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Afrique Equatoriale Francaise

Pointe-Noire

[Fr. pwant-nwar]

Pointe-Noire is the second largest city in the Republic of the Congo, and a district in the Kouilou province. It is the main commercial centre of the country and has a population of 663,400 (2005 census). It is situated on a headland between Pointe-Noire Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Climate

The climate is hot and humid. September and October experience somewhat less rainfall than other months.

Structure

Pointe Noire is divided into four areas:

Economy

Pointe Noire is the essential center of oil industry in Congo-Brazzaville, one of the main oil producers in Central Africa. Congolese oil has been largely exploited by the French company Elf Aquitaine since its discovery around 1980.

Pointe Noire is also known for its fishing industry.

Formerly, Pointe Noire was home to a potash exploitation which led to the construction of a wharf, currently closed to the public.

Pointe Noire is twinned with the French city of Le Havre.

Transport

Pointe Noire is home to Agostinho Neto Airport, one of the most frequented international airports in the country.

Pointe Noire is also the terminus of the Congo-Ocean Railway, the railway station being a notable building. Thanks to her growth, the city now includes Tié-Tié Railway Station and Loandjili Railway Station, the next railway stations after Pointe Noire terminus.

Pointe Noire has a taxi-bus network that runs throughout the entire city.

Attractions

Pointe Noire's main attractions are its beaches, known for surfing.

History

Pointe Noire's (Black Point) name originated from Portuguese navigators who saw a block of black rocks on the headland in 1484. From then on, Pointe Noire, called Ponta Negra, became a maritime reference, and then a small fishing village from 1883, after the French signed a treaty with local people, Loangos.

In 1910, the French Equatorial Africa (Afrique Equatoriale Francaise (AEF)) was created, and then-French companies were allowed to exploit the Middle Congo (modern-day Congo Brazzaville). It soon became necessary to build a railroad which would connect Brazzaville, the then-terminus of the river navigation on the Congo River and the Ubangui River, with the Atlantic coast. As rapids make it impossible to navigate on the Congo River past Brazzaville, and the coastal railroad terminus site had to allow the construction of a deep-sea authorities chose the site of Punta Negra instead of Libreville as originally envisaged. Constructions of the Congo-Ocean Railway began in 1921, and led to the foundation of Pointe Noire on 22 May, 1922.

Development of the city

In 1927, drinking water became available in the city, which had about 3,000 inhabitants. The airport was built in 1932. In 1934, Governor Raphael Antonetti inaugurated the Congo-Ocean Railway. The First hospital was built in 1936. In 1942, the Pointe Noire Harbour welcomed the first ship, and made the city the AEF's seaport.

In 1950, Pointe Noire had 20,000 inhabitants, and became the capital of the Middle Congo, while Brazzaville was the capital city of the AEF. In 1957, the Middle-Congo became the Republic of Congo, although it was not still independent. incidents which occurred during 1958 legislative elections led the Union Démocratique pour la Défense des Interets Africains (UDDIA) [Democratic Union for the Defence of African Interests] leaders to transfer the capital to Brazzaville, since Pointe Noire was under the influence of political opposition.

Pointe Noire continued growing, and was the most modern city in 1960, when Congo gained independence. Then, the oil discovery around 1980 re-attracted people and factories (Elf Aquitaine). The population doubled by 1982, and reached 360,000 in 1994.

Civil wars which occurred in 1997 and 1999 caused the exodus of people living in the surrounding provinces (Lekoumou, Niari, Bouenza, Pool) towards Pointe Noire whose population is actually reaching 1,000,000 inhabitants.

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