Map of Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is a Central African nation with a population of about 71 million people.
Democratic Republic of Congo History
The land of the Democratic Republic of Congo was already populated some 10,000 years ago. However, the first known permanent settlers were that of the Bantu people from Nigeria in the 7th and 8th centuries AD.
The first European to arrive in the region was Portuguese Diego Cao. However, colonization only took place in 1885, when King Leopold II claimed the land as his personal possession. He called it the Congo Free State. In 1907, the Belgian government took over and renamed the country Belgian Congo.
Due to uprisings and riots, Belgium was pressured to give the people its independence and on June 30, 1960, Belgian Congo became an independent country, and renamed to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The country had its first parliamentary elections, where Patrice Lumumba became Congo’s first Prime Minister, and Joseph Kasavubu became its first President.
The year after independence was met with a series of misfortunes for the government, destabilizing the leadership and leading to conflicts that led to the point where the UN had to send peacekeeping forces to regain order.
In 1965, Lieutenant Colonel Mobutu, who was commander in chief of the armed forces, became President of a single-party state, and renamed the country to the Republic of Zaire.
Due to protests and international criticism of his rule, Mobutu was pressured to convert the country’s politics into a multi-party system, and the country’s constitution was also created.
In 1996, Rwandan Tutsi rebels entered the capital and took control. In 1997, President Mobutu was replaced by Laurent Desire Kabila.
The next several years were filled with hostilities and violence, with Rwandans and Ugandans entering the country to wage war, as well as tribal violence in the provinces.
When President Kabila was kiled by his bodyguard in 2001, his son, Jospeh Kabila succeeded him as President 8 days after. Through Joseph Kabila’s efforts, peace agreements were made with Rwanda and Uganda but the fighting and violence still continued.
In 2003, a new constitution was signed and at this point, over 2.5 million people in the Democratric Republic of Congo had died due to the civil war from 1996 to 2003.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is located in Central Africa, in the central sub-Saharan region. It has a unique location on the equator, where 1/3 of the country’s total land area is found north of the equator, and 2/3 is found in the south.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is bordered by several countries, which are the Republic of the Congo in the west, Angola in the southwest, Zambia in the southeast, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Burundi to the east, South Sudan to the northeast, and the Central African Republic to the northwest.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a republic in transition from a civil war and works in the framework of a semi-presidential republic.
The President is head of state, and elected into office to serve a 5-year term through popular vote. The Prime Minister is chosen from the party that controls the National Assembly, which is a 500-member legislative body whose members also serve 5-year terms.
The Senate also consists of the Legislative branch of government, with 108 indirectly elected members.
Tourism in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not highly developed and travel is very limited to the national parks. Violence and armed groups are still prevalent especially in the provinces, and even scout rangers in the parks have been known to be ambushed by poachers.
However, the country’s offerings for wildlife is one of the strongest in the world and visiting the parks will expose tourists to animals that are unique to the region.
The top national parks are Virunga National Park, Kahuzi-Biega National Park, and Okapi Wildlife Reserve. These are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and boasts of thousands of mammals and birds that can only be seen in the country.
The Lava Lake of the Nyiragongo Volcano is a sight to behold and it’s located within the area of the Virunga National Park’s massive 7,800 sq.km land area. The park is also known worldwide for its rich biodiversity, where more birds, mammals, and reptiles are found than anywhere else in Africa.
Other popular natural wonders found in the country are the Congo River, Lake Kivu, and the waterfalls of Boyoma and Livingstone.
Education in the country is free and compulsory for the first 6 years of formal education. About 77% of all primary school-age boys attend school, whereas it’s 73% for girls. However, only 35% of the male population proceed to secondary school and only 28% for girls.
The country is still recovering from the civil war, as well as decades of poor governance but efforts to improve the country’s education system are undergoing.
13.8% of government spending in 2013 was used on education.
- ATMs had only appeared in the country in 2010.
- The official language is French but several dialects are spoken such as Lingala, Swahili, Kikongo, and Tshiluba.
- Tourists must be careful not to take pictures of people as they believe that photographs steal their souls.