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Democratic Republic of the Congo

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly known as Zaire, is a nation in central Africa.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Republique Democratique du Congo
Table of contents

(In Detail)
National motto: unknown
Official language French
Capital Kinshasa
President Joseph Kabila[?]
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 12th
2,345,410 km²
 - Total
 - Density
Ranked 23rd
 - Date
From Belgium
June 30, 1960
CurrencyCongolese franc[?]
Time zoneUTC +1 to UTC +2
National anthemDebout Kongolaise
Internet TLD.CD
Calling Code243


Main article: Geography of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Congo includes the greater part of the Congo River Basin, which covers an area of almost a million square kilometers. The country's only outlet to the Atlantic Ocean is a narrow strip of land on the north bank of the Congo River.

The vast, low-lying central area is a basin-shaped plateau sloping toward the west and covered by tropical rainforest. This area is surrounded by mountainous terraces in the west, plateaus merging into savannas in the south and southwest, and dense grasslands extending beyond the Congo River in the north.

The country lies on the Equator, with one-third to the north and two-thirds to the south.

The Congo is devided into 10 provinces, and 1 independent city (Kinshasa):


Main article: History of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The area now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo was populated as early as 10,000 years ago, and settled in the 7th and 8th centuries by Bantus from present-day Nigeria.

European exploration and exploitation took place from the 1870s until the 1920s. The rape of the Congo Free State stands alone as the single most brutal and greedy episode of colonisation in modern history.

Since 1994, DR Congo has been rent by ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow of refugees from fighting in Rwanda and Burundi. The government of former president Mobutu Sese Seko was toppled by a rebellion led by Laurent-Desire Kabila in May 1997; his regime was subsequently challenged by a Rwanda- and Uganda-backed rebellion in August 1998. Troops from Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Chad, and Sudan intervened to support the Kinshasa regime.

A cease-fire was signed on 10 July 1999, but sporadic fighting continued. Kabila was assassinated in January 2001 and his son Joseph Kabila[?] was named head of state. The new president quickly began overtures to end the war.


Main article: Politics of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Despite President Kabila's claims that his was a transitional government leading to a new constitution and full elections by April 1999, these elections have not yet been held, and a 1998 draft constitution has not been finalized. All executive, legislative, and military powers are vested in the president. The judiciary is independent, with the president having the power to dismiss or appoint. The president is head of a 26-member cabinet dominated by the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire.


Main article: Economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Sparsely populated in relation to its area, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to a vast potential of natural resources and mineral wealth, yet the economy of the country has declined drastically since the mid-1980s. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, accounting for 57.9% of GDP in 1997.


Main article: Demographics of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The population was estimated at 46.7 million in 1997. As many as 250 ethnic groups have been distinguished and named. The most numerous people are the Kongo, Luba[?], and Mongo[?]. Although 700 local languages and dialects are spoken, the linguistic variety is bridged both by the use of French and the intermediary languages Kikongo[?], Tshiluba, Swahili, and Ligala.

About 80% of the Congolese population are Christian, predominantly Roman Catholic. Most of the non-Christians adhere to either traditional religions or syncretic sects. Traditional religions embody such concepts as monotheism, animism, vitalism, spirit[?] and ancestor worship, witchcraft, and sorcery and vary widely among ethnic groups; none is formalized. The syncretic sects often merge Christianity with traditional beliefs and rituals. The most popular of these sects, Kimbanguism[?], was seen as a threat to the colonial regime and was banned by the Belgians. Kimbanguism, officially "the church of Christ on Earth by the prophet Simon Kimbangu," now has about 3 million members, primarily among the Bakongo[?] of Bas-Congo[?] and Kinshasa.


DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
June 30Independence Day

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