Country Profiles:
DR Congo

DR Congo is the first set of the twin countries the Congo. DR Congo is a vast country with immense economic resources that has yet to be tapped into. DRC is the fourth most populous and the second largest country on the continent. It is also the fastest growing country in the continent and the largest Francophone nation in the world, larger than France itself. The country is often referred to by its acronym, the DRC, or Congo (Kinshasa), the capital , to distinguish it from the Republic of the Congo often referred to as Congo (Brazzaville). The capital, Kinshasa, is located on the Congo River, the largest city in central Africa, and serves as the country’s official administrative, economic, and cultural center.

Congo was a Belgian colony few decades, but on June 30th 1960 it gained independence from Belgium. From 1971 to 1997 the country was officially the Republic of Zaire, a change made by then ruler Gen. Mobutu Sese Seko to give the country what he thought was a more authentic African name. “Zaire” meaning “great river” in local Congolese languages. The country’s name prior to 1971, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was reinstated after the overthrow of Mobutu in 1997. Subsequently after the overthrow of Gen Mobutu, DR Congo was plunged into a devastating civil war; the conflict officially ended in 2003. The war is considered to be one of the deadliest after WWII and has been called, “Africa’s world war,” with the loss of over twenty million civilian lives.

UNESCO Heritage sites in DR Congo (Kinshasa) include:

1. Sangha Trinational

Sangha Trinational is a forest divided between the nations of Central African RepublicCameroon and Congo-Brazzaville. It was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.

2. Okapi Wildlife Reserve

Covering a fifth of the Ituri Rainforest in the Congo River basin, the reserve contains many threatened species of primates and birds. It is inhabited by the nomadic pygmy Mbuti and Efé tribes. In 1997, looting, the killing of elephants, and the departure of reserve staff led the World Heritage Committee to place the reserve on its List of World Heritage in Danger, only a year following its inscription as a natural heritage site.

3. Kahuzi-Biega National Park

The park is dominated by two extinct volcanoes, Kahuzi and Biega. It also has abundant fauna, including the graueria gorillas. The park was deemed to be endangered in 1997 when deforestation and hunting became a major problem. Militia groups and illegal settlers were also settling in the park, while fire and poaching helped justify the World Heritage Committee’s decision.

4. Garamba National Park

The park has vast savannas, grasslands and woodland, featuring elephants, giraffes, hippopotamuses and the white rhinoceros. Garamba was deemed to be endangered following the diminution of the white rhinoceros population in the area, but it was removed from the list in 1991. However, it later regained the status in 1996, when three rangers were killed and the population of white rhinoceros fell once again.

Congo is rich in natural resources that is still economically untapped.

It boasts vast deposits of industrial diamonds, cobalt, coltan, and copper; one of the largest forest reserves in the continent; and about half of the hydroelectric potential of the continent. It is estimated that about twenty-five trillion dollars of untapped minerals and oil which is about the combined GDP of the US and Europe still remains untapped. The Congo Basin is rich with wildlife and is home to the Congo Rain Forest, the second largest rain forest in the continent, after the Amazon. As a result the country is known to have the highest frequency of thunder storms more than any other country in the world.

The Kivu region, the lake and volcano region which is close to the East African Rift Valley, forms the country’s eastern border and includes the major Lakes in the country, Lake Kivu, Albert, Edward, Tanganyika, and Mweru. This region also has the highest and most rugged striking chains of mountains. The Mitumba Mountains stretch along the Western Rift Valley, The snow-covered peaks of the Ruwenzori Range between Lakes Albert and Edward lie astride the Ugandan border and mark the country’s highest elevation of 16,763 feet (5,109 meters) and the third highest peak after Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt, Kenya at Margherita Peakm, Mt Stanley. The two most active volcanoes Mt. Niragongo and Mt. Nyamuragira combined makes 40% of volcanic activities in the continent. Virunga Mountains stretch across the Western Rift Valley north of Lake Kivu.

Over 250 ethnic groups live in Congo; of these, Bantu group constitute a large majority of the population and the non-Bantu group is the second largest. French, Lingala, Swahili, Kikongo, Tshiluba are the official languages of the country. Unfortunately, the Dutch language never survived.

Dishes includes: Fufu (Fufu is the staple food of Congo. It’s a thick paste made from sweet potato or yam, which is boiled and then mashed with a mortar and pestle); Poulet à la Moambé (Moambé is a traditional African stew. The thick red sauce is made from the fruit of the African oil palm. Chunks of beef, mutton, or chicken are then added to complete the dish.); Satori (satori is a popular dish among the fishing communities of Kisangani. The dish is made from tilapia fillets pan fried in a bed of pepitas (pumpkin seeds), plantains, and garlic), Chikwanga (made from cassava – the tuberous root is pounded into paste. Then it’s wrapped in banana leaves before boiled in a pot); Lunguila, or sugarcane wine (is a drink in the Bas-Congo province in the DRC).

Congolese musicians, like Le Grand Kallé, were extremely influential in pioneering the musical style of “African Rumba”‘, a blend of South American and traditional African musical styles, more often known as Soukous. musicians like Pépé Kallé became incredible popular in the international francophone market into the 1990. Other famous musicians includes: Papa Wemba; Koffi Olomide.

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