DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

Date of establishment: June 30, 1960

Brief history:

  • 1885 – King Leopold II of Belgium acquires private ownership over the territory that would later become the Congo.
  • 1908 – The Belgian Parliament takes control of the Congo after revelations of human rights abuses.
  • 1960 – Congo gains independence and Patrice Lumumba becomes the country’s first prime minister.
  • 1965 – Joseph Mobutu took power in a coup and became president.
  • 1971 – Mobutu renamed the country Zaire.
  • 1994 – The Rwandan genocide caused a surge of refugees into the Congo, where ethnic and political conflicts erupted.
  • 1997 – Mobutu is overthrown in the Second Congo War and Laurent-Désiré Kabila becomes president.
  • 1998 – The second Congo war broke out, involving several African countries, and ended only in 2003.
  • 2001 – Kabila was assassinated and his son Joseph Kabila became president.
  • 2006 – The first free elections are held in the country. Joseph Kabila was elected president.
  • 2018 – Felix Tshisekedi was elected president.
  • 2021 – The country still faces political and security instability, with fears of further violence lingering.

 

International abbreviation: CD

 

Currency: Congolese franc (CDF)

The currency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is the Congolese franc (KDF or FC), which has been legal tender in the country since 1997.

The Congolese franc is divided into 100 centimes. A currency called the New Zaire was also in circulation between 1997 and 1999, but it was abolished and replaced by the Congolese franc.

 

Internet domain: .cd

 

Dialing code: +243

 

Time zone: GMT +1 and +2

 

Geography:

Located in central Africa, it is the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa. It is bordered by Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola.

The country lies mostly in the basin of the Congo River, which is the second largest river in the world and divides the Congo into two halves.

The northern part of the country includes a large part of the Congo Basin, which is mainly lowland and covered with tropical rainforest. The southern part of the Congo is mountainous, with the Rwenzori and Mitumba mountain ranges.

To the east is the Great Rift Valley, a geological fault zone that stretches from Turkey to Mozambique. There are also several active volcanoes in the area.

 

Highest peak: Mount Stanley or Mount Ngaliema 5 109 m (16 762 feet) above sea level.

Mount Stanley is the highest peak of the Rwenzori Mountains, located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It is the third highest peak in Africa, after Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. Mount Stanley consists of two peaks, Margherita Peak and Alexandra Peak, which were named after the Queens of Italy and Great Britain. Margherita Peak is the higher of the two peaks, reaching a height of 5 109 meters (16 762 feet).

 

Climate:

The climate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is predominantly tropical, with high humidity and annual rainfall mostly between 1 000 and 2 000 mm (40 and 80 inches).

In the south of the country, where the Rwenzori Mountains are located, rainfall is higher and the climate is milder. Conversely, in the north, in the lowlands of the Congo Basin, rainfall is lower and the climate is hot and dry. Temperatures in the country range from an average of 24°C (75°F) to 32°C (90°F) in the lower regions.

Congo is occasionally hit by cyclones, especially on the Atlantic coast, especially between May and October.

 

Fauna and flora:

The Democratic Republic of Congo is home to mountain gorillas, especially in the Virunga Mountains. Gorillas are an endangered species. The country has one of the largest populations of elephants on the continent and they live in different areas, including national parks such as Garamba or Manovo-Gounda St. Floris.

The bonobo, also known as the pygmy chimpanzee, is an endemic species of chimpanzee found only in this area.

Various species of crocodiles and hippos live in the rivers and lakes.

The country has an extensive population of birds, including raptors, parrots, and a number of endemic species.

The eastern part is covered by rainforests, which are home to many types of tree such as mahogany, ebony, and various species of orchids and bromeliads. In addition to primeval forests, you will also find savannas here, which are covered with shrubs and trees adapted to a drier climate. In some parts of the country, for example in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, bamboo grows, which is an important source of food for gorillas.

 

Agriculture:

A variety of crops are grown in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including cereals (maize, cassava, and rice), pulses, bananas, oilseeds, and vegetables. Cassava is one of the main crops and has a significant influence on the dietary habits of the population.

Animal husbandry also plays an important role. People raise cattle, poultry, and fish.

There are mostly small-scale farmers who work on smaller plots of land and often use traditional farming methods. Agriculture faces a number of challenges such as a lack of infrastructure, poor food storage, lack of access to markets, climate change, conflict, and political instability. The result is low productivity and dependence on food imports.

 

Extraction of raw materials:

The Democratic Republic of Congo has abundant natural resources such as precious metals, diamonds, and oil. The extraction of raw materials is an important part of the country’s economy and represents approximately 25% of GDP.

Other expensive important raw materials are metals such as copper, cobalt, and gold. The mining of these metals is carried out in several areas, especially in the provinces of Katanga, Kasaï, and Maniema.

Coltan is another important mineral used primarily in electronics such as cell phones and computers. More than 60% of the world’s production is mined in the Congo.

Oil production began in 1980, but due to insufficient investment in infrastructure and drilling of new wells, production has not developed enough to become the country’s main source of income.

 

Industry:

Currently, the most important industry is the processing of agricultural crops such as cassava, bananas, and maize. Congo also has a metal processing industry, mainly for copper and cobalt.

In the field of industry, there are also several other branches such as textiles and clothing, construction, and the food industry.

 

Services and other areas of the economy: transport and services

 

Natural and historical attractions: Lubumbashi City, Nyiragongo Volcano, Garamba, Virunga and Kahuzi-Biefa national parks, Lake Kivu, and Congo Falls.

The country has much natural beauty and interesting potential tourist attractions.

One of the most important tourist attractions is the mountain gorillas, which are found in the Virunga National Park in Kivu province in the east of the country. Tourists can undertake trekking to the main gorilla habitat. Virunga National Park also offers hiking trips to Nyiragongo, which is one of the largest active volcanoes in the world.

Another tourist attraction is the national parks and protected areas such as Garamba and Kahuzi-Biega national parks, where a wide variety of wild animals such as elephants, lions, gorillas, chimpanzees, and others can be seen.

It also offers cultural and historical tourist attractions such as archaeological sites and ethnic villages where tourists can learn about local culture and customs. There are also several beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast.

 

Waterparks in Democratic Republic of the Congo:

 

Form of government: semi-presidential republic

The president is the head of state and appoints the government, which has the power to carry out state administration. The president is elected for a five-year term by a direct vote of the citizens and can be re-elected only once.

Legislative power is vested in a bicameral parliament consisting of the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly has 500 deputies who are elected for five-year terms, while the Senate has 108 senators who are elected for six-year terms.

The judiciary is independent and consists of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and lower courts.

Congo is divided into 26 provinces and one capital city, Kinshasa. Each province has a governor who is appointed by the president.

 

Capital city: Kinshasa

It lies on the west bank of the Congo River, on the border with neighboring Congo. The city covers an area of 9 965 km² (3 848 square miles) and had an estimated population of 14.3 million in 2021, making it one of the most populous cities on the African continent.

It is the center of the Congolese economy, industry, and culture. Many industrial zones, business centers, banks, and other institutions are located there. The city is also an important transport hub for domestic and international traffic, with its own international airport.

It also has many historical and tourist attractions, including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Kinshasa, the National Museum of the Congo, the Botanical Gardens, and the Tower of the Lord, which offers a panoramic view of the city and the Congo River.

 

Area: 2 345 409 km2 (905 567 square miles)

 

Population: 109 000 000 (2022)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populous francophone country in the world and the fourth most populous country in Africa.

Congo has a diverse ethnic composition, with more than 200 ethnic groups. The largest groups are the Bakongo, Luba, Mongo, Nande, and Luba-Kasai.

The official languages are French and Kiswahili. The majority of the population speak one of more than 200 indigenous languages.

Most of the Congolese population lives in the countryside, but urbanization is accelerating and cities, especially the capital Kinshasa, are experiencing rapid population growth. Many people live in poverty, with limited access to health care, education, and other basic services.

The country also has a high birth rate and a low family planning rate. As a result, the population continues to increase rapidly and is expected to double by 2050. This rapid rate of growth is putting great pressure on the country’s resources and worsening the situation regarding poverty and unemployment.

The Democratic Republic of Congo also faces other demographic challenges, such as high infant and maternal mortality rates, poor sanitation, and high rates of spread of certain diseases, including Ebola and other infectious diseases.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 5

 

  1. Virunga National Park (1979) – Located in eastern Congo, it is home to many rare animal species, including mountain gorillas, elephants, great apes, and more. The park is also home to the active Nyiragongo volcano.
  2. Garamba National Park (1980) – It is home to many species of animals, including elephants, leopards, and crocodiles. The park is also an important site for the conservation of the African elephant.
  3. Salonga National Park (1984) – It is located in the central part of the Congo and is the largest tropical rainforest in Africa. The park is home to many species of animals, including elephants, gorillas, monkeys, and more.
  4. Kahuzi-Biega National Park (1980) – The park is located near two extinct volcanoes and mountain gorillas can be found there.
  5. Okapi Nature Reserve (1996) – A reserve protecting fauna, especially endangered species of primates and birds. Pygmies live there.

 

National parks: 10

 

  1. Garamba National Park
  2. Kahuzi-Biega National Park
  3. Kundelungu National Park
  4. Maiko National Park
  5. Manovo-Gounda St. National Park Floris
  6. Upemba National Park
  7. Salonga National Park
  8. Tayna National Park
  9. Virunga National Park
  10. Lomami National Park