The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly Zaire) covers a vast area of untamed wilderness. Most of the country consists of undeveloped tropical rainforest only interrupted by jungle rivers and smoking volcanoes. The country is not a tourist destination, only the bravest and very well prepared Traveler get to know Congo. Security in the Congo has been a huge problem for decades: from the atrocities under King Leopold of Belgium to the dictatorship of Mobuto Sese Seko to the battlefields in the “FirstAfrican World War I “the reports of terror continued until very recently.
In July and October 2006, surprisingly peaceful elections were held under the eyes of a UN peacekeeping mission, which Joseph Kabila saw as the victor. Despite this hopeful sign, the future of Congo is as uncertain as ever.
There is a lively art scene in the Congo. As everywhere in the Congo, art is one of the means by which people have expressed themselves for thousands of years. The Congo is, so to speak, the art center of Africa. A separate art academy was established here, which is now at an international level. Recognized and famous artists from all over the country teach the students here in art and painting. There are also numerous galleries in the Congo. Private studios present various exhibitions. Art connoisseurs like Claudy Khan, Henri Klama Akulez and Lema Kusa are also known in Europe. These artists have already made a name for themselves internationally.
However, few people in the Congo live from their art, one of the sources of income for the population trading in export goods. Until the 1990s, copper trading was quite profitable. At the moment the copper price has decreased, diamonds, crude oil, cobalt and coffee are increasingly in demand. The main buyers of these raw materials are China, Belgium, South Africa, Chile, the USA, Germany and India.
Area: 2,344,858 km² (land: 2,267,048 km², water: 77,810 km²), the second largest country in Africa after Algeria.
Population: 71.7 million (July 2011, COUNTRYAAH.COM), making the DR Congo the country with the fourth largest population in Africa. The population of Congo consists of twelve main ethnic groups, which can be divided into 240 smaller groups. The largest population groups are the Congo, Mongo, Luba and Lunda. These ethnic groups are Bantu peoples, which make up approximately 80% of the population. About 15% belong to Sudan groups, who live mainly in northern Congo. In addition, Nilotes live in the northeast and pygmies and Hamites in the Congolese east. The majority of the white, mostly Belgian, population in the Congo almost completely left the Congo until around the late 1960s.
Population density: 31 people per km²
Population growth: 2.614% per year (2011, CIA)
Capital: Kinshasa (about 8.4 million residents in 2007, agglomeration area about 9.3 million).
Here is a detailed list of the largest cities in the DR Congo.
Highest point: Pic Marguerite on Mont Ngaliema (Mount Stanley), 5,110 m
Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean, 0 m
Form of government: The DR Congo has been a presidential republic since 1978. The new constitution dates from 2006. The provisional parliament, which has existed since 2001, consists of 300 appointed members. In 1997 the former Zaïre was renamed the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DR Congo has been independent of Belgium since June 30, 1960.
Administrative division: 10 provinces (Bandundu, Bas-Congo, Equateur, Kasai-Occidental, Kasai-Oriental, Katanga, Maniema, North Kivu, Orientale and Sud-Kivu) and one city (Kinshasa)
Prime Minister: Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo, since April 18, 2012
Head of state: President (Président de la République) Joseph Kabila, since January 26, 2001
Language: The official language in the DR Congo is French. Another four national languages: Lingala (understood by approximately half of the population), Kikongo (understood by approximately 30% of the population), Kiswahili (understood by approximately 10% of the Congloés) as well as Tschiluba and the closely related Kiluba, all in all exist in the DR Congo 200 different languages.
Religion: 50% Catholic, 20% Protestant, 10% Muslim, 10% Kimbanguit, 10% other (including traditional beliefs).
Local time: Kinshasa and Mbandaka: CET
There is no daylight saving
time change in Kinshasa and Mbandaka. The time difference to Central Europe is 0 hours in winter and -1 hour
Haut-Zaïre, Kasai, Kivu and Shaba: CET + 1 hour
in Haut- Zaïre, Kasai, Kivu and Shaba have no daylight saving time changes.
The time difference to Central Europe is +1 hour in winter and 0 hour in summer
Telephone code: 00243 or +243
Mains voltage: 220 V, 50 Hz is used in the larger cities of Congo. Generators are often used in the interior of the Congo.
The DR Congo region in Central Africa covers 2,345,411 km² (about 6.6 times larger than Germany), making it the second largest country in Africa in terms of area.
DR Congo borders the following countries: South Sudan and the Central African Republic in the north, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi in the east, Angola and Zambia in the south and the Angolan enclave Cabinda and the Republic of the Congo in the west.
Here you can find an accurate relief map of the DR Congo.
The vast country has only 27 km wide access to the Atlantic Ocean at the Congo estuary in the far west.
Due to the size, there are various landscape forms in the DR Congo:
More than half of the country (about 60%) occupies the Congo basin covered by tropical rainforests. This basin is bordered by mountain ranges that are 500 to 1,000 m high.
In the south of the Congo basin is the Shaba or Katanga mountain region (part of the Lunda wave). Here is a 500 km wide strip of wet savannah which also occurs in the north of the rainforest as a 200 km wide strip. This distribution between rainforest and savanna is based on different amounts of precipitation.
High mountains can be found in the south and east of the DR Congo. The Mitumba and Kundelungu mountains are to be mentioned in the south and the Virunga volcanoes and the Central African threshold in the eastern part of the country. Here heights of up to 1,200 m are reached. Most of the mineral resources (eg uranium, coltan, gold and copper) are found in these regions.
The highest peak in the DR Congo (and also from Uganda) is Margherita Peak (5,109 m) in the Ruwenzori Mountains on the border with Uganda.
Important deposits of hard coal exist in southern and southeastern regions, copper and other non-ferrous metals are mined especially on the southern border with Zambia (so-called copper belt or copperbelt). There are diamond deposits in the Midwest of the DR Congo. Oil occurs at the mouth of the Congo to the Atlantic.
The largest river in the DR Congo (and the second largest African river after the Nile) is 4,374 km long the Congo. Its source is in the south in the Mitumba Mountains from where it flows about 1,000 km to the north. Then it is redirected to the west-southwest. It later forms the border between the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) before it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. The largest tributaries of the Congo from the south are the Kasai and the Lomami, from the north the Ubangi.
The Great African Trench with its lake chain forms the resource-rich eastern border region of the DR Congo. The most important lakes are the Albertsee, Eduardsee, Kiwusee and Tanganjika-See.
The higher north and south fertile regions are used for agriculture. The Congo Basin, on the other hand, is dominated by heavily weathered soils with low fertility (oxisol).
Population in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
This map of population distribution in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was created by the Worldmapper team. Densely populated areas appear bloated, the area of sparsely populated areas is reduced. The shape of the grid has been preserved; an underlying map with the original geographical extent helps interpret the map. The distorted map should help to present abstract statistical information clearly.