivers such as the Sangha, Mambili and the mighty Congo drain this basin and provide a means of exploration through dense forests and access to remote national parks such as Odzala-Kokoua, Nouabale-Ndoki and Conkouati-Douli. It is in these areas that endemic wildlife flourishes and traditional Pygmy cultures persist.
The development of ecotourist camps in Odzala-Kokoua by the Wilderness Collection will contribute to the conservation of critical elements of central African biodiversity. We believe Congo - with its low population, pristine ecosystem, spectacular biodiversity and stable democracy - is the best country in which to achieve this.