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Democratic Republic of theCongo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is located in central Africa, bordering Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Sudan, Central African Republic and the Republic of the Congo. A former colony of Belgium, this country obtained its independence in 1960. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) faced several years of political and social instability after gaining independence. Col. Joseph Mobutu declared himself as president of this country in 1965 and changed the name of the country to Zaire. In 1997, after 32 years of Mobutu’s rule, a rebellion under Laurent Kabila led to the termination of the Mobutu regime. Laurent Kabila changed the name of the country to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More political

instability occurred, which led to the assassination of Laurent Kabila in January 2001. His son, Joseph Kabila, became head of state and remains the current president of this country. This country experienced its first democratic elections since gaining independence in July 2006. With its natural beauty, diverse wildlife and a rich tribal culture, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has 250 ethnic languages and a similar amount of ethnic groups. It is a well drained country with various rivers, such as the Congo River and Lake Tanganyika. The capital city, Kinshasa, is home to some historic sites, such as the prehistoric and ethnological museums. Kinshasa is a bustling city, filled with different suburbs and markets. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is most definitely known for its music, especially in Africa. From the traditional rumba to the quick-paced ‘ndombolo’ rhythms; Congolese music is one of Africa’s treasures.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Country Flag: Democratic Republic of the Congo's Flag

Sky blue field divided diagonally from the lower hoist corner to upper fly corner by a red stripe bordered by two narrow yellow stripes; a yellow, five-pointed star is in the upper hoist corner

Nationality: Congolese

Capital: Kinshasa

Population: 62,660,551 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 47.4%
  • 15-64 years: 50.1%
  • 65 years and over: 2.5% (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: 3.07% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write French, Lingala, Kingwana, or Tshiluba.
  • 65.5% of the population is literate (male: 76.2%, female: 55.1%) (2003 est.)

Major religions: Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs 10%

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

Quick Facts
  • total: 2,345,410 sq km
  • land: 2,267,600 sq km
  • water: 77,810 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: double the size of Ontario

Natural resources: cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal, hydropower, timber

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


Since the mid-1980s, the economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been declining radically. The war that started in 1998 not only reduced the national output and government revenue of this country, but it also increased external debt and resulted in the deaths of millions of citizens from famine, violence and disease. The economic conditions improved in late 2002 when a large percentage of the invading foreign troops left the country. The transitional government established relations with international financial institutions and international donors. Under President Kabila, reforms have been implemented to boost the country’s economy. Between 2003 and 2005, economic stability improved, although corruption and a lack of openness in government policy continue to hinder economic growth. GDP growth improved in 2005 as a result of renewed activity in the mining sector.

Major industries:

  • mining (diamonds, copper, 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

Oil production: 22,000 bbl/day (2003)

Railways: 5,138 km

Road map: 157,000 km (including 30 km of expressways)

Currency: Congolese franc


Telephone lines in use: 10,000 (2002)

Cellular lines in use: 1 million (2003)

Television Stations: 4 (2001)

Radio Stations: AM 3, FM 11, shortwave 2 (2001)

Internet users: 50,000 (2002)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 4.2% (2003 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 1.1 million (2003 est.)

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