Pointe-Noire is the second largest city in the Republic of the Congo, following the capital of Brazzaville, and an autonomous department since 2004. Before this date it was the capital of the Kouilou region (now a separate department). It is situated on a headland between Pointe-Noire Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Pointe-Noire is the main commercial centre of the country and has a population of 715,334 (2007), expanding to well over 1 million when the entire metropolitan area is taken into account.
Pointe-Noire is the essential center of the oil industry of the Republic of Congo, one of the main oil producers in Central Africa. Congolese oil has been largely exploited by the French company Elf Aquitaine since its discovery around 1980. Pointe-Noire is also known for its fishing industry, which is often at odds with the oil development. Formerly, Pointe-Noire was home to a potash exploitation which led to the construction of a wharf, currently closed to the public. The city is twinned with the French city of Le Havre.
Pointe-Noire is home to Agostinho Neto Airport, one of the most frequented international airports in the country. It is also the terminus of the Congo-Ocean Railway, the railway station being a notable building. Thanks to its rapid growth, the city now includes Tié-Tié Railway Station and Ngondji Railway Station, the next railway stations after the Pointe Noire terminus. Pointe-Noire has a taxi-bus network that runs throughout the entire city. On 22 June 2010 a train departing from Pointe-Noire derailed resulting in the deaths of at least 50 passengers. he French colonial rule in Congo, thousands of people have died while building the railway.