Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to COUNTRYAAH, Congo is a narrow strip of land extending from the Atlantic Ocean more than 1,100 km north-northeast into central Africa. Inside the coastline, which is 160 km long, is a nearly 65 km wide coastal plain. The coast is characterized by lagoons and beach spurs, as a result of the Benguela stream running parallel to the coast to the north. The coastal plain is sandy in the north and wooded in the south. It is penetrated by a large number of rivers that open in the Atlantic. The largest is Kouilou with several tributaries, including Niari from the south.
The terrain rises eastward to a mountain country, the Mayombé massif, with peaks such as Bamba (800 m asl) and Foungouti (930 m asl) in the south and Moguindou (650 m asl) in the northwest. The Mayombé massif consists of crystalline rocks and limestone and sandstone. From the deep Niarid valley, the land surface rises steeply towards the Chaillum Massif in the north (500–700 m asl) and the Cataract Plateau southwest of Brazzaville. The entire area is intersected by tributaries to the great Congo River, whereby a series of plateaus were formed, such as the Bembe and Batéké Plateau, the latter along the Congo River.
The northeastern part of the Congo is a large plain, which forms part of the Congo basin. It is crossed by a number of tributaries from the north to the Congo River and its main tributary Oubangui, which forms a border river to the northeast. Occasionally, these rivers give rise to large floodplains.
The soil cover in Congo consists mostly of coarse-grained particles such as gravel and sand. In lower areas, the soil is lateritic and humus-poor, and the soil is highly susceptible to soil degradation through the effects of rain and wind.
Congo has a warm and humid tropical climate. The temperature is relatively even with annual averages between 20 and 27 °C in different parts of the country. On the coast, however, the temperature can drop to 12 °C due to the cooling effect of the Benguela stream. The rainy season falls in the area north of the equator in April – October and the dry season in November – March, while the relationship is the opposite south of the equator. The amount of precipitation generally exceeds 1,200 mm/year and can often reach up to 2,500 mm.
The vascular plant flora probably comprises more than 4,000 species. Most of the country has had rainforests of different types. Characteristic tall trees are afara (Terminaʹlia supeʹrba, the family of white mangrove plants), Liberian cherry (Sacogloʹttis gaboneʹnsis, the family Houmiria plants) and non-African oak (Lophiʹra alaʹta, the family and nana plants); all of these are so-called bystanders (ie sticking up over the forest in general) and more or less deciduous, though the forest as a whole is constantly green. In addition, there are many pea plants, such as Cynomeʹtra haʹnkei, as well as mahogany relatives.
The majority of species in well-preserved forest are woody plants; the undergrowth also consists largely of small trees, and the herbs on the ground are quite few. After grubbing, fire and other disturbances comes a secondary vegetation that is much richer in herbs and large grasses, most of the genus Andropogon. Along the Congo River and other major rivers there are large areas of swamp forest, which in recent times are quite unspoilt but are now often replaced by rice crops. In natural swamp forests, palms (raffia palms, Raʹphia spp., And date palm relative Phoenix [fe: ] – ] reclinaʹta) and the arboreal genus Uaʹpaca are common, as are thorny rattan palms and other vines.
In the rainforests in the north there are many species of primates, including gorilla, chimpanzee, mandrill, devil monkey (Coʹlobus saʹtanas) and several species of markattas. Dive quarantines are common, bushbuck and citat tongue have good populations, while bongo is uncommon. Forest elephant and red buffalo (subspecies of African buffalo) are also available. African golden cat (Profeʹlis auraʹta), ant cones, tailed squirrels and several species of wanderers are other typical mammals. Bird life is rich with, among other things, gray jako, several species of turakos, bulbils, beards, kingfishers and rhino birds.
At and in rivers there are hippos, senegal manatees (Tricheʹchus senegaleʹnsis), congo fingerlings (Aoʹnyx coʹngica), fish owls, crocodile watchers and nil crocodile. Among fish, salmon carp, carp fish, barley and spring thyme are common, as are cichlids, especially tilapias. Lung fish occur but are less common.
The more open lands in the south with grass and remnants of rainforests do not have the same diversity of larger animals as savannas in other parts of Africa. Some species found here are ellipse waterbuck (Koʹbus ellipsipryʹmnus), citatu, bushbuck and African buffalo. Tracers, sunbirds and weavers are common. Puff spiders are found in arid areas and are replaced in the rainforests in the north by rhino puff spiders and gab worms.
In 2010, the country had three national parks, all rainforest areas in the northern parts of the country. Supervision is generally poor and poaching threatens many animals.