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Congo (DRC)

Background

Congo (DRC)

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.

About

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (République Démocratique du Congo) (Abbreviated:DROC) is a country in Central Africa. It straddles the Equator and is surrounded by Angola to the southwest, (Angola's discontiguous Cabinda Province lies to the west and north of a very narrow strip of land that controls the lower Congo River and is only outlet to South Atlantic Ocean), Republic of the Congo to the northwest, Central African Republic to the north, Sudan to the northeast, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania in the east from north to south, and Zambia to the southeast.

The country has formerly been known as Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Congo or Zaire. The country is also known as Congo-Kinshasa to distinguish it from its northern neighbor, the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville).

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Congo (DRC)

Full name
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Capital
Kinshasa
Location

Central Africa, northeast of Angola

Geographic coordinates

0 00 N, 25 00 E

Area comparative

slightly less than one-fourth the size of the US

Border countries

Angola 2,511 km (of which 225 km is the boundary of Angola's discontiguous Cabinda Province), Burundi 233 km, Central African Republic 1,577 km, Republic of the Congo 2,410 km, Rwanda 217 km, Sudan 628 km, Tanzania 459 km, Uganda 765 km, Zambia 1,930 km

Coastline

37 km

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

Lowest point

Atlantic Ocean 0 m

Highest point

Pic Marguerite on Mont Ngaliema (Mount Stanley) 5,110 m

Natural resources

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

Population

70,916,439

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

Government type

republic

Independence

30 June 1960 (from Belgium)

National holiday

Independence Day, 30 June (1960)

Chief of state

President Joseph KABILA (since 17 January 2001);

Head of government

Prime Minister Adolphe MUZITO (since 10 October 2008)

Internet country code

.cd

Internet users

290,000 (2008)

Airports

198 (2010)

Ports and terminals

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

Other countries in the region