Bantu-speaking tribes contended and assimilated the earliest inhabitants of the region (the Pygmy people) and dominated the area for centuries. Several kingdoms – like those of the Kongo, the Loango, and the Teke – built the first trade links directed to the Congo River basin, turning it into a major hub for transatlantic trade. In the late 19th century, European colonization began and dissolved the power of Bantu societies. The Republic of the Congo was established in 1958 and gained independence from France in 1960. The country has become today one of the largest oil producers in the Gulf of Guinea, providing the country some prosperity despite political and economic instability and unequal distribution of wealth. For these reasons, the rich cultural diversity and forms of art had suffered a lack of investment.
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