National Day is a public holiday observed in the Republic of Congo on 15 August. This is the day in 1960 when Congo gained its independence from the French and is, therefore, also called Independence Day.
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Contact between what is now Congo and the West began when Portuguese explorers arrived in the late 1400s, but active colonisation was begun by France in the late 1800s. By 1880, France had declared a protectorate over the region, and in 1892, Congo became an official French overseas territory. In 1910, French Congo was joined to French Equatorial Africa.
While much of France was occupied by the Germans in World War II, Brazzaville in Congo remained a stronghold of the Free French. In the midst of the war, in 1944, it was granted a degree of autonomy by the Free French government.
In 1958, Congo became a separate country that was only loosely under French control. Finally, the demands for full autonomy were granted to Republic of Congo in 1960.