Democratic Republic of the Congo Country Facts

By | June 4, 2024
Republique Democratiquethe Congo
Capital city Kinshasa
Surface 2,344,858 km²
Population 92,340,000
Road network length 2,250 km
Length of highway network 0 km
First highway N/A
Motorway name N/A
Traffic drives Right
License plate code ZRE

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC or DR Congo for short (French: République démocratique du Congo) is a large country in central Africa. The country has 92.3 million inhabitants and is almost 60 times the size of the Netherlands and is the 11th largest country in the world and the second largest in Africa. The capital is the 11 million inhabitants city of Kinshasa.


The Democratic Republic of Congo encompasses much of Central Africa, but also has a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. The country is bordered to the west by the Republic of the Congo, to the north by the Central African Republic and South Sudan, to the east by Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania and to the south by Zambia and Angola.

Much of the country is made up of the impenetrable jungles of the basin of the mighty Congo River, the river with the greatest flow in Africa. The south of the country consists of savannas. The country is mostly quite flat, with a plateau in the south. High mountains can be found in the east of the country, on the border with Uganda. Mount Stanley is the highest point at 5,110 meters. In the east of the country there are also large lakes, all border lakes with the eastern neighboring countries. The country measures over 2,100 kilometers from north to south and 1,900 kilometers from east to west.

Given its location on the equator, Congo has an equatorial climate in much of the country, but the south is somewhat drier and has a subtropical savanna climate. The average maximum temperature in Kinshasa is 27 to 32 °C all year round, there is about 1500 mm precipitation per year. There is a wet season and a dry season, with a lot of rain from October to May and almost no rain from June to September.


The country has a huge population growth but the results of censuses are not very reliable. In 1950 the country had only 12 million inhabitants, which grew to 50 million in 2000 and an estimated 92 million in 2018.  There are 7 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants, the capital Kinshasa is the largest and has more than 11 million inhabitants. this is one of the largest cities in Africa. Lubumbashi, Mbuji-Mayi, Kananga, Kisangani, Goma and Bukavu are cities with between 1 and 2 million inhabitants. Despite this, the country is relatively rural, with many inhabitants living in rural areas, often in isolated regions, especially in the north and central Congo. The south is more cultivated because the jungle is less dense here.

There are more than 200 ethnic groups in Congo, most of which belong to the Bantu. There is significant migration, but conflict and poor infrastructure make it difficult to make accurate estimates. The large mines attract many migrant workers from neighboring countries and other parts of Africa.

French is the official language of Congo and plays a role as the lingua franca spoken in much of the country. About half of the population can read and write French, with a higher share in the major cities. In total, more than 240 languages ​​are spoken in Congo, of which 4 have national language status, Kituba, Lingala, Tshiluba and Swahili. During the Belgian colonial period, the native languages ​​continued to be taught, an exception in the European colonization of Africa.


Congo is one of the least developed countries in the world, but it has huge reserves of raw materials. Mining plays an important role in the economy and provides a large part of public finances. In 2005, 90% of the income came from mining. Congo has structurally the lowest or one of the lowest incomes in the world. The development of the economy is hampered by very poor infrastructure, internal conflict and political instability.


Before European colonization, there were several kingdoms in the basin of the Congo River. In the 1870s, the first European expeditions into the interior of the Congo were carried out, at the behest of King Leopold II of Belgium. In 1885 the area became his personal property, and it was renamed the Congo Free State. Millions of Congolese died during that period due to the introduction of diseases to which they were not immune. In 1908, the government of Belgium annexed the Free State, after which it became a Belgian colony.

Congo was directly involved in World War I, as Germany had adjacent colonies in East Africa. Most battles took place in 1916 and 1917. After the First World War, Belgium also received a mandate over Ruanda-Urundi, which borders the Congo. Congo was developed to a limited extent under Belgian administration, the impenetrable jungle and great distances made the development of the colony more difficult. Contrary to most French colonies, hardly any road network was developed in Congo. Belgian Congo was one of the few European colonies in Africa where indigenous languages ​​were taught in schools.

In 1960 Congo became independent from Belgium, after which it renamed itself the Republic of Congo. On the other side of the Congo River, however, there was also a French colony that took that name after independence, so that Congo-Léopoldville and Congo-Brazzaville were often used to distinguish between the two countries. Immediately after independence, conflict and power struggles broke out. Mobutu came to power in 1965 and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zaire in 1971. Mobutu developed into a dictator and was in power until 1997. Mobutu originally had the support of the United Statesbecause of its anti-communism, a problem that led to a decades-long civil war in neighboring Angola. Under Mobutu, Zaire had some stability for a long time, although it was a repressive regime.

In 1996, the first Congo War broke out, when small neighbors Rwanda and Uganda invaded Zaire to gain control over mining and raw materials. The conflict took place mainly in the isolated east of the country, which was notoriously difficult to control from Kinshasa. At the end of the war, Mobutu was deposed and rebel leader Kabila came to power, who renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 1998, the Second Congo War, also known as the World War of Africa, broke out. Ultimately, 9 countries and 25 armed groups became involved in the conflict, killing millions not only from violence but also from disease and famine. Kabila was assassinated in 2001, after which his son came to power.


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