The Democratic Republic of the Congo Portal
The Democratic Republic of the Congo ( French: République démocratique du Congo [kɔ̃ɡo]), also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. It was formerly called Zaire (1971–1997). It is, by area, the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa (after Algeria), and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 78 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populous officially Francophone country, the fourth-most-populous country in Africa, and the 16th-most-populous country in the world. Eastern DR Congo has been the scene of ongoing military conflict in Kivu, since 2015.
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 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, his colonial military unit, the Force Publique, forced the local population to produce rubber. From 1885 to 1908, millions of the Kongo people died as a consequence of disease and exploitation. In 1908, Belgium, despite initial reluctance, formally annexed the Free State, which became known as 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.
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, which resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people. 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. , around 600,000 Congolese have fled to neighbouring countries from conflicts in the centre and east of the DRC. Two million children risk starvation, and the fighting has displaced 4.5 million people. The sovereign state is a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, African Union, and COMESA.
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Congo River - source of drinking water, but also threat to public health
Although the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has Africa's largest freshwater resources, it is suffering from an acute drinking water supply crisis. The country has one of the lowest rates of access to drinking water in Sub-Saharan Africa. Only 46 percent of the population had access to an improved drinking water source in 2012. Furthermore, the sanitation coverage was estimated at only 31 percent in 2012. Up to date and accurate information on water supply and sanitation services in the DRC is scarce. As a result of inadequate water supply and sanitation services, many inhabitants are suffering from waterborne diseases, including diarrhea, typhoid, and cholera.
The current water crisis is a result of the deteriorated state of the water infrastructure due to underinvestment in the water sector and conflict-related destruction as well as the rapid growth of the population, which was estimated at 4 percent in urban areas and 2.5 percent in rural areas by the World Bank in 2009. Overall, the DRC's water supply and sanitation sector is characterized by several overlapping and conflicting institutional jurisdictions. Therefore, the water crisis in the DRC can be categorized as an economic water scarcity problem, hindering development in the country. Article 48 of the 2006 Constitution of the DRC recognizes the human right to water. The rehabilitation and development of the water sector is a priority to which the national government committed itself in the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategies and to which it agreed as part of the international framework of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Read more...
General images -
The following are images from various Democratic Republic of the Congo-related articles on Wikipedia.
Map of the Kingdom of Kongo
A contemporary depiction of a Belgian expedition during the Congo Arab war
Population fleeing their villages due to fighting between FARDC and rebels groups, Sake North Kivu 30 April 2012
Major Bantu languages in the Congo
Kasaï-Central province, where the Kamwina Nsapu militia clashes with security forces began.
Force Publique soldiers in the Belgian Congo in 1918. At its peak, the Force Publique had around 19,000 African soldiers, led by 420 white officers.
A woman carrying bananas.
Family in Rutshuru, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo
The population pyramid of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
FARDC soldiers on patrol in Ituri province
A classroom in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Branhamist worshippers in Kinshasa
Joseph Kabila was President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from January 2001 to January 2019.
Democratic Republic of the Congo map of Köppen climate classification
A group of demobilized child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The map of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Children mutilated during King Leopold II's rule
Deforested lands in the DRC, which used to be forest
The endangered Mountain Gorilla, half of its population live in the DRC's Virunga National Park, making the park a critical habitat for these animals.
Rough diamonds ≈1 to 1.5 mm in size from DR Congo.
People fleeing their villages due to fighting between FARDC and rebel groups, North Kivu, 2012
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The common eland (Taurotragus oryx), also known as the southern eland or eland antelope, is a savannah and plains antelope found in East and Southern Africa. It is a species of the family Bovidae and genus Taurotragus. An adult male is around 1.6 metres (5') tall at the shoulder (females are 20 centimetres (8") shorter) and can weigh up to 942 kg (2,077 lb) with an average of 500–600 kg (1,100–1,300 lb), 340–445 kg (750–981 lb) for females). It is the second largest antelope in the world, being slightly smaller on average than the giant eland. It was scientifically described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1766.
Mainly an herbivore, its diet is primarily grasses and leaves. Common elands form herds of up to 500 animals, but are not territorial. The common eland prefers habitats with a wide variety of flowering plants such as savannah, woodlands, and open and montane grasslands; it avoids dense forests. It uses loud barks, visual and postural movements and the flehmen response to communicate and warn others of danger. The common eland is used by humans for leather, meat, and rich, nutritious milk, and has been domesticated in many areas. Read more...
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The giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus), also known as the Lord Derby eland, is an open-forest and savanna antelope. A species of the family Bovidae and genus Taurotragus, it was described in 1847 by John Edward Gray. The giant eland is the largest species of antelope, with a body length ranging from 220–290 cm (86.5–114 in). There are two subspecies: T. d. derbianus and T. d. gigas.
The giant eland is an herbivore, eating grasses, foliage and branches. They usually form small herds consisting of 15–25 members, both males and females. Giant elands are not territorial, and have large home ranges. They are naturally alert and wary, which makes them difficult to approach and observe. They can run at up to 70 km/h (43 mph) and use this speed as a defence against predators. Mating occurs throughout the year but peaks in the wet season. They mostly inhabit broad-leafed savannas, woodlands and glades. Read more...
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