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Congo, Democratic Republic of the

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Bantu, Sudanic, and other migrants from West and Northeastern Africa arrived in the Congo River Basin between 2000 B.C. and A.D. 500. The territory that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely diverse, with more than 200 ethnic groups that trace their histories to many communal organizations and kingdoms. The Kingdom of Kongo, for example, ruled the area around the mouth of the Congo River from the 14th to 19th centuries. Meanwhile, to the south and east, the Kingdoms of Luba and Lunda, respectively, were also notable political groupings in the territory and ruled from the 16th and 17th centuries to the 19th century. These kingdoms were invaded and splintered by European prospectors in the Congo Basin in the late 1800’s, sponsored by King LEOPOLD II of Belgium, and eventually were forced to grant Leopold the rights to the Congo territory to make it his private property. During this period, known as the Congo Free State, the king's private colonial military forced the local population to produce rubber. From 1885 to 1908, millions of Congolese people died as a result of disease, inhumane treatment, and exploitation. International condemnation finally forced LEOPOLD to cede the land to the state of Belgium, creating the Belgian Congo.

The Republic of the Congo gained its independence from Belgium 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 sham elections, as well as through brute force. Ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow of refugees in 1994 from conflict in Rwanda and Burundi, led in May 1997 to the toppling of the MOBUTU regime by a rebellion backed by Rwanda and Uganda and fronted by Laurent KABILA. KABILA renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but in August 1998 his regime was itself challenged by a second insurrection again backed by Rwanda and Uganda. Troops from Angola, Chad, Namibia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe intervened to support KABILA's regime. In January 2001, KABILA was assassinated and his son, Joseph KABILA, was named head of state. In October 2002, the new president negotiated the withdrawal of Rwandan forces occupying the eastern DRC; two months later, the Pretoria Accord was signed by all remaining warring parties to end the fighting and establish a government of national unity. Presidential, National Assembly, and provincial elections took place in 2006, with Joseph KABILA elected to office.

National elections were held in November 2011 and disputed results allowed Joseph KABILA to be reelected to the presidency. While the DRC constitution barred President KABILA from running for a third term, the DRC Government delayed national elections originally slated for November 2016, to 30 December 2018. This failure to hold elections as scheduled fueled significant civil and political unrest, with sporadic street protests by KABILA’s opponents and exacerbation of tensions in the tumultuous eastern DRC regions. Presidential, legislative, and provincial elections were held in late December 2018 and early 2019 across most of the country. The DRC Government canceled presidential elections in the cities of Beni and Butembo (citing concerns over an ongoing Ebola outbreak in the region) as well as Yumbi (which had recently experienced heavy violence).

Opposition candidate Felix TSHISEKEDI was announced the election winner on 10 January 2019 and inaugurated two weeks later. This was the first transfer of power to an opposition candidate without significant violence or a coup since the DRC's independence. 

The DRC, particularly in the East, continues to experience violence perpetrated by more than 100 armed groups active in the region, including the March 23 rebel group, the ISIS-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, and assorted local militias known as Mai Mai militias. The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) has operated in the region since 1999 and is the largest and most expensive UN peacekeeping mission in the world.


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Central Africa, northeast of Angola

Geographic coordinates

0 00 N, 25 00 E


total: 2,344,858 sq km

land: 2,267,048 sq km

water: 77,810 sq km

comparison ranking: total 12

Area - comparative

slightly less than one-fourth the size of the US

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 11,027 km

border countries (9): Angola 2,646 km (of which 225 km is the boundary of Angola's discontiguous Cabinda Province); Burundi 236 km; Central African Republic 1,747 km; Republic of the Congo 1,775 km; Rwanda 221 km; South Sudan 714 km; Tanzania 479 km; Uganda 877 km; Zambia 2,332 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: since 2011, the DRC has had a Common Interest Zone agreement with Angola for the mutual development of off-shore resources


tropical; hot and humid in equatorial river basin; cooler and drier in southern highlands; cooler and wetter in eastern highlands; north of Equator - wet season (April to October), dry season (December to February); south of Equator - wet season (November to March), dry season (April to October)


vast central basin is a low-lying plateau; mountains in east


highest point: Pic Marguerite on Mont Ngaliema (Mount Stanley) 5,110 m

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

mean elevation: 726 m

Natural resources

cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal, hydropower, timber

note 1: coltan, the industrial name for a columbite–tantalite mineral from which niobium and tantalum are extracted, is being linked to warfare in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; mining of coltan is mainly artisanal and small-scale and vulnerable to extortion and human trafficking; fighting over cassiterite deposits, a tin ore, is also a major cause of conflict in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold extracted from central Africa are considered "conflict minerals" and as such are subject to international monitoring

note 2: the DROC is the World's leading producer of cobalt, accounting for as much as 70% of the World's supply; between 20-30% of this cobalt is produced in artisanal and small-scale mining operations which are vulnerable to extortion, human trafficking, and exploitative working conditions including child labor


Land use

agricultural land: 11.4% (2018 est.)

arable land: 3.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 8% (2018 est.)

forest: 67.9% (2018 est.)

other: 20.7% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

110 sq km (2012)

Major lakes (area sq km)

fresh water lake(s): Lake Tanganyika (shared with Burundi, Tanzania, and Zambia) - 32,000 sq km; Lake Albert (shared with Uganda) - 5,590 sq km; Lake Mweru (shared with Zambia) - 4,350 sq km; Lac Mai-Ndombe - 2,300 sq km; Lake Kivu (shared with Rwanda) - 2,220 sq km; Lake Edward (shared with Uganda) - 2,150 sq km; Lac Tumba - 500 sq km; Lac Upemba - 530 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Zaïre (Congo) river mouth (shared with Zambia [s], Angola, and Republic of Congo) - 4,700 km; Ubangi river mouth (shared with Central African Republic [s] and Republic of Congo) - 2,270 km note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Congo (3,730,881 sq km), (Mediterranean Sea) Nile (3,254,853 sq km)
Indian Ocean drainage: Zambezi (1,332,412 sq km)

Major aquifers

Congo Basin

Population distribution

urban clusters are spread throughout the country, particularly in the northeast along the border with Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi; the largest city is the capital, Kinshasha, located in the west along the Congo River; the south is least densely populated as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

periodic droughts in south; Congo River floods (seasonal); active volcanoes in the east along the Great Rift Valley

volcanism: Nyiragongo (3,470 m), which erupted in 2002 and is experiencing ongoing activity, poses a major threat to the city of Goma, home to a quarter million people; the volcano produces unusually fast-moving lava, known to travel up to 100 km /hr; Nyiragongo has been deemed a Decade Volcano by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; its neighbor, Nyamuragira, which erupted in 2010, is Africa's most active volcano; Visoke is the only other historically active volcano

Geography - note

note 1: second largest country in Africa (after Algeria) and largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa; straddles the equator; dense tropical rain forest in central river basin and eastern highlands; the narrow strip of land that controls the lower Congo River is the DRC's only outlet to the South Atlantic Ocean

note 2: because of its speed, cataracts, rapids, and turbulence the Congo River, most of which flows through the DRC, has never been accurately measured along much of its length; nonetheless, it is conceded to be the deepest river in the world; estimates of its greatest depth vary between 220 and 250 meters

People and Society


111,859,928 (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 14


noun: Congolese (singular and plural)

adjective: Congolese or Congo

Ethnic groups

more than 200 African ethnic groups of which the majority are Bantu; the four largest groups - Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic) - make up about 45% of the population


French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba

major-language sample(s):
Buku oyo ya bosembo ya Mokili Mobimba Ezali na Makanisi ya Liboso Mpenza. (Lingala)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Lingala audio sample:


Roman Catholic 29.9%, Protestant 26.7%, other Christian 36.5%, Kimbanguist 2.8%, Muslim 1.3%, other (includes syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs) 1.2%, none 1.3%, unspecified 0.2% (2014 est.)

Demographic profile

Despite a wealth of fertile soil, hydroelectric power potential, and mineral resources, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) struggles with many socioeconomic problems, including high infant and maternal mortality rates, malnutrition, poor vaccination coverage, lack of access to improved water sources and sanitation, and frequent and early fertility. Ongoing conflict, mismanagement of resources, and a lack of investment have resulted in food insecurity; almost 25% of children under the age of 5 were malnourished as of 2018. The overall coverage of basic public services – education, health, sanitation, and potable water – is very limited and piecemeal, with substantial regional and rural/urban disparities. Fertility remains high at more than 5 children per woman and is likely to remain high because of the low use of contraception and the cultural preference for larger families.

The DRC is a source and host country for refugees. Between 2012 and 2014, more than 119,000 Congolese refugees returned from the Republic of Congo to the relative stability of northwest DRC, but more than 1 million Congolese refugees and asylum seekers were hosted by neighboring countries as of December 2022. In addition, an estimated 5.5 million Congolese were internally displaced as of October 2022, the vast majority fleeing violence between rebel group and Congolese armed forces. Thousands of refugees have come to the DRC from neighboring countries, including Rwanda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Burundi.

Age structure

0-14 years: 45.99% (male 25,902,046/female 25,543,395)

15-64 years: 51.52% (male 28,798,920/female 28,835,212)

65 years and over: 2.49% (2023 est.) (male 1,211,966/female 1,568,389)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 98

youth dependency ratio: 92.1

elderly dependency ratio: 5.9

potential support ratio: 17.1 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 16.7 years

male: 16.5 years

female: 16.8 years (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 222

Population growth rate

3.13% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 9

Birth rate

39.64 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 7

Death rate

7.74 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 100

Net migration rate

-0.63 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 130

Population distribution

urban clusters are spread throughout the country, particularly in the northeast along the border with Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi; the largest city is the capital, Kinshasha, located in the west along the Congo River; the south is least densely populated as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 47.4% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 4.33% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

16.316 million KINSHASA (capital), 2.892 million Mbuji-Mayi, 2.812 million Lubumbashi, 1.664 million Kananga, 1.423 million Kisangani, 1.249 million Bukavu (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.9 years (2013/14 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 20-49

Maternal mortality ratio

547 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 11

Infant mortality rate

total: 59.12 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 64.65 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 53.42 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: total 10

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 62.23 years

male: 60.39 years

female: 64.13 years (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: total population 216

Total fertility rate

5.56 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 3

Gross reproduction rate

2.74 (2023 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 88.8% of population

rural: 34.7% of population

total: 59.4% of population

unimproved: urban: 11.2% of population

rural: 65.3% of population

total: 40.6% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

4.1% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.38 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 53.4% of population

rural: 20.5% of population

total: 35.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 46.6% of population

rural: 79.5% of population

total: 64.5% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and trypanosomiasis-gambiense (African sleeping sickness)

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

note: on 31 August 2023, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Travel Alert for polio in Africa; the Democratic Republic of the Congo is currently considered a high risk to travelers for circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV); vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV) and that has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus; this means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an “infected” person who received oral polio vaccine; the CDC recommends that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series; before travel to any high-risk destination, the CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

6.7% (2016)

comparison ranking: 164

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 0.56 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.5 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.01 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.05 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 161

Tobacco use

total: 12.8% (2020 est.)

male: 22.7% (2020 est.)

female: 2.9% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 118

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

23.1% (2017/18)

comparison ranking: 13

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 0%

women married by age 18: 0.1%

men married by age 18: 0% (2017 est.)

Education expenditures

2.7% of GDP (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 171


definition: age 15 and over can read and write French, Lingala, Kingwana, or Tshiluba

total population: 80%

male: 89.5%

female: 70.8% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 10 years

female: 9 years (2013)

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 10.1%

male: 12%

female: 8.5% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 152


Environment - current issues

poaching threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; deforestation (forests endangered by fires set to clear the land for agricultural purposes; forests also used as a source of fuel); soil erosion; mining (diamonds, gold, coltan - a mineral used in creating capacitors for electronic devices) causing environmental damage

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification


tropical; hot and humid in equatorial river basin; cooler and drier in southern highlands; cooler and wetter in eastern highlands; north of Equator - wet season (April to October), dry season (December to February); south of Equator - wet season (November to March), dry season (April to October)

Land use

agricultural land: 11.4% (2018 est.)

arable land: 3.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 8% (2018 est.)

forest: 67.9% (2018 est.)

other: 20.7% (2018 est.)


urban population: 47.4% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 4.33% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Food insecurity

widespread lack of access: due to internal conflict in eastern regions and high food prices - according to an October 2022 analysis, 24.5 million people were projected to experience acute food insecurity between January and June 2023; this is due to the intensification of the conflict in the northeastern provinces, which, among other factors, has prevented completion of the harvests and likely will reduce food availability in the months to come (2023)

Revenue from forest resources

8.72% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 6

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 90

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 37.62 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 2.02 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 61.24 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 14,385,226 tons (2016 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 704,876 tons (2005 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 4.9% (2005 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

fresh water lake(s): Lake Tanganyika (shared with Burundi, Tanzania, and Zambia) - 32,000 sq km; Lake Albert (shared with Uganda) - 5,590 sq km; Lake Mweru (shared with Zambia) - 4,350 sq km; Lac Mai-Ndombe - 2,300 sq km; Lake Kivu (shared with Rwanda) - 2,220 sq km; Lake Edward (shared with Uganda) - 2,150 sq km; Lac Tumba - 500 sq km; Lac Upemba - 530 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Zaïre (Congo) river mouth (shared with Zambia [s], Angola, and Republic of Congo) - 4,700 km; Ubangi river mouth (shared with Central African Republic [s] and Republic of Congo) - 2,270 km note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Congo (3,730,881 sq km), (Mediterranean Sea) Nile (3,254,853 sq km)
Indian Ocean drainage: Zambezi (1,332,412 sq km)

Major aquifers

Congo Basin

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 460 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 150 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 70 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

1.29 trillion cubic meters (2020 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Democratic Republic of the Congo

conventional short form: DRC

local long form: Republique Democratique du Congo

local short form: RDC

former: Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Congo/Leopoldville, Congo/Kinshasa, Zaire

abbreviation: DRC (or DROC)

etymology: named for the Congo River, most of which lies within the DRC; the river name derives from Kongo, a Bantu kingdom that occupied its mouth and whose name stems from its people the Bakongo, meaning "hunters"

Government type

semi-presidential republic


name: Kinshasa

geographic coordinates: 4 19 S, 15 18 E

time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

time zone note: the DRC has two time zones

etymology: founded as a trading post in 1881 and named Leopoldville in honor of King LEOPOLD II of the Belgians, who controlled the Congo Free State, the vast central African territory that became the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1960; in 1966, Leopoldville was renamed Kinshasa, after a village of that name that once stood near the site

Administrative divisions

26 provinces (provinces, singular - province); Bas-Uele (Lower Uele), Equateur, Haut-Katanga (Upper Katanga), Haut-Lomami (Upper Lomami), Haut-Uele (Upper Uele), Ituri, Kasai, Kasai-Central, Kasai-Oriental (East Kasai), Kinshasa, Kongo Central, Kwango, Kwilu, Lomami, Lualaba, Mai-Ndombe, Maniema, Mongala, Nord-Kivu (North Kivu), Nord-Ubangi (North Ubangi), Sankuru, Sud-Kivu (South Kivu), Sud-Ubangi (South Ubangi), Tanganyika, Tshopo, Tshuapa


30 June 1960 (from Belgium)

National holiday

Independence Day, 30 June (1960)


history: several previous; latest adopted 13 May 2005, approved by referendum 18-19 December 2005, promulgated 18 February 2006

amendments: proposed by the president of the republic, by the government, by either house of Parliament, or by public petition; agreement on the substance of a proposed bill requires absolute majority vote in both houses; passage requires a referendum only if both houses in joint meeting fail to achieve three-fifths majority vote; constitutional articles, including the form of government, universal suffrage, judicial independence, political pluralism, and personal freedoms, cannot be amended; amended 2011

Legal system

civil law system primarily based on Belgian law, but also customary and tribal law

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch

chief of state: President Felix TSHISEKEDI (since 24 January 2019)

head of government: Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama LUKONDE (since 15 February 2021); Deputy Prime Ministers Jose MAKILA, Leonard She OKITUNDU, Henri MOVA Sankanyi (since February 2018) Jean-Pierre BEMBBA (since 23 March 2023)

cabinet: Ministers of State appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority vote for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 30 December 2018 (next to be held on 20 December 2023); prime minister appointed by the president

election results:
2018: Felix TSHISEKEDI elected president; percent of vote - Felix TSHISEKEDI (UDPS) 38.6%, Martin FAYULU (Lamuka coalition) 34.8%, Emmanuel Ramazani SHADARY (PPRD) 23.9%, other 2.7%; note - election marred by serious voting irregularities

2011: Joseph KABILA reelected president; percent of vote - Joseph KABILA (PPRD) 49%, Etienne TSHISEKEDI (UDPS) 32.3%, other 18.7%; note - election marred by serious voting irregularities

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of:
Senate (109 seats; 109 members to include 108 indirectly elected by provincial assemblies by proportional representation vote to serve 5-year terms and a former president, appointed for life)

National Assembly (500 seats; 439 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote and 61 directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote; members serve 5-year terms)



Senate - last held on 14 March 2019
National Assembly - last held on 30 December 2018 (first round), with a second round on 31 March 2019


election results:

Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PPRD 22, MLC 14, FR 7, RCD 7, PDC 6, CDC 3, MSR 3, PALU 2, other 18, independent 26; composition as of 2022 - men 83, women 26, percent of women 23.9%

National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PPRD 62, UDPS 41, PPPD 29, MSR 27, MLC 22, PALU 19, UNC 17, ARC 16, AFDC 15, ECT 11, RRC 11, other 214 (includes numerous political parties that won 10 or fewer seats and 2 constituencies where voting was halted), independent 16; composition as of 2022 - men 436, women 64, percent of women 12.8%; total Parliament percent of women 14.8%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation (consists of 26 justices and organized into legislative and judiciary sections); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 judges)

judge selection and term of office: Court of Cassation judges nominated by the Judicial Service Council, an independent body of public prosecutors and selected judges of the lower courts; judge tenure NA; Constitutional Court judges - 3 nominated by the president, 3 by the Judicial Service Council, and 3 by the legislature; judges appointed by the president to serve 9-year non-renewable terms with one-third of the membership renewed every 3 years

subordinate courts: State Security Court; Court of Appeals (organized into administrative and judiciary sections); Tribunal de Grande; magistrates' courts; customary courts

Political parties and leaders

Christian Democrat Party or PDC [Jose ENDUNDO]
Congolese Rally for Democracy or RCD [Azarias RUBERWA]
Convention of Christian Democrats or CDC [NA]
Engagement for Citizenship and Development or ECiDe [Martin FAYULU]
Forces of Renewal or FR [Mbusa NYAMWISI]
Lamuka coalition [Martin FAYULU] (includes ECiDe, MLC, Together for Change, CNB, and Nouvel Elan)
Movement for the Liberation of the Congo or MLC [Jean-Pierre BEMBA]
Nouvel Elan [Adolphe MUZITO]
Our Congo or CNB ("Congo Na Biso") [Freddy MATUNGULU]
People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy or PPRD [Henri MOVA Sakanyi]
Social Movement for Renewal or MSR [Pierre LUMBI]
Together for Change ("Ensemble") [Moise KATUMBI]
Unified Lumumbist Party or PALU [NA]
Union for the Congolese Nation or UNC [Vital KAMERHE]
Union for Democracy and Social Progress or UDPS [Felix TSHISEKEDI]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Marie-Hélène Mathey Boo LOWUMBA (since 7 June 2022)

chancery: 1100 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20036

telephone: [1] (202) 234-7690

FAX: [1] (202) 234-2609

email address and website:


representative office: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Chargé d'Affaires Stephanie MILEY (since July 2022)

embassy: 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, Kinshasa, Gombe

mailing address: 2220 Kinshasa Place, Washington DC  20521-2220

telephone: [243] 081 556-0151

FAX: [243] 81 556-0175

email address and website:


Flag description

sky blue field divided diagonally from the lower hoist corner to upper fly corner by a red stripe bordered by two narrow yellow stripes; a yellow, five-pointed star appears in the upper hoist corner; blue represents peace and hope, red the blood of the country's martyrs, and yellow the country's wealth and prosperity; the star symbolizes unity and the brilliant future for the country

National symbol(s)

leopard; national colors: sky blue, red, yellow

National anthem

name: "Debout Congolaise" (Arise Congolese)

lyrics/music: Joseph LUTUMBA/Simon-Pierre BOKA di Mpasi Londi

note: adopted 1960; replaced when the country was known as Zaire; but readopted in 1997

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 5 (all natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Garamba National Park; Kahuzi-Biega National Park; Okapi Wildlife Reserve; Salonga National Park; Virunga National Park


Economic overview

very poor, large, natural resource-rich sub-Saharan country; possesses the world’s second largest rainforest; increasing Chinese extractive sector trade; massive decrease in government investments; increasing current account deficit and public debts

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$102.956 billion (2021 est.)
$96.945 billion (2020 est.)
$95.292 billion (2019 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 91

Real GDP growth rate

6.2% (2021 est.)
1.74% (2020 est.)
4.38% (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 71

Real GDP per capita

$1,100 (2021 est.)
$1,000 (2020 est.)
$1,100 (2019 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 226

GDP (official exchange rate)

$47.16 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

41.5% (2017 est.)
18.2% (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 7

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: Caa1 (2019)

Standard & Poors rating: CCC+ (2017)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 19.7% (2017 est.)

industry: 43.6% (2017 est.)

services: 36.7% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 218; industry 21; agriculture 51

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 78.5% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 12.7% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 15.9% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 25.7% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -32.8% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

cassava, plantains, sugar cane, maize, oil palm fruit, rice, roots/tubers nes, bananas, sweet potatoes, groundnuts


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

Industrial production growth rate

7.78% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 54

Labor force

33.382 million (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 18

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: NA

industry: NA

services: NA

Unemployment rate

5.43% (2021 est.)
5.27% (2020 est.)
4.45% (2019 est.)


comparison ranking: 135

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 10.1%

male: 12%

female: 8.5% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 152

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.3%

highest 10%: 34.7% (2006)


revenues: $5.419 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $6.382 billion (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-0.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 73

Public debt

18.1% of GDP (2017 est.)
19.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 194

Taxes and other revenues

11.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 185

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$587.407 million (2021 est.)
-$1.052 billion (2020 est.)
-$1.693 billion (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 122


$22.354 billion (2021 est.)
$13.932 billion (2020 est.)
$15.173 billion (2019 est.)

note: Data are in current year dollars and do not include illicit exports or re-exports.

comparison ranking: 83

Exports - partners

China 53%, United Arab Emirates 11%, Saudi Arabia 6%, South Korea 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

copper, cobalt, crude petroleum, tin, diamonds (2021)


$22.193 billion (2021 est.) note: data are in current year dollars
$14.557 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars
$16.892 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

comparison ranking: 88

Imports - partners

China 29%, South Africa 15%, Zambia 12%, Rwanda 5%, Belgium 5%, India 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

packaged medicines, refined petroleum, sulfuric acid, stone processing machines, delivery trucks (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$3.467 billion (31 December 2021 est.)
$747.655 million (31 December 2020 est.)
$1.194 billion (31 December 2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 112

Debt - external

$4.963 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.35 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 134

Exchange rates

Congolese francs (CDF) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
1,989.391 (2021 est.)
1,851.122 (2020 est.)
1,647.76 (2019 est.)
1,622.524 (2018 est.)
1,464.418 (2017 est.)


Electricity access

population without electricity: 82 million (2020)

electrification - total population: 20.7% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 43.7% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 1% (2021)


installed generating capacity: 2.919 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 7,181,700,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 248 million kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 385 million kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 2.142 billion kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 110; transmission/distribution losses 87; imports 93; exports 87; consumption 110

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 0.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 99.6% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0.3% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)


production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 10,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 10,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 88 million metric tons (2019 est.)


total petroleum production: 22,000 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 17,900 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 21,300 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 180 million barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 127

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 130

Refined petroleum products - imports

21,140 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 115

Natural gas

production: 368,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

consumption: 368,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 991 million cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

2.653 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 44,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 2.608 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 1,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 151

Energy consumption per capita

1.371 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 192


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: (2021 est.) less than 1

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: (2021 est.) less than 1

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 47 million (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 49 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 36

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the telecom system remains one of the least developed in the region; the government can only loosely regulate the sector; the investment made in infrastructure is derived from donor countries or from the efforts of foreign (particularly Chinese) companies and banks; efforts have been made to improve the regulation of the telecom sector; the limited fixed-line infrastructure has become the principal providers of basic telecom services; the development of the DRC’s internet and broadband market has been held back by the poorly developed national and international infrastructure; the country was finally connected to international bandwidth through the WACS submarine cable in 2013; breakages in the WACS cable have exposed the vulnerability of international bandwidth, which is still limited; the Equiano submarine cable, and has also completed a 5,000km cable running through the DRC to link to cable systems landing in countries facing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans; the first commercial LTE networks were launched in May 2018 soon after LTE licenses were issued; mobile operators are keen to develop mobile data services, capitalizing on the growth of smartphones usage; there has been some progress with updating technologies, most of the GSM network has been upgraded to 3G by 2021 (2022)

domestic: inadequate fixed-line infrastructure with fixed-line connections less than 1 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular subscriptions over 49 per 100 persons (2021)

international: country code - 243; ACE and WACS submarine cables to West and South Africa and Europe; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

Broadcast media

state-owned TV broadcast station with near national coverage; more than a dozen privately owned TV stations - 2 with near national coverage; 2 state-owned radio stations are supplemented by more than 100 private radio stations; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are available

Internet users

total: 21,102,720 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 23.2% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 41

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 31,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 0.03 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 153


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 8 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 13

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 932,043 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 890,000 (2018) mt-km


198 (2021)

comparison ranking: total 28

Airports - with paved runways


note: paved runways have a concrete or asphalt surface but not all have facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control; the length of a runway required for aircraft to safely operate depends on a number of factors including the type of aircraft, the takeoff weight (including passengers, cargo, and fuel), engine types, flap settings, landing speed, elevation of the airport, and average maximum daily air temperature; paved runways can reach a length of 5,000 m (16,000 ft.), but the “typical” length of a commercial airline runway is between 2,500-4,000 m (8,000-13,000 ft.)

Airports - with unpaved runways


note: unpaved runways have a surface composition such as grass or packed earth and are most suited to the operation of light aircraft; unpaved runways are usually short, often less than 1,000 m (3,280 ft.) in length; airports with unpaved runways often lack facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control


1 (2021)


62 km gas, 77 km oil, 756 km refined products (2013)


total: 4,007 km (2014)

narrow gauge: 3,882 km (2014) 1.067-m gauge (858 km electrified)

125 1.000-mm gauge

comparison ranking: total 47


total: 152,373 km (2015)

paved: 3,047 km (2015)

unpaved: 149,326 km (2015)

urban: 7,400 km (2015)

non-urban: 144,973 km

comparison ranking: total 34


15,000 km (2011) (including the Congo River, its tributaries, and unconnected lakes)

comparison ranking: 9

Merchant marine

total: 23

by type: general cargo 5, oil tanker 2, other 16 (2022)

comparison ranking: total 144

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Banana

river or lake port(s): Boma, Bumba, Kinshasa, Kisangani, Matadi, Mbandaka (Congo); Kindu (Lualaba); Bukavu, Goma (Lake Kivu); Kalemie (Lake Tanganyika)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Forces d'Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo, FARDC): Land Forces, National Navy (La Marine Nationale), Congolese Air Force (Force Aerienne Congolaise, FAC); Republican Guard (2023)

note 1: the Congolese National Police are under the Ministry of Interior

note 2: the Republican Guard is a division-size element consisting of approximately 5 regiments; it is regarded as the country’s best equipped and trained military unit and is under the direct control of the president

Military expenditures

0.6% of GDP (2022 est.)
0.7% of GDP (2021 est.)
0.7% of GDP (2020 est.)
0.9% of GDP (2019 est.)
0.8% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 153

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimates vary; up to 140,000 active troops, including approximately 10,000 Republican Guard (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the FARDC is equipped mostly with Soviet-era weapons systems and equipment (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-45 years of age for voluntary military service for men and women; 18-45 years of age for compulsory military service for men; it is unclear how much conscription is used (2023)

note: in eastern Congo, fighters from armed groups, and in some cases government security forces, have been accused of forced recruitment of child soldiers

Military - note

the FARDC’s primary focus is internal security; while the FARDC is large on paper, with an estimated 18 operational infantry brigades, it struggles to provide security in large portions of the country; the FARDC is widely assessed to suffer from insufficient training, low equipment readiness, poor morale and leadership, ill-discipline, and widespread corruption; it was created out of the armed factions of the Congo wars that ended in 2003, incorporating various militia, paramilitary, and rebel formations; the DRC’s most effective military force, the Republican Guard, is overseen by the office of the presidency rather than the FARDC and focuses largely on protecting the president and government institutions and enforcing internal security

the FARDC is actively conducting operations against a variety of illegal armed groups (IOGs) operating in the DRC, particularly in the eastern provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu, where more than 15 significant and cohesive IOGs operate; there is also violence in Maniema, Kasai, Kasai Central, and Tanganyika provinces; some estimates place over 100 IOGs operating in the country, including organized militias, such as the Nduma Defense of Congo-Renewal (NDC-R), which controls a large portion of North Kivu; Mai Mai groups (local militias that operate variously as self-defense networks and criminal rackets); and foreign-origin groups seeking safe haven and resources, such as the Ugandan-origin Allied Democratic Forces (ADF; aka Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham in the DRC), the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), multiple groups originating from Burundi, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), and the March 23 Movement (aka M23 or Congolese Revolutionary Army), which the DRC has accused Rwanda of backing; the FARDC has been accused of collaborating with some IOGs, such as the NDC-R; in 2023, the East Africa Community deployed a regional force to oversee the withdrawal of the M23 rebel group from the country; countries sending troops include Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan

the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has operated in the central and eastern parts of the country since 1999; as of early 2023, MONUSCO had over 14,000 personnel assigned; MONUSCO includes a Force Intervention Brigade (FIB; 3 infantry battalions, plus artillery and special forces), the first ever UN peacekeeping force specifically tasked to carry out targeted offensive operations to neutralize and disarm groups considered a threat to state authority and civilian security (2023)

Maritime threats

the International Maritime Bureau reported one incident in the territorial waters of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2022, the same number of attacks as in 2021; the Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea remain a very high risk for piracy and armed robbery of ships; past incidents have been reported where vessels were attacked and crews kidnapped; these incidents showed that the pirates / robbers in the area are well armed and violent; pirates have robbed vessels and kidnapped crews for ransom; in the past, product tankers were hijacked and cargo stolen; the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2023-001 - Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom) effective 3 January 2023, which states in part, "Piracy, armed robbery, and kidnapping for ransom continue to serve as significant threats to US-flagged vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea"


Terrorist group(s)

Terrorist group(s): Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham – Democratic Republic of the Congo (ISIS-DRC)

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

heads of the Great Lakes states and UN pledged in 2004 to abate tribal, rebel, and militia fighting in the region, including northeast Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC)-Republic of the Congo: the location of the boundary in the broad Congo River is indefinite except in the Pool Malebo/Stanley Pool area

Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC)-Uganda: Uganda rejects the DRC claim to Margherita Peak in the Rwenzori mountains and considers it a boundary divide; there is tension and violence on Lake Albert over prospective oil reserves at the mouth of the Semliki River

Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC)-Zambia: 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

Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC)-Angola: DRC accuses Angola of shifting monuments

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 211,366 (Central African Republic), 208,075 (Rwanda), 57,403 (South Sudan) (refugees and asylum seekers), 43,706 (Burundi) (2023)

IDPs: 6.17 million (fighting between government forces and rebels since mid-1990s; conflict in Kasai region since 2016) (2023)

Illicit drugs

country of origin of methamphetamine destined for overseas markets;