AREA - 132,000 square miles, slightly larger than New mexico. The People's Republic of the Congo extends more than 800 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Its capital is Brazzaville.

PEOPLE - The population is about 1.3 million, composed of 15 ethnic groups, 75 tribes. Forty seven per cent of the population is Christian, 47 per cent Animist, 5 per cent Moslem.

HISTORY - The area came under French rule in 1883.

In 1958, a constitutional referendum replaced the federation of French Equatorial Africa with the French Community, of which the Republic of the Congo became an autonomous member.

On Aug. 15, 1960 it became an independent country. The immediate post-independence era was dominated by Abbe Fulbert Youlou, deposed as president in 1963.

Under a new constitution, Al-phonese Massemba-Debat was elected president for five years. He was ousted in 1968, and Maj. Marien Ngouabi became president.

ECONOMY - Most of the population is engaged in subsistence farming, producing corn, bananas, cassava, rice, peanuts, tropical fruits, goats and chickens. The major cash crops are palm nuts, sugar cane, bananas, peanuts, tobacco and cocoa beans.

GOVERNMENT - Political power is concentrated in the Central Committee of the Congolese Labor Party (PCT) and the Council of State (Cabinet).

Theleader of the PTC is also president of the republic.