Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo
République démocratique du Congo  (French)
Repubilika ya Kôngo ya Dimokalasi  (Kongo)
Republíki ya Kongó Demokratíki  (Lingala)
Jamhuri ya Kidemokrasia ya Kongo  (Swahili)
Ditunga dia Kongu wa Mungalaata  (Luba-Katanga)
Motto: "Justice – Paix – Travail" (French)
"Justice – Peace – Work"
Anthem: Debout Congolais  (French)
"Arise, Congolese"
Location of  Democratic Republic of the Congo  (dark green)
Location of  Democratic Republic of the Congo  (dark green)
and largest city
4°19′S 15°19′E / 4°19′S 15°19′E / -4.317; 15.317
Official languagesFrench
Recognised national languages
Ethnic groups See Ethnic groups section below
GovernmentUnitary semi-presidential republic under an authoritarian dictatorship [1]
• President
Joseph Kabila
Bruno Tshibala
National Assembly
• Colonised
17 November 1879
1 July 1885
15 November 1908
30 June 1960[2]
20 September 1960
• Renamed to Democratic Republic of Congo
1 August 1964
29 October 1971
17 May 1997
18 February 2006
• Total
2,345,409 km2 (905,567 sq mi) (11th)
• Water (%)
• 2016 estimate
78,736,153[3] (16th)
• Density
34.83/km2 (90.2/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2017 estimate
• Total
$67.988 billion[4]
• Per capita
GDP (nominal)2017 estimate
• Total
$40.415 billion[4]
• Per capita
Gini (2006)44.4[5]
HDI (2017)Increase 0.457[6]
low · 176th
CurrencyCongolese franc (CDF)
Time zoneUTC+1 to +2 (WAT and CAT)
Driving sideright
Calling code+243
ISO 3166 codeCD

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (About this sound pronunciation  French: République démocratique du Congo [kɔ̃ɡo]), also known as DR Congo, the DRC, Congo-Kinshasa, East Congo, or simply the Congo,[7][8] is the southernmost country located in East Africa and Central Africa. It is sometimes referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997. The DRC borders the Central African Republic to the north; South Sudan to the northeast; Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to the east; Zambia to the south; Angola to the southwest; and the Republic of the Congo and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It is the second-largest country in Africa after Algeria (the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa) by area and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 78 million,[3] the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated officially Francophone country, the fourth-most-populated country in Africa, and the 16th-most-populated country in the world.

Centred on the Congo Basin, the territory of the DRC was first inhabited by Central African foragers around 90,000 years ago and was reached by the Bantu expansion about 3,000 years ago. In the west, the Kingdom of Kongo ruled around the mouth of the Congo River from the 14th to 19th centuries. In the centre and east, the kingdoms of Luba and Lunda ruled from the 16th and 17th centuries to the 19th century. In the 1870s, just before the onset of the Scramble for Africa, European exploration of the Congo Basin was carried out, first led by Henry Morton Stanley under the sponsorship of King Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold formally acquired rights to the Congo territory at the Berlin Conference in 1885 and made the land his private property, naming it the Congo Free State. During the Free State, the colonial military unit, the Force Publique, forced the local population to produce rubber, and from 1885 to 1908, millions of Congolese died as a consequence of disease and exploitation. In 1908, Belgium, despite initial reluctance, formally annexed the Free State, which became the Belgian Congo.

The Belgian Congo achieved independence on 30 June 1960 under the name Republic of the Congo. Congolese nationalist Patrice Lumumba was elected the first Prime Minister, while Joseph Kasa-Vubu became the first President. Conflict arose over the administration of the territory, which became known as the Congo Crisis. The provinces of Katanga, under Moïse Tshombe, and South Kasai attempted to secede. After Lumumba turned to the Soviet Union for assistance in the crisis, the U.S. and Belgium became wary and oversaw his removal from office by Kasa-Vubu on 5 September and ultimate execution by Belgian-led Katangese troops on 17 January 1961. On 25 November 1965, Army Chief of Staff Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who later renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko, officially came into power through a coup d'état. In 1971, he renamed the country Zaire. The country was run as a dictatorial one-party state, with his Popular Movement of the Revolution as the sole legal party. Mobutu's government received considerable support from the United States, due to its anti-communist stance during the Cold War. By the early 1990s, Mobutu's government began to weaken. Destabilisation in the east resulting from the 1994 Rwandan genocide and disenfranchisement among the eastern Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsi) population led to a 1996 invasion led by Tutsi FPR-ruled Rwanda, which began the First Congo War.[2]

On 17 May 1997, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, a leader of Tutsi forces from the province of South Kivu, became President after Mobutu fled to Morocco, reverting the country's name to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tensions between President Kabila and the Rwandan and Tutsi presence in the country led to the Second Congo War from 1998 to 2003. Ultimately, nine African countries and around twenty armed groups became involved in the war,[9] which resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people.[10][11][12][13] The two wars devastated the country. President Laurent-Désiré Kabila was assassinated by one of his bodyguards on 16 January 2001 and was succeeded eight days later as President by his son Joseph.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely rich in natural resources but has had political instability, a lack of infrastructure, issues with corruption and centuries of both commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation with little holistic development. Besides the capital Kinshasa, the two next largest cities Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi are both mining communities. DR Congo's largest export is raw minerals, with China accepting over 50% of DRC's exports in 2012. In 2016, DR Congo's level of human development was ranked 176th out of 187 countries by the Human Development Index.[6] As of 2018, around 600,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring countries from conflicts in the centre and east of the DRC.[14] Two million children risk starvation, and the fighting has displaced 4.5 million people.[15] The sovereign state is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, African Union and COMESA.


The Democratic Republic of the Congo is named after the Congo River, which flows through the entire country. The Congo River is the world's deepest river and the world's second largest river by discharge. The Comité d'études du haut Congo ("Committee for the Study of the Upper Congo"), established by 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.[16]

The Congo River itself was named by early European sailors after the Kingdom of Kongo and its Bantu inhabitants, the Kongo people, when they encountered them in the 16th century.[17][18] 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])."[19] 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 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.[2]

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-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 initiative.[20]

The word Zaire is from a Portuguese adaptation of a Kikongo word nzere ("river"), a truncation of nzadi o nzere ("river swallowing rivers").[21] 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.[22]

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.[23] The country's name was restored by President Laurent-Désiré Kabila following the fall of Mobutu in 1997.[24]

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Дэмакратычная Рэспубліка Конга
Chavacano de Zamboanga: República Democrática del Congo
ГӀалгӀай: Конго
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Congo Mìn-chú Khiung-fò-koet
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: গনতান্ত্রিক কঙ্গো প্রজাতন্ত্র
Bahasa Indonesia: Republik Demokratik Kongo
íslenska: Austur-Kongó
Kabɩyɛ: Kɔŋgo Kinsasa
Kreyòl ayisyen: Kongo (Kinchasa)
Lingua Franca Nova: Republica Democrata de Congo
مازِرونی: زئیر
Baso Minangkabau: Republik Demokratik Kongo
Dorerin Naoero: Ripubrikit Engame Kongo
Nederlands: Congo-Kinshasa
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Kongo Demokratik Respublikasi
qırımtatarca: Kongo (Kinşasa)
संस्कृतम्: कांगो गणराज्यम्
SiSwati: IKhongo
slovenščina: Vzhodni Kongo
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Demokratska Republika Kongo
Thuɔŋjäŋ: Miir Pan Koŋgo
West-Vlams: Congo-Kinshasa