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Demographics of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The population of DROC 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 Lingala.

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. In 1969, it was the first independent African church admitted to the World Council of Churches.

Before independence, education was largely in the hands of religious groups. The primary school system was well-developed at independence; however, the secondary school system was limited, and higher education was almost nonexistent in most regions of the country. The principal objective of this system was to train low-level administrators and clerks. Since independence, efforts have been made to increase access to education, and secondary and higher education have been made available to many more Congolese. Despite the deterioration of the state-run educational system in recent years, about 80% of the males and 65% of females, ages 6-11, were enrolled in a mixture of state- and church-run primary schools in 1996. At higher levels of education, males greatly outnumber females. The elite continues to send their children abroad to be educated, primarily in Western Europe.

Population: 51,964,999
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2000 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 48% (male 12,597,444; female 12,490,279)
15-64 years: 49% (male 12,503,440; female 13,037,527)
65 years and over: 3% (male 567,823; female 768,486) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.19% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 46.44 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 15.38 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.82 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)
note: in 1994, about a million refugees fled into Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DROC), to escape the fighting between the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi; the outbreak of widespread fighting in the DROC between rebels and government forces in October 1996 spurred about 875,000 refugees to return to Rwanda in late 1996 and early 1997; an additional 173,000 Rwandan refugees disappeared in early 1997 and are assumed to have been killed by DROC forces; fighting renewed in August 1998 and has continued sporadically into 2000 resulting in further internal displacement and refugee movements within the Great Lakes region

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 101.71 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 48.75 years
male: 46.72 years
female: 50.83 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.92 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality:
noun: Congolese (singular and plural)
adjective: Congolese or Congo

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 syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs 10%

Languages: French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana[?] (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo[?], Tshiluba

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write French, Lingala, Kingwana, or Tshiluba
total population: 77.3%
male: 86.6%
female: 67.7% (1995 est.)

See also : Democratic Republic of the Congo



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