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Congo, Democratic Republic of the

Photos of Congo, Democratic Republic of the

Traffic on the way to the airport in Kinshasa. Only about 2% of the DRC's roads are paved. There are several on-going projects devoted to improvement and maintenance of DRC’s infrastructure.

Introduction

Background

The Kingdom of Kongo ruled the area around the mouth of the Congo River from the 14th to 19th centuries. To the center and east, the Kingdoms of Luba and Lunda ruled from the 16th and 17th centuries to the 19th century. in the 1870s, European exploration of the Congo Basin, sponsored by King Leopold II of Belgium, eventually allowed the ruler to acquire rights to the Congo territory and to make it his private property under the name of the Congo Free State. During the Free State, the king's colonial military forced the local population to produce rubber. From 1885 to 1908, millions of Congolese people died as a result of disease and exploitation. International condemnation finally forced Leopold to cede the land to 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 brutal 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 was successful in negotiating 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 legislatures 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 Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and assorted 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.

 

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Central Africa, northeast of Angola

Geographic coordinates

0 00 N, 25 00 E

Area

total: 2,344,858 sq km

land: 2,267,048 sq km

water: 77,810 sq km

country comparison to the world: 12

Area - comparative

slightly less than one-fourth the size of the US

<p>slightly less than one-fourth the size of the US</p>

Land boundaries

total: 11,027 km

border countries (9): Angola 2646 km (of which 225 km is the boundary of Angola's discontiguous Cabinda Province), Burundi 236 km, Central African Republic 1747 km, Republic of the Congo 1775 km, Rwanda 221 km, South Sudan 714 km, Tanzania 479 km, Uganda 877 km, Zambia 2332 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

Climate

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)

Terrain

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

Elevation

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

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)

Population distribution

urban clusters are spread throughout the country, particularly in the northeast along the boarder 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

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

People and Society

Population

105,044,646 (July 2021 est.)

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected

country comparison to the world: 15

Nationality

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 tribes - Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic) - make up about 45% of the population

Languages

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:

Religions

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 .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 30 percent of children under the age of 5 are malnourished. 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 almost 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 540,000 Congolese refugees remained abroad as of year-end 2015. In addition, an estimated 3.9 million Congolese were internally displaced as of October 2017, 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, and Burundi.

Age structure

0-14 years: 46.38% (male 23,757,297/female 23,449,057)

15-24 years: 19.42% (male 9,908,686/female 9,856,841)

25-54 years: 28.38% (male 14,459,453/female 14,422,912)

55-64 years: 3.36% (male 1,647,267/female 1,769,429)

65 years and over: 2.47% (male 1,085,539/female 1,423,782) (2020 est.)

This is the population pyramid for Congo, Democratic Republic of the. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 95.4

youth dependency ratio: 89.5

elderly dependency ratio: 5.9

potential support ratio: 17 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 16.7 years

male: 16.5 years

female: 16.8 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 222

Birth rate

40.53 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 7

Death rate

8.15 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 81

Net migration rate

-0.78 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 136

Population distribution

urban clusters are spread throughout the country, particularly in the northeast along the boarder 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

Urbanization

urban population: 46.2% of total population (2021)

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

Major urban areas - population

14.970 million KINSHASA (capital), 2.643 million Mbuji-Mayi, 2.584 million Lubumbashi, 1.524 million Kananga, 1.321 million Kisangani, 1.133 million Bukavu (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

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

15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.9 years (2013/14 est.)

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

Maternal mortality ratio

473 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 23

Infant mortality rate

total: 62.63 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 68.39 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 56.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 11

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 61.43 years

male: 59.66 years

female: 63.25 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 216

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 84.3% of population

rural: 32.4% of population

total: 55.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 15.7% of population

rural: 67.6% of population

total: 44.8% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

0.07 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 54.7% of population

rural: 29.8% of population

total: 40.7% of population

unimproved: urban: 44.5% of population

rural: 70.2% of population

total: 59.3% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

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 7 February 2021, the Ministry of Health declared the 12th outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo; on 12 March 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Travel Health Notice recommending travelers avoid non-essential travel for an Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu (Kivu Nord) province in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; travelers to this area could be infected with Ebola if they come into contact with an infected person’s blood or other body fluids; travelers should seek medical care immediately if they develop fever, muscle pain, sore throat, diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising during or after travel

Literacy

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

total population: 77%

male: 88.5%

female: 66.5% (2016)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 11 years

male: 10 years

female: 9 years (2013)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 8.7%

male: 11.3%

female: 6.8% (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 140

Environment

Environment - current issues

poaching threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; deforestation (forests endangered by fires set to clean 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

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.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 464.9 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 146.8 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 71.9 million cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

1.283 trillion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Climate

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.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 80

Urbanization

urban population: 46.2% of total population (2021)

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

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

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 7 February 2021, the Ministry of Health declared the 12th outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo; on 12 March 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Travel Health Notice recommending travelers avoid non-essential travel for an Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu (Kivu Nord) province in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; travelers to this area could be infected with Ebola if they come into contact with an infected person’s blood or other body fluids; travelers should seek medical care immediately if they develop fever, muscle pain, sore throat, diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising during or after travel

Food insecurity

widespread lack of access: due to persistent civil insecurity and COVID-19 restrictions - 27.3 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure in the February−July 2021 period, the highest level on record; this is due to the severe impact of movement restrictions related to the COVID‑19 pandemic which continue to limit cross‑border trade and access to markets, and the ongoing conflict in eastern provinces, which triggered population displacements and locally disrupt crop production, resulting in shortages of food supplies in some markets; the eruption, on 22 May 2021, of the Nyiragongo volcano, in North Kivu Province, caused the further displacement of about 415,000 people (2021)

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 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

Government

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 at the time of Portuguese discovery in the late 15th century and whose name stems from its people the Bakongo, meaning "hunters"

Government type

semi-presidential republic

Capital

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

Independence

30 June 1960 (from Belgium)

National holiday

Independence Day, 30 June (1960)

Constitution

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

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

Suffrage

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 KYENGE (since 15 February 2021); Deputy Prime Ministers Jose MAKILA, Leonard She OKITUNDU, Henri MOVA Sankanyi (since February 2018)

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 in December 2023); prime minister appointed by the president

election results: 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

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Parliament or Parlement consists of:
Senate (108 seats; members indirectly elected by provincial assemblies by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)

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)

elections: Senate - last held on 19 January 2007 (follow-on election has been delayed)
National Assembly - last held on 30 December 2018

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 - men 103, women 5, percent of women 4.6%

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 - men 456, women 44, percent of women  8.8%; total Parliament percent of women 8.1%;note - the November 2011 election was marred by violence including the destruction of ballots in 2 constituencies resulting in the closure of polling sites; election results were delayed 3 months, strongly contested, and continue to be unresolved

Judicial branch

highest courts: 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
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 [Antoine GIZENGA]
Union for the Congolese Nation or UNC [Vital KAMERHE]
Union for Democracy and Social Progress or UDPS [Felix TSHISEKEDI]

International organization participation

ACP, AfDB, AU, CEMAC, CEPGL, COMESA, EITI (compliant country), FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, PCA, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Francois Nkuna BALUMUENE (since 17 September 2015)

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

telephone: [1] (202) 234-7690; [1] (202) 234-7691

FAX: [1] (202) 234-2609

email address and website:
https://www.ambardcusa.org/

representative office: New York

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Michael A. HAMMER (since 22 December 2018)

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:
ACSKinshasa@state.gov

https://cd.usembassy.gov/

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

Economy

Economic overview

The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - a nation endowed with vast natural resource wealth - continues to perform poorly. Systemic corruption since independence in 1960, combined with countrywide instability and intermittent conflict that began in the early-90s, has reduced national output and government revenue, and increased external debt. With the installation of a transitional government in 2003 after peace accords, economic conditions slowly began to improve as the government reopened relations with international financial institutions and international donors, and President KABILA began implementing reforms. Progress on implementing substantive economic reforms remains slow because of political instability, bureaucratic inefficiency, corruption, and patronage, which also dampen international investment prospects.

Renewed activity in the mining sector, the source of most export income, boosted Kinshasa's fiscal position and GDP growth until 2015, but low commodity prices have led to slower growth, volatile inflation, currency depreciation, and a growing fiscal deficit. An uncertain legal framework, corruption, and a lack of transparency in government policy are long-term problems for the large mining sector and for the economy as a whole. Much economic activity still occurs in the informal sector and is not reflected in GDP data.

Poverty remains widespread in DRC, and the country failed to meet any Millennium Development Goals by 2015. DRC also concluded its program with the IMF in 2015. The price of copper – the DRC’s primary export - plummeted in 2015 and remained at record lows during 2016-17, reducing government revenues, expenditures, and foreign exchange reserves, while inflation reached nearly 50% in mid-2017 – its highest level since the early 2000s.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$95.291 billion (2019 est.)

$91.289 billion (2018 est.)

$86.267 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 95

Real GDP growth rate

3.4% (2017 est.)

2.4% (2016 est.)

6.9% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 87

Real GDP per capita

$1,098 (2019 est.)

$1,086 (2018 est.)

$1,060 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 225

GDP (official exchange rate)

$47.16 billion (2019 est.)

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: Caa1 (2019)

Standard & Poors rating: CCC+ (2017)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 19.7% (2017 est.)

industry: 43.6% (2017 est.)

services: 36.7% (2017 est.)

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

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

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: NA

industry: NA

services: NA

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.3%

highest 10%: 34.7% (2006)

Budget

revenues: 4.634 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 5.009 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

18.1% of GDP (2017 est.)

19.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 192

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$200 million (2017 est.)

-$1.215 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 99

Exports

$21.16 billion (2019 est.)

$20.859 billion (2018 est.)

$18.258 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 78

Exports - partners

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

Exports - commodities

copper, cobalt, crude petroleum, diamonds (2019)

Imports

$19.5 billion (2019 est.)

$21.302 billion (2018 est.)

$20.338 billion (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 85

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

$457.5 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$708.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 155

Debt - external

$4.963 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$5.35 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 134

Exchange rates

Congolese francs (CDF) per US dollar -

1,546.8 (2017 est.)

1,010.3 (2016 est.)

1,010.3 (2015 est.)

925.99 (2014 est.)

925.23 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 9% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 19% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 0.4% (2019)

Communications

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 42,166,976

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 42.77 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 35

Telecommunication systems

general assessment:

due to decades of conflict and poor infrastructure, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s telecom system is one of the least developed in the region; government aims to improve loose regulation through legislation; mobile networks are principal providers of telecom; LTE is geographically limited; investment from China and other foreign donors for fiber backbone; international bandwidth through WACS submarine cable; operator licensed to build landing station for submarine cable and tower upgrade that will provide competition in broadband, fixed, and mobile Internet services; operator added fiber link between Brazzaville and Kinshasa (2021)

(2020)

domestic: fixed-line connections less than 1 per 100 persons; given the backdrop of a wholly inadequate fixed-line infrastructure, the use of mobile-cellular services is over 43 per 100 persons (2019)

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

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

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: 8,231,357

percent of population: 8.62% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 59

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 4,620

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 181

Transportation

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 mt-km (2018)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 26

over 3,047 m: 3

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 17

914 to 1,523 m: 2

under 914 m: 1 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 172

1,524 to 2,437 m: 20

914 to 1,523 m: 87

under 914 m: 65 (2013)

Heliports

1 (2013)

Pipelines

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

Railways

total: 4,007 km (2014)

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

125 1.000-m gauge

country comparison to the world: 48

Roadways

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

country comparison to the world: 34

Waterways

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

country comparison to the world: 8

Merchant marine

total: 21

by type: general cargo 4, oil tanker 2, other 15 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 146

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 (2021)

note - 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 (2020 est.)

0.7% of GDP (2019 est.)

0.7% of GDP (2018)

0.7% of GDP (2017)

1.3% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 150

Military and security service personnel strengths

limited and widely varied information; approximately 100,000 active troops (mostly Army, but includes several thousand Navy and Air Force personnel, as well as about 10,000 Republican Guard; note -  Navy personnel includes naval infantry) (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the FARDC is equipped mostly with a mix of second-hand Russian and Soviet-era weapons acquired from former Warsaw Pact nations; most equipment was acquired between 1970 and 2000; since 2010, Ukraine is the largest supplier of arms to the FARDC (2020)

Military service age and obligation

18-45 years of age for voluntary and compulsory military service (2019)

Military - note

the modern FARDC was created out of the armed factions of the two Congo wars of 1996-1997 and 1998-2003; as part of the peace accords that ended the last war, the largest rebel groups were incorporated into the FARDC; many armed groups (at least 70 and by some recent estimates more than 100), however, continue to fight; as of late 2020, the FARDC was actively engaged in combat operations against numerous armed groups inside the country, particularly in the eastern provinces of Ituri, North Kivu, and South Kivu, although violence also continues in Maniema, Kasai, Kasai Central, and Tanganyika provinces; the military is widely assessed as being unable to provide adequate security throughout the country due to insufficient training, poor morale and leadership, ill-discipline and corruption, low equipment readiness, a fractious ethnic makeup, and the sheer size of the country and diversity of armed rebel groups


MONUSCO, the United Nations peacekeeping and stabilization force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has operated in the central and eastern parts of the country since 1999; as of August 2021, MONUSCO comprised around 17,000 personnel; 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

Terrorism

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, 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 Lord's 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

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 213,133 (Rwanda) (refugees and asylum seekers), 206,346 (Central African Republic), 55,953 (South Sudan) (refugees and asylum seekers), 41,796 (Burundi) (2021)

IDPs: 5.268 million (fighting between government forces and rebels since mid-1990s; conflict in Kasai region since 2016) (2020)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Democratic Republic of the Congo and Congolese abroad; most trafficking is internal and involves the forced labor of men, women, and children in artisanal mining, agriculture, domestic servitude, sex trafficking, or child recruitment by armed groups; some traffickers are family members or others who promise victims or victims’ families educational or job opportunities and instead force victims to work as domestic servants, street vendors, gang members, or in commercial sex; some Congolese women and girls who migrate to other countries in Africa or the Middle East are exploited in sex trafficking or forced labor in agriculture, diamond mines, or domestic service; they may be fraudulently recruited by traffickers with false promises of jobs or education

tier rating:

Tier 2 Watch List — The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; the DRC was upgraded to Tier 2 Watch List because of several accomplishments; the government drafted and launched its first national anti-trafficking action plan; authorities increased law enforcement efforts, including investigating and prosecuting more trafficking crimes; a number of traffickers were convicted, including a high-ranking army officer and the leader of an armed group; however, authorities continued to lack standard operating procedures for identifying victims and referring them to care; there were credible allegations that the army abducted women and girls for sexual slavery and recruited and used child soldiers (2020)

Illicit drugs

traffickers exploit lax shipping controls to transit pseudoephedrine through the capital; while rampant corruption and inadequate supervision leave the banking system vulnerable to money laundering, the lack of a well-developed financial system limits the country's utility as a money-laundering center