Democratic Republic of the Congo
"DRC" redirects here.
For other uses, see DRC (disambiguation).
|Democratic Republic of the Congo
République démocratique du Congo (French) Repubilika ya Kôngo ya Dimokalasi (Kituba) Republíki ya Kongó Demokratíki (Lingala) Jamhuri ya Kidemokrasia ya Kongo (Swahili) Ditunga dia Kongu wa Mungalaata (Luba-Lulua)
and largest city
|Recognised national languages|
|Ethnic groups||See Ethnic groups section below|
|Government||Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic|
|Prime Minister||Sylvestre Ilunga|
|President of the Senate||Alexis Thambwe Mwamba|
|President of the National Assembly||Jeannine Mabunda|
|President of the Constitutional Court||Benoît Lwamba Bindu|
|Lower house||National Assembly|
|Colonised||17 November 1879|
|Congo Free State||1 July 1885|
|Belgian Congo||15 November 1908|
|Independence from Belgium||30 June 1960|
|Admitted to the United Nations||20 September 1960|
|Renamed Democratic Republic of Congo||1 August 1964|
|Republic of Zaire||29 October 1971|
|First Congo War||17 May 1997|
|Current constitution||18 February 2006|
|Total||2,345,409 km (905,567 sq mi) (11th)|
|Estimate||89,561,404 (2020) (15th)|
|Density||39.19/km (101.5/sq mi)|
|GDP (PPP)||2019 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2019 estimate|
low · 179th
|Currency||Congolese franc (CDF)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 to +2 (WAT and CAT)|
|ISO 3166 code||CD|
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) (pronunciation (help·) French: République démocratique du Congo (RDC) [kɔ̃ɡo), also known as Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo (French: RD Congo), the DROC, or simply either Congo or the Congo, and historically Zaire, is a country in Central Africa.
With a population of around 90 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most-populous officially Francophone country in the world, as well as the 2nd-most populous country in Africa (after Nigeria), and the 13th-most populous country in the world.
Since 2015, the Eastern DR Congo has been the scene of an ongoing military conflict in Kivu.
In the 1870s, just before the onset of the Scramble for Africa, European exploration of the Congo Basin was carried out, first led by Henry Morton Stanley under the sponsorship of Leopold II of Belgium.
From 1885 to 1908, millions of the Congolese people died as a consequence of disease and exploitation.
Congo achieved independence from Belgium on 30 June 1960 under the name Republic of the Congo.
Conflict arose over the administration of the territory, which became known as the Congo Crisis.
After the UN and Western governments refused his requests for aid and Lumumba stated that he was open to any country, including the Soviet Union, for assistance in the crisis, the US and Belgium became wary and oversaw his removal from office by Kasa-Vubu on 5 September and ultimate execution by Belgian-led Katangese troops on 17 January 1961.
In 1971, he renamed the country Zaire.
Mobutu's government received considerable support from the United States, due to its anti-communist stance during the Cold War.
By the early 1990s, Mobutu's government began to weaken.
Destabilisation in the east resulting from the 1994 Rwandan genocide and disenfranchisement among the eastern Banyamulenge (Congolese Rwandans of the Tutsi tribe) population led to a 1996 invasion led by Tutsi FPR-ruled Rwanda, which began the First Congo War.
On 17 May 1997, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, a leader of Tutsi forces from the province of South Kivu, became President after Mobutu fled to Morocco, reverting the country's name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Tensions between President Kabila and the Rwandan and Tutsi presence in the country led to the Second Congo War from 1998 to 2003.
Ultimately, nine African countries and around twenty armed groups became involved in the war, which resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people.
The two wars devastated the country.
President Laurent-Désiré Kabila was assassinated by one of his bodyguards on 16 January 2001 and was succeeded eight days later by his son Joseph, under whom human rights in the country remained poor and included frequent abuses such as forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary imprisonment and restrictions on civil liberties according to NGOs.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely rich in natural resources but has suffered from political instability, a lack of infrastructure, corruption, and centuries of both commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation with little widespread development.
DR Congo's largest export is raw minerals, with China accepting over 50% of DRC's exports in 2012.
In 2016, DR Congo's level of human development was ranked 176th out of 187 countries by the Human Development Index.
As of 2018, around 600,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring countries from conflicts in the centre and east of the DRC.
Two million children risk starvation, and the fighting has displaced 4.5 million people.
Three-fifths of the Congo basin lies in the DR Congo.
It is a low-lying area surrounded by mountains on three sides.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is named after the Congo River, which flows throughout the country.
The Congo River is the world's deepest river and the world's second-largest river by discharge.
The Comité d'études du haut Congo ("Committee for the Study of the Upper Congo"), established by King Leopold II of Belgium in 1876, and the International Association of the Congo, established by him in 1879, were also named after the river.
The word Kongo comes from the Kongo language (also called Kikongo).
According to American writer Samuel Henry Nelson: "It is probable that the word 'Kongo' itself implies a public gathering and that it is based on the root konga, 'to gather' (trans[itive])."
The modern name of the Kongo people, Bakongo was introduced in the early 20th century.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been known in the past as, in chronological order, the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, the Republic of Congo-Léopoldville, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Zaire, before returning to its current name the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
At the time of independence, the country was named the Republic of Congo-Léopoldville to distinguish it from its neighbour the Republic of the Congo-Brazzaville.
With the promulgation of the Luluabourg Constitution on 1 August 1964, the country became the DRC, but was renamed to Zaire (a past name for the Congo River) on 27 October 1971 by President Mobutu Sese Seko as part of his Authenticité initiative.
The river was known as Zaire during the 16th and 17th centuries; Congo seems to have replaced Zaire gradually in English usage during the 18th century, and Congo is the preferred English name in 19th-century literature, although references to Zaire as the name used by the natives (i.e. derived from Portuguese usage) remained common.
In 1992, the Sovereign National Conference voted to change the name of the country to the "Democratic Republic of the Congo", but the change was not made.
The country's name was restored by President Laurent-Désiré Kabila following the fall of Mobutu in 1997.
Main article: Politics of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
After a four-year interlude between two constitutions, with new political institutions established at the various levels of government, as well as new administrative divisions for the provinces throughout the country, a new constitution came into effect in 2006 and politics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo finally settled into a stable presidential democratic republic.
The Senate had, among other things, the charge of drafting the new constitution of the country.
The executive branch was vested in a 60-member cabinet, headed by a President and four vice presidents.
The President was also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
The transitional constitution also established a relatively independent judiciary, headed by a Supreme Court with constitutional interpretation powers.
The 2006 constitution, also known as the Constitution of the Third Republic, came into effect in February 2006.
It had concurrent authority, however, with the transitional constitution until the inauguration of the elected officials who emerged from the July 2006 elections.
Under the new constitution, the legislature remained bicameral; the executive was concomitantly undertaken by a President and the government, led by a Prime Minister, appointed from the party able to secure a majority in the National Assembly.
The government – not the President – is responsible to the Parliament.
The new constitution also granted new powers to the provincial governments, creating provincial parliaments which have oversight of the Governor and the head of the provincial government, whom they elect.
The new constitution also saw the disappearance of the Supreme Court, which was divided into three new institutions.
The constitutional interpretation prerogative of the Supreme Court is now held by the Constitutional Court.
Main article: Corruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mobutu Sese Seko ruled the DRC, which he renamed Zaire, from 1965 to 1997.
A relative explained how the government illicitly collected revenue: "Mobutu would ask one of us to go to the bank and take out a million.
We'd go to an intermediary and tell him to get five million.
He would go to the bank with Mobutu's authority and take out ten.
Mobutu got one, and we took the other nine."
Mobutu institutionalized corruption to prevent political rivals from challenging his control, leading to an economic collapse in 1996.
Mobutu allegedly stole as much as US$4–5 billion while in office.
He was not the first corrupt Congolese leader by any means: "Government as a system of organized theft goes back to King Leopold II," noted Adam Hochschild in 2009.
In July 2009, a Swiss court determined that the statute of limitations had run out on an international asset recovery case of about $6.7 million of deposits of Mobutu's in a Swiss bank, and therefore the assets should be returned to Mobutu's family.
President Joseph Kabila established the Commission of Repression of Economic Crimes upon his ascension to power in 2001.
Main article: Human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The International Criminal Court investigation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was initiated by Joseph Kabila in April 2004.
The International Criminal Court prosecutor opened the case in June 2004.
Child soldiers have been used on a large scale in DRC, and in 2011 it was estimated that 30,000 children were still operating with armed groups.
Instances of child labor and forced labor have been observed and reported in the U.S. 's Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the DRC in 2013 and six goods produced by the country's mining industry appear on the department's December 2014 Department of LaborList of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.
Violence against women
Main articles: Sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Military macho-violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and International Criminal Court investigation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Violence against women seems to be perceived by large sectors of society to be normal.
The 2013–2014 DHS survey (pp. 299) found that 74.8% of women agreed that a husband is justified in beating his wife in certain circumstances.
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2006 expressed concern that in the post-war transition period, the promotion of women's human rights and gender equality is not seen as a priority.
Mass rapes, sexual violence and sexual slavery are used as a weapon of war by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and armed groups in the eastern part of the country.
The eastern part of the country in particular has been described as the "rape capital of the world" and the prevalence of sexual violence there described as the worst in the world.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is also practiced in DRC, although not on a large scale.
The prevalence of FGM is estimated at about 5% of women.
FGM is illegal: the law imposes a penalty of two to five years of prison and a fine of 200,000 Congolese francs on any person who violates the "physical or functional integrity" of the genital organs.
In July 2007, the International Committee of the Red Cross expressed concern about the situation in eastern DRC.
A phenomenon of "pendulum displacement" has developed, where people hasten at night to safety.
According to Yakin Ertürk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women who toured eastern Congo in July 2007, violence against women in North and South Kivu included "unimaginable brutality".
Ertürk added that "Armed groups attack local communities, loot, rape, kidnap women and children, and make them work as sexual slaves".
In December 2008, GuardianFilms of The Guardian released a film documenting the testimony of over 400 women and girls who had been abused by marauding militia.
In June 2010, Oxfam reported a dramatic increase in the number of rapes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and researchers from Harvard discovered that rapes committed by civilians had increased seventeenfold.
In June 2014, Freedom from Torture published reported rape and sexual violence being used routinely by state officials in Congolese prisons as punishment for politically active women.
The women included in the report were abused in several locations across the country including the capital Kinshasa and other areas away from the conflict zones.
In 2015, figures both inside and outside of the country, such as Filimbi and Emmanuel Weyi, spoke out about the need to curb violence and instability as the 2016 elections approached.
The global growth in demand for scarce raw materials and the industrial surges in China, India, Russia, Brazil and other developing countries require that developed countries employ new, integrated and responsive strategies for identifying and ensuring, on a continual basis, an adequate supply of strategic and critical materials required for their security needs.
Highlighting the DR Congo's importance to United States national security, the effort to establish an elite Congolese unit is the latest push by the U.S. to professionalize armed forces in this strategically important region.
There are economic and strategic incentives to bring more security to the Congo, which is rich in natural resources such as cobalt, a strategic and critical metal used in many industrial and military applications.
The chemical industry consumes significant quantities of cobalt in a variety of applications including catalysts for petroleum and chemical processing; drying agents for paints and inks; ground coats for porcelain enamels; decolorant for ceramics and glass; and pigments for ceramics, paints, and plastics.
The country possesses 80% of the world's cobalt reserves.
It is thought that due to the importance of cobalt for batteries for electric vehicles and stabilization of electric grids with large proportions of intermittent renewables in the electricity mix, the DRC could become an object of increased geopolitical competition.
In the 21st century, Chinese investment in the DRC and Congolese exports to China have grown rapidly.
In July 2019, UN ambassadors of 37 countries, including DRC, have signed a joint letter to the UNHRC defending China's treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities.
The Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) consist of about 144,000 personnel, the majority of whom are part of the land forces, also with a small air force and an even smaller navy.
The FARDC was established in 2003 after the end of the Second Congo War and integrated many former rebel groups into its ranks.
Due to the presence of undisciplined and poorly trained ex-rebels, as well as a lack of funding and having spent years fighting against different militias, the FARDC suffers from rampant corruption and inefficiency.
The agreements signed at the end of the Second Congo War called for a new "national, restructured and integrated" army that would be made up of Kabila's government forces (the FAC), the RCD, and the MLC.
Also stipulated was that rebels like the RCD-N, RCD-ML, and the Mai-Mai would become part of the new armed forces.
It also provided for the creation of a Conseil Superieur de la Defense (Superior Defence Council) which would declare states of siege or war and give advice on security sector reform, disarmament/demobilisation, and national defence policy.
The FARDC is organised on the basis of brigades, which are dispersed throughout the provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Democratic Republic of Congo signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
In 2007, The World Bank decided to grant the Democratic Republic of Congo up to $1.3 billion in assistance funds over the following three years.
The Congolese government started negotiating membership in the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), in 2009.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered one of the world's richest countries in natural resources; its untapped deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of US$24 trillion.
The Congo has 70% of the world's coltan, a third of its cobalt, more than 30% of its diamond reserves, and a tenth of its copper.
Despite such vast mineral wealth, the economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has declined drastically since the mid-1980s.
The African country generated up to 70% of its export revenue from minerals in the 1970s and 1980s and was particularly hit when resource prices deteriorated at that time.
By 2005, 90% of the DRC's revenues derived from its minerals (Exenberger and Hartmann 2007:10).
Congolese citizens are among the poorest people on Earth.
DR Congo consistently has the lowest, or nearly the lowest, nominal GDP per capita in the world.
The DRC is also one of the twenty lowest-ranked countries on the Corruption Perception Index.
Main article: Mining industry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The latter come from Kasai province in the west.
By far the largest mines in the DRC are located in southern Katanga province (formerly Shaba), and are highly mechanized, with a capacity of several million tons per year of copper and cobalt ore, and refining capability for metal ore.
The DRC is the second-largest diamond-producing nation in the world, and artisanal and small-scale miners account for most of its production.
At independence in 1960, DRC was the second-most industrialized country in Africa after South Africa; it boasted a thriving mining sector and a relatively productive agriculture sector.
These conflicts have dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, increased external debt, and resulted in deaths of more than five million people from war and associated famine and disease.
Malnutrition affects approximately two-thirds of the country's population.
Foreign businesses have curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict, lack of infrastructure, and the difficult operating environment.
The war intensified the impact of such basic problems as an uncertain legal framework, corruption, inflation, and lack of openness in government economic policy and financial operations.
Conditions improved in late 2002, when a large portion of the invading foreign troops withdrew.
Much economic activity still lies outside the GDP data.
A United Nations Human Development Index report shows that the human development index of DRC is one of the worst the country has had in decades.
Through 2011 the DRC had the lowest Human Development Index of the 187 ranked countries.
It ranked lower than Niger, despite a higher margin of improvement than the latter country over 2010's numbers.
The economy of DRC relies heavily on mining.
A third of the DRC's diamonds are believed to be smuggled out of the country, making it difficult to quantify diamond production levels.
In 2002, tin was discovered in the east of the country, but to date has only been mined on a small scale.
In September 2004, state-owned Gécamines signed an agreement with Global Enterprises Corporate (GEC), a company formed by the merger of Dan Gertler International (DGI) with Beny Steinmetz Global, to rehabilitate and operate the Kananga and Tilwezembe copper mines.
The deal was ratified by presidential decree.
In 2007, a World Bank report reviewed DR Congo's three biggest mining contracts, finding that the 2005 deals, including one with Global Enterprises Company, were approved with "a complete lack of transparency" (Mahtani, 3 January 2007).
Gertler and Steinmetz put GEC's 75% share in Komoto Oliveira Virgule (KOV), the project made of up of Tilwezembe and Kananga, along with the Kolwesi concentrator, into Nikanor plc.
Registered in the Isle of Man, reached a market capitalization of $1.5 billion by 2007.
In February 2007, 22% of the Nikanor Mining company was owned by the Gertner Family Trust and 14% by Dan Gertler.
In January 2008 Katanga Mining acquired Nikanor for $452 million.
In April 2006, Gertler's DGI took a major stake in DEM Mining, a cobalt-copper mining, and services company based in Katanga.
Tremalt had a half share in the Mukondo Mine.
In 2007, Tremalt was owned by Prairie International Ltd, of which Dan Gertler's family trust was a major shareholder.
Tremalt owned 80% of Savannah Mining, which held concessions C17 and C18 in Katanga Province and 50% of the Mukondo project.
The other 50% of Mukondo was held by Boss Mining, which in turn was 80% owned by Central African Mining & Exploration Company (CAMEC).
Boss Mining had rented and operated Bredenkamp's half of Mukondo.
Gertler terminated this arrangement.
Katanga Mining Limited, a Swiss-owned company, owns the Luilu Metallurgical Plant, which has a capacity of 175,000 tonnes of copper and 8,000 tonnes of cobalt per year, making it the largest cobalt refinery in the world.
After a major rehabilitation program, the company resumed copper production operations in December 2007 and cobalt production in May 2008.
In April 2013, anti-corruption NGOs revealed that Congolese tax authorities had failed to account for $88 million from the mining sector, despite booming production and positive industrial performance.
The missing funds date from 2010 and tax bodies should have paid them into the central bank.
Later in 2013, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative suspended the country's candidacy for membership due to insufficient reporting, monitoring and independent audits, but in July 2013 the country improved its accounting and transparency practices to the point where the EITI gave the country full membership.
In February 2018, global asset management firm AllianceBernstein defined the DRC as economically "the Saudi Arabia of the electric vehicle age," due to its cobalt resources, as essential to the lithium-ion batteries that drive electric vehicles.
Main article: Transport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Ground transport in the Democratic Republic of Congo has always been difficult.
The terrain and climate of the Congo Basin present serious barriers to road and rail construction, and the distances are enormous across this vast country.
The DRC has more navigable rivers and moves more passengers and goods by boat and ferry than any other country in Africa, but air transport remains the only effective means of moving goods and people between many places within the country, especially in rural areas.
Chronic economic mismanagement, political corruption and internal conflicts have led to long-term under-investment of infrastructure.
Main article: Rail transport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Rail transportation is provided by the Congo Railroad Company (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer du Congo) and the Office National des Transports (Congo) (ONATRA) and the Office of the Uele Railways (Office des Chemins de fer des Ueles, CFU).
Like much of the infrastructure in the Congo, the railways are poorly maintained, dirty, crowded and dangerous.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has fewer all-weather paved highways than any country of its population and size in Africa — a total of 2,250 km (1,400 mi), of which only 1,226 km (762 mi) is in good condition (see below).
To put this in perspective, the road distance across the country in any direction is more than 2,500 km (1,600 mi) (e.g. Matadi to Lubumbashi, 2,700 km (1,700 mi) by road).
The figure of 2,250 km (1,400 mi) converts to 35 km (22 mi) of paved road per 1,000,000 of population.
Comparative figures for Zambia and Botswana are 721 km (448 mi) and 3,427 km (2,129 mi) respectively.
Three routes in the Trans-African Highway network pass through DR Congo:
- Tripoli-Cape Town Highway: this route crosses the western extremity of the country on National Road No. 1 between Kinshasa and Matadi, a distance of 285 km (177 mi) on one of the only paved sections in fair condition.
- Lagos-Mombasa Highway: the DR Congo is the main missing link in this east-west highway and requires a new road to be constructed before it can function.
- Beira-Lobito Highway: this east-west highway crosses Katanga and requires re-construction over most of its length, being an earth track between the Angolan border and Kolwezi, a paved road in very poor condition between Kolwezi and Lubumbashi, and a paved road in fair condition over the short distance to the Zambian border.
Traditionally water transport has been the dominant means of moving around in approximately two-thirds of the country.
As of June 2016, DR Congo had one major national airline (Congo Airways) that offered flights inside DR Congo.
Congo Airways was based at Kinshasa's international airport.
All air carriers certified by the DRC have been banned from European Union airports by the European Commission, due to inadequate safety standards.
Several international airlines service Kinshasa's international airport and a few also offer international flights to Lubumbashi International Airport.
Main article: Energy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are both coal and crude oil resources that were mainly used domestically in 2008.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has the infrastructure for hydro-electricity from the Congo River at the Inga dams.
The Democratic Republic of Congo also possesses 50% of Africa's forests and a river system that could provide hydro-electric power to the entire continent, according to a UN report on the country's strategic significance and its potential role as an economic power in central Africa.
The generation and distribution of electricity are controlled by Société nationale d'électricité (SNEL), but only 15% of the country has access to electricity.
The DRC is a member of three electrical power pools.
These are SAPP (Southern African Power Pool), EAPP (East African Power Pool), CAPP (Central African Power Pool).
Main article: Renewable energy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Because of abundant sunlight, the potential for solar development is very high in the DRC.
There are already about 836 solar power systems in the DRC, with a total power of 83 kW, located in Équateur (167), Katanga (159), Nord-Kivu (170), the two Kasaï provinces (170), and Bas-Congo (170).
Also, the 148 Caritas network system has a total power of 6.31 kW.
Main article: Education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The education system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is governed by three government ministries: the Ministère de l'Enseignement Primaire, Secondaire et Professionnel (MEPSP), the Ministère de l'Enseignement Supérieur et Universitaire (MESU) and the Ministère des Affaires Sociales (MAS).
Primary education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not free or compulsory, even though the Congolese constitution says it should be (Article 43 of the 2005 Congolese Constitution).
As a result of the six-year civil war in the late 1990s—early 2000s, over 5.2 million children in the country did not receive any education.
Since the end of the civil war, the situation has improved tremendously, with the number of children enrolled in primary schools rising from 5.5 million in 2002 to 16.8 million in 2018, and the number of children enrolled in secondary schools rising from 2.8 million in 2007 to 4.6 million in 2015 according to UNESCO.
Actual school attendance has also improved greatly in recent years, with primary school net attendance estimated to be 82.4% in 2014 (82.4% of children ages 6–11 attended school; 83.4% for boys, 80.6% for girls).
In 2012, it was estimated that about 1.1% of adults aged 15–49 were living with HIV/AIDS.
Malaria is also a problem.
Yellow fever also affects DRC.
Maternal health is poor in DRC.
According to 2010 estimates, DRC has the 17th highest maternal mortality rate in the world.
In May 2019, the death toll from the Ebola outbreak in DRC surpassed 1,000.
United Nations emergency food relief agency warned that amid the escalating conflict and worsening situation following COVID-19 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, millions of lives were at risk as they could die of hunger.
According to the data of the World Food Programme, four in ten people in Congo lack food security and about 15.6 million have been facing hunger crisis.
Crime and law enforcement
Main article: Crime in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Congolese National Police (PNC) are the primary police force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Main article: Demographics of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Further information: Poverty in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Child marriage in Democratic Republic of the Congo
Over 200 ethnic groups populate the Democratic Republic of the Congo, of which the majority are Bantu peoples.
The Kongo people are the largest ethnic group in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In 2018, the United Nations estimated the country's population to be 84 million people, a rapid increase from 39.1 million in 1992 despite the ongoing war.
As many as 250 ethnic groups have been identified and named.
The most numerous people are the Kongo, Luba, and Mongo.
About 600,000 Pygmies are the aboriginal people of the DR Congo.
Although several hundred local languages and dialects are spoken, the linguistic variety is bridged both by widespread use of French and the national intermediary languages Kikongo, Tshiluba, Swahili, and Lingala.
Given the situation in the country and the condition of state structures, it is extremely difficult to obtain reliable migration data.
However, evidence suggests that DRC continues to be a destination country for immigrants, in spite of recent declines in their numbers.
Immigration is very diverse in nature; refugees and asylum-seekers – products of the numerous and violent conflicts in the Great Lakes Region – constitute an important subset of the population.
Additionally, the country's large mine operations attract migrant workers from Africa and beyond.
There is also considerable migration for commercial activities from other African countries and the rest of the world, but these movements are not well studied.
Transit migration towards South Africa and Europe also plays a role.
Immigration to the DRC has decreased steadily over the past two decades, most likely as a result of the armed violence that the country has experienced.
According to the International Organization for Migration, the number of immigrants in the DRC has fallen from just over one million in 1960, to 754,000 in 1990, to 480,000 in 2005, to an estimated 445,000 in 2010.
Official figures are unavailable, partly due to the predominance of the informal economy in the DRC.
Data are also lacking on irregular immigrants, however given neighbouring countries' ethnic links to DRC nationals, irregular migration is assumed to be a significant phenomenon.
Figures for Congolese nationals abroad vary greatly depending on the source, from three to six million.
This discrepancy is due to a lack of official, reliable data.
Emigrants from the DRC are above all long-term emigrants, the majority of whom live in Africa and to a lesser extent in Europe; 79.7% and 15.3% respectively, according to estimated 2000 data.
New destination countries include South Africa and various points en route to Europe.
These numbers peaked in 2004 when, according to UNHCR, there were more than 460,000 refugees from the DRC; in 2008, Congolese refugees numbered 367,995 in total, 68% of whom were living in other African countries.
Since 2003, more than 400,000 Congolese migrants have been expelled from Angola.
Main article: Religion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Christianity is the majority religion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The most recent survey, conducted by the Demographic and Health Surveys Program in 2013-2014 indicated that Christians constituted 93.7% of the population (with Catholics making up 29.7%, Protestants 26.8%, and other Christians 37.2%).
An indigenous religion, Kimbanguism, has the adherence of only 2.8%, while Muslims make up 1.2%.
Other recent estimates have found Christianity the majority religion, followed by 95.8% of the population according to a 2010 Pew Research Center estimate, while the CIA World Factbook reports this figure to be 95.9%.
The proportion of followers of Islam is variously estimated from 1% to 12%
The impact of the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo is difficult to overestimate.
Schatzberg has called it the country's "only truly national institution apart from the state."
Its schools have educated over 60% of the nation's primary school students and more than 40% of its secondary students.
The church owns and manages an extensive network of hospitals, schools, and clinics, as well as many diocesan economic enterprises, including farms, ranches, stores, and artisans' shops.
Sixty-two Protestant denominations are federated under the umbrella of the Church of Christ in Congo.
It is often simply referred to as the Protestant Church, since it covers most of the DRC Protestants.
With more than 25 million members, it constitutes one of the largest Protestant bodies in the world.
Kimbanguism was seen as a threat to the colonial regime and was banned by the Belgians.
Today, Muslims constitute approximately 1% of the Congolese population according to Pew research center.
The majority are Sunni Muslims.
The first members of the Baháʼí Faith to live in the country came from Uganda in 1953.
Four years later the first local administrative council was elected.
In 1970 the National Spiritual Assembly (national administrative council) was first elected.
Though the religion was banned in the 1970s and 1980s, due to misrepresentations of foreign governments, the ban was lifted by the end of the 1980s.
In 2012 plans were announced to build a national Baháʼí House of Worship in the country.
The syncretic sects often merge elements of Christianity with traditional beliefs and rituals and are not recognized by mainstream churches as part of Christianity.
New variants of ancient beliefs have become widespread, led by US-inspired Pentecostal churches which have been in the forefront of witchcraft accusations, particularly against children and the elderly.
Children accused of witchcraft are sent away from homes and family, often to live on the street, which can lead to physical violence against these children.
There are charities supporting street children such as the Congo Children Trust.
The usual term for these children is enfants sorciers (child witches) or enfants dits sorciers (children accused of witchcraft).
Non-denominational church organizations have been formed to capitalize on this belief by charging exorbitant fees for exorcisms.
Though recently outlawed, children have been subjected in these exorcisms to often-violent abuse at the hands of self-proclaimed prophets and priests.
|US State Department||90%||45%||40%||5%||10%（Including other Christians）|
|Pew Research Center||96%||47%||48%||1.5%||2.5%|
|CIA World Factbook||95.9%||29.9%||26.7%||1.3%||42.1%（Including other Christians）|
|Association of Religion Data Archives||93.9%||55.8%||39.1%||2.1%||5.1%|
Main article: Languages of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
French is the official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
It is culturally accepted as the lingua franca facilitating communication among the many different ethnic groups of the Congo.
According to a 2014 OIF report, 33 million Congolese people (47% of the population) could read and write in French.
In the capital city Kinshasa, 67% of the population could read and write French, and 68.5% could speak and understand it.
Although some people speak these regional, or trade languages as first languages, most of the population speak them as a second language after their own tribal language.
Lingala was the official language of the colonial army, the "Force Publique", under Belgian colonial rule, and remains to this day the predominant language in the armed forces.
Since the recent rebellions, a good part of the army in the East also uses Swahili where it is prevalent.
When the country was a Belgian colony, the Belgian colonizers instituted teaching and use of the four national languages in primary schools, making it one of the few African nations to have had literacy in local languages during the European colonial period.
This trend was reversed after independence, when French became the sole language of education at all levels.
Since 1975, the four national languages have been reintroduced in the first two years of primary education, with French becoming the sole language of education from the third year onward, but in practice many primary schools in urban areas solely use French from the first year of school onward.
Portuguese is taught in the Congolese schools as a foreign language.
The lexical similarity and phonology with French makes Portuguese a relatively easy language for the people to learn.
Most of the roughly 175,000 Portuguese speakers in the DRC are Angolan and Mozambican expatriates.
Main article: Culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo reflects the diversity of its hundreds of ethnic groups and their differing ways of life throughout the country — from the mouth of the River Congo on the coast, upriver through the rainforest and savanna in its centre, to the more densely populated mountains in the far east.
Since the late 19th century, traditional ways of life have undergone changes brought about by colonialism, the struggle for independence, the stagnation of the Mobutu era, and most recently, the First and Second Congo Wars.
Despite these pressures, the customs and cultures of the Congo have retained much of their individuality.
The country's 81 million inhabitants (2016) are mainly rural.
The 30% who live in urban areas have been the most open to Western influences.
Another feature in Congo culture is its music.
And those two later give birth to soukous.
Other African nations produce music genres derived from Congolese soukous.
Some of the African bands sing in Lingala, one of the main languages in the DRC.
The same Congolese soukous, under the guidance of "le sapeur", Papa Wemba, have set the tone for a generation of young men always dressed up in expensive designer clothes.
They came to be known as the fourth generation of Congolese music and mostly come from the former well-known band Wenge Musica .
Main article: Sport in DR Congo
The sports are played in numerous stadiums throughout the country, including the Stade Frederic Kibassa Maliba.
As Zaire they have participated in the World Cup Football (Final stage) in 1974.
Internationally, the country is especially famous for its professional basketball NBA and football players.
Dikembe Mutombo is one of the best African basketball players to ever play the game.
Mutombo is well known for humanitarian projects in his home country.
DR Congo has twice won the African Cup of Nations football tournament.
Main article: Congolese cuisine
Main article: Media of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Radio Télévision Nationale Congolaise (RTNC) is the national broadcaster of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
RTNC currently broadcasts in Lingala, French, and English.
Modern Congolese literature began to emerge in the late 1950s.
There are a few rare pieces of literature dated back to before WWI, but it was not until about 1954 that literature written in French made its appearance in the Congo.
After gaining their independence from Belgium in the 1960s, new authors, such as Guy Menga and Jean Pierre Makouta-Mboukou, were inspired by older authors, such as Jean Malonga from Congo-Brazzaville, and used writing to bring attention to new issues affecting the Congo.
The rise of female authors began in the 1970s introducing diversity to Congolese literature and support for gender empowerment.
Many authors who have contributed to the success of Congolese literature are now living abroad due to economic and political issues.
Frederick Kambemba Yamusangie writes literature for the between generations of those who grew up in the Congo, during the time when they were colonised, fighting for independence and after.
Yamusangie in an interview said he felt the distance in literature and wanted to remedy that he wrote the novel, Full Circle, which is a story of a boy named Emanuel who in the beginning of the book feels a difference in culture among the different groups in the Congo and elsewhere.
These authors, along with others, used their platforms to bring awareness to the crises and conflicts that took place in the Congo.
It includes several of Africa's Great Lakes.
Major environmental issues
DR Congo's major environmental issues include:
- poaching, which threatens wildlife populations
- water pollution
Displaced refugees cause or are otherwise responsible for significant deforestation, soil erosion and wildlife poaching.
Species and Biodiversity loss
The environmental problems associated with The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) affect its many endemic species of flora and fauna.
The DRC has the world's second largest contiguous rain forest after the Amazon as well as other ecosystems including Savanna, swamps and flood plains.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, these unique habitats and species make the DRC one of the most valuable yet vulnerable areas in the world for biodiversity, wildlife protection and rainforest sustainability.
Species loss has been cited as a problem in the DRC, brought about or exacerbated by reasons that include deforestation for mining, wood fuel, infrastructure or agriculture, war, illegal poaching and increased consumption of bush meat due to overpopulation and lack of food security.
Some attempts to combat species loss in countries such as the DRC are actions such as the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), specifically SDG 15 Life on Land, the primary goals of which is to increase reforestation and biodiversity and reduce species loss, desertification, and illegal poaching.
One of the primary defences for species and habitat protection in the DRC is its system of national parks and reserves, which gives protected status to nearly 12% of the DRC's rainforest.
All of these parks have been put on the World Heritage in Danger List.
Poor governance and low economic conditions have reduced the effectiveness of these protections, especially during war times.
The human cost of protecting these parks has also been high with 200 park ranger deaths in the past 20 years.
The move would open 21.5% of the Virunga park for exploitation, this is highly criticised by animal rights activists as it would threaten the habitat of mountain gorillas and other endangered species.
Main article: Deforestation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Between 2000 and 2014 the DRC lost an average of 570,000 hectares (0.2%) of rainforest to deforestation per year, with the highest amount of deforestation coming between 2011 and 2014.
Deforestation is the primary cause of biodiversity reduction and species loss globally, through habitat loss and fragmentation.
One of the goals of the SDG 15 is to reduce deforestation and encourage reforestation by 2020.
The DRC has Africa’s largest rainforest, which is under the threat of deforestation through mining operations, agriculture, infrastructure and wood fuel.
In the DRC 94% of wood taken from the rainforest is used for wood fuel, mainly due to poverty, lack of energy infrastructure and the decentralised nature of its population.
To mitigate this aid agencies have tried to promote agro-forestry with fast growing trees to avoid over exploitation of the rainforests.
Other large drivers of deforestation include mining and conflict, during the Congo conflict deforestation by militia groups was high for wood fuel, small mining operations and illegal logging to fund their operations.
However, conversely conflict reduced deforestation for large scale mining due to security instability.
One policy being attempted to reduce the deforestation and increase biodiversity in the DRC is the UN-REDD program, which uses emissions trading system so that developed nations can offset their carbon emissions by paying developing nations with rainforest to manage and conserve their forest.
Bush meat refers to any meat that is procured from the wild.
Overpopulation and continual conflicts in the DRC have led to food shortages, which have therefore increased the use of bush meat.
Although, data on bush meat use is not extensive, studies estimate 6 million tonnes of animals are taken for bush meat globally each year.
Bush meat is an important source of protein for millions in the DRC, especially in rural areas where it makes up 50-70% of meals.
For some who cannot afford farmed produce it is a free meal.
A recent study in the DRC revealed that almost all of the animals are taken from the Congo each year, at 93% of all live animals there are in the forest are extracted for bush meat, whereas a sustainable rate would be 20%.
This is a huge amount compared to the Amazon where bush meat is hunted at only 3% the rate of the Congo.
the study reveals the only way to solve this is to find other food sources to feed people in the Congo Basin as bush meat is their only means of eating.
Another study showed that the species of bush meat in the meat markets of the DRC's third largest city Kisangani were primarily Artiodactyla at 40.06% of the carcasses sold then primates at 37.79% of carcasses sold.
Recently the prevalence of hunting for bush meat has declined because of the risk to hunters and butchers from the Ebola virus from specifically ape and bat meat.
Even though when the meat is cooked smoked or dried it kills the virus, business has dropped significantly with some hunters reporting as much of a reduction in sales of 80%.
There has been a war in the DRC in different levels of intensity since 1994 when the country was called Zaire.
Although what was known as Africa's World War had ended in 2003 the eastern part of the country still has ongoing skirmishes between rebel groups and government forces.
No other method has reduced species population so dramatically than conflict, when a militia reached the Garamba National Park in 1997, within three months half of the park's elephants, two thirds of the buffalo, and three quarters of its hippos vanished.
The reason conflict is so damaging to wildlife is the increased use of bush meat to feed soldiers, the prevalence of weapons, the lucrative industry of selling exotic animals and ivory as well as the general failure of law and order.
According to another study which was taken during the time of the civil war in the Okapi Faunal Reserve, there was a 50% reduction in the abundance of elephants and a vast change in the distribution of them to the more secluded areas of the park.
- Outline of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Index of Democratic Republic of the Congo-related articles
- Democratic Republic of the Congo–South Sudan border
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic Republic of the Congo.