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Portuguese flag in what is now the Republic of Congo as on a map of Diego Homem, 1558.

In precolonial times, the region now called the Republic of Congo was dominated by three kingdoms: Kongo (originating about 1000), the Loango (flourishing in the 17th century), and Tio. After the Portuguese located the Congo River in 1482, commerce was carried on with the tribes, especially the slave trade.

The Frenchman Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza signed a treaty with Makoko, ruler of the Bateke people, in 1880, thus establishing French control. It was first called French Congo, and after 1905 Middle Congo. With Gabon and Ubangi-Shari, it became the colony of French Equatorial Africa in 1910. During World War II the colony joined Chad in supporting the Free French cause against the Vichy government. The colony was granted autonomy on the 28th of October 1958. It proclaimed its independence without leaving the French Community in 1960, calling itself the Republic of Congo.

The Congo's second president, Alphonse Massemba-Débat, instituted a Marxist-Leninist government. In 1968, Maj. Marien Ngouabi overthrew him but kept the Congo on a Socialist course. On the 31st of December 1969 the name of the country was changed into ‘République Populaire du Congo’. Ngouabi was sworn in for a second five-year term in 1975. A four-man commando squad assassinated him on 18th of March 1977. In July 1990 the leaders of the ruling party voted to end the one-party system. A national political conference, hailed as a model for sub-Saharan Africa, renounced Marxism in 1991 and scheduled the country's first free elections for 1992. Pascal Lissouba became the country's first democratically elected president.




A seal for the republic was adopted in 1960. It shows a kneeling man with the tables of law on which is written the motto UNITÉ TRAVAIL PROGRÈS.



The first coat of arms was designed by the swiss heraldist Louis Mühlemann, member of the Societé Suisse d’Héraldique. It was adopted by decree of the Republic of Congo  N° 63/262 of the 12th of August 1963 and published in the Journal officiel de la République du Congo of the 15th of August 1963. It was one of the last decrees signed by president Fulbert Youlou before his resignation.

The description of the achievement is as follows:


Arms: Or, a fesse wavy Vert and over all a lion rampant Gules, langued and unguled Vert, keeping in his dexter paw a torch Sable with a flame Gules.

Crown: A ‘Jungle Crown’ consisting of a golden circlet with the words RÉPUBLIQUE DU CONGO in red lettering, seven golden tree-trunks and a green cap.

Supporters: Two elephants passant Sable, tusked Or, issuing from the sides of the shield.

Motto: UNITÉ TRAVAIL PROGRÈS (Unity, Work, Progress) in red lettering on a golden ribbon.

Compartment: A tree-trunk Gules.


See the illustration in the head of this article


The fesse way symbolizes the river Congo which gave his name to the country. The lion symbolizes the congolese nation, he keeps the torch of liberty. The crown is the symbol of sovereignty. The trunks and the cap of the crown are for the congolese jungle.

            The elephants are symbols of force, dignity and perseverance. They are standing on a tree-trunk, symbol of the timber-trade

            The “jungle crown” has been designed specially for the occasion by the author of the arms. In its first design the circlet was ornamented with a motif from indigeneous art but this was replaced by the government by the name of the country.

            The colours of the achievement are the national colours to which black, the colour of black Africa, is added. [1]




After the proclamation of the Peoples Republic on the last day of 1969, a new flag was officially adopted by Constitution of the 3rd of January 1970. The ancient arms were abolished and replaced by an emblem of soviet-design. It consisted of the emblem in the left hand upper corner of the flag to which a ribbon with the national motto was added. This emblem can be blazoned as: A garland of palm-leaves Vert, in chief a five pointed star, in base a hammer and shovel in saltire Or. Motto: TRAVAIL • DEMOCRATIE • PAIX  (Work, Democracy, Peace) in black lettering on a white ribbon.

The flag was abolished in 1991.


An unofficial coat of arms of a more traditional form appeared on the occasion of the Summer Olympic Games of 1984 in Los Angeles. The status of this coat of arms is not known.


The description is as follows:

Arms: Gules a five-pointed star Or, surroundxed by a garland Vert.

Crest: A hammer and shovel in saltire.

Motto: TRAVAIL DÉMOCRATIE PAIX  in red lettering on a yellow, green lined ribbon.


The Constitution of the République du Congo, adopted 15 March 1992 stipulated in


Article 3 [Anthem, Motto, Seal, Coat of Arms, Language, Capital]


(1) The national anthem is "La Congolaise".

(2) The Motto of the Republic is "Unity - Work - Progress".

(3) The Seal of the State and Coat of Arms of the Republic shall be defined by law.

(4) The official language is French.

(5) The functional national languages are Lingala and Munukutuba.

(6) The Capital of the Republic of the Congo is Brazzaville.


In consequence, on the 10th of July the ancient arms of 1963 were readopted.



© Hubert de Vries 2008.10.14

[1] ) Héraldique Officielle en Afrique. In: Archivum Heraldicum, 1966, p. 46.

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