This chapter provides a brief historical background and a description of major events in Congo. It also provides basic political, economic, and social data arranged in the following categories: polity, economy, population, purchasing power parities, life expectancy, ethnic groups, capital, political rights, civil liberties, and status. The chapter discusses the progress and decline of political rights and civil liberties in Congo. Congo's transitional parliament in September 2001 adopted a draft constitution that was to be voted on in a referendum in December. A decade after its independence from France, a 1970 coup established a Marxist state in Congo. In 1979, General Denis Sassou-Nguesso seized power and maintained one-party rule as head of the Congolese Workers' Party. Economic reforms are under way. The World Bank has restored the country's credit eligibihty, and with high world oil prices, Congo's gross domestic product was expected to soar in 2001. Congo is the fourth largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa.