Country List | World Factbook Home
CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Flag of Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Map of Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Introduction Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Since 1997 the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC; formerly called Zaire) has been rent by ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow in 1994 of refugees from the fighting in Rwanda and Burundi. The government of former president MOBUTU Sese Seko was toppled by a rebellion led by Laurent KABILA in May 1997; his regime was subsequently challenged by a Rwanda- and Uganda-backed rebellion in August 1998. Troops from Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Chad, and Sudan intervened to support the Kinshasa regime. A cease-fire was signed on 10 July 1999 by the DROC, Zimbabwe, Angola, Uganda, Namibia, Rwanda, and Congolese armed rebel groups, but sporadic fighting continued. KABILA was assassinated on 16 January 2001 and his son Joseph KABILA was named head of state ten days later. In October 2002, the new president was successful in getting occupying Rwandan forces to withdraw from eastern Congo; two months later, an agreement was signed by all remaining warring parties to end the fighting and set up a government of national unity.
Geography Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Central Africa, northeast of Angola
Geographic coordinates:
0 00 N, 25 00 E
Map references:
total: 2,345,410 sq km
water: 77,810 sq km
land: 2,267,600 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly less than one-fourth the size of the US
Land boundaries:
total: 10,730 km
border countries: Angola 2,511 km (of which 225 km is the boundary of Angola's discontiguous Cabinda Province), Burundi 233 km, Central African Republic 1,577 km, Republic of the Congo 2,410 km, Rwanda 217 km, Sudan 628 km, Tanzania 459 km, Uganda 765 km, Zambia 1,930 km
37 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: boundaries with neighbors
territorial sea: 12 NM
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
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pic Marguerite on Mont Ngaliema (Mount Stanley) 5,110 m
Natural resources:
cobalt, copper, cadmium, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, germanium, uranium, radium, bauxite, iron ore, coal, hydropower, timber
Land use:
arable land: 2.96%
permanent crops: 0.52%
other: 96.52% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
110 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
periodic droughts in south; Congo River floods (seasonal); in the east, in the Great Rift Valley, there are active volcanoes
Environment - current issues:
poaching threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; deforestation; refugees responsible for significant deforestation, soil erosion, and wildlife poaching; mining of minerals (coltan - a mineral used in creating capacitors, diamonds, and gold) causing environmental damage
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note:
straddles Equator; has very narrow strip of land that controls the lower Congo River and is only outlet to South Atlantic Ocean; dense tropical rain forest in central river basin and eastern highlands
People Congo, Democratic Republic of the
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 and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 48.2% (male 13,369,493; female 13,256,174)
15-64 years: 49.3% (male 13,343,303; female 13,860,996)
65 years and over: 2.5% (male 581,568; female 813,944) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.79% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
45.55 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
14.93 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-2.75 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: one million refugees fled into Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DROC) in 1994 as a result of the ethnic fighting in Rwanda; fighting in the DROC between rebels and government forces in October 1996 caused 875,000 refugees to return to Rwanda in late 1996 and early 1997 and additional refugees have returned in subsequent years; fighting between the Congolese government and Uganda- and Rwanda-backed Congolese rebels spawned a regional war in DROC in August 1998, which left 1.8 million Congolese displaced in DROC and caused 300,000 Congolese refugees to flee to surrounding countries (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
98.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 49.13 years
female: 51.13 years (2002 est.)
male: 47.19 years
Total fertility rate:
6.77 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
5.07% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
1.1 million (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
95,000 (1999 est.)
noun: Congolese (singular and plural)
adjective: Congolese or Congo
Ethnic groups:
over 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
Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs 10%
French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba
definition: age 15 and over can read and write French, Lingala, Kingwana, or Tshiluba
total population: 77.3%
male: 86.6%
female: 67.7% (1995 est.)
Government Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Country name:
conventional long form: Democratic Republic of the Congo
conventional short form: none
local short form: none
former: Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Congo/Leopoldville, Congo/Kinshasa, Zaire
local long form: Republique Democratique du Congo
abbreviation: DROC
Government type:
dictatorship; presumably undergoing a transition to representative government
Administrative divisions:
10 provinces (provinces, singular - province) and one city* (ville); Bandundu, Bas-Congo, Equateur, Kasai-Occidental, Kasai-Oriental, Katanga, Kinshasa*, Maniema, Nord-Kivu, Orientale, Sud-Kivu
30 June 1960 (from Belgium)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 30 June (1960)
24 June 1967, amended August 1974, revised 15 February 1978, amended April 1990; transitional constitution promulgated in April 1994; in November 1998, a draft constitution was approved by former President Laurent KABILA but it was not ratified by a national referendum; one outcome of the ongoing inter-Congolese dialogue is to be a new constitution
Legal system:
based on Belgian civil law system and tribal law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Joseph KABILA (since 26 January 2001); note - following the assassination of his father, Laurent Desire KABILA, on 16 January 2001, Joseph KABILA succeeded to the presidency; the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Joseph KABILA (since 26 January 2001); note - following the assassination of his father, Laurent Desire KABILA, on 16 January 2001, Joseph KABILA succeeded to the presidency; the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: National Executive Council, appointed by the president
elections: before Laurent Desire KABILA seized power on 16 May 1997, the president was elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 29 July 1984 (next was scheduled to be held in May 1997); formerly, there was also a prime minister who was elected by the High Council of the Republic; note - elections were not held in 1991 as called for by the constitution
note: Marshal MOBUTU Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga was president from 24 November 1965 until forced into exile on 16 May 1997 when his government was overthrown militarily by Laurent Desire KABILA; KABILA immediately assumed governing authority and pledged to hold elections by April 1999, but, in December 1998, announced that elections would be postponed until all foreign military forces attempting to topple the government had withdrawn from the country; KABILA was assassinated in January 2001 and was succeeded by his son Joseph KABILA
election results: results of the last election were: MOBUTU Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga reelected president in 1984 without opposition
Legislative branch:
a 300-member Transitional Constituent Assembly established in August 2000
elections: NA; members of the Transitional Constituent Assembly were appointed by former President Laurent Desire KABILA
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Cour Supreme
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Social Christian Party or PDSC [Andre BO-BOLIKO]; Forces for Renovation for Union and Solidarity or FONUS [Joseph OLENGHANKOY]; National Congolese Lumumbist Movement or MNC [Francois LUMUMBA]; Popular Movement of the Revolution or MPR [three factions: MPR-Fait Prive (Catherine NZUZI wa Mbombo); MPR/Vunduawe (Felix VUNDUAWE); MPR/Mananga (MANANGA Dintoka Mpholo)]; Unified Lumumbast Party or PALU [Antoine GIZENGA]; Union for Democracy and Social Progress or UDPS [Etienne TSHISEKEDI wa Mulumba]; Union of Federalists and Independent Republicans or UFERI [two factions: UFERI (Lokambo OMOKOKO); UFERI/OR (Adolph Kishwe MAYA)]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Faida MITIFU
FAX: [1] (202) 234-2609
telephone: [1] (202) 234-7690, 7691
chancery: 1800 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Aubrey HOOKS
embassy: 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, Kinshasa
mailing address: Unit 31550, APO AE 09828
telephone: [243] (88) 43608
FAX: [243] (88) 43467
Flag description:
light blue with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center and a columnar arrangement of six small yellow five-pointed stars along the hoist side
Economy Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Economy - overview:
The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - a nation endowed with vast potential wealth - has declined drastically since the mid-1980s. The war, which began in August 1998, has dramatically reduced national output and government revenue and has increased external debt. Foreign businesses have curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict, lack of infrastructure, and the difficult operating environment. The war has intensified the impact of such basic problems as an uncertain legal framework, corruption, raging inflation, and lack of openness in government economic policy and financial operations. A number of IMF and World Bank missions have met with the government to help it develop a coherent economic plan, and President KABILA has begun implementing reforms.
purchasing power parity - $32 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-4% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $590 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 54%
industry: 9%
services: 37% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
358% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
14.51 million (1993 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 65%, industry 16%, services 19% (1991 est.)
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $269 million
expenditures: $244 million, including capital expenditures of $24 million
mining (diamonds, copper, zinc), mineral processing, consumer products (including textiles, footwear, cigarettes, processed foods and beverages), cement
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
5.268 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 2%
hydro: 98%
other: 0% (1999)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
4.55 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports:
404 million kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports:
55 million kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, quinine, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, bananas, root crops, corn, fruits; wood products
$750 million f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
diamonds, copper, coffee, cobalt, crude oil
Exports - partners:
Benelux 62%, US 18%, South Africa, Finland, Italy (1999)
$1.024 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, mining and other machinery, transport equipment, fuels
Imports - partners:
South Africa 28%, Benelux 14%, Nigeria 9%, Kenya 7%, China (1999)
Debt - external:
$12.9 billion (2000 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$195.3 million (1995) (1995)
Congolese franc (CDF)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Congolese francs per US dollar - 305 (January 2002), 21.82 (2000), 4.02 (1999), 1.61 (1998), 1.31 (1997)
note: on 30 June 1998 the Congolese franc was introduced, replacing the new zaire
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Telephones - main lines in use:
20,000 (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
15,000 (2000)
Telephone system:
general assessment: poor
domestic: barely adequate wire and microwave radio relay service in and between urban areas; domestic satellite system with 14 earth stations
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 3, FM 11, shortwave 2 (2001)
18.03 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
4 (2001)
6.478 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2001)
Internet users:
6,000 (2002)
Transportation Congo, Democratic Republic of the
total: 5,138 km
narrow gauge: 3,987 km 1.067-m gauge (858 km electrified); 125 km 1.000-m gauge; 1,026 km 0.600-m gauge
note: severely reduced route-distance in use because of damage to facilities by civil strife (2000 est.)
total: 157,000 km (including 30 km of expressways)(1996)
paved: NA km
unpaved: NA km
15,000 km (including the Congo and its tributaries, and unconnected lakes)
petroleum products 390 km
Ports and harbors:
Banana, Boma, Bukavu, Bumba, Goma, Kalemie, Kindu, Kinshasa, Kisangani, Matadi, Mbandaka
Merchant marine:
none (2002 est.)
232 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 24
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 16
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 205
1,524 to 2,437 m: 19
914 to 1,523 m: 95
under 914 m: 91 (2002)
1 (2002)
Military Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force, Special Security Battalion
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 11,996,175 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 6,110,595 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$250 million (FY97)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
4.6% (FY97)
Transnational Issues Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Disputes - international:
Democratic Republic of the Congo is in the grip of a civil war that has drawn in military forces from neighboring states, with Uganda and Rwanda supporting the rebel movements that occupy much of the eastern portion of the state; Tutsi, Hutu, and other conflicting ethnic groups, political rebels, and various government forces continue fighting in Great Lakes region, transcending the boundaries of Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda; most of the Congo River boundary with the Republic of the Congo is indefinite (no agreement has been reached on the division of the river or its islands, except in the Pool Malebo/Stanley Pool area)
Illicit drugs:
illicit producer of cannabis, mostly for domestic consumption; while rampant corruption and inadequate supervision leaves 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

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003