Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Overview
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 located in Central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world. With a population of over 71 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the eighteenth most populous nation in the world, and the fourth most populous nation in Africa, as well as the most populous officially Francophone country.

It borders the Central African Republic
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic , is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It borders Chad in the north, Sudan in the north east, South Sudan in the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo in the south, and Cameroon in the west. The CAR covers a land area of about ,...

 and South Sudan
South Sudan
South Sudan , officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country located in the Sahel region of northeastern Africa. It is also part of the North Africa UN sub-region. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city; the capital city is planned to be moved to the more...

 to the north; Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

, Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

, and Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

 in the east; Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

 and Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

 to the south; the Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo , sometimes known locally as Congo-Brazzaville, is a state in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.The region was dominated by...

, the Angolan exclave of Cabinda
Cabinda
Cabinda may refer to:*Cabinda Province, an exclave and Province of Angola*Cabinda , the administrative capital of Cabinda Province*Republic of Cabinda, self-proclaimed government which claims sovereignty over Cabinda...

, and the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 to the west; and is separated from Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

 by Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika is an African Great Lake. It is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest, after Lake Baikal in Siberia; it is also the world's longest freshwater lake...

 in the east.
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Timeline

1960   Belgium defends its intervention in the Congo to the United Nations Security Council while the government of the Congo appeals to the Soviet Union to send troops to push back the Belgians. The governments of the United States and France and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization warn the Soviets to stay out of the dispute.

1961   U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld dies in a plane crash while attempting to negotiate peace in the war-torn Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

1964   The Belgian Congo is renamed the Republic of the Congo.

1965   Joseph Désiré Mobutu seizes power in the Congo and becomes President; he rules the country (which he renames Zaire in 1971) for over 30 years, until being overthrown by rebels in 1997.

1966   Former Congolese Prime Minister Evariste Kimba and several other politicians are publicly executed in Kinshasa on the orders of President Joseph Mobutu.

1971   The Democratic Republic of the Congo is renamed Zaire.

1997   The Republic of Zaïre officially joins the World Trade Organization, as ''Zaïre''.

1997   Troops of Laurent Kabila march into Kinshasa. Zaire is officially renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo.

1998   A Lignes Aériennes Congolaises Boeing 727 is shot down by rebels in Kindu, Democratic Republic of the Congo, killing 41 people.

2001   Congolese President Laurent-Désiré Kabila is assassinated by one of his own bodyguards.

 
Encyclopedia
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 located in Central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world. With a population of over 71 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the eighteenth most populous nation in the world, and the fourth most populous nation in Africa, as well as the most populous officially Francophone country.

It borders the Central African Republic
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic , is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It borders Chad in the north, Sudan in the north east, South Sudan in the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo in the south, and Cameroon in the west. The CAR covers a land area of about ,...

 and South Sudan
South Sudan
South Sudan , officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country located in the Sahel region of northeastern Africa. It is also part of the North Africa UN sub-region. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city; the capital city is planned to be moved to the more...

 to the north; Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

, Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

, and Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

 in the east; Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

 and Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

 to the south; the Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo , sometimes known locally as Congo-Brazzaville, is a state in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.The region was dominated by...

, the Angolan exclave of Cabinda
Cabinda
Cabinda may refer to:*Cabinda Province, an exclave and Province of Angola*Cabinda , the administrative capital of Cabinda Province*Republic of Cabinda, self-proclaimed government which claims sovereignty over Cabinda...

, and the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 to the west; and is separated from Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

 by Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika is an African Great Lake. It is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest, after Lake Baikal in Siberia; it is also the world's longest freshwater lake...

 in the east. The country has access to the ocean through a 40 kilometres (24.9 mi) stretch of Atlantic coastline at Muanda
Muanda
Muanda or Moanda is a town lying on the Atlantic Ocean coast of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the mouth of the Congo River. It is situated in Bas-Congo Province, and has a population of 50,000...

 and the roughly 9 km wide mouth of the Congo River
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

 which opens into the Gulf of Guinea
Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea is the northeasternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean between Cape Lopez in Gabon, north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia. The intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian is in the gulf....

.

The Second Congo War
Second Congo War
The Second Congo War, also known as Coltan War and the Great War of Africa, began in August 1998 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo , and officially ended in July 2003 when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power; however, hostilities continue to this...

, beginning in 1998, devastated the country and is sometimes referred to as the "African world war
World war
A world war is a war affecting the majority of the world's most powerful and populous nations. World wars span multiple countries on multiple continents, with battles fought in multiple theaters....

" because it involved nine African nations and some twenty armed groups. Despite the signing of peace accords in 2003, fighting continues in the east of the country. In eastern Congo, the prevalence of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world. The war is the world's deadliest conflict since World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, killing 5.4 million people since 1998. The vast majority died from malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo was formerly, in chronological order, the Congo Free State
Congo Free State
The Congo Free State was a large area in Central Africa which was privately controlled by Leopold II, King of the Belgians. Its origins lay in Leopold's attracting scientific, and humanitarian backing for a non-governmental organization, the Association internationale africaine...

, Belgian Congo
Belgian Congo
The Belgian Congo was the formal title of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo between King Leopold II's formal relinquishment of his personal control over the state to Belgium on 15 November 1908, and Congolese independence on 30 June 1960.-Congo Free State, 1884–1908:Until the latter...

, Congo-Léopoldville
Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville)
The Republic of the Congo was an independent republic established following the independence granted to the former colony of the Belgian Congo in 1960...

, Congo-Kinshasa, and Zaire
Zaire
The Republic of Zaire was the name of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo between 27 October 1971 and 17 May 1997. The name of Zaire derives from the , itself an adaptation of the Kongo word nzere or nzadi, or "the river that swallows all rivers".-Self-proclaimed Father of the Nation:In...

 (Zaïre in French). These former names are sometimes referred to, as unofficial names, with the exeption of Mobutu's discredited Zaire, along with various abreviations, such as, Congo, Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo and DRC. Though it is located in the Central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

n UN subregion, the nation is also economically and regionally affiliated with Southern Africa
Southern Africa
Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa ; nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.-UN...

 as a member of the Southern African Development Community
Southern African Development Community
The Southern African Development Community is an inter-governmental organization headquartered in Gaborone, Botswana. Its goal is to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 15 southern African states...

 (SADC).

History


Early history




A wave of early people was identified in the northern and north-western parts of central Africa during the second millennium BC. They produced food (pearl millet), maintained domestic livestock and developed a kind of arboriculture
Arboriculture
Arboriculture is the cultivation, management, and study of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants. It is both a practice and a science....

 mainly based on the oil palm
Oil palm
The oil palms comprise two species of the Arecaceae, or palm family. They are used in commercial agriculture in the production of palm oil. The African Oil Palm Elaeis guineensis is native to West Africa, occurring between Angola and Gambia, while the American Oil Palm Elaeis oleifera is native to...

.
From BC to BC, starting from a nucleus area in south Cameroon on both banks of the Sanaga River
Sanaga River
The Sanaga River is a river of South Province, Cameroon, Centre Province, Cameroon, and West Province, Cameroon. Its length is 890 kilometers.The Sanaga River forms a boundary between two tropical moist forest ecoregions...

, the first Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 peopling of northern and western central Africa can be followed south-eastwards and southwards.

In D.R. Congo, the first villages in the vicinity of Mbandaka
Mbandaka
Mbandaka, formerly known as Coquilhatville or Coquilhatstad , is a city on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, lying near the confluence of the Congo and Ruki Rivers. The capital of the Equateur District, it is home to an airport and is linked by ferry to Kinshasa and Boende...

 and the Lake Tumba
Lake Tumba
Lake Tumba is a shallow lake in northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is located at around and has an area of 500.00 km² and is from 2 to 6 m deep. It is the part of the Congo River basin. Lake Tumba hosts 114 species of fish...

 are known as the Imbonga Traditions, from around BC. In Lower Congo, north of the Angolan border, it is the 'Ngovo Tradition' around BC that shows the arrival of the Neolithic wave of advance.

In Kivu, across the country to the east, the Urewe
Urewe
The Urewe culture developed and spread in and around the Lake Victoria region of Africa during the African Iron Age. The culture's earliest dated artifacts are located in the Kagera Region of Tanzania, and it extended as far west as the Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as far...

 Tradition villages first appeared about BC. The few archaeological sites known in Congo are a western extension of the Urewe culture
Archaeological culture
An archaeological culture is a recurring assemblage of artifacts from a specific time and place, which are thought to constitute the material culture remains of a particular past human society. The connection between the artifacts is based on archaeologists' understanding and interpretation and...

 which has been found chiefly in Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

, Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

, Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

 and western Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

 and Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

. From the start of this tradition, the people knew iron smelting, as is evidenced by several iron-smelting furnaces excavated in Rwanda and Burundi.

The earliest evidence further to the west is known in Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

 and near to the small town of Bouar
Bouar
Bouar is a market town in the western Central African Republic, lying on the main road from Bangui to the frontier with Cameroon . The city has a population of 40,353, while the whole sous-préfecture has a population of 96,595 and is the capital of Nana-Mambéré prefecture...

 in Central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

. Though further studies are needed to establish a better chronology for the start of iron production in Central Africa, the Cameroonian data places iron smelting north of the Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests
Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests
The Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests are a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of central Africa, covering hills, plains, and mountains of the Atlantic coast of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.This is rich forest home...

 around BC to BC. This technology developed independently from the previous Neolithic expansion, some 900 years later. As fieldwork done by a German team shows, the Congo River network was slowly settled by food-producing villagers going upstream in the forest. Work from a Spanish project in the Ituri area further east suggests villages reached there only around BC.

The supposedly Bantu-speaking Neolithic and then iron-producing villagers added to and displaced the indigenous Pygmy
Pygmy
Pygmy is a term used for various ethnic groups worldwide whose average height is unusually short; anthropologists define pygmy as any group whose adult men grow to less than 150 cm in average height. A member of a slightly taller group is termed "pygmoid." The best known pygmies are the Aka,...

 populations (also known in the region as the "Batwa" or "Twa") into secondary parts of the country. Subsequent migrations from the Darfur
Darfur
Darfur is a region in western Sudan. An independent sultanate for several hundred years, it was incorporated into Sudan by Anglo-Egyptian forces in 1916. The region is divided into three federal states: West Darfur, South Darfur, and North Darfur...

 and Kordofan
Kurdufan
Kurdufan , also spelled Kordofan, is a former province of central Sudan. In 1994 it was divided into three new federal states: North Kurdufan, South Kurdufan, and West Kurdufan...

 regions of Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 into the north-east, as well as East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

ns migrating into the eastern Congo
Congo Basin
The Congo Basin is the sedimentary basin that is the drainage of the Congo River of west equatorial Africa. The basin begins in the highlands of the East African Rift system with input from the Chambeshi River, the Uele and Ubangi Rivers in the upper reaches and the Lualaba River draining wetlands...

, added to the mix of ethnic groups. The Bantu-speakers imported a mixed economy made up of agriculture, small-stock raising, fishing, fruit collecting, hunting and arboriculture before BP; iron-working techniques, possibly from West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

, a much later addition. The villagers established the Bantu language family
Bantu languages
The Bantu languages constitute a traditional sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages. There are about 250 Bantu languages by the criterion of mutual intelligibility, though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue counts 535 languages...

 as the primary set of tongues for the Congolese.

The process in which the original Upemba society transitioned into the Kingdom of Luba
Kingdom of Luba
The Kingdom of Luba or Luba Empire was a pre-colonial Central African state, which arose in the marshy grasslands of the Upemba Depression in what is now southern Democratic Republic of Congo.-Origins:...

 was gradual and complex. This transition ran without interruption, with several distinct societies developing out of the Upemba culture prior to the genesis of the Luba. Each of these kingdoms became very wealthy due mainly to the region's mineral wealth, especially in ores
Orés
Orés is a municipality in the Cinco Villas, in the province of Zaragoza, in the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain. It belongs to the comarca of Cinco Villas. It is placed 104 km to the northwest of the provincial capital city, Zaragoza. Its coordinates are: 42° 17' N, 1° 00' W, and is...

. The civilization began to develop and implement iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 and copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 technology, in addition to trading in ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

 and other goods. The Luba established a strong commercial demand for their metal technologies and were able to institute a long-range commercial net (the business connections extended over 1,500 kilometres (930 mi), all the way to the Indian Ocean). By the 16th century, the kingdom had an established strong central government based on chieftainship. The Eastern regions of the precolonial Congo were heavily disrupted by constant slave raiding
Slave raiding
Slave raiding is the military practise of performing a raid for the purpose of capturing people and bring them out of the raid area to serve as slaves. Sometimes seen as a normal part of warfare it is nowadays widely considered a crime. The practise of slave raiding is known to have occurred since...

, mainly from Arab/Zanzibari slave traders
Arab slave trade
The Arab slave trade was the practice of slavery in the Arab World, mainly Western Asia, North Africa, East Africa and certain parts of Europe during their period of domination by Arab leaders. The trade was focused on the slave markets of the Middle East and North Africa...

 such as the infamous Tippu Tip
Tippu Tip
Tippu Tip or Tib , real name Hamad bin Muḥammad bin Jumah bin Rajab bin Muḥammad bin Sa‘īd al-Murghabī, , was a Swahili-Zanzibari trader. He was famously known as Tippu Tib after an eye disease which made him blind...

.

The African Congo Free State (1877–1908)




European exploration and administration took place from the 1870s until the 1920s. It was first led by Sir Henry Morton Stanley, who undertook his explorations under the sponsorship of King Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold had designs on what was to become the Congo as a colony. In a succession of negotiations, Leopold – professing humanitarian objectives in his capacity as chairman of the Association Internationale Africaine – played one European rival against another.

Leopold formally acquired rights to the Congo territory at the Conference of Berlin in 1885 and made the land his private property and named it the Congo Free State
Congo Free State
The Congo Free State was a large area in Central Africa which was privately controlled by Leopold II, King of the Belgians. Its origins lay in Leopold's attracting scientific, and humanitarian backing for a non-governmental organization, the Association internationale africaine...

. Leopold's regime began various infrastructure projects, such as construction of the railway that ran from the coast to the capital of Leopoldville (now Kinshasa). It took years to complete. Nearly all such projects were aimed at increasing the capital which Leopold and his associates could extract from the colony, leading to exploitation of Africans.

In the Free State, colonists brutalized the local population to produce rubber
Rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...

, for which the spread of automobiles and development of rubber tires created a growing international market. The sale of rubber made a fortune for Leopold, who built several buildings in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 and Ostend
Ostend
Ostend  is a Belgian city and municipality located in the Flemish province of West Flanders. It comprises the boroughs of Mariakerke , Stene and Zandvoorde, and the city of Ostend proper – the largest on the Belgian coast....

 to honor himself and his country. To enforce the rubber quotas, the army, the Force Publique
Force Publique
The Force Publique , French for "Public Force", was both a gendarmerie and a military force in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1885, , through the period of direct Belgian colonial rule...

 (FP), was called in. The Force Publique made the practice of cutting off the limbs of the natives as a means of enforcing rubber quotas a matter of policy; this practice was widespread. During the period of 1885–1908, millions of Congolese died as a consequence of exploitation and disease. In some areas the population declined dramatically, it has been estimated that sleeping sickness and smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 killed nearly half the population in the areas surrounding the lower Congo River
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

. A government commission later concluded that the population of the Congo had been "reduced by half" during this period, but determining precisely how many people died is impossible as no accurate records exist.

The actions of the Free State's administration sparked international protests led by British reporter Edmund Dene Morel
E. D. Morel
Edmund Dene Morel, originally Georges Eduard Pierre Achille Morel de Ville was a British journalist, author and socialist politician. In collaboration with Roger Casement, the Congo Reform Association and others, Morel, in newspapers such as his West African Mail, led a campaign against slavery...

 and British diplomat/Irish rebel Roger Casement
Roger Casement
Roger David Casement —Sir Roger Casement CMG between 1911 and shortly before his execution for treason, when he was stripped of his British honours—was an Irish patriot, poet, revolutionary, and nationalist....

, whose 1904 report on the Congo condemned the practice. Famous writers such as Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

 and Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle DL was a Scottish physician and writer, most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, generally considered a milestone in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger...

 also protested, and Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad was a Polish-born English novelist.Conrad is regarded as one of the great novelists in English, although he did not speak the language fluently until he was in his twenties...

's novella Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness is a novella written by Joseph Conrad. Before its 1903 publication, it appeared as a three-part series in Blackwood's Magazine. It was classified by the Modern Library website editors as one of the "100 best novels" and part of the Western canon.The story centres on Charles...

 was set in Congo Free State.

Belgian Congo (1908–1960)


In 1908, the Belgian parliament, despite initial reluctance, bowed to international pressure (especially that from Great Britain) and took over the Free State as a Belgian colony from the king. From then on, it was called the Belgian Congo
Belgian Congo
The Belgian Congo was the formal title of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo between King Leopold II's formal relinquishment of his personal control over the state to Belgium on 15 November 1908, and Congolese independence on 30 June 1960.-Congo Free State, 1884–1908:Until the latter...

 and was under the rule of the elected Belgian government. The government improved significantly and a considerable economic and social progress was achieved. The white colonial rulers had, however, generally a condescending, patronizing attitude against the indigenous peoples, which led to bitter resentment.

During World War II, the Congolese army achieved several victories against the Italians in North Africa.

Political crisis (1960–1965)


In May 1960, a growing nationalist movement, the Mouvement National Congolais
Mouvement National Congolais
The Mouvement National Congolais is a political party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.-History:The party was founded in 1958 as a nationalist, pro-independence group in the Belgian Congo...

 or MNC Party, led by Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Lumumba
Patrice Émery Lumumba was a Congolese independence leader and the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Only ten weeks later, Lumumba's government was deposed in a coup during the Congo Crisis...

, won the parliamentary elections. The party appointed Lumumba as Prime Minister. The parliament elected Joseph Kasavubu, of the Alliance des Bakongo (ABAKO) party as President. Other parties that emerged included the Parti Solidaire Africain
Parti Solidaire Africain
The Parti Solidaire Africain was a political party active in the Belgian Congo and the subsequent Republic of the Congo ....

 (or PSA) led by Antoine Gizenga
Antoine Gizenga
Antoine Gizenga is a Congolese politician who was Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from December 30, 2006 to 10 October 2008...

, and the Parti National du Peuple (or PNP) led by Albert Delvaux and Laurent Mbariko
Laurent Mbariko
Laurent Jean-Pierre Mbariko , from the Kwilu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was a prominent Congolese politician who played a significant role in Congo's independence from Belgium....

. (Congo 1960, dossiers du CRISP, Belgium) The Belgian Congo achieved independence on 30 June 1960 under the name République du Congo ("Republic of Congo" or "Republic of the Congo" in English). Shortly after independence, the provinces of Katanga
Katanga Province
Katanga Province is one of the provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Between 1971 and 1997, its official name was Shaba Province. Under the new constitution, the province was to be replaced by four smaller provinces by February 2009; this did not actually take place.Katanga's regional...

 (led by Moise Tshombe
Moise Tshombe
Moïse Kapenda Tshombe was a Congolese politician.- Biography :He was the son of a successful Congolese businessman and was born in Musumba, Congo. He received his education from an American missionary school and later trained as an accountant...

) and South Kasai
South Kasai
South Kasai was a secessionist region in the area of south central Republic of the Congo during the early 1960s. The region sought independence in similar circumstances to neighboring State of Katanga during the political turmoil arising from the decolonization of Belgian Congo...

 engaged in secessionist struggles against the new leadership. Most of the 100,000 Europeans who had remained behind after independence fled the country, opening the way for Congolese to replace the European military and administrative elite.

As the French colony of Middle Congo (Moyen Congo) also chose the name "Republic of Congo" upon achieving its independence, the two countries were more commonly known as "Congo-Léopoldville" and "Congo-Brazzaville", after their capital cities. Another way they were often distinguished during the 1960s, such as in newspaper articles, was that "Congo-Léopoldville" was called “The Congo” and "Congo-Brazzaville" was called simply “Congo.”

On 5 September 1960, Kasavubu dismissed Lumumba from office. Lumumba declared Kasavubu's action "unconstitutional" and a crisis between the two leaders developed. (cf. Sécession au Katanga – J.Gerald-Libois -Brussels- CRISP)
Lumumba had previously appointed Joseph Mobutu chief of staff of the new Congo army, Armée Nationale Congolaise (ANC). Taking advantage of the leadership crisis between Kasavubu and Lumumba, Mobutu garnered enough support within the army to create mutiny. With financial support from the United States and Belgium, Mobutu paid his soldiers privately. The aversion of Western powers to communism and leftist ideology influenced their decision to finance Mobutu's quest to maintain "order" in the new state by neutralizing Kasavubu and Lumumba in a coup
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 by proxy. A constitutional referendum
Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville) constitutional referendum, 1964
A constitutional referendum was held in the Republic of the Congo between 25 June and 10 July 1964. The new constitution, known as the "Constitution de Luluabourg", changed the country's system of government, its name, and the number of provinces...

 after Mobutu's coup of 1965 resulted in the country's official name being changed to the "Democratic Republic of the Congo." In 1971 it was changed again to "Republic of Zaïre."

On 17 January 1961, Katangan forces and Belgian paratroops – supported by the United States' and Belgium's intent on copper and diamond mines in Katanga and South Kasai – kidnapped and executed Patrice Lumumba. Amidst widespread confusion and chaos, a temporary government was led by technicians (Collège des Commissaires) with Evariste Kimba
Évariste Kimba
Evariste Kimba served briefly as the Republic of the Congo's Prime Minister from October 18 to November 14, 1965. A protégé of President Joseph Kasavubu, he fell foul of Kasavubu's main enemy Joseph Mobutu , who became the chief Congolese strongman in November 1965...

. The Katanga secession was ended in January 1963 with the assistance of UN forces. Several short-lived governments, of Joseph Ileo
Joseph Iléo
Joseph Iléo , later called Sombo Amba Ileo, was a politician in the Republic of the Congo and was prime minister for two periods.-Before independence:...

, Cyrille Adoula
Cyrille Adoula
Cyrille Adoula , was a Congolese politician. Adoula was the premier of the Republic of the Congo, from 2 August 1961 until 30 June 1964.Adoula was born in Léopoldville...

, and Moise Tshombe
Moise Tshombe
Moïse Kapenda Tshombe was a Congolese politician.- Biography :He was the son of a successful Congolese businessman and was born in Musumba, Congo. He received his education from an American missionary school and later trained as an accountant...

, took over in quick succession.

Zaire (1971–1997)



The new president Mobutu Sese Seko
Mobutu Sese Seko
Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga , commonly known as Mobutu or Mobutu Sese Seko , born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, was the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1965 to 1997...

 had the support of the United States because of his staunch opposition to Communism. Western powers appeared to believe this would make him a roadblock to Communist schemes in Africa.

A one-party system was established, and Mobutu declared himself head of state. He periodically held elections in which he was the only candidate.
Relative peace and stability were achieved; however, Mobutu's government was guilty of severe human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 violations, political repression, a cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

 and corruption. (Mobutu demanded every Congolese banknote printed with his image, hanging of his portrait in all public buildings, most businesses, and on billboards; and it was common for ordinary people to wear his likeness on their clothing.)

Corruption became so prevalent the term "le mal Zairois" or "Zairean Sickness" was coined, reportedly by Mobutu himself. By 1984, Mobutu was said to have $4 billion (USD), an amount close to the country's national debt, deposited in a personal Swiss bank account. International aid, most often in the form of loans, enriched Mobutu while he allowed national infrastructure such as roads to deteriorate to as little as one-quarter of what had existed in 1960. Zaire became a "kleptocracy
Kleptocracy
Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often without pretense of honest...

" as Mobutu and his associates embezzled
Embezzlement
Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted....

 government funds.


In a campaign to identify himself with African nationalism, starting on 1 June 1966, Mobutu renamed the nation's cities: Léopoldville became Kinshasa [the country was now Democratic Republic of The Congo – Kinshasa], Stanleyville became Kisangani, Elisabethville became Lubumbashi, and Coquihatville became Mbandaka. This renaming campaign was completed in the 1970s.

In 1971, Mobutu renamed the country the Republic of Zaire, its fourth name change in 11 years and its sixth overall. The Congo River was renamed the Zaire River. In 1972, Mobutu renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (translated as "the all powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, shall go from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake").

During the 1970s and 1980s, Mobutu was invited to visit the United States on several occasions, meeting with U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

, Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 and George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

. In June 1989, Mobutu was the first African head of state invited for a state visit with newly elected President Bush. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

, however, U.S. relations with Mobutu cooled, as he was no longer deemed necessary as a Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 ally.

Opponents within Zaire stepped up demands for reform. This atmosphere contributed to Mobutu's declaring the Third Republic in 1990, whose constitution was supposed to pave the way for democratic reform. The reforms turned out to be largely cosmetic. Mobutu continued in power until the conflict forced him to flee Zaire in 1997. Thereafter, the nation chose to reclaim its name of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, since the name Zaire carried such strong connections to the rule of Mobutu.

Rwandan/Ugandan invasions and civil wars



By 1996, tensions from the neighbouring Rwandan Civil War
Rwandan Civil War
The Rwandan Civil War was a conflict within the Central African nation of Rwanda between the government of President Juvénal Habyarimana and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front...

 and Rwandan Genocide
Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan Genocide was the 1994 mass murder of an estimated 800,000 people in the small East African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of approximately 100 days through mid-July, over 500,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate...

 had spilled over to Zaire
Zaire
The Republic of Zaire was the name of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo between 27 October 1971 and 17 May 1997. The name of Zaire derives from the , itself an adaptation of the Kongo word nzere or nzadi, or "the river that swallows all rivers".-Self-proclaimed Father of the Nation:In...

. Rwandan Hutu
Hutu
The Hutu , or Abahutu, are a Central African people, living mainly in Rwanda, Burundi, and eastern DR Congo.-Population statistics:The Hutu are the largest of the three peoples in Burundi and Rwanda; according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency, 84% of Rwandans and 85% of Burundians...

 militia forces (Interahamwe
Interahamwe
The Interahamwe is a Hutu paramilitary organization. The militia enjoyed the backing of the Hutu-led government leading up to, during, and after the Rwandan Genocide. Since the genocide, they have been forced out of Rwanda, and have sought asylum in Congo...

), who had fled Rwanda following the ascension of a Tutsi
Tutsi
The Tutsi , or Abatutsi, are an ethnic group in Central Africa. Historically they were often referred to as the Watussi or Watusi. They are the second largest caste in Rwanda and Burundi, the other two being the Hutu and the Twa ....

-led government, had been using Hutu refugees camps in eastern Zaire as a basis for incursion against Rwanda. These Hutu militia forces soon allied with the Zairian armed forces (FAZ) to launch a campaign against Congolese ethnic Tutsis in eastern Zaire.

In turn, a coalition of Rwandan and Ugandan armies invaded Zaire under the cover of a small group of Tutsi militia to fight the Hutu militia, overthrow the government of Mobutu, and ultimately control the mineral resources of Zaire. They were soon joined by various Zairean politicians, who had been unsuccessfully opposing the dictatorship of Mobutu for many years, and now saw an opportunity for them in the invasion of Zaire by two of the region's strongest military forces.

This new expanded coalition of two foreign armies and some longtime opposition figures, led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila
Laurent-Désiré Kabila
Laurent-Désiré Kabila was President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from May 17, 1997, when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, until his assassination by his bodyguards on January 18, 2001...

, became known as the Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre (AFDL). They were seeking the broader goal of ousting Mobutu and controlling his country's wealth. In May 1997, Mobutu fled the country and Kabila marched into Kinshasa, naming himself president and reverting the name of the country to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A few months later, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila
Laurent-Désiré Kabila
Laurent-Désiré Kabila was President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from May 17, 1997, when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, until his assassination by his bodyguards on January 18, 2001...

 thanked all the foreign military forces that helped him to overthrow Mobutu, and asked them to return back to their countries because he was very fearful and concerned that the Rwandan military officers who were running his army were plotting a coup d'état against him in order to give the presidency to a Tutsi who would report directly to the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. This move was not well received by the Rwandan and Ugandan governments, who wanted to control their big neighbour.

Consequently, Rwandan troops in DRC retreated to Goma and launched a new militia group or rebel movement called the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD), led by Tutsis, to fight against their former ally, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila
Laurent-Désiré Kabila
Laurent-Désiré Kabila was President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from May 17, 1997, when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, until his assassination by his bodyguards on January 18, 2001...

. To counterbalance the power and influence of Rwanda in DRC, the Ugandan troops instigated the creation of another rebel movement called the Movement for the Liberation of Congo
Movement for the Liberation of Congo
The Movement for the Liberation of the Congo is a political party in Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was a rebel group operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo that fought the government throughout the Second Congo War. It subsequently took part in the transitional government and is now...

 (MLC), led by the Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba
Jean-Pierre Bemba
Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is a politician in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was one of four vice-presidents in the transitional government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 17 July 2003 to December 2006. Bemba also leads the Movement for the Liberation of Congo , a rebel group...

, son of Congolese billionaire Bemba Saolona. The two rebel movements started the second war by attacking the DRC's still fragile army in 1998, backed by Rwandan and Ugandan troops. Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia became involved militarily on the side of the government to defend a fellow SADC member.

Kabila was assassinated in 2001 and was succeeded by his son Joseph
Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila Kabange is a Congolese politician who has been President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since January 2001. He took office ten days after the assassination of his father, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila...

, who upon taking office called for multilateral peace talks to end the war. In February 2001 a peace deal was brokered between Kabila, Rwanda and Uganda, leading to the apparent withdrawal of foreign troops. UN peacekeepers, MONUC, arrived in April 2001. The conflict was reignited in January 2002 by ethnic clashes in the northeast, and both Uganda and Rwanda then halted their withdrawal and sent in more troops. Talks between Kabila and the rebel leaders led to the signing of a peace accord in which Kabila would share power with former rebels. By June 2003 all foreign armies except those of Rwanda had pulled out of Congo. Much of the conflict was focused on gaining control of substantial natural resources in the country, including diamond
Diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

s, copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

, zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

, and coltan
Coltan
Coltan is the industrial name for columbite–tantalite, a dull black metallic mineral from which the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted. The niobium-dominant mineral is columbite, hence the "col" half of the term...

.

DR Congo had a transitional government
Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo was tasked with moving from the state riven by the Second Congo War to a government based upon a constitution agreed on by consensus. In 2001 President Laurent Kabila was assassinated and his son Joseph Kabila was named head of state...

 until the election was over. A constitution was approved by voters, and on 30 July 2006 the Congo held its first multi-party elections
Democratic Republic of the Congo general election, 2006
General elections were held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on July 30, 2006, the first multiparty elections in the country in 41 years. Voters went to the polls to elect both a new President of the Republic and a new National Assembly, the lower-house of the Parliament.The polls were...

 since independence in 1960. After this Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila Kabange is a Congolese politician who has been President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since January 2001. He took office ten days after the assassination of his father, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila...

 took 45% of the votes and his opponent, Jean-Pierre Bemba took 20%. The disputed results of this election turned into an all-out battle between the supporters of the two parties in the streets of the capital, Kinshasa
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

, from 20–22 August 2006 . Sixteen people died before police and the UN mission MONUC took control of the city. A new election was held on 29 October 2006, which Kabila won with 70% of the vote. Bemba made multiple public statements saying the election had "irregularities," despite the fact that every neutral observer praised the elections. On 6 December 2006 the Transitional Government came to an end as Joseph Kabila was sworn in as President.

The fragility of the state government has allowed continued conflict and human rights abuses. In the ongoing Kivu conflict
Kivu conflict
The Kivu conflict is an armed conflict between the military of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Hutu Power group Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda . The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo also became involved in the conflict...

, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda
Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda
The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda is the primary remnant Rwandan Hutu Power rebel group in the east of the of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is often referred to as simply the FDLR after its original French name: the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda...

 (FDLR) continues to threaten the Rwandan border and the Banyamulenge
Banyamulenge
The Banyamulenge is a term historically describing the ethnic Tutsi Rwandans concentrated on the High Plateau of South Kivu, in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo , close to the Burundi-Congo-Rwanda border...

; Rwanda supports RCD-Goma rebels against Kinshasa; a rebel offensive at the end of October 2008 caused a refugee crisis in Ituri, where MONUC has proved unable to contain the numerous militia and groups driving the Ituri conflict
Ituri Conflict
The Ituri conflict is a conflict between the agriculturalist Lendu and pastoralist Hema ethnic groups in the Ituri region of the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo . While there have been many phases to the conflict, the most recent armed clashes ran from 1999 to 2003, with a low-level...

. In the northeast, Joseph Kony
Joseph Kony
Joseph Kony is an African terrorist who is the head of the Lord's Resistance Army , a guerrilla group that is engaged in a violent campaign to establish theocratic government based on the Ten Commandments in Uganda...

's LRA
LRA
LRA may refer to:* the Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group in Uganda* Local Registration Authority, relating to digital "keys"* Lake Ridge Academy, a school in North Ridgeville, Ohio, USA...

 moved from their original bases in Uganda (where they have fought a 20-year rebellion) and South Sudan to DR Congo in 2005 and set up camps in the Garamba National Park. In northern Katanga
Katanga Province
Katanga Province is one of the provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Between 1971 and 1997, its official name was Shaba Province. Under the new constitution, the province was to be replaced by four smaller provinces by February 2009; this did not actually take place.Katanga's regional...

, the Mai-Mai
Mai-Mai
The term Mai-Mai or Mayi-Mayi refers to any kind of community-based militia group active in the Second Congo War and its aftermath in the Democratic Republic of the Congo , formed to defend their local territory against other armed groups...

 created by Laurent Kabila slipped out of the control of Kinshasa. The war is the world's deadliest conflict since World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, killing 5.4 million people.

Impact of armed conflict on civilians


In 2009, people in the Congo may still be dying at a rate of an estimated 45,000 per month, and estimates of the number who have died from the long conflict range from 900,000 to 5,400,000. The death toll is due to widespread disease and famine; reports indicate that almost half of the individuals who have died are children under the age of 5. This death rate has prevailed since efforts at rebuilding the nation began in 2004.

The long and brutal conflict in the DRC has caused massive suffering for civilians, with estimates of millions dead either directly or indirectly as a result of the fighting. There have been frequent reports of weapon bearers killing civilians, destroying property, committing widespread sexual violence, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes or otherwise breaching humanitarian and human rights law. An estimated 200,000 women have been raped.

Few people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been unaffected by the armed conflict. A survey conducted in 2009 by the ICRC and Ipsos shows that three quarters (76%) of the people interviewed have been affected in some way–either personally or due to the wider consequences of armed conflict.

In 2003, Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti
Mbuti
Mbuti or Bambuti are one of several indigenous pygmy groups in the Congo region of Africa. Their languages belong to the Central Sudanic and also to Bantu languages.-Overview:...

 pygmies, told the UN's Indigenous People's Forum that during the war, his people were hunted down and eaten as though they were game animals. In neighbouring North Kivu province there has been cannibalism
Cannibalism
Cannibalism is the act or practice of humans eating the flesh of other human beings. It is also called anthropophagy...

 by a group known as Les Effaceurs ("the erasers") who wanted to clear the land of people to open it up for mineral exploitation. Both sides of the war regarded them as "subhuman" and some say their flesh can confer magical
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

 powers.

International Community Response


The response of the international community has been incommensurate with the scale of the disaster resulting from the war in the Congo. Its support for political and diplomatic efforts to end the war has been relatively
consistent, but it has taken no effective steps to abide by repeated pledges to demand accountability for the war crimes and crimes against humanity that were routinely committed in Congo. United Nations Security Council and the U.N. Secretary-General have frequently denounced human rights abuses and the humanitarian disaster that the war unleashed on the local population. But they had shown little will to tackle the responsibility of occupying powers for the atrocities taking place in areas under their control, areas where the worst violence in the country took place. Hence Rwanda, like Uganda, has escaped any significant sanction for its role.

Geography



The Congo is situated at the heart of sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 and is bounded by (clockwise from the southwest) Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

, the South Atlantic Ocean, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic , is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It borders Chad in the north, Sudan in the north east, South Sudan in the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo in the south, and Cameroon in the west. The CAR covers a land area of about ,...

, South Sudan
South Sudan
South Sudan , officially the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country located in the Sahel region of northeastern Africa. It is also part of the North Africa UN sub-region. Its current capital is Juba, which is also its largest city; the capital city is planned to be moved to the more...

, Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

, Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

, Burundi
Burundi
Burundi , officially the Republic of Burundi , is a landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Its capital is Bujumbura...

, Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

 across Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika is an African Great Lake. It is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest, after Lake Baikal in Siberia; it is also the world's longest freshwater lake...

, and Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

. The country lies between latitudes 6°N
6th parallel north
The 6th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 6 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, South America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 14°S
14th parallel south
The 14th parallel south is a circle of latitude that is 14 degrees south of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses the Atlantic Ocean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Australasia, the Pacific Ocean and South America....

, and longitudes 12°
12th meridian east
The meridian 12° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 32°E
32nd meridian east
The meridian 32° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Turkey, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. It straddles the Equator
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

, with one-third to the North and two-thirds to the South. The size of Congo, 2345408 square kilometres (905,567.1 sq mi), is slightly greater than the combined areas of Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, and Norway.

As a result of its equatorial location, the Congo experiences high precipitation and has the highest frequency of thunderstorms in the world. The annual rainfall can total upwards of 80 inches (2,032 mm) in some places, and the area sustains the Congo Rainforest, the second largest rain forest in the world (after that of the Amazon
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

). This massive expanse of lush jungle covers most of the vast, low-lying central basin
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 of the river, which slopes toward the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 in the west. This area is surrounded by plateaus merging into savannas in the south and southwest, by mountainous terraces in the west, and dense grasslands extending beyond the Congo River
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

 in the north. High, glaciated mountains are found in the extreme eastern region (Rwenzori Mountains).

The tropical climate
Tropical climate
A tropical climate is a climate of the tropics. In the Köppen climate classification it is a non-arid climate in which all twelve months have mean temperatures above...

 has also produced the Congo River system
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

 which dominates the region topographically along with the rainforest it flows through, though they are not mutually exclusive. The name for the Congo state is derived in part from the river. The river basin (meaning the Congo River and all of its myriad tributaries) occupies nearly the entire country and an area of nearly 1000000 km² (386,102.2 sq mi). The river and its tributaries (major offshoots include the Kasai
Kasai River
The Kasai River is a tributary of the Congo River, located in central Africa. The river begins in Angola and serves as the border between Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo , then flows into the DRC, where it joins the Congo northeast of Kinshasa. The Kasai's tributaries include the...

, Sangha
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

, Ubangi, Aruwimi, and Lulonga
Lulonga River
The Lulonga is a river in the Equateur province of Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is about 200 km long from its beginning at the town of Basankusu. There the Lopori and the Maringa join to form the Lulonga. The Lulonga river flows into the Congo River at the town Lulonga....

) form the backbone of Congolese economics and transportation. They have a dramatic impact on the daily lives of the people.
The sources of the Congo are in the highlands and mountains of the East African Rift
Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley is a name given in the late 19th century by British explorer John Walter Gregory to the continuous geographic trench, approximately in length, that runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in South East Africa...

, as well as Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika is an African Great Lake. It is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest, after Lake Baikal in Siberia; it is also the world's longest freshwater lake...

 and Lake Mweru
Lake Mweru
Lake Mweru is a freshwater lake on the longest arm of Africa's second-longest river, the Congo. Located on the border between Zambia and Democratic Republic of the Congo, it makes up 110 km of the total length of the Congo, lying between its Luapula River and Luvua River segments.Mweru...

. The river flows generally west from Kisangani
Kisangani
Kisangani is the capital of Orientale Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the 3rd largest urbanized city in the country and the largest of the cities that lie in the tropical woodlands of the Congo....

 just below Boyoma Falls
Boyoma Falls
Boyoma Falls, formerly known as Stanley Falls, consists of seven cataracts, each no more than 15' high, extending over more than along a curve of the Lualaba River between the river port towns of Ubundu and Kisangani/Boyoma in the Orientale region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.At the...

, then gradually bends southwest, passing by Mbandaka
Mbandaka
Mbandaka, formerly known as Coquilhatville or Coquilhatstad , is a city on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, lying near the confluence of the Congo and Ruki Rivers. The capital of the Equateur District, it is home to an airport and is linked by ferry to Kinshasa and Boende...

, joining with the Ubangi River
Ubangi River
The Ubangi River , also spelled Oubangui, is the largest right-bank tributary of the Congo River of Central Africa. It begins at the confluence of the Mbomou and Uele Rivers and flows west, then bends to the southwest and passes through Bangui, after which it flows south to the Congo at Liranga....

, and running into the Pool Malebo
Pool Malebo
The Pool Malebo , is a lake-like widening in the lower reaches of the Congo River....

 (Stanley Pool). Kinshasa
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

 and Brazzaville
Brazzaville
-Transport:The city is home to Maya-Maya Airport and a railway station on the Congo-Ocean Railway. It is also an important river port, with ferries sailing to Kinshasa and to Bangui via Impfondo...

 are on opposite sides of the river at the Pool (see NASA image).

Then the river narrows and falls through a number of cataracts in deep canyons (collectively known as the Livingstone Falls
Livingstone Falls
Livingstone Falls — named for the explorer David Livingstone — are a succession of enormous rapids on the lower course of the Congo River in west equatorial Africa, downstream from Malebo Pool in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.-Description:Livingstone Falls consist of a series of rapids...

), and then running past Boma into the Atlantic Ocean. The river also has the second-largest flow and the second-largest watershed
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 of any river in the world (trailing the Amazon
Amazon River
The Amazon of South America is the second longest river in the world and by far the largest by waterflow with an average discharge greater than the next seven largest rivers combined...

 in both respects). The river and a 45 km wide strip of land on its north bank provide the country's only outlet to the Atlantic.

The previously mentioned Great Rift Valley
Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley is a name given in the late 19th century by British explorer John Walter Gregory to the continuous geographic trench, approximately in length, that runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in South East Africa...

, in particular the Eastern Rift, plays a key role in shaping the Congo's geography. Not only is the northeastern section of the country much more mountainous, but due to the rift's tectonic
Tectonics
Tectonics is a field of study within geology concerned generally with the structures within the lithosphere of the Earth and particularly with the forces and movements that have operated in a region to create these structures.Tectonics is concerned with the orogenies and tectonic development of...

 activities, this area also experiences volcanic activity, occasionally with loss of life. The geologic activity in this area also created the famous African Great Lakes
African Great Lakes
The African Great Lakes are a series of lakes and the Rift Valley lakes in and around the geographic Great Rift Valley formed by the action of the tectonic East African Rift on the continent of Africa...

, three of which lie on the Congo's eastern frontier: Lake Albert (known previously as Lake Mobutu), Lake Edward
Lake Edward
Lake Edward or Edward Nyanza is the smallest of the African Great Lakes. It is located in the western Great Rift Valley, on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, with its northern shore a few kilometres south of the Equator...

, and Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika
Lake Tanganyika is an African Great Lake. It is estimated to be the second largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, and the second deepest, after Lake Baikal in Siberia; it is also the world's longest freshwater lake...

.

The Rift Valley has exposed an enormous amount of mineral
Mineral
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance formed through biogeochemical processes, having characteristic chemical composition, highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties. By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not...

 wealth throughout the south and east of the Congo, making it accessible to mining. Cobalt, copper, cadmium, industrial and gem-quality diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, germanium, uranium, radium, bauxite, iron ore, and coal are all found in plentiful supply, especially in the Congo's southeastern Katanga region.
On 17 January 2002 Mount Nyiragongo
Mount Nyiragongo
Mount Nyiragongo is a stratovolcano in the Virunga Mountains associated with the Great Rift Valley. It is located inside Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, about 20 km north of the town of Goma and Lake Kivu and just west of the border with Rwanda. The main crater...

 erupted in Congo, with the lava running out at 40 mi/h and 50 yards (45.7 m) wide. One of the three streams of extremely fluid lava flowed through the nearby city of Goma
Goma
Goma is a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi. The lake and the two cities are in the western branch of the Great Rift Valley, and Goma lies only 13 to 18 km due south of the crater of the active...

, killing 45 and leaving 120,000 homeless. Four hundred thousand people were evacuated from the city during the eruption. The lava poisoned the water of Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu
Lake Kivu is one of the African Great Lakes. It lies on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, and is in the Albertine Rift, a part of the Great Rift Valley. Lake Kivu empties into the Ruzizi River, which flows southwards into Lake Tanganyika...

, killing fish. Only two planes left the local airport because of the possibility of the explosion of stored petrol. The lava passed the airport but ruined the runway, entrapping several airplanes. Six months after the 2002 eruption, nearby Mount Nyamulagira also erupted. Mount Nyamulagira also erupted in 2006 and again in January 2010. Both of these active volcanos are located within the boundaries of Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park
The Virunga National Park , formerly named Albert National Park, is a 7800 square km National Park that stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the South, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, bordering Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Rwenzori...

.

World Wide Fund for Nature
World Wide Fund for Nature
The World Wide Fund for Nature is an international non-governmental organization working on issues regarding the conservation, research and restoration of the environment, formerly named the World Wildlife Fund, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States...

 ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

s located in the Congo include:
  • Central Congolian lowland forests
    Central Congolian lowland forests
    The Central Congolian lowland forests are an ecoregion within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is a remote, inaccessible area of low-lying dense wet forest, undergrowth and swamp in the Cuvette Centrale region of the Congo Basin south of the arc of the River Congo.-Fauna:The region has...

     – home to the rare bonobo
    Bonobo
    The bonobo , Pan paniscus, previously called the pygmy chimpanzee and less often, the dwarf or gracile chimpanzee, is a great ape and one of the two species making up the genus Pan. The other species in genus Pan is Pan troglodytes, or the common chimpanzee...

     primate
  • The Eastern Congolian swamp forests along the Congo River
  • The Northeastern Congolian lowland forests, with one of the richest concentrations of primates in the world
  • Southern Congolian forest-savanna mosaic
  • A large section of the Central Zambezian Miombo woodlands
    Central Zambezian Miombo woodlands
    The densely forested Central Zambezian Miombo woodlands that cut across southern central Africa are one of the largest ecozones on the continent and home to a great variety of wildlife including many large mammals.-Location and description:...

  • The Albertine Rift montane forests
    Albertine Rift montane forests
    The Albertine Rift montane forests ecoregion, of the Tropical moist broadleaf forest Biome, are in the heart of Afromontane tropical Africa.-Location and description:...

     region of high forest runs along the eastern borders of the country.


World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

s located in Democratic Republic of Congo are:
Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park
The Virunga National Park , formerly named Albert National Park, is a 7800 square km National Park that stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the South, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, bordering Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Rwenzori...

 (1979),
Garamba National Park
Garamba National Park
Garamba National Park, located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, was established in 1938. One of Africa's oldest National parks, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. Garamba is the home to the world's last known wild population of Northern White Rhinoceros...

 (1980),
Kahuzi-Biega National Park
Kahuzi-Biéga National Park
Kahuzi-Biéga National Park is in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, 50 km west of the town of Bukavu in the Kivu Region, near to the western side of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border....

 (1980),
Salonga National Park
Salonga National Park
Salonga National Park is a national park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo located in the Congo River basin. It is Africa's largest tropical rainforest reserve covering about 36,000 km². Animals in the park include bonobos, Salonga monkeys, Tshuapa red colobus, Zaire peacocks, forest...

 (1984) and
Okapi Wildlife Reserve
Okapi Wildlife Reserve
The Okapi Wildlife Reserve is a World Heritage Site in the Ituri Forest in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the borders with Sudan and Uganda...

 (1996).

Provinces


The country is divided into 10 provinces and one city-province:
  1. Bandundu
    Bandundu Province
    Bandundu is one of the ten provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It borders the provinces of Kinshasa and Bas-Congo to the west, Équateur to the north, and Kasai-Occidental to the east. The provincial capital is also called Bandundu .In 1966, Bandundu was formed by merging the three...

  2. Bas-Congo
    Bas-Congo
    Bas-Congo is one of the eleven provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the only province with a coastline and it borders Bandundu province to the east and Kinshasa to the northeast...

  3. Équateur
    Équateur
    Équateur is one of the ten provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is in the north of the country, and bordered the Republic of the Congo to the west, the Central African Republic to the north, to the east the Orientale province, and to the south the Kasai-Oriental, Kasai-Occidental, and...

  4. Kasai-Occidental
    Kasai-Occidental
    Kasai-Occidental is one of the ten provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It borders the provinces of Bandundu to the west, Équateur to the north, Kasai-Oriental to the east, and Katanga to the southeast. To the south it borders the country of Angola...

  5. Kasai-Oriental
    Kasai-Oriental
    Kasai-Oriental is one of the ten provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It borders the provinces of Kasai-Occidental to the west, Équateur to the northwest, Orientale to the northeast, Maniema to the east, and Katanga to the south. Kasai-Oriental is one of the richest diamond producing...

  6. Katanga
    Katanga Province
    Katanga Province is one of the provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Between 1971 and 1997, its official name was Shaba Province. Under the new constitution, the province was to be replaced by four smaller provinces by February 2009; this did not actually take place.Katanga's regional...

  7. Kinshasa
    Kinshasa
    Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

     (city-province)
  8. Maniema
    Maniema
    Maniema is a province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its capital is Kindu.Following the 2005 Constitution , 25 new provinces were to be created from the 10 current provinces within 36 months . As of October 2010, this had not taken place...

  9. Nord-Kivu
    Nord-Kivu
    Nord-Kivu is a province bordering Lake Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Its capital is Goma....

  10. Orientale
  11. Sud-Kivu
    Sud-Kivu
    Sud-Kivu is a province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its capital is Bukavu.Following the 2005 Constitution , 25 new provinces were to be created from the 10 current provinces within 36 months . As of October 2010, this had not taken place...

    • An Ituri Interim Administration
      Ituri Interim Administration
      The Ituri Interim Administration is an interim body that administers the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was established in 2003 by the Ituri Pacification Commission and supported by the UN mission in the DRC.-History:...

       also exists in the Ituri region of Orientale Province


The provinces are subdivided into districts
Districts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are divided into 26 districts. These in turn are divided into territories or communes.-Planned reorganization:...

 which are divided into territories
Territories of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The provinces and districts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are divided into 192 territories and communes...

.

Population of major cities (2008)
City Population (2008)
Kinshasa
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

7,500,000
Mbuji-Mayi
Mbuji-Mayi
Mbuji-Mayi serves as the capital of Kasai-Oriental Province in the south-central Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the third largest city in the country, following the capital Kinshasa and second largest city Lubumbashi but ahead of Kisangani and Kananga. The city is the DRC's third-largest,...

2,500,000
Lubumbashi
Lubumbashi
Lubumbashi is the second largest city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, second only to the nation's capital Kinshasa, and the hub of the southeastern part of the country. The copper-mining city serves as the capital of the relatively prosperous Katanga Province, lying near the Zambian border...

1,700,000
Kananga
Kananga
Kananga, formerly known as Luluabourg or Luluaburg, is the capital of Lulua District in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has a population of 1,130,100 ....

1,400,000
Kisangani
Kisangani
Kisangani is the capital of Orientale Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the 3rd largest urbanized city in the country and the largest of the cities that lie in the tropical woodlands of the Congo....

1,200,000
Kolwezi
Kolwezi
Kolwezi is a city in Katanga Province in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, west of Likasi. It is home to an airport and a railway to Lubumbashi. The population is approximately 418,000....

1,100,000
Mbandaka
Mbandaka
Mbandaka, formerly known as Coquilhatville or Coquilhatstad , is a city on the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, lying near the confluence of the Congo and Ruki Rivers. The capital of the Equateur District, it is home to an airport and is linked by ferry to Kinshasa and Boende...

850,000
Likasi
Likasi
Likasi, formerly known as Jadotville or Jadotstad, is a city in Haut-Katanga Province, in the south-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.-Demographics:Likasi has a population of around 367,000...

600,000
Boma 600,000

Government



After a four-year interim
Interim
Interim is an album by British rock band The Fall, compiled from live and studio material and released in 2004. It features the first officially released versions of "Clasp Hands", "Blindness" and "What About Us?" — all of which were later included on the band's next studio album Fall Heads Roll —...

 between two constitutions that established new political institutions at the various levels of all branches of government, as well as new administrative divisions for the provinces throughout the country, politics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have finally settled into a stable presidential
Presidential system
A presidential system is a system of government where an executive branch exists and presides separately from the legislature, to which it is not responsible and which cannot, in normal circumstances, dismiss it....

 democratic republic
Democratic republic
A democratic republic is a country which is both a republic and a democracy. However, in practice countries which describe themselves as democratic republics do not always hold free or fair elections. An example of this was the German Democratic Republic, a communist state commonly known as East...

.
The 2003 transitional constitution established a system composed of a bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

 with a Senate
Senate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Senate is the upper house of the Parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.During the transition period in the Democratic Republic of the Congo , the Senate, aside from its Legislative role, also had the task of drafting the country's new constitution...

 and a National Assembly
National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Composition of the National Assembly...

. The Senate had, among other things, the charge of drafting the new constitution of the country. The executive branch was vested in a 60-member cabinet, headed by a President
President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo , is Congo's elected Head of State, and the ex officio "Supreme Commander" of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo ....

 and four vice presidents. The President was also the Commander-in Chief of the armed forces.

The transition constitution also established a relatively independent judiciary, headed by a Supreme Court with constitutional interpretation powers.

The 2006 constitution, also known as the Constitution of the Third Republic, came into effect in February 2006. It had concurrent authority, however, with the transitional constitution until the inauguration of the elected officials who emerged from the July 2006 elections. Under the new constitution, the legislature remained bicameral; the executive was concomitantly undertaken by a President and the government, led by a Prime Minister, appointed from the party with the majority at the National Assembly. The government  – not the President  – is responsible to the Parliament.

The new constitution also granted new powers to the provincial governments with the creation of provincial parliaments, which have oversight over the Governor, head of the provincial government, whom they elect.

The new constitution also saw the disappearance of the Supreme Court, which was divided into three new institutions. The constitutional interpretation prerogative of the Supreme Court is now held by the Constitutional Court
Constitutional Court of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Constitutional Court was established by the Constitution of the Third Republic on 18 February 2006. It is the highest constitutional authority in the Democratic Republic of the Congo....

.

Corruption


Mobutu Sese Seko
Mobutu Sese Seko
Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga , commonly known as Mobutu or Mobutu Sese Seko , born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, was the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1965 to 1997...

 ruled Zaire
Zaire
The Republic of Zaire was the name of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo between 27 October 1971 and 17 May 1997. The name of Zaire derives from the , itself an adaptation of the Kongo word nzere or nzadi, or "the river that swallows all rivers".-Self-proclaimed Father of the Nation:In...

 from 1965 to 1997. A relative explained how the government illicitly collected revenue: "Mobutu would ask one of us to go to the bank and take out a million. We'd go to an intermediary and tell him to get five million. He would go to the bank with Mobutu's authority, and take out ten. Mobutu got one, and we took the other nine." Mobutu institutionalized corruption to prevent political rivals from challenging his control, leading to an economic collapse in 1996. Mobutu allegedly stole up to US$4 billion while in office; in July 2009, a Swiss court determined that the statute of limitations had run out on an international asset recovery
International asset recovery
International asset recovery is a term used to describe efforts by governments to repatriate the proceeds of corruption hidden in foreign jurisdictions. Such assets may include monies in bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, arts and artifacts, and precious metals...

 case of about $6.7 million of deposits of Mobutu's in a Swiss bank, and therefore the assets should be returned to Mobutu's family.

President
President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo , is Congo's elected Head of State, and the ex officio "Supreme Commander" of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo ....

 Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila
Joseph Kabila Kabange is a Congolese politician who has been President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since January 2001. He took office ten days after the assassination of his father, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila...

 established the Commission of Repression of Economic Crimes upon his ascension to power in 2001.

Corruption Perception Index
Year Ranking Countries ranked Ref
2010 164 178 http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results


Ease of Doing Business Index
Year Ranking Countries ranked Ref
2010 182 183 http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings

Foreign relations and military


See also: Foreign relations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Foreign relations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Its location in the center of Africa has made the Democratic Republic of the Congo a key player in the region since independence. Because of its size, mineral wealth, and strategic location, Zaire was able to capitalize on Cold War tensions to garner support from the West...

 and Military of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The global growth in demand for scarce raw materials and the industrial surges in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 and other developing countries require that developed countries employ new, integrated and responsive strategies for identifying and ensuring, on a continual basis, an adequate supply of strategic and critical materials required for their security needs. Highlighting the DR Congo's importance to US
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 national security, the effort to establish an elite Congolese unit is the latest push by the U.S. to professionalize armed forces in this strategically important region.

There are economic and strategic incentives to bringing more security to the Congo, which is rich in natural resources such as cobalt
Cobalt
Cobalt is a chemical element with symbol Co and atomic number 27. It is found naturally only in chemically combined form. The free element, produced by reductive smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal....

. Cobalt is a strategic and critical metal used in many diverse industrial and military applications. The largest use of cobalt is in superalloys, which are used to make jet engine
Jet engine
A jet engine is a reaction engine that discharges a fast moving jet to generate thrust by jet propulsion and in accordance with Newton's laws of motion. This broad definition of jet engines includes turbojets, turbofans, rockets, ramjets, pulse jets...

 parts. Cobalt is also used in magnetic alloys and in cutting and wear-resistant materials such as cemented carbides. The chemical industry
Chemical industry
The chemical industry comprises the companies that produce industrial chemicals. Central to the modern world economy, it converts raw materials into more than 70,000 different products.-Products:...

 consumes significant quantities of cobalt in a variety of applications including catalysts for petroleum and chemical processing; drying agents for paints and inks; ground coats for porcelain enamels; decolorizers for ceramics and glass; and pigments for ceramics, paints, and plastics. The country contains 80 percent of the world’s cobalt reserves.

Economy




Although citizens of the DRC are among the poorest in the world, having the second lowest nominal GDP per capita, the Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered to be the richest country in the world regarding natural resources; its untapped deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of US$ 24 trillion.

The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a nation endowed with resources of vast potential wealth, has declined drastically since the mid-1980s. At the time of its independence in 1960, DRC was the second most industrialized country in Africa after South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, it boasted a thriving mining sector and its agriculture sector was relatively productive. The two recent conflicts (the First
First Congo War
The First Congo War was a revolution in Zaire that replaced President Mobutu Sésé Seko, a decades-long dictator, with rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila. Destabilization in eastern Zaire that resulted from the Rwandan genocide was the final factor that caused numerous internal and external actors...

 and Second Congo War
Second Congo War
The Second Congo War, also known as Coltan War and the Great War of Africa, began in August 1998 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo , and officially ended in July 2003 when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power; however, hostilities continue to this...

s), which began in 1996, have dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, have increased external debt, and have resulted in deaths of more than five million people from war, and associated famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 and disease. Malnutrition
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess , or in the wrong proportions....

 affects approximately two thirds of the country's population.

Foreign businesses have curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict, lack of infrastructure, and the difficult operating environment. The war has intensified the impact of such basic problems as an uncertain legal framework, corruption, inflation, and lack of openness in government economic policy and financial operations.

Conditions improved in late 2002 with the withdrawal of a large portion of the invading foreign troops. A number of International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 and World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 missions have met with the government to help it develop a coherent economic plan, and President Joseph Kabila has begun implementing reforms. Much economic activity lies outside the GDP data. A United Nations Human Development Index report shows human development to be one of the worst in decades.

The economy of the second largest country in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 relies heavily on mining. However, the smaller-scale economic activity occurs in the informal sector and is not reflected in GDP data. The largest mines in the Congo are located in the Shaba province, in the South. The Congo is the world's largest producer of cobalt
Cobalt
Cobalt is a chemical element with symbol Co and atomic number 27. It is found naturally only in chemically combined form. The free element, produced by reductive smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal....

 ore, and a major producer of copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 and industrial diamond
Diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

s, the latter coming from the Kasai province in the West. The Congo has 70% of the world’s coltan
Coltan
Coltan is the industrial name for columbite–tantalite, a dull black metallic mineral from which the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted. The niobium-dominant mineral is columbite, hence the "col" half of the term...

, and more than 30% of the world’s diamond reserves., mostly in the form of small, industrial diamonds. The coltan
Coltan
Coltan is the industrial name for columbite–tantalite, a dull black metallic mineral from which the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted. The niobium-dominant mineral is columbite, hence the "col" half of the term...

 is a major source of tantalum
Tantalum
Tantalum is a chemical element with the symbol Ta and atomic number 73. Previously known as tantalium, the name comes from Tantalus, a character in Greek mythology. Tantalum is a rare, hard, blue-gray, lustrous transition metal that is highly corrosion resistant. It is part of the refractory...

, which is used in the fabrication of electronic components in computers and mobile phones. In 2002, tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

 was discovered in the east of the country, but, to date, mining has been on a small scale. Smuggling of the conflict minerals
Conflict minerals
Conflict minerals are minerals mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses, notably in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, by the Congolese National Army and various armed rebel groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda...

, coltan
Coltan
Coltan is the industrial name for columbite–tantalite, a dull black metallic mineral from which the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted. The niobium-dominant mineral is columbite, hence the "col" half of the term...

 and cassiterite
Cassiterite
Cassiterite is a tin oxide mineral, SnO2. It is generally opaque, but it is translucent in thin crystals. Its luster and multiple crystal faces produce a desirable gem...

 (ores of tantalum
Tantalum
Tantalum is a chemical element with the symbol Ta and atomic number 73. Previously known as tantalium, the name comes from Tantalus, a character in Greek mythology. Tantalum is a rare, hard, blue-gray, lustrous transition metal that is highly corrosion resistant. It is part of the refractory...

 and tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

, respectively), has helped fuel the war in the Eastern Congo. Katanga Mining Limited
Katanga Mining
Katanga Mining is a mining company in the Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo , majority-owned by Swiss commodity trader Glencore.-DCC:...

, a Swiss-owned company, owns the Luilu Metallurgical Plant, which has a capacity of 175,000 tonnes of copper and 8,000 tonnes of cobalt per year, making it the largest cobalt refinery in the world. After a major rehabilitation program, the company restarted copper production in December 2007 and cobalt production in May 2008. The Democratic Republic of Congo also possesses 50 percent of Africa’s forests and a river system that could provide hydro-electric power to the entire continent, according to a U.N. report on the country’s strategic significance and its potential role as an economic power in central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

.
It has one of the twenty last ranks among the countries on the Corruption Perception Index.

In 2007, The World Bank decided to grant the Democratic Republic of Congo up to $1.3 billion in assistance funds over the next three years.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the process of becoming a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).

Demographics




Ethnic groups


As many as 250 ethnic groups have been identified and named. The most numerous people are the Kongo
Kongo people
The Bakongo or the Kongo people , also sometimes referred to as Kongolese or Congolese, is a Bantu ethnic group which lives along the Atlantic coast of Africa from Pointe-Noire to Luanda, Angola...

, Luba
Luba people
The Luba are one of the Bantu peoples of Central Africa. They are indigenous to the Katanga, Kasai, and Maniema regions which were historic provinces of present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo...

, and Mongo
Mongo people
The Mongo are the most numerous ethnic group of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are a diverse collection of peoples living in the equatorial forest, south of the main Congo River bend and north of the Kasai and Sankuru Rivers...

. About 600,000 Pygmies are the aboriginal people of the DR Congo. Although several hundred local languages and dialects are spoken, the linguistic variety is bridged both by widespread use of French and intermediary languages such as Kongo
Kongo language
The Kongo language, or Kikongo, is the Bantu language spoken by the Bakongo and Bandundu people living in the tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Angola. It is a tonal language and formed the base for Kituba, a Bantu creole and lingua franca...

, Tshiluba
Tshiluba language
Luba-Kasai is a Bantu language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it is a national language, along with Lingala, Swahili, and Kikongo. It is one of two major Congolese languages called "Luba"...

, Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

, and Lingala
Lingala language
Lingala, or Ngala, is a Bantu language spoken throughout the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a large part of the Republic of the Congo , as well as to some degree in Angola and the Central African Republic. It has over 10 million speakers...

.

Migration


Given the situation in the country and the condition of state structures, it is extremely difficult to obtain reliable data. However, evidence suggests that DRC continues to be a destination country for immigrants in spite of recent declines. Immigration is seen to be very diverse in nature, with refugees and asylum-seekers – products of the numerous and violent conflicts in the Great Lakes Region
African Great Lakes
The African Great Lakes are a series of lakes and the Rift Valley lakes in and around the geographic Great Rift Valley formed by the action of the tectonic East African Rift on the continent of Africa...

 – constituting an important subset of the population in the country. Additionally, the country’s large mine operations attract migrant workers from Africa and beyond and there is considerable migration for commercial activities from other African countries and the rest of the world, but these movements are not well studied. Transit migration towards South Africa and Europe also plays a role. Immigration in the DRC has decreased steadily over the past two decades, most likely as a result of the armed violence that the country has experienced. According to the International Organization for Migration
International Organization for Migration
The International Organization for Migration is an intergovernmental organization. It was initially established in 1951 as the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration to help resettle people displaced by World War II....

, the number of immigrants
Immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

 in the DRC has declined from just over 1 million in 1960, to 754,000 in 1990, to 480,000 in 2005, to an estimated 445,000 in 2010. Valid figures are not available on migrant workers in particular, partly due to the predominance of the informal economy
Informal economy
The informal sector or informal economy as defined by governments, scholars, banks, etc. is the part of an economy that is not taxed, monitored by any form of government, or included in any gross national product , unlike the formal economy....

 in the DRC. Data are also lacking on irregular immigrants, however given neighbouring country ethnic links to nationals of the DRC, irregular migration is assumed to be a significant phenomenon in the country.
Figures on the number of Congolese nationals abroad vary greatly depending on the source, from 3 to 6 million. This discrepancy is due to a lack of official, reliable data. Emigrants from the DRC are above all long-term emigrants, the majority of which live within Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and to a lesser extent in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

; 79.7% and 15.3% respectively, according to estimates on 2000 data. New destination countries include South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 and various points en route to Europe. In addition to being a host country, the DRC has also produced a considerable number of refugees and asylum-seekers located in the region and beyond. These numbers peaked in 2004 when, according to UNHCR, there were more than 460,000 refugees from the DRC; in 2008, Congolese refugees numbered 367,995 in total, 68% of which were living in other African countries.

Status of women


The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 2006 expressed concern that in the post-war transition period, the promotion of women’s human rights and gender equality is not seen as a priority.

In eastern Congo, the prevalence and intensity of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world. A 2006 report by the African Association for the Defence of Human Rights prepared for that committee provides a broad overview of issues confronting women in the DRC in law and in daily life.

The war has made the life of women more precarious. Violence against women seems to be perceived by large sectors of society to be normal. In July 2007, the International Committee of the Red Cross expressed concern about the situation in eastern DRC. A phenomenon of 'pendulum displacement' has developed, where people hasten at night to safety. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence, Yakin Ertürk, who toured eastern Congo in July 2007, violence against women in North and South Kivu included 'unimaginable brutality'. 'Armed groups attack local communities, loot, rape, kidnap women and children, and make them work as sexual slaves,' Ertürk said.

In December 2008 GuardianFilms of The Guardian newspaper released a film documenting the testimony of over 400 women and girls who had been abused by marauding militia.

In June 2010, UK
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 aid group Oxfam
Oxfam
Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organizations working in 98 countries worldwide to find lasting solutions to poverty and related injustice around the world. In all Oxfam’s actions, the ultimate goal is to enable people to exercise their rights and manage their own lives...

 reported a dramatic increase in the number of rapes occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While researchers from Harvard discovered that rapes committed by civilians had increased by seventeenfold.

Religion


Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 is the majority religion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, followed by about 96% of the population. Animism
Indigenous religion
Indigenous religion refers to those religions which are native to indigenous peoples around the world. They are one of the three broad divisions into which religions are categorised, along with world religions and new religious movements. The majority of the world's many thousands of religions fit...

 accounts for 0.7%.

Kimbanguism
Kimbanguism
Kimbanguism is a branch of Christianity founded by Simon Kimbangu in what was then the Belgian Congo . The church's name is the Kimbanguist Church , and is a large, independent African Initiated...

 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 three million members, primarily among the Bakongo
Kongo people
The Bakongo or the Kongo people , also sometimes referred to as Kongolese or Congolese, is a Bantu ethnic group which lives along the Atlantic coast of Africa from Pointe-Noire to Luanda, Angola...

 of Bas-Congo
Bas-Congo
Bas-Congo is one of the eleven provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is the only province with a coastline and it borders Bandundu province to the east and Kinshasa to the northeast...

 and Kinshasa
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

.

The largest concentration of Christians following William Branham is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it is estimated that there are up to 2,000,000 followers.

Sixty-two of the Protestant denominations in the country are federated under the umbrella of the Church of Christ in Congo or CCC (in French, Église du Christ au Congo or ECC). It is often simply referred to as 'The Protestant Church', since it covers most of the 35% of the population who are Protestants.

Islam in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Islam in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Islam in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been present within the area since the 18th century, when Arab traders from East Africa pushed into the interior for ivory and slave trading purposes. Today, Muslims constitute approximately 1.5% of the Congolese population.According to the CIA...

 accounts for 1.5% of the population. The rest follow traditional beliefs, syncretic sects or Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

. Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 was introduced and mainly spread by Arab traders/merchants.
Traditional religions embody such concepts as monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

, animism
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

, vitalism
Vitalism
Vitalism, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is#a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from biochemical reactions...

, spirit and ancestor worship, witchcraft
Witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

, and sorcery and vary widely among ethnic groups. The syncretic sects often merge elements of Christianity with traditional beliefs and rituals and are not recognized by mainstream churches as part of Christianity. Under the weight of poverty, superstitious tradition is taken advantage of in the socially acceptable practice of children being accused of witchcraft and sent away from homes and family. The usual term for these children is enfants sorciers (child witches) or enfants dits sorciers (children accused of witchcraft) and can lead to physical violence against these children. Non-denominational church organizations have been formed to capitalize on this belief by charging exorbitant fees for exorcisms. Though recently outlawed, children have been subjected to often-violent abuse at the hands of self-proclaimed prophets and priests.

In 2002, USAID funded the production of two short films on the subject, made in Kinshasa
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

 by journalists Angela Nicoara and Mike Ormsby.

Languages





French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 is the official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is meant to be an ethnically neutral language, to ease communication among the many different ethnic groups of the Congo.

There are an estimated total of 242 languages spoken in the country. Out of these, only four have the status of national languages: Kikongo (Kituba), Lingala
Lingala language
Lingala, or Ngala, is a Bantu language spoken throughout the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a large part of the Republic of the Congo , as well as to some degree in Angola and the Central African Republic. It has over 10 million speakers...

, Tshiluba
Tshiluba language
Luba-Kasai is a Bantu language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it is a national language, along with Lingala, Swahili, and Kikongo. It is one of two major Congolese languages called "Luba"...

 and Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

 (most spoken in the DRC).

Lingala
Lingala language
Lingala, or Ngala, is a Bantu language spoken throughout the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a large part of the Republic of the Congo , as well as to some degree in Angola and the Central African Republic. It has over 10 million speakers...

 was made the official language of the colonial army, the "Force Publique
Force Publique
The Force Publique , French for "Public Force", was both a gendarmerie and a military force in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1885, , through the period of direct Belgian colonial rule...

" under Belgian colonial rule. But since the recent rebellions, a good part of the army in the East also uses Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

 where it is prevalent.

When the country was a Belgian colony, it had already instituted teaching and use of the four national languages in primary schools, making it one of the few African nations to have had literacy in local languages during the European colonial period. During the colonial period both Dutch and French were the official languages but French was by far the most important.

About 24,320,000 people of DRC speak French either as a first or second language.

Health



Congo has the world's second-highest rate of infant mortality
Infant mortality
Infant mortality is defined as the number of infant deaths per 1000 live births. Traditionally, the most common cause worldwide was dehydration from diarrhea. However, the spreading information about Oral Re-hydration Solution to mothers around the world has decreased the rate of children dying...

 (after Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

). In Eastern Congo there are still unrest and fighting among tribal and also warlord armies to control diamonds and other minerals. More than a quarter of the 500,000 children under 5 years of ages worldwide (more than 125,000 of them) are Congolese children who die from pneumococcus bacterium
Streptococcus pneumoniae
Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus, is Gram-positive, alpha-hemolytic, aerotolerant anaerobic member of the genus Streptococcus. A significant human pathogenic bacterium, S...

. In April 2011, through aid from Global Alliance for Vaccines, a new vaccine to prevent pneumococcal disease was introduced around Kinshasa
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

.

Culture



The culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo reflects the diversity of its hundreds of ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

s and their differing ways of life throughout the country  — from the mouth of the River Congo
Congo River
The Congo River is a river in Africa, and is the deepest river in the world, with measured depths in excess of . It is the second largest river in the world by volume of water discharged, though it has only one-fifth the volume of the world's largest river, the Amazon...

 on the coast, upriver through the rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

 and savanna
Savanna
A savanna, or savannah, is a grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of C4 grasses.Some...

 in its centre, to the more densely populated mountains in the far east. Since the late 19th century, traditional ways of life have undergone changes brought about by colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

, the struggle for independence, the stagnation of the Mobutu
Mobutu Sese Seko
Mobutu Sese Seko Nkuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga , commonly known as Mobutu or Mobutu Sese Seko , born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, was the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1965 to 1997...

 era, and most recently, the First
First Congo War
The First Congo War was a revolution in Zaire that replaced President Mobutu Sésé Seko, a decades-long dictator, with rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila. Destabilization in eastern Zaire that resulted from the Rwandan genocide was the final factor that caused numerous internal and external actors...

 and Second Congo War
Second Congo War
The Second Congo War, also known as Coltan War and the Great War of Africa, began in August 1998 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo , and officially ended in July 2003 when the Transitional Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo took power; however, hostilities continue to this...

s. Despite these pressures, the customs
Convention (norm)
A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms or criteria, often taking the form of a custom....

 and cultures of the Congo have retained much of their individuality. The country's 60 million inhabitants are mainly rural. The 30 percent who live in urban areas have been the most open to Western
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 influences.

Another notable feature in Congo culture is its sui generis
Sui generis
Sui generis is a Latin expression, literally meaning of its own kind/genus or unique in its characteristics. The expression is often used in analytic philosophy to indicate an idea, an entity, or a reality which cannot be included in a wider concept....

 music. The DROC has blended its ethnic musical sources with Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

n rumba
Cuban Rumba
In Cuban music, Rumba is a generic term covering a variety of musical rhythms and associated dances. The rumba has its influences in the music brought to Cuba by Africans brought to Cuba as slaves as well as Spanish colonizers...

, and merengue
Merengue music
Merengue is a type of music and dance from the Dominican Republic. It is popular in the Dominican Republic and all over Latin America. Its name is Spanish, taken from the name of the meringue, a dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar...

 to give birth to soukous
Soukous
Soukous is a dance music genre that originated in the two neighbouring countries of Belgian Congo and French Congo during the 1930s and early 1940s, and which has gained popularity throughout Africa...

. Influential figures of soukous and its offshoots: N'dombolo and Rumba rock, are Grand Kalle
Grand Kalle
Joseph Kabasele Tshamala , popularly known as Le Grand Kalle, was a Congolese singer and bandleader, considered the father of modern Congolese music...

, Dr. Nico, Franco Luambo, Tabu Ley, Lutumba Simaro, Papa Wemba
Papa Wemba
Papa Wemba was born Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba in 1949 in Lubefu . He is a Congolese rumba musician, one of Africa's most popular musicians, and prominent in World music.-Zaiko Langa Langa:...

, King Kester Emeneya
King Kester Emeneya
Emeneya Mubiala Jean , also known as King Kester Emeneya, is a Congolese musician.He was born in Kikwit within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While a student of political science at the University of Lubumbashi in 1977, King Kester joined the band Viva La Musica...

, Tshala Muana Koffi Olomide
Koffi Olomide
Antoine Christophe Agbepa Mumba, also known as Koffi Olomide , is a DR Congolese soukous singer, dancer, producer, and composer. He is also known by a multitude of other names and aliases.-Background:...

, JB Mpiana, Werrason
Werrason
Werrason, real name Noël Ngiama Makanda born December 25, 1965 in Moliombo, a small village in Northern Democratic Republic of Congo in Kikwit, Kwilu District is a musician from the Democratic Republic of Congo and also leader of the band Wenge Maison Mere . By age 8, Werrason was singing at his...

, Kanda Bongo, Ray Lema
Ray Lema
Raymond Lema A'nsi Nzinga, known as Ray Lema, is a Congolese musician born March 30, 1946 in Lufu-Toto, Bas-Congo Province.Lema is a pianist, guitarist, and songwriter. He worked for the National Ballet of Zaire, as it was then called, and in 1979 was invited to the United States by the...

, Mpongo Love, Abeti Masikini, Reddy Amisi, [Pasnas] Pepe Kalle, Fally Ipupa, Awilo Longomba
Awilo Longomba
Awilo Longomba is a Congolese musician who was a drummer in Viva la Musica, Stukas, Nouvelle Generation and Loketo. In 1995, he finally quit drumming for singing and released his first album Moto Pamba with help from Shimita, Ballou Canta, Dindo Yogo, Dally Kimoko, Sam Mangwana, Syran Mbenza and...

, Gatho Buvens, Ferre Gola and Nyoka Longo.

Other African nations produce music genres that are derived from Congolese soukous. Some of the African bands sing in Lingala, one of the main languages in the DRC. The same Congolese soukous, under the guidance of "le sapeur", Papa Wemba
Papa Wemba
Papa Wemba was born Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba in 1949 in Lubefu . He is a Congolese rumba musician, one of Africa's most popular musicians, and prominent in World music.-Zaiko Langa Langa:...

, has set the tone for a generation of young men always dressed up in expensive designers' clothes', they became to be known as the 4th generation of the congolese music and they mostly come from the former well knwon band Wenge Musica.

The Congo is also known for its art. Traditional art includes masks and wooden statues. Notable contemporary artists and fashion designers are Odette Maniema Krempin, Lema Kusa, Henri Kalama Akulez, Nshole, Mavinga, Claudy Khan et Chéri Samba.

Education




In 2001 the literacy
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 rate was estimated to be 67.2% (80.9% male and 54.1% female).
The education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

 system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is governed by three government ministries: the Ministère de l’Enseignement Primaire, Secondaire et Professionnel (MEPSP), the Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et Universitaire (MESU) and the Ministère des Affaires Sociales (MAS). The educational system in the DRC is similar to that of Belgium. In 2002, there were over 19,000 primary schools serving 160,000 students; and 8,000 secondary schools serving 110,000 students. Primary education is free and compulsory (Article 43 of the 2005 Congolese Constitution).

Gross enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. In 2000, 65 percent of children ages 10 to 14 years were attending school. As a result of the 6-year civil war, over 5.2 million children in the country receive no education.

Transport




Ground transport in the Democratic Republic of Congo has always been difficult. The terrain and climate of the Congo Basin
Congo Basin
The Congo Basin is the sedimentary basin that is the drainage of the Congo River of west equatorial Africa. The basin begins in the highlands of the East African Rift system with input from the Chambeshi River, the Uele and Ubangi Rivers in the upper reaches and the Lualaba River draining wetlands...

 present serious barriers to road and rail construction, and the distances are enormous across this vast country. Furthermore, chronic economic mismanagement and internal conflict has led to serious under-investment over many years.

On the other hand, the Democratic Republic of Congo has thousands of kilometres of navigable waterway
Waterway
A waterway is any navigable body of water. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:...

s, and traditionally water transport has been the dominant means of moving around approximately two-thirds of the country.

All air carriers certified by the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been banned from European Union airports by the European Commission, because of inadequate safety standards.

Flora and fauna


The rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

s of the Democratic Republic of the Congo contain great biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

, including many rare and endemic
Endemic (ecology)
Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, all species of lemur are endemic to the...

 species, such as the common chimpanzee
Common Chimpanzee
The common chimpanzee , also known as the robust chimpanzee, is a great ape. Colloquially, the common chimpanzee is often called the chimpanzee , though technically this term refers to both species in the genus Pan: the common chimpanzee and the closely related bonobo, formerly called the pygmy...

 and the bonobo
Bonobo
The bonobo , Pan paniscus, previously called the pygmy chimpanzee and less often, the dwarf or gracile chimpanzee, is a great ape and one of the two species making up the genus Pan. The other species in genus Pan is Pan troglodytes, or the common chimpanzee...

 (formerly known as the Pygmy Chimpanzee), the forest elephant, mountain gorilla
Mountain Gorilla
The Mountain Gorilla is one of the two subspecies of the Eastern Gorilla. There are two populations. One is found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within three National Parks: Mgahinga, in south-west Uganda; Volcanoes, in north-west Rwanda; and Virunga in the eastern Democratic...

, okapi
Okapi
The okapi , Okapia johnstoni, is a giraffid artiodactyl mammal native to the Ituri Rainforest, located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Central Africa...

 and white rhino. Five of the country's national park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

s are listed as World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

s: the Garumba
Garamba National Park
Garamba National Park, located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, was established in 1938. One of Africa's oldest National parks, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. Garamba is the home to the world's last known wild population of Northern White Rhinoceros...

, Kahuzi-Biega
Kahuzi-Biéga National Park
Kahuzi-Biéga National Park is in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, 50 km west of the town of Bukavu in the Kivu Region, near to the western side of Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border....

, Salonga
Salonga National Park
Salonga National Park is a national park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo located in the Congo River basin. It is Africa's largest tropical rainforest reserve covering about 36,000 km². Animals in the park include bonobos, Salonga monkeys, Tshuapa red colobus, Zaire peacocks, forest...

 and Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park
The Virunga National Park , formerly named Albert National Park, is a 7800 square km National Park that stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the South, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, bordering Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Rwenzori...

s, and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve
Okapi Wildlife Reserve
The Okapi Wildlife Reserve is a World Heritage Site in the Ituri Forest in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the borders with Sudan and Uganda...

. The civil war and resultant poor economic conditions have endangered much of this biodiversity. Many park wardens were either killed or could not afford to continue their work. All five sites are listed by UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 as World Heritage In Danger. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most biodiverse African country. The Democratic Republic of Congo is also home to some cryptid
Cryptid
In cryptozoology and sometimes in cryptobotany, a cryptid is a creature or plant whose existence has been suggested but is unrecognized by scientific consensus and often regarded as highly unlikely. Famous examples include the Yeti in the Himalayas and the Loch Ness Monster in...

s, such as Mokele mbembe.

Over the past century or so, the DRC has developed into the center of what has been called the Central Africa
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

n "bushmeat
Bushmeat
Bushmeat initially referred to the hunting of wild animals in West and Central Africa and is a calque from the French viande de brousse. Today the term is commonly used for meat of terrestrial wild animals, killed for subsistence or commercial purposes throughout the humid tropics of the Americas,...

" problem, which is regarded by many as a major environmental
Natural environment
The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof. It is an environment that encompasses the interaction of all living species....

, as well as, socio-economic crisis. "Bushmeat" is another word for the meat of wild animals. It is typically obtained through trapping, usually with wire snares, or otherwise with shotguns, poisoned arrows or arms originally intended for use in the DRC's numerous military conflicts.
The "bushmeat crisis" has emerged in the DRC mainly as a result of the poor living conditions of the Congolese people and a lack of education about the dangers of eating it. A rising population combined with deplorable economic conditions has forced many Congolese to become dependent on bushmeat, either as a means of acquiring income (hunting the meat and selling), or are dependent on it for food. Unemployment
Unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

 and urbanization
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

 throughout Central Africa have exacerbated the problem further by turning cities like the urban sprawl of Kinshasa
Kinshasa
Kinshasa is the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is located on the Congo River....

 into the prime market for commercial bushmeat.
This combination has caused not only widespread endangerment of local fauna, but has forced humans to trudge deeper into the wilderness in search of the desired animal meat. This overhunting results in the deaths of more animals and makes resources even more scarce for humans. The hunting has also been facilitated by the extensive logging prevalent throughout the Congo's rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

s (from corporate logging
Logging
Logging is the cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks.In forestry, the term logging is sometimes used in a narrow sense concerning the logistics of moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard...

, in addition to farmers clearing out forest for agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

), which allows hunters much easier access to previously unreachable jungle terrain, while simultaneously eroding away at the habitats of animals. Deforestation
Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

 is accelerating in Central Africa.

A case that has particularly alarmed conservationists is that of primates. The Congo is inhabited by three distinct great ape species  — the Common chimpanzee
Common Chimpanzee
The common chimpanzee , also known as the robust chimpanzee, is a great ape. Colloquially, the common chimpanzee is often called the chimpanzee , though technically this term refers to both species in the genus Pan: the common chimpanzee and the closely related bonobo, formerly called the pygmy...

 (Pan troglodytes), the bonobo
Bonobo
The bonobo , Pan paniscus, previously called the pygmy chimpanzee and less often, the dwarf or gracile chimpanzee, is a great ape and one of the two species making up the genus Pan. The other species in genus Pan is Pan troglodytes, or the common chimpanzee...

 (Pan paniscus) and the gorilla
Gorilla
Gorillas are the largest extant species of primates. They are ground-dwelling, predominantly herbivorous apes that inhabit the forests of central Africa. Gorillas are divided into two species and either four or five subspecies...

. It is the only country in the world in which bonobos are found in the wild. The chimpanzee and bonobo are the closest living evolutionary relatives to humans.

Much concern has been raised about Great ape extinction
Ape extinction
Ape extinction, particularly great ape extinction, is one of the most widely held biodiversity concerns.There are very few breeding populations of non-human great apes outside captivity, and all such populations are not only formally classified as endangered species, but in the direct path of human...

. Because of hunting and habitat destruction, the chimpanzee and the gorilla, both of whose population once numbered in the millions, have now dwindled down to only about 200,000 gorillas, 100,000 chimpanzees and possibly only about 10,000 bonobos. Gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos are all classified as Endangered by the World Conservation Union
World Conservation Union
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources is an international organization dedicated to finding "pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges." The organization publishes the IUCN Red List, compiling information from a network of...

, as well as the okapi
Okapi
The okapi , Okapia johnstoni, is a giraffid artiodactyl mammal native to the Ituri Rainforest, located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Central Africa...

, which is also native to the area geography.

Further reading


  • Clark, John F., The African Stakes of the Congo War, 2004..
  • Drummond, Bill and Manning, Mark, The Wild Highway, 2005.
  • Edgerton, Robert, The Troubled Heart of Africa: A History of the Congo. St. Martin's Press, December 2002.
  • Hochschild, Adam
    Adam Hochschild
    Adam Hochschild is an American author and journalist.-Biography:Hochschild was born in New York City. As a college student, he spent a summer working on an anti-government newspaper in South Africa and subsequently worked briefly as a civil rights worker in Mississippi in 1964...

    , King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa, 1998.
  • Exenberger, Andreas/Hartmann, Simon. The Dark Side of Globalization. The Vicious Cycle of Exploitation from World Market Integration: Lesson from the Congo, Working Papers in Economics and Statistics 31, University Innsbruck 2007; availability: http://eeecon.uibk.ac.at/wopec2/repec/inn/wpaper/2007-31.pdf.
  • Exenberger, Andreas/Hartmann, Simon. Doomed to Disaster? Long-term Trajectories of Exploitation in the Congo, Paper to be presented at the Workshop “Colonial Extraction in the Netherlands Indies and Belgian Congo: Institutions, Institutional Change and Long Term Consequences”, Utrecht December 3-4, 2010; availability: http://vkc.library.uu.nl/vkc/seh/research/Lists/Events/Attachments/6/Paper.ExenbergerHartmann.pdf.
  • Gondola, Ch. Didier, "The History of Congo", Westport: Greenwood Press, 2002.
  • Joris, Lieve, translated by Waters, Liz, The Rebels' Hour, Atlantic, 2008.
  • Justenhoven, Heinz-Gerhard; Ehrhart, Hans Georg. Intervention im Kongo: eine kritische Analyse der Befriedungspolitik von UN und EU. Stuttgart : Kohlhammer, 2008. (In German) ISBN 978-3-17-020781-3.
  • Kingsolver, Barbara
    Barbara Kingsolver
    Barbara Kingsolver is an American novelist, essayist and poet. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in the former Republic of Congo in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before...

    . The Poisonwood Bible
    The Poisonwood Bible
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver isa bestselling novel about a missionary family, the Prices, who in 1959 move from Georgia to the village of Kilanga in the Belgian Congo, close to the Kwilu River...

     HarperCollins, 1998.
  • Larémont, Ricardo René, ed. 2005. Borders, nationalism and the African state. Boulder, Colorado and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
  • Lemarchand, Reni and Hamilton, Lee; Burundi: Ethnic Conflict and Genocide. Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1994.
  • Mealer, Bryan: "All Things Must Fight To Live", 2008. ISBN 1-59691-345-2.
  • Melvern, Linda
    Linda Melvern
    Linda Melvern is a British investigative journalist. For several years she worked for The Sunday Times , including on the investigative Insight Team. Since leaving the newspaper she has written six books of non-fiction and is widely published in the British press and academic journals...

    , Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwandan Genocide and the International Community. Verso, 2004.
  • Miller, Eric: "The Inability of Peacekeeping to Address the Security Dilemma", 2010. ISBN 978-3-8383-4027-2.
  • Mwakikagile, Godfrey, Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era, Third Edition, New Africa Press, 2006, "Chapter Six: Congo in The Sixties: The Bleeding Heart of Africa", pp. 147 – 205, ISBN 978-0-9802534-1-2; Mwakikagile, Godfrey, Africa and America in The Sixties: A Decade That Changed The Nation and The Destiny of A Continent, First Edition, New Africa Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0-9802534-2-9.
  • Nzongola-Ntalaja, Georges, The Congo from Leopold to Kabila: A People's History, 2002.
  • O'Hanlon, Redmond, Congo Journey, 1996.
  • O'Hanlon, Redmond, No Mercy: A Journey into the Heart of the Congo, 1998.
  • Prunier, Gérard, Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe, 2011 (also published as From Genocide to Continental War: The Congolese Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa: The Congo Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa).
  • Renton, David; Seddon, David; Zeilig, Leo. The Congo: Plunder and Resistance, 2007. ISBN 978-1-84277-485-4.
  • Reyntjens, Filip, The Great African War: Congo and Regional Geopolitics, 1996–2006 , 2009.
  • Rorison, Sean, Bradt Travel Guide: Congo  — Democratic Republic/Republic, 2008.
  • Schulz, Manfred. Entwicklungsträger in der DR Kongo: Entwicklungen in Politik, Wirtschaft, Religion, Zivilgesellschaft und Kultur, Berlin : Lit, 2008, (in German) ISBN 978-3-8258-0425-1.
  • Stearns, Jason: Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: the Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa, Public Affairs, 2011.
  • Tayler, Jeffrey, Facing the Congo, 2001.
  • Turner, Thomas, The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality, 2007.
  • Wrong, Michela, In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu's Congo.

  • Osman,Mohamed Omer Guudle(November,2011) Africa: A rich Continent where poorest people live, The Case of DR Congo and the exploitation of the World Market

External links


Government

General
  • Country Profile from the BBC News
    BBC News
    BBC News is the department of the British Broadcasting Corporation responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs. The department is the world's largest broadcast news organisation and generates about 120 hours of radio and television output each day, as well as online...

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo from UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • Democratic Republic of Congo at WorldWikia


Tourism
Documentaries
News coverage of the conflict
Other