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DR Congo background

Learn about DR Congo

DR Congo background

The Democratic Republic of Congo is situated at the heart of west-central sub-Saharan Africa and is the third largest country on the African continent. Congo is rich in diverse natural resources such as diamonds, timber, gold, copper, cobalt and coltan.

Although, the country is endowed with vast potential wealth, the economy has drastically declined since the mid 1980’s. Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) for 32 years (1965–1997), began to lose his grip on power. Following the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Mobutu provided shelter and protection not only to the two million Rwandan refugees who had fled to eastern Congo, but also provided a safe haven for the Rwandan Hutu army and militias that had directed the genocide. This provoked Rwanda and Uganda to invade Congo in July 1996 in pursuit of the Hutu military forces. The ailing Mobutu was finally ousted from Kinshasa in May 1997 and Congolese rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila took over the country.

Conflict and humanitarian crisis in DR Congo have taken the lives of an estimated 6 million people since 1998 and continue to leave as many as 45,000 dead every month. Over 1.9 million have been internally displaced. Rape is used a weapon of war against hundreds of thousands of women and children. The ongoing strife of war, famine, poverty and disease continue to take a staggering toll making this war the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II.


Some facts about the Congo:

  • The people of DR Congo and language250 ethnic groups populate the DR Congo and speak 240 languages. French is the official language of the Democratic of Congo and four national languages are spoken in the country: Swahili, Lingala, Kikongo and Tshiluba. Many Congolese speak at least two of these four languages. Majority of the Congolese population are Bantus of which four groups derive, Mongo, Luba and Kongo peoples and Hamitic Mangbetu-Azande peoples account for 45% of the population.
  • Religion-The majority of the Congolese population are Christians, comprising 46-48% Roman Catholics, and 26-28% Protestants. Kimbanguists may represent 16.5%, and Islam has a smaller number of adherents.
  • Food- A wide variety of crops are found in DRC. These include maize, rice, cassava (manioc), sweet potatoes, yam, taro, plantain, tomatoes, pumpkin and varieties of peas and nuts. These foods are eaten throughout the country as well as wild plants, fruits, mushrooms, honey and other foods such as bushmeat and fish are also gathered, hunted, and used in dishes.
  • Art- DR Congo art is very rich reflecting its ethnic diversity and different ways people live in specific regions of the vast country. Sculptures, paintings and Masks are particular to different tribes.
  • Music- DR Congo is known for its particular “Rumba” rhythm a fusion of African musical styles and Latin that came from the island of Cuba. Congolese music is very popular across central Africa especially in the 60’s when many countries were celebrating their independence.
  • Climate- tropical; hot and humid in equatorial river basin; cooler and drier in southern highlands; cooler-cold and wetter in eastern highlands and the Ruwenzori Range; 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.
  • Geography- The country lies on the Equator; very narrow strip of land that controls the lower Congo River  which is the world’s eighth-longest river at 2,914 miles long. This river is the only outlet to South Atlantic Ocean.An impressive dense tropical rainforest is situated in the central river basin and eastern highlands.