About Democratic Republic of Congo [ Country ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Democratic Republic of Congo; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this country.

Location

Central Africa, northeast of Angola

Climate

Tropical; hot and humid in equatorial river basin; cooler and drier in southern highlands; cooler and wetter in eastern highlands; north of Equator - wet season (April to October), dry season (December to February); south of Equator - wet season (November to March), dry season (April to October)

Terrain

Vast central basin is a low-lying plateau; mountains in east

Elevation

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pic Marguerite on Mont Ngaliema (Mount Stanley) 5,110 m

Geo Notes

Straddles equator; has narrow strip of land that controls the lower Congo River and is only outlet to South Atlantic Ocean; dense tropical rain forest in central river basin and eastern highlands

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: Democratic Republic of the Congo
conventional short form: DRC
local long form: Republique Democratique du Congo
local short form: RDC
former: Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Congo/Leopoldville, Congo/Kinshasa, Zaire
abbreviation: DRC

Capital City

name: Kinshasa
geographic coordinates: 4 19 S, 15 18 E
time difference: UTC+1

Administrative Divisions

10 provinces (provinces, singular - province) and 1 city* (ville); Bandundu, Bas-Congo, Equateur, Kasai-Occidental, Kasai-Oriental, Katanga, Kinshasa*, Maniema, Nord-Kivu, Orientale, Sud-Kivu
note: according to the Constitution adopted in December 2005, the current administrative divisions will be subdivided into 26 new provinces by 2009

Natuaral Hazards

Periodic droughts in south; Congo River floods (seasonal); in the east, in the Great Rift Valley, there are active volcanoes
volcanism: Nyiragongo (elev. 3,470 m, 11,384 ft), which erupted in 2002 and is experiencing ongoing activity, poses a major threat to the city of Goma, home to a quarter of a million people; the volcano produces unusually fast-moving lava, known to travel up to 100 km (60 mi)/hr; Nyiragongo has been deemed a "Decade Volcano" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; its neighbor, Nyamuragira, which erupted in 2010, is Africa's most active volcano; Visoke is the only other historically active volcano

Environmental Issues

Poaching threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; deforestation; refugees responsible for significant deforestation, soil erosion, and wildlife poaching; mining of minerals (coltan - a mineral used in creating capacitors, diamonds, and gold) causing environmental damage

Infectious Diseases

degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria, plague, and African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)

Life Expectancy

total population: 54.73 years
male: 52.93 years
female: 56.59 years (2010 est.)

Sex Ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Languages Spoken

French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba

Religions Practiced

Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other (includes syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs) 10%

Legal System

Civil law based on Belgian law with Napoleonic Civil Code influence; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

National Holiday

Independence Day, 30 June (1960)

Illicit Drugs

One of Africa's biggest producers of cannabis, but mostly for domestic consumption; traffickers exploit lax shipping controls to transit pseudoephedrine through the capital; while rampant corruption and inadequate supervision leaves the banking system vulnerable to money laundering, the lack of a well-developed financial system limits the country's utility as a money-laundering center (2008)

Telephone System

general assessment: barely adequate wire and microwave radio relay service in and between urban areas; domestic satellite system with 14 earth stations; inadequate fixed line infrastructure
domestic: state-owned operator providing less than 1 fixed-line connection per 1000 persons; given the backdrop of a wholly inadequate fixed-line infrastructure, the use of mobile-cellular services has surged and subscribership in 2009 exceeded 10 million - roughly 15 per 100 persons
international: country code - 243; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2009)

Broadcast Media

State-owned TV broadcast station with near national coverage; more than a dozen privately-owned TV stations with 2 having near national coverage; 2 state-owned radio stations are supplemented by more than 100 private radio stations; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are available (2007)

Background

Established as a Belgian colony in 1908, the Republic of the Congo gained its independence in 1960, but its early years were marred by political and social instability. Col. Joseph MOBUTU seized power and declared himself president in a November 1965 coup. He subsequently changed his name - to MOBUTU Sese Seko - as well as that of the country - to Zaire. MOBUTU retained his position for 32 years through several sham elections, as well as through brutal force. Ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow of refugees in 1994 from fighting in Rwanda and Burundi, led in May 1997 to the toppling of the MOBUTU regime by a rebellion backed by Rwanda and Uganda and fronted by Laurent KABILA. He renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but in August 1998 his regime was itself challenged by a second insurrection again backed by Rwanda and Uganda. Troops from Angola, Chad, Namibia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe intervened to support KABILA's regime. A cease-fire was signed in July 1999 by the DRC, Congolese armed rebel groups, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe but sporadic fighting continued. Laurent KABILA was assassinated in January 2001 and his son, Joseph KABILA, was named head of state. In October 2002, the new president was successful in negotiating the withdrawal of Rwandan forces occupying eastern Congo; two months later, the Pretoria Accord was signed by all remaining warring parties to end the fighting and establish a government of national unity. A transitional government was set up in July 2003. Joseph KABILA as president and four vice presidents represented the former government, former rebel groups, the political opposition, and civil society. The transitional government held a successful constitutional referendum in December 2005 and elections for the presidency, National Assembly, and provincial legislatures in 2006. The National Assembly was installed in September 2006 and KABILA was inaugurated president in December 2006. Provincial assemblies were constituted in early 2007, and elected governors and national senators in January 2007.

Economy Overview

The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - a nation endowed with vast potential wealth - is slowly recovering from two decades of decline. Conflict that began in May 1997 has dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, increased external debt, and resulted in the deaths of more than 5 million people from violence, famine, and disease. Foreign businesses curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict, lack of infrastructure, and the difficult operating environment. Conditions began to improve in late 2002 with the withdrawal of a large portion of the invading foreign troops. The transitional government reopened relations with international financial institutions and international donors, and President KABILA began implementing reforms, although progress has been slow and the International Monetary Fund curtailed their program for the DRC at the end of March 2006 because of fiscal overruns. Much economic activity still occurs in the informal sector, and is not reflected in GDP data. Renewed activity in the mining sector, the source of most export income, boosted Kinshasa's fiscal position and GDP growth from 2006-2008, however, the government's review of mining contracts that began in 2006, combined with a fall in world market prices for the DRC's key mineral exports inflicted major damage on the sector. An uncertain legal framework, corruption, a lack of transparency in government policy are long-term problems for the mining sector and the economy as a whole. The global recession cut economic growth in 2009 to less than half its 2008 level, but donor assistance and diligence on the part of the central bank have brought foreign exchange reserves to their highest levels in 25 years after the financial crisis caused reserves to fall to less than one day's worth of imports in early 2009. The DRC signed a new Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with the IMF this year.

People Trafficking

current situation: Democratic Republic of the Congo is a source and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation; much of this trafficking occurs within the country's unstable eastern provinces and is perpetrated by armed groups outside government control
tier rating: Tier 3 - Democratic Republic of the Congo is on the Tier 3 List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat trafficking in persons in 2007; while some significant initial advances were noted, the government's capacity to apprehend, convict, or imprison traffickers remained weak; the government lacks sufficient financial, technical, and human resources to effectively address not only trafficking crimes, but also to provide basic levels of security in some parts of the country (2008)

National Anthem

name: "Debout Congolaise" (Arise Congolese)
lyrics/music: Joseph LUTUMBA/Simon-Pierre BOKA di Mpasi Londi
note: adopted 1960; the anthem was replaced during the period in which the country was known as Zaire, but was readopted in 1997

Democratic Republic of Congo location map
Size

total: 2,344,858 sq km
land: 2,267,048 sq km
water: 77,810 sq km

Democratic Republic of Congo flag
Population

70,916,439 (July 2010 est.)

Nationality

noun: Congolese (singular and plural)
adjective: Congolese or Congo

Ethnic Groups

over 200 African ethnic groups of which the majority are Bantu; the four largest tribes - Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic) make up about 45% of the population

HIV/AIDS Rate

4.2% (2003 est.)

Independence Date

30 June 1960 (from Belgium)

Government Type

Republic

Voting Rights

18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Internet Users

290,000 (2008)

Internet Hosts

3,006 (2010)

Internet Country Code

.cd

Refugees & IDPs

refugees (country of origin): 132,295 (Angola); 37,313 (Rwanda); 17,777 (Burundi); 13,904 (Uganda); 6,181 (Sudan); 5,243 (Republic of Congo)
IDPs: 1.4 million (fighting between government forces and rebels since mid-1990s; most IDPs are in eastern provinces) (2007)

Number Airports

198 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 26
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2010)

Railways

total: 4,007 km
narrow gauge: 3,882 km 1.067-m gauge (858 km electrified); 125 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)

Roadways

total: 153,497 km
paved: 2,794 km
unpaved: 150,703 km (2004)

Inland Waterways

15,000 km (2008)

Ports & Terminals

Banana, Boma, Bukavu, Bumba, Goma, Kalemie, Kindu, Kinshasa, Kisangani, Matadi, Mbandaka

National Budget

revenues: $700 million
expenditures: $2 billion (2006 est.)

Account Balance

-$402 million (2007 est.)

Exchange Rates

Congolese francs (CDF) per US dollar - NA (2007), 464.69 (2006), 437.86 (2005), 401.04 (2004), 405.34 (2003)

Inflation Rate

16.7% (2007 est.)

Main Industries

Mining (diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, coltan, zinc), mineral processing, consumer products (including textiles, footwear, cigarettes, processed foods and beverages), cement, commercial ship repair

Agricultural Products

Coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, quinine, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, bananas, root crops, corn, fruits; wood products

Labor Force

23.53 million (2007 est.)

Main Occupations

agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Unemployment Rate

NA%

GDP (USD Parity)

$21.75 billion (2009 est.)
$21.32 billion (2008 est.)
$20.5 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP Per Capita

$300 (2009 est.)
$300 (2008 est.)
$300 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 34.7%

Below Poverty

NA%