The Republic of the Congo’s capital and largest city, Brazzaville, is situated on the northern side of the Congo River, immediately opposite the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa. The Republic of Congo is sometimes known as Congo-Brazzaville, while the Democratic Republic is referred to as Congo-Kinshasa, to make it simpler to differentiate the two countries with such similar names.
Medical facilities are limited in Brazzaville. Patients in need of complex operations or procedures requiring more sophisticated equipment will need to be transferred to a hospital in another country. Expats moving to Brazzaville should ensure that they have comprehensive healthcare insurance, which should cover the cost of transfers to another country should the need arise. You should also ensure that your healthcare plan includes dental care.
Malaria is a problem in Brazzaville, so mosquito nets are widely used and anti-malaria tablets should be taken as required. Relevant vaccines for people moving to Brazzaville include typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, polio and yellow fever.
All children from ages six to 19 are eligible for free education in the Republic of the Congo. In Brazzaville, as in other urban areas, school attendance rates are high, whereas in more rural areas attendance figures are generally far lower.
International schools are the preferred option for many expat families in Brazzaville. The Lycee Français Saint-Exupéry de Brazzaville offers a curriculum taught in French. The American International School of Brazzaville is a new school established in 2012, providing teaching in English. The school organizes a wide range of after school activities, including sports, dancing, crafts and cookery. International schools welcome Congolese students as well as pupils from expatriate families living in Brazzaville. There is one state-funded university in the city, the Université Marien Ngouabi.
Taxis are a popular mode of transport for getting around the city. Brazzaville also has buses and there are ferries which provide a shuttle service across the Congo River to Kinshasa. There is one main rail line which operates a service connecting the cities of Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire.
Most expats choose to travel around the city by car, although cars can be expensive in Brazzaville. Four wheel drives are recommended because of the poor condition of the roads, which deteriorates still further during the rainy season. The quality of roads tends to be particularly poor outside the city, and at night driving is more dangerous, as headlights are used inconsistently by many local drivers. Foreign nationals who want to drive in Brazzaville will need an international driving license.
Travelling to and from Brazzaville is straightforward, with regular flights to major airport hubs such as Johannesburg, Casablanca and Addis Ababa from Brazzaville’s Maya Maya Airport.