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After achieving independence in 1960, the French region of Middle Congo became the Republic of the Congo. In 1990, the country discarded 25 years of Marxism in favor of democracy. Seven years later, a Marxist-led rebellion overturned the democratic government, setting off a period of civil unrest that ended only in 2003 when a tenuous peace was declared. International groups have continued to pressure the government over human rights violations. Once a major exporter of oil, Congolese reserves have declined. Other natural resources include timber, potash, lead, zinc, uranium, copper, phosphates, gold, magnesium, natural gas, and hydropower.

With a per capita income of only $700, the Congo is the eighth poorest country in the world. Around 37 percent of the people are severely undernourished. Less than ...

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