Republic of the Congo political boundaries (Departments? States? Provinces?)

How are the states/provinces/departments of the Republic of the Congo supposed to be referred to? I have a document that flounders (heh) between “the Department of Pool,” “the Pool department,” or just “Pool.” Searching on the ‘net yields a few instances of the term department, but not an overwhelming amount. Those hits also vacillate between capitalization and order. Is ‘department’ a direct translation from a French term? Is it a customary word used in that country? Does anyone here post from the Congo?



Note: this is The Republic of the Congo, the smaller country, not the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the larger still war-torn country.

“Départment” is a standard French term for a political subdivision.

According to Wikipedia: Republic of the Congo, those are régions, of which there are 10, and there is one commune (the capital, Brazzaville. The régions are divided into districts. The CIA World Factbook agrees with this nomenclature.

Can’t easily find a website from the country itself to verify these terms.

“Department” is the correct word. It’s a direct translation from the French, and we really have no other word for it. In Congo-Brazzaville, like many of the ex-French colonies in Africa, they follow the French usage, where the primary subdivision of the country is by departments. I would definitely capitalize, but I think “Pool Department” and “Department of Pool” are equally acceptable.

And no, I’m not posting from the Congo.

DSYoungEsq caused me to doubt myself. I found a site that seems to confirm that Congo does indeed use régions, what we might translate as “regions.” It is a little confusing in that other people talk about these regions as “departments” – as in the example in the OP – but that’s apparently not what the Congolese government itself uses.

Thanks for the help – it looks like my confusion and lack of source-finding wasn’t an anomaly.

The document I’m working is being prepared for an aid agency, and the folks who put it together spent several months over there working with government, NGOs, and the agency’s Congo offices. You’d think they have it right, but then again, part of what I’m doing is making sure of that.

So when I found Wiki (not exactly reliable) and the World FactBook (better) not using the term, and didn’t find a reliable Web-based official page or set of pages, and knowing those crazy Frenchmen may have had something to do with it, I thought to come here.

I’ll probably stay with Department (always good to give the authors the benefit of the doubt), but now I’m wondering if I should accent it!


I think you should change it. I have found a somewhat more determinative source:

This appears to be the official news site for the République du Congo. On the page is a map which, when blown up, shows double-underlined cities as “chef-lieu de région.”

In short, it appears that the official term is région. The country does not use the old French term départment.

Also, the Constitution makes no reference to départments, but does reference Régions, as well as communes, arrondisements, districts, etc. So it appears that departments are just out.

Not to muddy the waters excessively, but a newer version of the constitution (2001), downloadable from this page, says, "Les collectivités locales de la République du Congo sont le département et la commune." The “collectivités locales” are local voting units that elect senators to the National Assembly, among other things. However, this may not be the consitution in force, since the language of it (“Projet de Constitution”) suggests it hasn’t been finalized.

A conundrum, to be sure. Maybe the country is in flux with how it describes its regions. A call to the embassy, maybe?

No, it’s apparent that the 2001 Constitution was put in place of an intervening constitution approved in 2000, which, presumably, replaced the constitution from 1992.

I’d say a call would be appropriate. <lol>

My husband is from the Congo – and he says that common usage is now Department, since around 2006 or 2007. He says the use of “Department” is a governmental effort to break down regional and ethnic loyalties and discourage disputes. However, when he was dictating to me just now where he was from, he automatically said, “Pool Region.” :slight_smile: He left in 1999.

Thanks thanks thanks!!!

So, it seems that it’s a bit like the Soviet-era change from St. Petersburg to Leningrad. People still largely called it St. Pete, but in ‘official’ and ‘proper’ conversation it was Leningrad (all until it became St. Pete again).

I take it then Pool Department and the Department of Pool are interchangable? Thanks!!!