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Aerial view of the Congo River near Kisangani, capital of Orientale Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Aerial view of the Congo River near Kisangani, the capital of Orientale Province. Kisangani is an important commercial hub point for river and land transportation and a major marketing and distribution center for the north-eastern part of the country.
Image: MONUSCO/Myriam Asmani

Flag of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Flag of DRC
Location map of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Where in Africa is Democratic Republic of the Congo?
Location map of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
A virtual guide to Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly known as Zaire, a vast country in central sub-Saharan Africa, today also known as DR Congo, DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or just the Congo.

The DRC is bordered by 9 countries: Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. A 45 km wide strip of coastline in west provides the country's narrow access to the Atlantic Ocean. Five of the the famous African Great Lakes are lined up on DR Congo's eastern border: Lake Albert, Lake Edward, Lake Kivu, Lake Tanganyika, and Lake Mweru.

The country occupies an area of 2,344,858 km², making it the second largest country in Africa (behind Algeria), the DROC is about 3 times the size of Turkey, or slightly less the size of one-fourth of the US.

DR Congo has a population of 71,2 million people (est. 2015), capital and largest city is Kinshasa. Spoken languages are French (official) and several other languages like Lingala (in the north of the country), Kikongo, Kituba (a widely used lingua franca in Central Africa), Swahili, and Tshiluba.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC)
République Démocratique du Congo

Country Profile

Established as a Belgian colony in 1908, the Republic of the Congo gained its independence in 1960, but its early years were marred by political and social instability.
Col. Joseph MOBUTU seized power and declared himself president in a November 1965 coup. He subsequently changed his name - to MOBUTU Sese Seko - as well as that of the country - to Zaire. MOBUTU retained his position for 32 years through several subsequent sham elections as well as through the use of brutal force. Ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow of refugees in 1994 from fighting in Rwanda and Burundi, led in May 1997 to the toppling of the MOBUTU regime by a rebellion led by Laurent KABILA.

KABILA renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but in August 1998 his regime was itself challenged by an insurrection backed by Rwanda and Uganda. Troops from Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Chad, and Sudan intervened to support the Kinshasa regime. A cease-fire was signed in July 1999 by the DROC, Zimbabwe, Angola, Uganda, Namibia, Rwanda, and Congolese armed rebel groups, but sporadic fighting continued.

Laurent KABILA was assassinated in January 2001 and his son Joseph KABILA was named head of state. In October 2002, the new president was successful in negotiating the withdrawal of Rwandan forces occupying eastern Congo; two months later, the Pretoria Accord was signed by all remaining warring parties to end the fighting and establish a government of national unity.

A transitional government was set up in July 2003; Joseph KABILA remains as president and is joined by four vice presidents representing the former government, former rebel groups, and the political opposition.
Source: CIA World Fact Book

The Democratic Republic of Congo remains a humanitarian disaster despite the presence of UN troops and the recent approval of a new constitution that paved the way for elections in April.
Source: UN Mission MONUC

With up to six million dead and over two million displaced between 1998 and 2003, DR Congo was home to the deadliest conflict since World War II. At the height of the conflict, nine countries were fighting each other on Congolese soil. Millions more have been driven to the brink by starvation in the country that is the size of Western Europe.
Source: International Business Times


Official Name:
République Démocratique du Congo
abbreviation: RDC
former: ZaÏre, Congo belge
int'l long form: Democratic Republic of the Congo
abbreviations: DROC, DRC
also in use: Congo Kinshasa, DR Congo
former: Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Congo/Leopoldville, Congo/Kinshasa, Zaire

ISO Country Code: cd

Local Time = UTC +1h
Actual Time: Mon-Apr-22  07:51

Country Calling Code: +243

Capital City: Kinshasa (pop. 6.5 million)

Other Cities: Bandundu, Bukavu, Goma, Kananga, Kindu, Kisangani, Lubumbashi, Matadi, Mbandaka, Mbuji-Mayi.

Type: Republic; transitional regime highly centralized with executive power vested in the president.
Independence: 30 June 1960 (from Belgium).
Constitution: 18 February 2006

Location: Central Africa, northeast of Angola
Area: 2,344,858 km² (905 000 sq. mi)
Terrain: Varies from tropical rainforests to mountainous terraces, plateau, savannas, dense grasslands, and mountains.
Highest point: Pic Marguerite 5 110 m on Rwenzori Range's Mont Ngaliema (Mount Stanley).

Climate: Equatorial; ranges from tropical rainforest in the Congo River basin, hot and humid in much of the north and west, cooler and drier in the south central area and the east.

Nationality: Congolese
Population: 71 million (2015)
Ethnic groups: More than 200 African ethnic groups; the Luba, Kongo, and Anamongo are some of the larger groupings of tribes.
Religions: Chrisinity 70%, other sects and traditional beliefs 10%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%.
Languages: French (Official). National languages: Lingala, Swahili, Kikongo, Tshiluba.
Literacy: 64%

Natural resources: Cobalt, copper, Columbite-tantalite (coltan) refined, coltan becomes tantalum, niobium, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal, hydropower, timber.

Agriculture products: Coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, quinine, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, bananas, root crops, corn, fruits; wood products.

Industries: mining (diamonds, copper, zinc), mineral processing, consumer products (including textiles, footwear, cigarettes, processed foods and beverages), cement, commercial ship repair.

Exports partners: China 43.5%, Zambia 25%, South Korea 4.9%, Belgium 4.8% (2015)

Imports partners: China 20.6%, South Africa 17.7%, Zambia 12.3%, Belgium 6.9%, Zimbabwe 5.1%, India 4.7% (2015)

Currency: Congolese Franc (CDF)

Note: External links will open in a new browser window.

Official Sites of Democratic Republic of the Congo

Présidence de la République Démocratique du Congo
Official website of the Presidency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ministére des Finances
Official website of the Ministry of Finance DRC.

Diplomatic Missions
Permanent Mission of DR Congo to the UN
Official site.

UN Mission
MONUSCO United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The largest U.N. peacekeeping operation - site about the UN mandate on the 1999 Ceasefire Agreement for a cessation of hostilities between all belligerent forces in DRC.


profile Map of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Political map of Democratic Republic of the Congo.
profile Administrative Map of Democratic Republic of the Congo
Map showing the administrative divisions of Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Google Earth Google Earth Democratic Republic of the Congo
Searchable map/satellite view of Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Google Earth Google Earth Kinshasa
Searchable map/satellite view of Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's capital city.

Map of Africa
Political Map of Africa.
Relief Map of Africa

Community fish-farming ponds in the rural town of Masi Manimba
Community fish-farming ponds in the rural town of Masi Manimba. UK aid supported the NGO Action Against Hunger to provide an emergency response to a malutrition crisis in Masi Manimba.
Image: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development


Congo Vision
Recent news from the DR Congo (in French).
Groupe de Presse L'Avenir 
DROC online news (in French)
Le Potentiel
DR Congo current news (in French)
Le Soft International
Online version of the newspaper (in French)


Info Radio/TV Digital Congo portal site with current news (in French and English)
Radio Okapi
SIte of the radio station with current news (in French)

Int'l News Sources
BBC News Africa
Africa news by BBC.
Part of the World News Network offering current news about the region.
IRIN News Africa
Great Lakes region and DRC recent news by the UN press agency.
Reuters AlertNet - Democratic Republic of the Congo
AlertNet provides news, information and analysis.
The Washington Post: Did Congo’s crisis just get a lot worse?
Washington Post article about the effects on the country by the dead of longtime Congolese opposition leader Étienne Tshisekedi.


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Arts & Culture

Congo. Nature & Culture
Exhibition to raise public awareness of the enormous natural and cultural diversity in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the protection of this unique heritage.

Nostalgie Ya Mboka
A weekly radio programme featuring the 'belle epoch' of music from the two Congos.

Papa Wemba
Listen to the last concert of the musician born in Congo-Kinshasa.
Congo Rainforest
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is by far the most biologically rich country in Africa.
© Photo:

Business & Economy

Ministére des Finances
Official website of the Ministry of Finance DRC (in French).

La Cellule Technique de Coordination et de Planification Minière.
Official website of the ministry of mining with information on mineral resources and mining in Congo-Kinshasa (in French).

Banque Centrale du Congo
Central Bank of the DRC (in French).

Agence Nationale pour la Promotion des Investissements
The national agency for the promotion of investments in DRC (in French).

kid in goldmine
Child labor in a DRC gold mine.
© From The Curse of Gold
Photo: Marcus Bleasdale
Travel and Tour Consumer Information

About the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Country Profile: DRC World Heritage Sites
UNESCO information on DRC's five World Heritage Sites: Salonga National Park, Virunga National Park, Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Okapi Faunal Reserve in the Ituri forest and Garamba National Park.

An introduction to Congolese life and culture.

Kongo Kinshasa
A comprehensive guide to Congo-Kinshasa. (in German)

Ville de Kinshasa
Official website of the city of Kinshasa. (in French)

Katanga: The Congo's Forgotten Crisis
Int'l Crisis Group report about Katanga province as one of the most violent yet neglected regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
DRC: The peculiar terror that is northern Katanga
A remote wilderness of shallow lakes, marshes and quagmires near the source of the Congo River has become Katanga's newest battleground.


Ministère de l'Enseignement primaire, secondaire et professionnel
Official website of the Ministry for Education. (in French)

Université de Kinshasa
The University of Kinshasa is the most important university in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was founded in 1954 under the Belgian colonial rule as Université Lovanium. (Site is offline)
Université Kongo
Site with information about the Kongo University at Kinshasa.
Université Protestante au Congo
The confessional Protestant University in the Congo (UPC) is a university located in the city of Kinshasa.

Environment & Nature

Ministère de l’Environnement
Official website of the Ministry of Environment (in French)

The Bonobo Conservation Initiative
"Our mission is to promote conservation of the bonobo and its tropical forest habitat in the Congo Basin."

DRC Conservation
Comprehensive guide to the Democratic Republic of Congo by WCS (pdf).

Conservation and rational use of forest ecosystem in Central Africa (ECOFAC)
Information about the conservation and development of the Forest Ecosystems of Central Africa, the European Union's commitment to a sustainable exploitation of natural resources. (PDF)

Wildlife Conservation Society
WCS in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tourism based on gorilla-viewing has enormous potential for economic developemnt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
© Photo:


BBC Democratic Republic of Congo profile - History Timeline
History of the Democratic Republic of the Congo since Leopold II.

American Museum of Natural History. Congo Expedition, May 1909-November 1915
The American Museum of Natural History sponsored an expedition to the Belgian Congo with Herbert Lang leading the expedition and James P. Chapin as his assistant. Between 1909-1915, Lang and Chapin collected nearly 23 000 vertebrate specimens and over 100 000 invertebrates. They also collected thousands of anthropological objects and took thousands of photographs in the field.

DRC Recent History
Anatomy of a rebellion
CNN report on the 1997 revolt that toppled Mobutu Sese Seko and brought the late Laurent Kabila to power.
History of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
A Wikipedia chronology of key events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


burning small weapons
A symbol of hope for ending the war in DRC.
Small arms captured in operations in Isiro were destroyed at the Simi-Simi Senegalese Camp at Kisangani.

© Photo: William Elachi Alwiga / MONUC

Human Rights

Journaliste En Danger
Kinshasa based NGO for the defense of the freedom of press (in French).
Raise Hope for Congo
Campaign of the Enough Project, aims to build a permanent and diverse constituency of activists who will advocate for the human rights of all Congolese citizens.
The call for tough arms controls
Voices from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (AI report, PDF).

Amnesty International DRC
News, reports, public statements, press releases.
ReliefWeb » Countries & Emergencies » Dem. Rep. Congo
News, key documents and background information in various sectors.
Human Rights Watch
About the humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Curse of Gold
HRW report documents human rights abuses linked to efforts to control two key gold mining areas, Mongbwalu (Ituri District) and Durba (Haut Uélé District), both bordering Uganda.

Additional Information on Democratic Republic of the Congo

Africa South of the Sahara: Democratic Republic of the Congo
List of annotated links to DRC related information by Stanford University.

BBC Country Profile: DRC

FAO: Democratic Republic of the Congo

GlobalEDGE: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Index on Africa: Congo-Kinshasa
Latest Country Profile. (in Norwegian, Bokmål)

Open Directory Project: DRC
Wikipedia: Democratic Republic of the Congo
The World Factbook -- Democratic Republic of the Congo

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