Democratic Republic of Congo By | Saturday, September 8  2012 at  15:03

Full Name
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
Origins of name: The Congo name is derived from the pre-colonial Bakongo kingdom, and not the River Congo as it is popularly assumed. It is actually the river which owes its name to the country
Formerly: Congo Free State; Belgian Congo; Congo-Leopoldville; Zaire

Current Leader
Joseph Kabila

Overview

Former Belgian colony

It gained independence on June 30, 1960

Facts

Form of Government
Republic

Government structure
Executive President with a Prime Minister, Bicameral Parliament

Military Statistics
Manpower available for military service: Age 16-49 - 14,101,263 men
Expenditures: 2.5% of GDP
Branches: Army - Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Forces d'Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo, FARDC); National Navy (La Marine Nationale), Congolese Air Force (Force Aerienne Congolaise FAC)

Former Rulers
1960-1965 President Joseph Kasavubu (Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister – 1960-1961)
1965-1997 Mobutu Sese Seko
1997-2001 Laurent-Desire Kabila
2001 – Present Joseph Kabila

Capital
Kinshasa
Altitude: 277m
Population: 7.5 million

Population
Size: 67,758,000 (2011)
Life expectancy: 45.8 years
Gender make-up: Male-49.7%; Female-50.3%

GDP per capita
$ 400 (2011)

$ 300 (2010)

Geography
Area: 2,344,858sqkm
Land boundaries: Angola 2,511 km (of which 225km is the boundary of Angola's discontiguous Cabinda Province), Burundi 233km, Central African Republic 1,577km, Republic of the Congo 2,410km, Rwanda 217km, Sudan 628km, Tanzania 459km, Uganda 765km, Zambia 1,930km

Major Languages
French (official), Lingala (lingua franca), Kikongo, Tshiluba, Kiswahili

Religious portfolio
Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist (form of Christianity) 10%, Muslim 10%, other (includes syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs) 10%

National Make-up
Over 200 African ethnic groups of which the majority are Bantu,. Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic) make up about 45% of the population

Natural Resources
Diamonds, Gold, Copper, Cobalt, Coltan, Zinc

Main exports
Diamonds, Gold, Copper, Cobalt, Wood products, Coffee

Land Use
Arable land: 2.86%;
Permanent crops: 0.47%;
Other: 96.67%

Monetary Unit/Currency
Congolese franc

Dialling Code
+243

Internet Code
.cd

Transport
Main port: Matadi
Main airport: Ndjili (Kinshasa) located 15km from city

Modern issues

Environmental
Threat to the Congo rainforest due to overlogging, often by foreign interests doing so illegally

Political
Years of misrule under Mobutu Sese Seko has left the country ethnically and regionally very divided.
DRC has also to contend with more militarily powerful neighbours like Rwanda and Burundi, who control parts of eastern DRC

Mr. Kabila’s ‘victory’ in the 2011 presidential elections cannot be described as a success. The polls emerged amidst fears of violence, rigging and deaths of opposition protestors. After the results were announced international observers reported that incumbent Joseph Kabila's win was so flawed it lacked credibility. Kabila himself also said they were flawed but defended his re-election. DR Congo's Kabila admits flaws but defends re-election

Economic
Very poor infrastructure due to administrative mismanagement and neglect
Limited exploitation of agriculture potential due to over-reliance on mineral extraction
Recurrent hyperinflation
Challenge of managing international mineral prospecting companies so that they give a better deal to the Congolese

In 2011, the governments of Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo established a joint team to investigate alleged trade in illegal gold

Social
Factional violence in eastern DRC has resulted in high numbers of internally displaced people and evils such as widespread rape
High incidence of infectious diseases like malaria, diarrhoea and occasionally ebola as a result of poor health coverage
Stupendous natural wealth of DRC has not improved the poverty index

Foreign Affairs
DRC has to deal with covetous neighbours interested in her natural resources
Challenge of managing mineral extraction contracts with international players so that they give a better deal to the Congolese

The Major Conflicts

Katanga Crisis
When: 1961
Who: Katanga secession bid
Why: Power crisis in Kinshasa and involvement of Belgium and the USA
Outcome: The capture and execution of Patrice Lumumba

Mobutu’s Coup
When: 1965
Who : Coup d’etat
Why: to resolve power crisis in government
Outcome: Mobutu Sese Seko took power

First Rwandan Invasion
When: 1996
Who: First Rwanda invasion, backed by Uganda
Why: To close down Hutu camps in eastern DRC
Outcome: Mobutu Sese Seko was overthrown

Second Rwandan Invasion
When: 1998
Who: Second Rwandan invasion
Why: To overthrow Laurent-Desire Kabila
Outcome: The intervention of Angola, Zimbabwe, Chad, Libya and Sudan to save Kabila

What to see?
The massive River Congo pouring into the Atlantic ocean

Sports
Most popular sport
Soccer

Famous sportsmen and sportswomen
Dikembe Mutombo – plays basketball in the USA
Pierre Mutumbula Ndaye Mulamba – Midfield soccer player who still holds the record for scoring nine goals, winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 1974

Quirks
DRC is so huge and administratively incoherent that it has no control of parts of its territory. Neighbours like Rwanda and Angola can march in at will
Its mineral wealth is legendary but has yet to improve the people’s standards of living
It’s one of the countries in Africa where the US dollar is more prized for local commerce than the country’s almost valueless currency
Currently hosts in the east the largest UN peace-keeping force in the world