Countries General Knowledge

10 facts about the Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo, also known in short as DR Congo is the fourth most populated country in Africa, as of latest states in 2020. It’s located in Central Africa. Back in old days, in 20th century, it was also known as Zaire. It was occupied by Belgium after the 1885 Congress of Berlin; declaring it as Congo Free State. Just like the other African countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo got its freedom in 1960.

1. DR Congo faced armed conflict post-independence

After gaining independence from the colonial rule in 1960, it faced a severe armed conflict. The series of conflicts continued for almost two decades which left bad effects. An estimate suggests that 5.4m people lost their lives due to the conflict. The Cold War between the US and USSR resulted in a conflict in DR Congo. The administration of the US lead by Eisenhower was hopeful that the Belgian-lead DR Congo would side by the pro-Western rules. Contrary to the Eisenhower hopes, the local soldiers of the DR Congo decided to mutiny against the European powers. Ultimately the UN intervened and Belgian forces were withdrawn. However, the USSR intervention as per the intelligence of the US resulted into another chaos. The resulting chaos lead the country to the brink of the civil war. The possibility of the war was averted by a military coup.

Source: The Congo, Decolonisation, and the Cold War

2. DR Congo is the second largest country in Africa

After Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo is the second largest country in the Africa. The land area of DRC is 905,355 square miles. According to the UN stats, it has a population of 86.7 million. The capital of DR Congo is Kinshasa. According to the World Atlas, the country area is a combination of areas of Norway, Sweden, Germany, France and Spain.

3. Cobalt and Copper is the biggest mineral mining sector in DR Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s leading Cobalt ore producing country. Although, China leads the refining industry of the Cobalt, yet the ore presence is in DR Congo. Around 50% of the exports of DR Congo are based on Cobalt and Copper. Refined Copper makes up 25% of the exports. Due to the presence of the ores, in 1960s the country was the second most industrialised in Africa; however, years of armed conflict took the country backwards.

4. 200 ethnic groups can be found in DR Congo

Just like South Africa, the country is ethnically diverse. There are around 200 ethnic groups in the DR Congo. It also means that there are at least 200 different kinds of languages and dialects spoken in the country. The majority are Bantu people. The linguistic differences are bridged using the French language. The capital of the DR Congo speaks French. The different ethnicity also promises a rich culture with strong heritage.

5. MONUSCO is the largest UN Peace Keeping mission in DR Congo

The UN peacekeeping mission in the DR Congo is known by the Acronym, MONUSCO. It’s the largest peace keeping mission out of the 14 running missions, as updated in 2020, of the UN. According to the stats, the peace keeping mission consists of 18,000 troops. It’s the costliest peace keeping mission, as it costs around $7bn in budget. It was established in 2010. The goals are the protection of civilians, humanitarian personnel and human rights defenders and to support the Government of the DRC in its stabilization and peace efforts.

6. DR Congo is named after the Congo River

The country has been named after the river which flows through it i-e Congo River. If we consider the amount of discharge, Congo River is the second in world, after Amazon river, on the other hand, if length is considered then it’s the Africa’s second longest river, after river Nile. Back in 1971, the country was named as Zaire, eventually in 1997 it was renamed to Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo river is 4,700 km in length.

7. DR Congo is rich in resources but a majority live in poverty

Economically, the country is not that strong. On our ranking of the most developed countries in Africa as of 2020, the DR Congo comes at number 49 out of 55 countries. It has a human development index of 0.459 and a per capita income of $800. The income gap is huge as World Bank stats show that in 2012, around 77% of the population was living in extreme poverty. The updated stats of 2018 indicate that the poverty rate in DR Congo stands as 73%. The numbers show the abysmal state of economy in the country.

8. Christianity forms the major religion in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Those who are interested in the religious views of the country must learn that the Roman Catholics form a major portion of the people. The stats from Britannica show that some three out of four parts of population is Christian. Around one-third of these christians adhere to the Roman catholicism, further there is an inclusion of the protestants as well. In addition to this, there are independent churches in the DR Congo e-g Matsouana Church and Bougist Church. The largest independent church in Africa is present in DR Congo named as Kimbanguist Church. Simon Kimangu is termed as the founder of Kimbanguism.

9. People confuse Democratic Republic of Congo with Republic of Congo

The two countries share their borders with each other, although both of them are different. Sometimes people confuse the two countries due to their almost similar names. The Republic of Congo is different from the Democratic Republic of Congo. RC has a capital named Brazzaville, whereas DRC has capital named Kinshasa. Further, DR was in occupation of France during the colonial days, whereas on the contrary, the DRC was in the occupation of Belgium. DRC is pretty much bigger than the RC.

The territory highlighted in red is Republic of Congo

10. DR Congo once had a strange currency in the shape of a cross

In the past, during 19th and 20th century, DR Congo used a very strange currency which was formed in the shape of a cross. It was worth 10 kilograms of flour and six chickens. It was known as Katanga cross. Its name has been derived from a rich copper mining region in DRC. The moulding technique was used to make these coins.

A mould of Katanga Cross

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