Geography:The Congo, in west-central Africa, is bordered by the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, the Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, and the Atlantic Ocean. It is one-quarter the size of the U.S. The principal rivers are the Ubangi and Bomu in the north and the Congo in the west, which flows into the Atlantic. The entire length of Lake Tanganyika lies along the eastern border with Tanzania and Burundi.
History: Formerly the Belgian Congo, this territory was inhabited by ancient Negrito peoples (Pygmies), who were pushed into the mountains by Bantu and Nilotic invaders. The American correspondent Henry M. Stanley navigated the Congo River in 1877 and opened the interior to exploration. Commissioned by King Leopold II of the Belgians, Stanley made treaties with native chiefs that enabled the king to obtain personal title to the territory at the Berlin Conference of 1885. Leopold accumulated a vast personal fortune from ivory and rubber through Congolese slave labor; 10 million people are estimated to have died from forced labor, starvation, and outright extermination during Leopold's colonial rule. His brutal exploitation of the Congo eventually became an international cause célèbre, prompting Belgium to take over administration of the Congo, which remained a colony until agitation for independence forced Brussels to grant freedom on June 30, 1960. In elections that month, two prominent nationalists won: Patrice Lumumba of the leftist Mouvement National Congolais became prime minister and Joseph Kasavubu of the ABAKO Party became head of state. But within weeks of independence, the Katanga Province, led by Moise Tshombe, seceded from the new republic, and another mining province, South Kasai, followed. Belgium sent paratroopers to quell the civil war, and the United Nations flew in a peacekeeping force.
Capital:Kinshasa,National Name: Republique Democratique du Congo Languages: French (official), Lingala, Kingwana, Kikongo, Tshiluba Ethnicity/race: With over 200 African ethnic groups, the majority are Bantu; the four largest tribes—Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic)—make up about 45% of the population National Holiday: Independence Day, June 30 Religions: Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Islam 10%; other syncretic and indigenous 10% Literacy rate: 66.8% (2010 est.) Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2013 est.): $29.39 billion; per capita $400. Real growth rate: 6.2%. Inflation:7.1% (2013 est.). Unemployment: n.a. Arable land: 2.9%. Agriculture: coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, cotton, cocoa, quinine, cassava (manioc), bananas, plantains, peanuts, root crops, corn, fruits; wood products. Labor force: 35.18 million (2013) Industries: mining (copper, cobalt, gold, diamonds, coltan, zinc, tin, tungsten), mineral processing, consumer products (textiles, plastics, footwear, cigarettes), metal products, processed foods and beverages, timber, cement, commercial ship repair. Natural resources: cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal, hydropower, timber. Exports: $9.936 billion (2013 est.): diamonds, copper, gold, cobalt, wood products, crude oil, coffee. Imports:$8.924 billion (2013 est.): foodstuffs, mining and other machinery, transport equipment, fuels. Major trading partners: Belgium, China, South Africa, France, Zambia, Kenya, Zimbabwe (2012). Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 58,200 (2012); mobile cellular: 19.487 million (2012). Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 11, shortwave 2 (2001). Television broadcast stations: 4 (2001). Internet hosts:2,515 (2012). Internet users: 290,000 (2008). Transportation: Railways: total: 4,007 km (2008). Highways: total: 153,497 km; paved: 2,794 km; unpaved: 150,703 km (2004). Waterways: 15,000 km (navigation on the Congo curtailed by fighting) (2011). Ports and harbors: Banana, Boma, Bukavu, Bumba, Goma, Kalemie, Kindu, Kinshasa, Kisangani, Matadi, Mbandaka. Airports: 198 (2013 est.). International disputes: heads of the Great Lakes states and UN pledged in 2004 to abate tribal, rebel, and militia fighting in the region, including northeast Congo, where the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), organized in 1999, maintains over 16,500 uniformed peacekeepers; members of Uganda's Lords Resistance Army forces continue to seek refuge in Congo's Garamba National Park as peace talks with the Uganda government evolve; the location of the boundary in the broad Congo River with the Republic of the Congo is indefinite except in the Pool Malebo/Stanley Pool area; Uganda and DRC dispute Rukwanzi Island in Lake Albert and other areas on the Semliki River with hydrocarbon potential; boundary commission continues discussions over Congolese-administered triangle of land on the right bank of the Lunkinda River claimed by Zambia near the DRC village of Pweto; DRC accuses Angola of shifting monuments