The region was dominated by Bantu tribes, who built trade links leading into the Congo River basin. The republic is a former French colony. Upon independence in 1960, the former French region of Middle Congo became the Republic of the Congo. The People's Republic of the Congo was a Marxist-Leninist single-party state from 1970 to 1991. Multiparty elections have been held since 1992, although a democratically elected government was ousted in a 1997 civil war.