EtymologyThe Democratic Republic of the Congo is named after the Congo River, which flows throughout the country. The Congo River is the world's deepest river and the world's second-largest river List of rivers by discharge, by discharge. The ''Comité d'études du haut Congo'' ("Committee for the Study of the Upper Congo"), established by Leopold II of Belgium, King Leopold II of Belgium in 1876, and the International Association of the Congo, established by him in 1879, were also named after the river. The Congo River itself was named by early European sailors after the Kingdom of Kongo and its Bantu peoples, Bantu inhabitants, the Kongo people, when they encountered them in the 16th century. The word ''Kongo'' comes from the Kongo language (also called ''Kikongo''). According to American writer Samuel Henry Nelson: "It is probable that the word 'Kongo' itself implies a public gathering and that it is based on the root ''konga'', 'to gather' (trans[itive])." The modern name of the Kongo people, ''Bakongo'' was introduced in the early 20th century. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been known in the past as, in chronological order, the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, the Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville), Republic of Congo-Léopoldville, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Zaire, before returning to its current name the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the time of independence, the country was named the Republic of Congo-Léopoldville to distinguish it from its neighbour the Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo-Brazzaville. With the promulgation of the Luluabourg Constitution on 1 August 1964, the country became the DRC, but was renamed to Zaire (a past name for the Congo River) on 27 October 1971 by President Mobutu Sese Seko as part of his ''Authenticité (Zaire), Authenticité'' initiative. The word ''Zaire'' is from a Portuguese language, Portuguese adaptation of a Kongo language, Kikongo word ''nzere'' ("river"), a truncation of ''nzadi o nzere'' ("river swallowing rivers"). The river was known as ''Zaire'' during the 16th and 17th centuries; ''Congo'' seems to have replaced ''Zaire'' gradually in English usage during the 18th century, and ''Congo'' is the preferred English name in 19th-century literature, although references to ''Zaire'' as the name used by the natives (i.e. derived from Portuguese usage) remained common. In 1992, the Sovereign National Conference voted to change the name of the country to the "Democratic Republic of the Congo", but the change was not made. The country's name was restored by President Laurent-Désiré Kabila following the fall of Mobutu in 1997.
Early historyThe geographical area now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo was populated as early as 90,000 years ago, as shown by the 1988 discovery of the Semliki harpoon at Katanda Territory, Katanda, one of the oldest barbed harpoons ever found, believed to have been used to catch Bagrus, giant river catfish. Bantu peoples reached Central Africa at some point during the first millennium BC, then gradually started to expand southward. Their propagation was accelerated by the adoption of pastoralism and of Iron Age techniques. The people living in the south and southwest were Central African foragers, foraging groups, whose technology involved only minimal use of metal technologies. The development of metal tools during this time period revolutionized agriculture. This led to the displacement of the hunter-gatherer groups in the east and southeast. The final wave of the Bantu expansion was complete by the 10th century, followed by the establishment of the Bantu kingdoms, whose rising populations soon made possible intricate local, regional and foreign commercial networks that traded mostly in slaves, salt, iron and copper.
Congo Free State (1877–1908)Belgian Congo, Belgian 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. The eastern regions of the precolonial Congo were heavily disrupted by constant slave raiding, mainly from Arab–Swahili Arab slave trade, slave traders such as the infamous Tippu Tip, who was well known to Stanley. Leopold had designs on what was to become the Congo as a colony.Keyes, Michael
Belgian Congo (1908–1960)In 1908, the Belgian parliament, in spite of initial reluctance, bowed to international pressure (especially from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, United Kingdom) and took over the Free State from King Leopold II. On 18 October 1908, the Belgian parliament voted in favour of annexing the Congo as a Belgian colony. Executive power went to the Minister of the Colonies (Belgium), Belgian minister of colonial affairs, assisted by a Colonial Council (Conseil Colonial) (both located in Brussels). The Belgian parliament exercised legislative authority over the Belgian Congo. In 1926 the colonial capital moved from Boma to Léopoldville, some further upstream into the interior. The transition from the Congo Free State to the Belgian Congo was a break but it also featured a large degree of continuity. The last Governor-general of the Congo Free State, Baron Théophile Wahis, remained in office in the Belgian Congo and the majority of Leopold II's administration with him. Opening up the Congo and its natural and mineral riches to the Belgian economy remained the main motive for colonial expansion – however, other priorities, such as healthcare and basic education, slowly gained in importance. Colonial administrators ruled the territory and a dual legal system existed (a system of European courts and another one of indigenous courts, ''tribunaux indigènes''). Indigenous courts had only limited powers and remained under the firm control of the colonial administration. Records show that in 1936, 728 Belgian administrators ran the colony. The Belgian authorities permitted no political activity in the Congo whatsoever, and the ''Force Publique'', a locally-recruited army under Belgian command, put down any attempts at rebellion. The Belgian population of the colony increased from 1,928 in 1910 to nearly 89,000 in 1959. The Belgian Congo was directly involved in the two world wars. During World War I (1914–1918), an initial stand-off between the ''Force Publique'' and the German colonial army in German East Africa (Tanganyika (territory), Tanganyika) turned into open warfare with a joint Anglo-Belgian-Portuguese invasion of German colonial territory in 1916 and 1917 during the East African Campaign (World War I), East African Campaign. The ''Force Publique'' gained a notable victory when it marched into Tabora in September 1916 under the command of General Charles Tombeur after heavy fighting. After 1918, Belgium was rewarded for the participation of the ''Force Publique'' in the East African campaign with a League of Nations mandate over the previously German colony of Ruanda-Urundi. During World War II, the Belgian Congo provided a crucial source of income for the Belgian government in exile, Belgian government-in-exile in London, and the ''Force Publique'' again participated in Allied campaigns in Africa. Belgian Congolese forces under the command of Belgian officers notably fought against the Italian colonial army in Ethiopia in Asosa, Bortaï and Siege of Saïo, Saïo under Major-General Auguste-Eduard Gilliaert during the second East African Campaign (World War II), East African Campaign.
Independence and political crisis (1960–1965)File:Patrice Lumumba official portrait.jpg, Patrice Lumumba, first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville), Congo-Léopoldville, was murdered by Belgian-supported State of Katanga, Katangan separatists in 1961 In May 1960, a growing nationalist movement, the Mouvement National Congolais (MNC) led by Patrice Lumumba, won the Belgian Congo general election, 1960, parliamentary elections. Patrice Lumumba thus became the first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then known as the Republic of the Congo, on 24 June 1960. The parliament elected Joseph Kasavubu as President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President, of the Alliance des Bakongo (ABAKO) party. Other parties that emerged included the Parti Solidaire Africain (PSA) led by Antoine Gizenga, and the Parti National du Peuple (PNP) led by Albert Delvaux and Laurent Mbariko. 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). As the neighboring 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. Shortly after independence the Force Publique mutinied, and on 11 July the Katanga Province, province of Katanga (led by Moïse Tshombe) and South Kasai 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. On 5 September 1960, Kasavubu dismissed Lumumba from office. Lumumba declared Kasavubu's action unconstitutional and Congo Crisis, a crisis between the two leaders developed. Events set in motion by the U.S. and Belgium on 14 September removed Lumumba from office with forces loyal to Joseph Mobutu. On 17 January 1961, he was handed over to Katangan authorities and executed by Belgian-led Katangese troops. An investigation by the Belgium's Parliament in 2001 found Belgium "morally responsible" for the murder of Lumumba, and the country has since officially apologised for its role in his death. Amidst widespread confusion and chaos, a temporary government was led by technicians (the College of Commissioners-General, Collège des commissaires généraux). The secession ended in January 1963 with the United Nations Operation in the Congo, assistance of UN forces. Several short-lived governments, of Joseph Ileo, Cyrille Adoula and Moise Kapenda Tshombe, took over in quick succession. Lumumba had previously appointed Joseph Mobutu chief of staff of the new Congo army, Military of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Armée Nationale Congolaise (ANC). Taking advantage of the leadership crisis between Kasavubu and Tshombe, Mobutu garnered enough support within the army to launch a coup. 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 neutralize Kasavubu and Lumumba in a coup by proxy. A Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville) constitutional referendum, 1964, constitutional referendum the year before Mobutu's coup of 1965 resulted in the country's official name being changed to the "Democratic Republic of the Congo." In 1971 Mobutu changed the name again, this time to "Republic of Zaire".
Mobutu and Zaire (1965–1997)The new president had the staunch support of the United States because of his Anti-communism, opposition to Communism; the US believed that his administration would serve as an effective counter to communist movements in Africa. A single-party system was established, and Mobutu declared himself Head of state of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, head of state. He periodically held elections in which he was the only candidate. Although relative peace and stability were achieved, Mobutu's government was guilty of severe human rights violations, political repression, a cult of personality and Corruption in Zaire, corruption. By late 1967 Mobutu had successfully neutralized his political opponents and rivals, either through co-opting them into his regime, arresting them, or rendering them otherwise politically impotent. Throughout the late 1960s, Mobutu continued to shuffle his governments and cycle officials in and out of the office to maintain control. Kasa-Vubu's death in April 1969 ensured that no person with First Republic credentials could challenge his rule. By the early 1970s, Mobutu was attempting to assert Zaire as a leading African nation. He traveled frequently across the continent while the government became more vocal about African issues, particularly those relating to the southern region. Zaire established semi-clientelist relationships with several smaller African states, especially Burundi, Chad, and Togo. Corruption became so common the term "''le mal Zairois''" or "Zairian Sickness", meaning gross corruption, theft and mismanagement, was coined, reportedly by Mobutu himself. 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 as Mobutu and his associates embezzlement, embezzled 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 Congo-Kinshasa), Stanleyville became Kisangani, Elisabethville became Lubumbashi, and Coquilhatville 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 eleven years and its sixth overall. The Congo River was renamed the Zaire River. During the 1970s and 1980s, he was invited to visit the United States on several occasions, meeting with U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union U.S. relations with Mobutu cooled, as he was no longer deemed necessary as a Cold War 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 armed forces forced him to flee in 1997. "From 1990 to 1993, the United States facilitated Mobutu's attempts to hijack political change", one academic wrote, and "also assisted the rebellion of Laurent-Desire Kabila that overthrew the Mobutu regime."
Continental and civil wars (1996–present)By 1996, following the Rwandan Civil War and Rwandan Genocide, genocide and the ascension of a Tutsi-led government in Rwanda, Rwandan Hutu militia forces (Interahamwe) fled to eastern Zaire and used refugee camps as a base for incursions against Rwanda. They allied with the Zairian Armed Forces (FAZ) to launch a campaign against Congolese ethnic Tutsis in eastern Zaire. A coalition of Rwandan and Ugandan armies invaded Zaire to overthrow the government of Mobutu, and ultimately to control the mineral resources of Zaire, launching the First Congo War. The coalition allied with some opposition figures, led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila, becoming the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL). In 1997 Mobutu fled and Kabila marched into Kinshasa, named himself president, and reverted the name of the country to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kabila later requested that foreign military forces return to their own countries. He had concerns that the Rwandan officers running his army were plotting to give the presidency to a Tutsi who would report directly to Rwanda
Kivu conflictLaurent Nkunda, a member of RCD-Goma, an RCD branch integrated to the army, defected along with troops loyal to him and formed the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), which began an armed rebellion against the government, starting the Kivu conflict. They were believed to be again backed by Rwanda as a way to tackle the Hutu group, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). In March 2009, after a deal between the DRC and Rwanda, Rwandan troops entered the DRC and arrested Nkunda and were allowed to pursue FDLR militants. The CNDP signed a peace treaty with the government in which it agreed to become a political party and to have its soldiers integrated into the national army in exchange for the release of its imprisoned members. In 2012 Bosco Ntaganda, the leader of the CNDP, and troops loyal to him, mutinied and formed the rebel military March 23 Movement, claiming the government violated the treaty. In the resulting M23 rebellion, M23 briefly captured the provincial capital of Goma in November 2012. Neighboring countries, particularly Rwanda, have been accused of arming rebels groups and using them as proxies to gain control of the resource-rich country, an accusation they deny. In March 2013, the United Nations Security Council authorized the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade to neutralize armed groups. On 5 November 2013, M23 declared an end to its insurgency. Additionally, in northern Katanga Province, Katanga, the Mai-Mai created by Laurent Kabila slipped out of the control of Kinshasa with Gédéon Kyungu Mutanga's Mai Mai Kata Katanga briefly invading the provincial capital of Lubumbashi in 2013 and 400,000 persons displaced in the province . On and off fighting in the Ituri conflict occurred between the Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI) and the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) who claimed to represent the Lendu and Hema people, Hema ethnic groups, respectively. In the northeast, Joseph Kony's LRA moved from their original bases in Uganda and South Sudan to DR Congo in 2005 and set up camps in the Garamba National Park. In 2009, ''The New York Times'' reported that people in the Congo continued to die at a rate of an estimated 45,000 per month – 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 five years of age. There have been frequent reports of weapon bearers killing civilians, of the destruction of property, of widespread sexual violence, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes, and of other breaches of humanitarian and human rights law. One study found that more than Sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 400,000 women are raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo every year. The war in the Congo has been described as the bloodiest war since World War II. On 8 December 2017, fourteen UN soldiers and five Congolese regular soldiers were killed in a rebel attack at Semuliki in Beni territory. The rebels were thought to be Allied Democratic Forces. UN investigations confirmed that aggressor in the December attack. According to the Human Rights Watch and the New York University-based Congo Research Group, armed troops in DRC's eastern Kivu region have killed over 1,900 civilians and kidnapped at least 3,300 people since June 2017 to June 2019.
Kabila's term in office and multiple anti-government protestsIn 2015, 2015 Congolese protests, major protests broke out across the country and protesters demanded that Joseph Kabila step down as President. The protests began after the passage of a law by the Congolese lower house that, if also passed by the Congolese upper house, would keep Kabila in power at least until a national census was conducted (a process which would likely take several years and therefore keep him in power past the planned 2016 elections, which he is constitutionally barred from participating in). This bill passed; however, it was gutted of the provision that would keep Kabila in power until a census took place. A census is supposed to take place, but it is no longer tied to when the elections take place. In 2015, elections were scheduled for late 2016 and a tenuous peace held in the Congo. On 27 November Congolese foreign minister Raymond Tshibanda told the press no elections would be held in 2016, after 20 December, the end of president Kabila's term. In a conference in Madagascar, Tshibanda said that Kabila's government had "consulted election experts" from Congo, the United Nations and elsewhere, and that "it has been decided that the voter registration operation will end on July 31, 2017, and that election will take place in April 2018." December 2016 Congolese protests, Protests broke out in the country on 20 December when Kabila's term in office ended. Across the country, dozens of protesters were killed and hundreds were arrested.
Upsurge in violenceAccording to Jan Egeland, presently Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, the situation in the DRC became much worse in 2016 and 2017 and is a major moral and humanitarian challenge comparable to the wars in Syria and Yemen, which receive much more attention. Women and children are abused sexually and "abused in all possible manners". Besides the conflict in North Kivu, violence has gone up in the Kasai region. The armed groups are after gold, diamonds, Petroleum, oil, and cobalt to line the pockets of rich men both in the region and internationally. There are also ethnic and cultural rivalries at play, as well as religious motives and the political crisis with postponed elections. He says people believe the situation in the DRC is "stably bad" but in fact, it has become much, much worse. "The big wars of the Congo that were really on top of the agenda 15 years ago are back and worsening". Due to disruption of planting and harvesting caused by the conflict, the UN estimated in March 2018 that two million children risk starvation. Human Rights Watch said in 2017 that Joseph Kabila recruited former M23 fighters to put down country-wide protests over his refusal to step down from office at the end of his term. "M23 fighters patrolled the streets of Congo's main cities, firing on or arresting protesters or anyone else deemed to be a threat to the president," they said. Fierce fighting has erupted in Masisi between government forces and a powerful local warlord, General Delta. The United Nations mission in the DRC is its largest and most expensive peacekeeping effort, but it shut down five UN bases near Masisi in 2017, after the US led a push to cut costs.
Ethnic conflictA tribal conflict erupted on 16–17 December 2018 at Yumbi in Mai-Ndombe Province, 400 km (250 miles) north of Kinshasa. Nearly 900 Banunu people from four villages were slaughtered by members of the Batende community in a deep-rooted rivalry over monthly tribal duties, land, fields and water resources. Some 100 Banunus fled to Moniende island in the Congo River, and another 16,000 to Makotimpoko District in the Republic of Congo. Military-style tactics were employed in the bloodbath, and some assailants were clothed in army uniforms. Local authorities and elements within the security forces were suspected of lending them support.
2018 election and new presidentOn 30 December the Democratic Republic of the Congo general election, 2018 was held. On 10 January 2019, the electoral commission announced opposition candidate Félix Tshisekedi as the winner of the presidential vote. He was officially sworn in as President on 24 January 2019. However, there were widespread suspicions that the results were rigged and that a deal had been made between Tshisekedi and Kabila. The Catholic Church said that the official results did not correspond to the information its election monitors had collected. The government had also "delayed" the vote until March in some areas, citing the 2018 Kivu Ebola outbreak, Ebola outbreak in Kivu as well as Kivu conflict, the ongoing military conflict. This was criticized as these regions are known as opposition strongholds. In August 2019, six months after the inauguration of Félix Tshisekedi, a coalition government was announced. A major measles outbreak in the country left nearly 5,000 dead in 2019.
GeographyThe Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is located in central , bordered to the northwest by the Republic of the Congo, to the north by the Central African Republic, to the northeast by South Sudan, to the east by Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, and by Tanzania (across Lake Tanganyika), to the south and southeast by Zambia, to the southwest by Angola, and to the west by the South Atlantic Ocean and the Cabinda Province, Cabinda Province exclave of Angola. The country lies between latitudes 6th parallel north, 6°N and 14th parallel south, 14°S, and longitudes 12th meridian east, 12°E and 32nd meridian east, 32°E. It straddles the Equator, with one-third to the North and two-thirds to the South. The size of Congo, , is slightly greater than the combined areas of Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, and Norway. It is the second-largest country in Africa by area, after . As a result of its equatorial location, the DRC experiences high precipitation and has the highest frequency of thunderstorms in the world. The annual rainfall can total upwards of in some places, and the area sustains the Congo Rainforest, the second-largest rain forest in the world after the Amazon rainforest, Amazon. This massive expanse of lush jungle covers most of the vast, low-lying central drainage basin, basin of the river, which slopes toward the Atlantic Ocean 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 in the north. High, glaciated mountains (Rwenzori Mountains) are found in the extreme eastern region. The tropical climate also produced the Congo River system 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 . The river and its tributaries form the backbone of Congolese economics and transportation. Major tributaries include the Kasai River, Kasai, Sangha River, Sangha, Ubangi River, Ubangi, Ruzizi River, Ruzizi, Aruwimi, and Lulonga River, Lulonga. The sources of the Congo are in the Albertine Rift Mountains that flank the western branch of the East African Rift, as well as Lake Tanganyika and Lake Mweru. The river flows generally west from Kisangani just below Boyoma Falls, then gradually bends southwest, passing by Mbandaka, joining with the Ubangi River, and running into the Pool Malebo (Stanley Pool). Kinshasa and Brazzaville are on opposite sides of the river at the Pool. Then the river narrows and falls through a number of cataracts in deep canyons, collectively known as the Livingstone Falls, and runs past Boma, Congo, Boma into the Atlantic Ocean. The river also has the second-largest flow and the second-largest drainage basin, watershed of any river in the world (trailing the Amazon River, Amazon in both respects). The river and a wide strip of coastline on its north bank provide the country's only outlet to the Atlantic. The Albertine 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 tectonics, tectonic activity, this area also experiences volcanic activity, occasionally with loss of life. The geologic activity in this area also created the African Great Lakes, three of which lie on the Congo's eastern frontier: Lake Albert (Africa), Lake Albert (known during the Mobutu era as Lake Mobutu Sese Seko), Lake Kivu (Unknown until late 1712), Lake Edward (known during the Idi Amin, Amin era as Lake Idi Amin Dada), and Lake Tanganyika. Lake Edward and Lake Albert are connected by the Semliki River. The Rift valley has exposed an enormous amount of mineral 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 erupted in Congo, with the lava running out at and wide. One of the three streams of extremely fluid lava flowed through the nearby city of Goma, 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, 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, trapping several airplanes. Six months after the 2002 eruption, nearby Nyamuragira, Mount Nyamuragira also erupted. Mount Nyamuragira then erupted in 2006 and again in January 2010. World Wide Fund for Nature ecoregions located in the Congo include: * Central Congolian lowland forests – home to the rare bonobo 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 * The Albertine Rift montane forests region of high forest runs along the eastern borders of the country. World Heritage Sites located in Democratic Republic of Congo are: Virunga National Park (1979), Garamba National Park (1980), Kahuzi-Biega National Park (1980), Salonga National Park (1984) and Okapi Wildlife Reserve (1996).
ProvincesThe country is currently divided into the city-province of Kinshasa and 25 other Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, provinces. The provinces are subdivided into 145 Territories of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, territories and 32 cities. Before 2015, the country had 11 provinces.
Flora and faunaThe rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo contain great biodiversity, including many rare and endemic (ecology), endemic species, such as the common chimpanzee and the bonobo, the African forest elephant, the mountain gorilla, the okapi and the white rhino. Five of the country's national parks are listed as World Heritage Sites: the Garamba National Park, Garumba, Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Kahuzi-Biega, Salonga National Park, Salonga and Virunga National Parks, and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of 17 Megadiverse countries, and is the most biodiverse African country. The civil war and resulting in 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 as World Heritage in Danger. Conservationists have particularly worried about primates. The Congo is inhabited by several great ape species: the common chimpanzee (''Pan troglodytes''), the bonobo (''Pan paniscus''), the eastern gorilla (''Gorilla beringei''), and possibly the western gorilla (''Gorilla gorilla''). It is the only country in the world in which bonobos are found in the wild. Much concern has been raised about great ape extinction. Because of hunting and habitat destruction, the chimpanzee, the bonobo and the gorilla, each of whose populations 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 Conservation status, endangered by the World Conservation Union, as well as the okapi, which is also native to the area.
PoachingPoaching for the exotic animal or ivory trade has been a persistent problem for species loss in the DRC, it has been made a necessity for some trying to escape poverty and a means of continuing the civil war for some rebel groups including the Lord's Resistance Army, Lords Resistance army (LRA). The forest elephant is particularly at risk due to the high cost of its ivory, especially in the Far East, which led to a 62% decrease in population in 2002–2011 The main way this poaching for ivory can be reduced is through the hampering of the international demand for ivory, as this drives the trade. The introduction of park guards and the implementation of eco-tourism in Virunga National Park, Virunga National park, a primary habitat for great apes, has allowed the endangered mountain gorilla population to jump over 1000, a 25% rise on 2010 numbers. However, the study indicated that poaching is still an existing problem, with researchers finding 380 snares and park guards continually being ambushed and killed by poachers.
GovernmentAfter a four-year interlude between two constitutions, with new political institutions established at the various levels of government, as well as new administrative divisions for the provinces throughout the country, a new constitution came into effect in 2006 and politics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo finally settled into a stable presidential system, presidential democratic republic. The 2003 transitional constitution had established a parliament with a bicameralism, bicameral legislature, consisting of a Senate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senate and a National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, National Assembly. The Senate (Democratic Republic of the Congo), 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 of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President and four vice presidents. The President was also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The transitional 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 able to secure a majority in the National Assembly. The government – not the President – is responsible to the Parliament. The new constitution also granted new powers to the provincial governments, creating provincial parliaments which have oversight of the Governor and the 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 of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Constitutional Court. Although located in the Central African United Nations geoscheme, UN subregion, the nation is also economically and regionally affiliated with Southern Africa as a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Foreign relationsThe global growth in demand for scarce raw materials and the industrial surges in China, India, Russia, Brazil and other Developing country, developing countries require that Developed country, 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 United States 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 bring more security to the Congo, which is rich in natural resources such as cobalt, a strategic and critical metal used in many industrial and military applications. The largest use of cobalt is in superalloys, used to make jet engine parts. Cobalt is also used in magnetic alloys and in cutting and wear-resistant materials such as cemented carbides. The chemical industry 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; decolorant for ceramics and glass; and pigments for ceramics, paints, and plastics. The country possesses 80% of the world's cobalt reserves. It is thought that due to the importance of cobalt for batteries for electric vehicles and stabilization of electric grids with large proportions of intermittent renewables in the electricity mix, the DRC could become an object of increased geopolitical competition. In the 21st century, China–Democratic Republic of the Congo relations#Present economic relations, Chinese investment in the DRC and Congolese exports to China have grown rapidly. In July 2019, UN ambassadors of 37 countries, including DRC, have signed a joint letter to the UNHRC defending China's Xinjiang re-education camps, treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities.
MilitaryThe ''Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo'' (FARDC) consist of about 144,000 personnel, the majority of whom are part of the Land Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, land forces, also with a small Air Force of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, air force and an even smaller Navy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, navy. The FARDC was established in 2003 after the end of the Second Congo War and integrated many former rebel groups into its ranks. Due to the presence of undisciplined and poorly trained ex-rebels, as well as a lack of funding and having spent years fighting against different militias, the FARDC suffers from rampant corruption and inefficiency. The agreements signed at the end of the Second Congo War called for a new "national, restructured and integrated" army that would be made up of Kabila's government forces (the FAC), the RCD, and the MLC. Also stipulated was that rebels like the RCD-N, RCD-ML, and the Mai-Mai would become part of the new armed forces. It also provided for the creation of a ''Conseil Superieur de la Defense'' (Superior Defence Council) which would declare states of siege or war and give advice on security sector reform, disarmament/demobilisation, and national defence policy. The FARDC is organised on the basis of brigades, which are dispersed throughout the provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Congolese troops have been fighting the Kivu conflict in the eastern North Kivu region, the Ituri conflict in the Ituri Province, Ituri region, and other rebellions since the Second Congo War. Besides the FARDC, the largest peacekeeping mission of the , known as MONUSCO, is also present in the country with about 18,000 peacekeepers. The Democratic Republic of Congo signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
CorruptionMobutu Sese Seko ruled the DRC, which he renamed Zaire, 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 Economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo#1990s, economic collapse in 1996. Mobutu allegedly stole as much as US$4–5 billion while in office. He was not the first corrupt Congolese leader by any means: "Government as a system of organized theft goes back to King Leopold II," noted Adam Hochschild in 2009. In July 2009, a Swiss court determined that the statute of limitations had run out on an international asset recovery 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 Joseph Kabila established the Commission of Repression of Economic Crimes upon his ascension to power in 2001. However, in 2016 the Enough Project issued a report claiming that the Congo is run as a violent kleptocracy.
Human rightsThe International Criminal Court investigation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was initiated by Joseph Kabila in April 2004. The International Criminal Court prosecutor opened the case in June 2004. Child soldiers have been used on a large scale in DRC, and in 2011 it was estimated that 30,000 children were still operating with armed groups. Instances of child labor and forced labor have been observed and reported in the U.S. Department of Labor's ''Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor'' in the DRC in 2013 and six goods produced by the country's mining industry appear on the department's December 2014 ''List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor''.
Violence against womenViolence against women seems to be perceived by large sectors of society to be normal. The 2013–2014 Demographic and Health Surveys, DHS survey (pp. 299) found that 74.8% of women agreed that a husband is justified in beating his wife in certain circumstances. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination 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. Mass rapes, sexual violence and sexual slavery are used as a weapon of war by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and armed groups in the eastern part of the country. The eastern part of the country in particular has been described as the "rape capital of the world" and the prevalence of sexual violence there described as the worst in the world. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is also practiced in DRC, although not on a large scale. The prevalence of FGM is estimated at about 5% of women. FGM is illegal: the law imposes a penalty of two to five years of prison and a fine of 200,000 Congolese francs on any person who violates the "physical or functional integrity" of the genital organs. 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 Yakin Ertürk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women who toured eastern Congo in July 2007, violence against women in North and South Kivu included "unimaginable brutality". Ertürk added that "Armed groups attack local communities, loot, rape, kidnap women and children, and make them work as sexual slaves". In December 2008, GuardianFilms of ''The Guardian'' released a film documenting the testimony of over 400 women and girls who had been abused by marauding militia. In June 2010, Oxfam reported a dramatic increase in the number of rapes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and researchers from Harvard discovered that rapes committed by civilians had increased seventeenfold. In June 2014, Freedom from Torture published reported rape and sexual violence being used routinely by state officials in Congolese prisons as punishment for politically active women.Rape As torture in the DRC
EconomyThe Central Bank of the Congo is responsible for developing and maintaining the Congolese franc, which serves as the primary form of currency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2007, The World Bank decided to grant the Democratic Republic of Congo up to $1.3 billion in assistance funds over the following three years. The Congolese government started negotiating membership in the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), in 2009. The Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered one of the world's richest countries in natural resources; its untapped deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of US$24 trillion. The Congo has 70% of the world's coltan, a third of its cobalt, more than 30% of its diamond reserves, and a tenth of its copper. Despite such vast mineral wealth, the economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has declined drastically since the mid-1980s. The African country generated up to 70% of its export revenue from minerals in the 1970s and 1980s and was particularly hit when resource prices deteriorated at that time. By 2005, 90% of the DRC's revenues derived from its minerals (Exenberger and Hartmann 2007:10). Congolese citizens are among the poorest people on Earth. DR Congo consistently has the lowest, or nearly the lowest, List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita, nominal GDP per capita in the world. The DRC is also one of the twenty lowest-ranked countries on the Corruption Perception Index.
MiningThe Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the world's largest producer of cobalt ore, and a major producer of copper and diamonds. The latter come from Kasai province in the west. By far the largest mines in the DRC are located in southern Katanga Province, Katanga province (formerly Katanga Province, Shaba), and are highly mechanized, with a capacity of several million tons per year of copper and cobalt ore, and refining capability for metal ore. The DRC is the second-largest diamond-producing nation in the world, and artisanal and small-scale miners account for most of its production. At independence in 1960, DRC was the second-most industrialized country in Africa after South Africa; it boasted a thriving mining sector and a relatively productive agriculture sector. The First Congo War, First and Second Congo Wars began in 1996. These conflicts have dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, increased external debt, and resulted in deaths of more than five million people from war and associated famine and disease. Malnutrition 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 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, when a large portion of the invading foreign troops withdrew. A number of International Monetary Fund and World Bank missions met with the government to help it develop a coherent economic plan, and President Joseph Kabila began implementing reforms. Much economic activity still lies outside the GDP data. A United Nations Human Development Index report shows that the human development index of DRC is one of the worst the country has had in decades. Through 2011 the DRC had the lowest Human Development Index of the 187 ranked countries. It ranked lower than Niger, despite a higher margin of improvement than the latter country over 2010's numbers. The economy of DRC relies heavily on mining. However, the smaller-scale economic activity from artisanal mining occurs in the informal sector and is not reflected in GDP data. A third of the DRC's diamonds are believed to be smuggled out of the country, making it difficult to quantify diamond production (economics), production levels."Ranking Of The World's Diamond Mines By Estimated 2013 Production"
TransportationGround transport in the Democratic Republic of Congo has always been difficult. The terrain and climate of the Congo Basin present serious barriers to road and rail construction, and the distances are enormous across this vast country. The DRC has more navigable rivers and moves more passengers and goods by boat and ferry than any other country in Africa, but air transport remains the only effective means of moving goods and people between many places within the country, especially in rural areas. Chronic economic mismanagement, political corruption and internal conflicts have led to long-term under-investment of infrastructure.
RailRail transportation is provided by the Congo Railroad Company (Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer du Congo) and the Office National des Transports (Congo) (ONATRA) and the Office of the Uele Railways (Office des Chemins de fer des Ueles, CFU). Like much of the infrastructure in the Congo, the railways are poorly maintained, dirty, crowded and dangerous.
RoadThe Democratic Republic of the Congo has fewer all-weather paved highways than any country of its population and size in Africa — a total of , of which only is in good condition (see below). To put this in perspective, the road distance across the country in any direction is more than (e.g. Matadi to Lubumbashi, by road). The figure of converts to of paved road per 1,000,000 of population. Comparative figures for Zambia and Botswana are and respectively. Three routes in the Trans-African Highway network pass through DR Congo: * Tripoli-Cape Town Highway: this route crosses the western extremity of the country on National Road No. 1 between Kinshasa and Matadi, a distance of on one of the only paved sections in fair condition. * Lagos-Mombasa Highway: the DR Congo is the main missing link in this east-west highway and requires a new road to be constructed before it can function. * Beira-Lobito Highway: this east-west highway crosses Katanga Province, Katanga and requires re-construction over most of its length, being an earth track between the Angolan border and Kolwezi, a paved road in very poor condition between Kolwezi and Lubumbashi, and a paved road in fair condition over the short distance to the Zambian border.
WaterThe Democratic Republic of Congo has thousands of kilometres of navigable waterways. Traditionally water transport has been the dominant means of moving around in approximately two-thirds of the country.
Air, DR Congo had one major national airline (Congo Airways) that offered flights inside DR Congo. Congo Airways was based at N'djili Airport, Kinshasa's international airport. All air carriers certified by the DRC have been banned from European Union airports by the European Commission, due to inadequate safety standards. Several international airlines service Kinshasa's international airport and a few also offer international flights to Lubumbashi International Airport.
EnergyIn the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are both coal and crude oil resources that were mainly used domestically in 2008. The Democratic Republic of Congo has the infrastructure for hydro-electricity from the Congo River at the Inga dams. The Democratic Republic of Congo also possesses 50% of Africa's forests and a river system that could provide hydro-electric power to the entire continent, according to a UN report on the country's strategic significance and its potential role as an economic power in central Africa. The generation and distribution of electricity are controlled by Société nationale d'électricité (SNEL), but only 15% of the country has access to electricity. The DRC is a member of three electrical power pools. These are SAPP (Southern African Power Pool), EAPP (East African Power Pool), CAPP (Central African Power Pool).
Renewable energyBecause of abundant sunlight, the potential for solar development is very high in the DRC. There are already about 836 solar power systems in the DRC, with a total power of 83 kW, located in Province of Équateur, Équateur (167), Katanga (159), Nord-Kivu (170), the two Kasaï provinces (170), and Bas-Congo (170). Also, the 148 Caritas network system has a total power of 6.31 kW.
EducationIn 2014, the literacy rate for the population between the ages of 15 and 49 was estimated to be 75.9% (88.1% male and 63.8% female) according to a Demographic and Health Surveys, DHS nationwide survey. The education 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)''. Primary education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not free or compulsory, even though the Congolese constitution says it should be (Article 43 of the 2005 Congolese Constitution). As a result of the six-year civil war in the late 1990s—early 2000s, over 5.2 million children in the country did not receive any education."Congo, Democratic Republic of the.
HealthThe List of hospitals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, hospitals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo include the Kinshasa General Hospital, General Hospital of Kinshasa. DRC has the world's second-highest rate of infant mortality (after Chad). In April 2011, through aid from GAVI Alliance, Global Alliance for Vaccines, a new vaccine to prevent pneumococcal disease was introduced around Kinshasa. In 2012, it was estimated that about 1.1% of adults aged 15–49 were living with HIV/AIDS. Malaria is also a problem. Yellow fever also affects DRC. Maternal health is poor in DRC. According to 2010 estimates, DRC has the 17th highest maternal mortality rate in the world. According to UNICEF, 43.5% of children under five are stunted. In May 2019, the death toll from the 2018–19 Kivu Ebola epidemic, Ebola outbreak in DRC surpassed 1,000. emergency food relief agency warned that amid the escalating conflict and worsening situation following Coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, millions of lives were at risk as they could die of hunger. According to the data of the World Food Programme, four in ten people in Congo lack food security and about 15.6 million have been facing hunger crisis.
Crime and law enforcementThe Congolese National Police (PNC) are the primary police force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Ethnic groupsOver 200 ethnic groups populate the Democratic Republic of the Congo, of which the majority are Bantu peoples. Together, Mongo people, Mongo, Luba people, Luba, Kongo people, Kongo peoples, Mangbetu people, Mangbetu and the Zande people, Azande peoples constitute around 45% of the population. The Kongo people are the largest ethnic group in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In , the United Nations estimated the country's population to be million people, a rapid increase from 39.1 million in 1992 despite the ongoing war. As many as 250 ethnic groups have been identified and named. The most numerous people are the Kongo, Luba, and Mongo. About 600,000 Congo Pygmies, 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 the national intermediary languages Kongo language, Kikongo, Tshiluba language, Tshiluba, Swahili language, Swahili, and Lingala language, Lingala.
MigrationGiven the situation in the country and the condition of state structures, it is extremely difficult to obtain reliable migration data. However, evidence suggests that DRC continues to be a destination country for immigrants, in spite of recent declines in their numbers. Immigration is very diverse in nature; refugees and asylum-seekers – products of the numerous and violent conflicts in the African Great Lakes, Great Lakes Region – constitute an important subset of the population. Additionally, the country's large mine operations attract migrant workers from Africa and beyond. There is also 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 to 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, the number of immigrants in the DRC has fallen from just over one million in 1960, to 754,000 in 1990, to 480,000 in 2005, to an estimated 445,000 in 2010. Official figures are unavailable, partly due to the predominance of the informal economy in the DRC. Data are also lacking on irregular immigrants, however given neighbouring countries' ethnic links to DRC nationals, irregular migration is assumed to be a significant phenomenon. Figures for Congolese nationals abroad vary greatly depending on the source, from three to six 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 whom live in Africa and to a lesser extent in Europe; 79.7% and 15.3% respectively, according to estimated 2000 data. New destination countries include South Africa and various points en route to Europe. The DRC has 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 whom were living in other African countries. Since 2003, more than 400,000 Congolese migrants have been expelled from Angola.
ReligionChristianity is the majority religion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The most recent survey, conducted by the Demographic and Health Surveys Program in 2013–2014 indicated that Christians constituted 93.7% of the population (with Catholics making up 29.7%, Protestants 26.8%, and other Christians 37.2%). An indigenous religion, Kimbanguism, has the adherence of only 2.8%, while Muslims make up 1.2%. Other recent estimates have found Christianity the majority religion, followed by 95.8% of the population according to a 2010 Pew Research Center estimate, while the CIA World Factbook reports this figure to be 95.9%. The proportion of followers of Islam is variously estimated from 1% to 12% There are about 35 million Catholics in the country with six archdioceses and 41 dioceses. The impact of the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo is difficult to overestimate. Schatzberg has called it the country's "only truly national institution apart from the state." Its schools have educated over 60% of the nation's primary school students and more than 40% of its secondary students. The church owns and manages an extensive network of hospitals, schools, and clinics, as well as many diocesan economic enterprises, including farms, ranches, stores, and artisans' shops. Sixty-two Protestant denominations are federated under the umbrella of the Church of Christ in Congo. It is often simply referred to as ''the Protestant Church'', since it covers most of the DRC Protestants. With more than 25 million members, it constitutes List of the largest Protestant churches, one of the largest Protestant bodies in the world. Kimbanguism was seen as a threat to the colonial regime and was banned by the Belgians. Kimbanguism, officially "the church of Christ on Earth by the prophet Simon Kimbangu", now has about three million members,"Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo)", Adherents.com – Religion by Location.
LanguagesFrench is the official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is culturally accepted as the ''lingua franca'' facilitating communication among the many different ethnic groups of the Congo. According to a 2014 Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, OIF report, 33 million Congolese people (47% of the population) could read and write in French. In the capital city Kinshasa, 67% of the population could read and write French, and 68.5% could speak and understand it. Approximately 242 languages are spoken in the country, but only four have the status of national languages: Kituba language, Kituba ("Kikongo ya leta"), Lingala language, Lingala, Tshiluba language, Tshiluba, and Swahili language, Swahili. Although some people speak these regional, or trade languages as first languages, most of the population speak them as a second language after their own ethnic language. Lingala was the official language of the colonial army, the "Force Publique", under Belgian colonial rule, and remains to this day the predominant language in the armed forces. Since the recent rebellions, a good part of the army in the East also uses Swahili where it is prevalent. When the country was a Belgian colony, the Belgian colonizers 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. This trend was reversed after independence, when French became the sole language of education at all levels. Since 1975, the four national languages have been reintroduced in the first two years of primary education, with French becoming the sole language of education from the third year onward, but in practice many primary schools in urban areas solely use French from the first year of school onward. Portuguese is taught in the Congolese schools as a foreign language. The lexical similarity and phonology with French makes Portuguese a relatively easy language for the people to learn. Most of the roughly 175,000 Portuguese speakers in the DRC are Angolan and Mozambican expatriates.
CultureThe culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo reflects the diversity of its hundreds of ethnic groups and their differing ways of life throughout the country — from the mouth of the Congo River, River Congo on the coast, upriver through the rainforest and savanna 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, the struggle for independence, the stagnation of the Mobutu era, and most recently, the First Congo War, First and Second Congo Wars. Despite these pressures, the convention (norm), customs and cultures of the Congo have retained much of their individuality. The country's 81 million inhabitants (2016) are mainly rural. The 30% who live in urban areas have been the most open to Western culture, Western influences.
MusicAnother feature in Congo culture is its music. The DRC has its influences on Cuban music Cuban Rumba, rumba, originally kumba from Congo and merengue music, merengue. And those two later give birth to soukous. Other African nations produce music genres 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, have set the tone for a generation of young men always dressed up in expensive designer clothes. They came to be known as the fourth generation of Congolese music and mostly come from the former well-known band .
SportsMany sports are played in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including Football in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, football, basketball, and Rugby union in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rugby. The sports are played in numerous stadiums throughout the country, including the Stade Frederic Kibassa Maliba. As Zaire they have participated in the World Cup Football (Final stage) in 1974. Internationally, the country is especially famous for its professional basketball NBA and football players. Dikembe Mutombo is one of the best African basketball players to ever play the game. Mutombo is well known for humanitarian projects in his home country. Bismack Biyombo, Christian Eyenga, and Emmanuel Mudiay are others who gained significant international attention in basketball. Several Congolese players and players of Congolese descent—including strikers Romelu Lukaku, Yannick Bolasie, and Dieumerci Mbokani—have gained prominence in world football. DR Congo has twice won the African Cup of Nations football tournament.
MediaNewspapers of the DRC include ''L'Avenir (newspaper), L'Avenir'', ''Radion Télévision Mwangaza'', ', ', ''Le Phare'', ''Le Potentiel'', ''Le Soft'' and ''LeCongolais.CD'', a web-based daily. Radio Télévision Nationale Congolaise (RTNC) is the national broadcaster of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. RTNC currently broadcasts in Lingala language, Lingala, French, and English.
LiteratureList of Democratic Republic of the Congo writers, Congolese authors use literature as a way to develop a sense of national consciousness amongst the Congo people. The tragic history of colonialism and Congo Crisis, war lead the Congolese people to settle in a place of complacency, accepting the culture that was forced upon them by Belgian Congo, Belgium. Modern Congolese literature began to emerge in the late 1950s. There are a few rare pieces of literature dated back to before East African Campaign (World War I), WWI, but it was not until about 1954 that literature written in French made its appearance in the Congo. After gaining their independence from Belgium in the 1960s, new authors, such as Guy Menga and Jean Pierre Makouta-Mboukou, were inspired by older authors, such as Jean Malonga from Congo-Brazzaville, and used writing to bring attention to new issues affecting the Congo. The rise of female authors began in the 1970s introducing diversity to Congolese literature and support for gender empowerment. Many authors who have contributed to the success of Congolese literature are now living abroad due to economic and political issues. Frederick Kambemba Yamusangie writes literature for the between generations of those who grew up in the Congo, during the time when they were colonised, fighting for independence and after. Yamusangie in an interview said he felt the distance in literature and wanted to remedy that he wrote the novel, Full Circle, which is a story of a boy named Emanuel who in the beginning of the book feels a difference in culture among the different groups in the Congo and elsewhere. Raïs Neza Boneza, Rais Neza Boneza, an author from the Katanga Province, Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, wrote novels and poems to promote artistic expressions as a way to address and deal with conflicts. These authors, along with others, used their platforms to bring awareness to the crises and conflicts that took place in the Congo.
Environmental issuesA dense tropical rainforest in the DRC's central drainage basin, river basin and eastern highlands is bordered on the east by the Albertine Rift (the western branch of Africa's Great Rift Valley, Great Rift System). It includes several of Africa's Great Lakes. Major environmental issues DR Congo's major environmental issues include: * deforestation * poaching, which threatens wildlife populations * water pollution * mining Displaced refugees cause or are otherwise responsible for significant deforestation, soil erosion and wildlife poaching. Another significant issue is environmental damage from the mining of minerals, especially diamonds, gold, and coltan – a mineral used to manufacture capacitors.
Species and Biodiversity lossThe environmental problems associated with The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) affect its many endemic species of flora and fauna. The DRC has the world's second largest contiguous rain forest after the Amazon rainforest, Amazon as well as other ecosystems including Savanna, swamps and flood plains. According to the World Wildlife Fund, these unique habitats and species make the DRC one of the most valuable yet vulnerable areas in the world for biodiversity, wildlife protection and rainforest sustainability. Species loss has been cited as a problem in the DRC, brought about or exacerbated by reasons that include deforestation for mining, wood fuel, infrastructure or agriculture, war, illegal poaching and increased consumption of bush meat due to overpopulation and lack of food security. Some attempts to combat species loss in countries such as the DRC are actions such as the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), specifically Sustainable Development Goal 15, SDG 15 Life on Land, the primary goals of which is to increase reforestation and biodiversity and reduce species loss, desertification, and illegal poaching. One of the primary defences for species and habitat protection in the DRC is its system of national parks and reserves, which gives protected status to nearly 12% of the DRC's rainforest. Five of these parks and reserves are UNESCO world heritage sites, including Africa’s first national park Virunga National Park, Virunga national park. All of these parks have been put on the List of World Heritage in Danger, World Heritage in Danger List. Poor governance and low economic conditions have reduced the effectiveness of these protections, especially during war times. The human cost of protecting these parks has also been high with 200 park ranger deaths in the past 20 years. Virunga National Park, Virunga national park and Salonga National Park, Salongo National Park, both of which are UNESCO world heritage sites are currently being looked at for mining and oil exploration. The move would open 21.5% of the Virunga park for exploitation, this is highly criticised by animal rights activists as it would threaten the habitat of mountain gorillas and other endangered species.
DeforestationBetween 2000 and 2014 the DRC lost an average of 570,000 hectares (0.2%) of rainforest to deforestation per year, with the highest amount of deforestation coming between 2011 and 2014. Deforestation is the primary cause of biodiversity reduction and species loss globally, through habitat loss and fragmentation. One of the goals of the SDG 15 is to reduce deforestation and encourage reforestation by 2020. The DRC had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 7.56/10, ranking it 36th globally out of 172 countries. The DRC has Africa’s largest rainforest, which is under the threat of deforestation through mining operations, agriculture, infrastructure and wood fuel. In the DRC 94% of wood taken from the rainforest is used for wood fuel, mainly due to poverty, lack of energy infrastructure and the decentralised nature of its population. To mitigate this aid agencies have tried to promote agro-forestry with fast growing trees to avoid over exploitation of the rainforests. Other large drivers of deforestation include mining and conflict, during the Second Congo War, Congo conflict deforestation by militia groups was high for wood fuel, small mining operations and illegal logging to fund their operations. However, conversely conflict reduced deforestation for large scale mining due to security instability. One policy being attempted to reduce the deforestation and increase biodiversity in the DRC is the United Nations REDD Programme, UN-REDD program, which uses emissions trading system so that developed nations can offset their carbon emissions by paying developing nations with rainforest to manage and conserve their forest.
Bush meatBush meat refers to any meat that is procured from the wild. Overpopulation and continual conflicts in the DRC have led to food shortages, which have therefore increased the use of bush meat. Although, data on bush meat use is not extensive, studies estimate 6 million tonnes of animals are taken for bush meat globally each year. What animals are hunted are done so indiscriminately without thought of the importance of certain species that could be ecosystem engineers or keystone species. Bush meat is an important source of protein for millions in the DRC, especially in rural areas where it makes up 50–70% of meals. For some who cannot afford farmed produce it is a free meal. A recent study in the DRC revealed that almost all of the animals are taken from the Congo each year, at 93% of all live animals there are in the forest are extracted for bush meat, whereas a sustainable rate would be 20%. This is a huge amount compared to the Amazon where bush meat is hunted at only 3% the rate of the Congo. the study reveals the only way to solve this is to find other food sources to feed people in the Congo Basin as bush meat is their only means of eating. Another study showed that the species of bush meat in the meat markets of the DRC's third largest city Kisangani were primarily Even-toed ungulate, Artiodactyla at 40.06% of the carcasses sold then primates at 37.79% of carcasses sold. Recently the prevalence of hunting for bush meat has declined because of the risk to hunters and butchers from the Ebola virus disease, Ebola virus from specifically ape and bat meat. Even though when the meat is cooked smoked or dried it kills the virus, business has dropped significantly with some hunters reporting as much of a reduction in sales of 80%.
ConflictsThere has been a war in the DRC in different levels of intensity since 1994 when the country was called Zaire. Although what was known as Second Congo War, Africa's World War had ended in 2003 the eastern part of the country still has ongoing skirmishes between rebel groups and government forces. No other method has reduced species population so dramatically than conflict, when a militia reached the Garamba National Park in 1997, within three months half of the park's elephants, two thirds of the buffalo, and three quarters of its hippos vanished. The reason conflict is so damaging to wildlife is the increased use of bush meat to feed soldiers, the prevalence of weapons, the lucrative industry of selling exotic animals and ivory as well as the general failure of law and order. According to another study which was taken during the time of the civil war in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, Okapi Faunal Reserve, there was a 50% reduction in the abundance of elephants and a vast change in the distribution of them to the more secluded areas of the park.
See also* Outline of the Democratic Republic of the Congo * Index of Democratic Republic of the Congo-related articles * Democratic Republic of the Congo–South Sudan border
Further reading* Clark, John F., ''The African Stakes of the Congo War'', 2004. * Callaghy, T., ''The State-Society Struggle: Zaire in Comparative Perspective''. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984, . * . * 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, 2002. * Exenberger, Andreas/Hartmann, Simon