▶ Top Resources/Site Map

Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo


The Democratic Republic of the Congo (French: Rpublique dmocratique du Congo), is a country in central Africa with a small length of Atlantic coastline. It is the third largest country (by area) in Africa. The name "Congo" refers to the river Congo, also known as the river Zaire. Though it is located in the Central African UN sub region, the nation is economically and regionally affiliated with Southern Africa as a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).


Background History

Established as a Belgian colony in 1908, the then-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. In January 2001, Kabila was assassinated 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 the eastern DRC; 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; it held a successful constitutional referendum in December 2005 and elections for the presidency, National Assembly, and provincial legislatures took place in 2006. In 2009, following a resurgence of conflict in the eastern DRC, the government signed a peace agreement with the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), a primarily Tutsi rebel group. An attempt to integrate CNDP members into the Congolese military failed, prompting their defection in 2012 and the formation of the M23 armed group - named after the 23 March 2009 peace agreements. Renewed conflict has lead to the displacement of large numbers of people and significant human rights abuses. As of February 2013, peace talks between the Congolese government and the M23 were on-going. In addition, the DRC continues to experience violence committed by other armed groups including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and Mai Mai groups. In the most recent national elections, held in November 2011, disputed results allowed Joseph Kabila to be reelected to the presidency.

 

Government

Country Name:

  • 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

Capital:

  • name: Kinshasa
  • geographic coordinates: 4 19 S, 15 18 E
  • time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Independence:

  • 30 June 1960 (from Belgium)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Joseph Kabila (since 17 January 2001)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon (since 18 April 2012)
  • cabinet: Ministers of State appointed by the president
  • elections: under the new constitution the president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 28 November 2011 (next to be held in November 2016); prime minister appointed by the president

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: bicameral legislature consists of a Senate and a National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Constitutional Court; Appeals Court; Council of State; High Military Court

  ​

People & Society

Population:

  • 77,433,744 (global rank: 20)
  • growth rate: 2.5% (global rank: 30)

Nationality:

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

Major Cities:

  • Kinshasa (capital) 8.798 million; Lubumbashi 1.556 million; Mbuji-Mayi 1.504 million; Kananga 898,000; Kisangani 820,000

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

Religions:

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

Languages:

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

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 56.54 years (global rank: 203)
  • male: 55.03 years
  • female: 58.09 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 73.15 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 12)
  • male: 76.8 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 69.39 deaths/1,000 live births

HIV/AIDS:

  • adult prevalence rate: 1.1% (2012 est.) (global rank: 44)
  • people living with AIDS: 481,500 (2012 est.) (global rank: 17)

Literacy:

  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 66.8%
  • male: 76.9%
  • female: 57%

  ​

Economy

Overview: The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - a nation endowed with vast natural resource wealth - is slowly recovering after decades of decline. Systemic corruption since independence in 1960, combined with country-wide instability and conflict that began in the mid-90s has dramatically reduced national output and government revenue and increased external debt. With the installation of a transitional government in 2003 after peace accords, economic conditions slowly began to improve as the transitional government reopened relations with international financial institutions and international donors, and President Kabila began implementing reforms. Progress has been slow to reach the interior of the country although clear changes are evident in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. An uncertain legal framework, corruption, and a lack of transparency in government policy are long-term problems for the mining sector and for the economy as a whole. 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, has boosted Kinshasa's fiscal position and GDP growth in recent years. The global recession cut economic growth in 2009 to less than half its 2008 level, but growth returned to around 7% per year in 2010-12. The DRC signed a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with the IMF in 2009 and received $12 billion in multilateral and bilateral debt relief in 2010, but the IMF at the end of 2012 suspended the last three payments under the loan facility - worth $240 million - because of concerns about the lack of transparency in mining contracts. In 2012, the DRC updated its business laws by adhering to OHADA, the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa. The country marked its tenth consecutive year of positive economic expansion in 2012.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $29.39 billion (global rank: 115)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $400 (global rank: 228)
  • real growth rate: 6.2% (global rank: 36)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 44.3%, industry: 21.7%, services: 34%

Currency:

  • currency: Congolese Francs (CDF)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 918

Poverty:

  • population below poverty line: 71%
  • unemployment rate: NA

Agricultural Products:

  • coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, cotton, cocoa, quinine, cassava (manioc), bananas, plantains, peanuts, root crops, corn, fruits; wood products

Industries:

  • mining (diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, coltan, zinc, tin, tungsten), mineral processing, consumer products (textiles, plastics, footwear, cigarettes), metal products, processed foods and beverages, timber, cement, commercial ship repair

Exports Commodities:

  • diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, wood products, crude oil, coffee

Imports Commodities:

  • foodstuffs, mining and other machinery, transport equipment, fuels

 

Geography

Location:

  • Central Africa, northeast of Angola

Area:

  • total: 2,344,858 sq km (global rank: 11)
  • land: 2,267,048 sq km
  • water: 77,810 sq km
  • comparative: slightly less than one-fourth the size of the US

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)

Land Use:

  • arable land: 2.9%
  • permanent crops: 0.32%
  • other: 96.78%

Natural Resources:

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

Current 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

 

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: heads of the Great Lakes states and UN pledged in 2004 to abate tribal, rebel, and militia fighting in the region, including northeast Congo, where the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), organized in 1999, maintains over 16,500 uniformed peacekeepers; members of Uganda's Lords Resistance Army forces continue to seek refuge in Congo's Garamba National Park as peace talks with the Uganda government evolve; the location of the boundary in the broad Congo River with the Republic of the Congo is indefinite except in the Pool Malebo/Stanley Pool area; Uganda and DRC dispute Rukwanzi island in Lake Albert and other areas on the Semliki River with hydrocarbon potential; boundary commission continues discussions over Congolese-administered triangle of land on the right bank of the Lunkinda river claimed by Zambia near the DRC village of Pweto; DRC accuses Angola of shifting monuments
  • refugees (country of origin): 43,674 (Rwanda); 9,762 (Burundi) (2013); 56,150 (Central African Republic)
  • internally displaced persons: 2,634,872 (fighting between government forces and rebels since mid-1990s; most IDPs are in eastern provinces)
  • human trafficking: Democratic Republic of the Congo is a source, destination, and possibly a transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; the majority of this trafficking is internal, and much of it is perpetrated by armed groups and government forces outside government control within the country's unstable eastern provinces; Congolese women and children have been exploited internally as domestic servants, while others migrate to Angola, South Africa, Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan, as well as East African, Middle Eastern, and European nations where they are subjected to forced prostitution, domestic servitude, and forced labor in agriculture and diamond mines; indigenous and foreign armed groups (including the Lord's Resistance Army) abduct and forcibly recruit Congolese adults and children to serve as laborers, porters, domestics, combatants, and sex slaves; some commanders of the Congolese national army also recruit, at times through force, men and children for use as combatants, escorts, and porters
  • 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)


Published: Monday, March 09, 2015