Congo, Democratic Republic of the [Country Flag of Congo, Democratic Republic of the]
Transnational Issues
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Congo, Democratic Republic of the


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Location: Central Africa, northeast of Angola

Geographic coordinates: 0 00 N, 25 00 E

Map references: Africa

total: 2,345,410 sq km
land: 2,267,600 sq km
water: 77,810 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly less than one-fourth the size of US

Land boundaries:
total: 10,271 km
border countries: Angola 2,511 km, Burundi 233 km, Central African Republic 1,577 km, Republic of the Congo 2,410 km, Rwanda 217 km, Sudan 628 km, Uganda 765 km, Zambia 1,930 km

Coastline: 37 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: boundaries with neighbors
territorial sea: 12 nm

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 extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Margherita Peak (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 potential, timber

Land use:
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 7%
forests and woodland: 77%
other: 13% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 100 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: periodic droughts in south; volcanic activity

Environment—current issues: poaching threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; deforestation; refugees who arrived in mid-1994 were responsible for significant deforestation, soil erosion, and wildlife poaching in the eastern part of the country (most of those refugees were repatriated in November and December 1996)

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; 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


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Population: 49,000,511 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 48% (male 11,829,386; female 11,766,829)
15-64 years: 49% (male 11,778,121; female 12,339,837)
65 years and over: 3% (male 557,095; female 729,243) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.99% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 46.77 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 15.2 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.63 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)
note: in 1994, about a million refugees fled into Zaire (now called Democratic Republic of the Congo), to escape the fighting between the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi; the outbreak of widespread fighting between rebels and government forces in October 1996 spurred about 875,000 refugees to return to Rwanda in late 1996 and early 1997; additionally, Democratic Republic of the Congo is host to about 200,000 Angolan, about 110,000 Burundi, about 100,000 Sudanese, about 15,000 Ugandan, and about 18,000 Republic of the Congo refugees

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 101.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 49.31 years
male: 47.27 years
female: 51.4 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.51 children born/woman (1998 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

Religions: Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other syncretic sects and traditional beliefs 10%

Languages: 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 in French, Lingala, Kingwana, or Tshiluba
total population: 77.3%
male: 86.6%
female: 67.7% (1995 est.)


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Country name:
conventional long form: Democratic Republic of the Congo
conventional short form: none
local long form: Republique Democratique du Congo
local short form: none
former: Belgian Congo, Congo/Leopoldville, Congo/Kinshasa, Zaire

Data code: CG

Government type: dictatorship; presumably undergoing a transition to representative government

National capital: Kinshasa

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

Independence: 30 June 1960 (from Belgium)

National holiday: anniversary of independence from Belgium, 30 June (1960)

Constitution: 24 June 1967, amended August 1974, revised 15 February 1978, amended April 1990; transitional constitution promulgated in April 1994; following successful rebellion the new government announced on 29 May 1997 a two-year time table of constitutional reform

Legal system: based on Belgian civil law system and tribal law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:
chief of state: Laurent Desire KABILA (since 17 May 1997); note—the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: Laurent Desire KABILA (since 17 May 1997); note—the president is both chief of state and head of government
cabinet: National Executive Council; KABILA's cabinet was appointed by him and has no prime minister
elections: before Laurent Desire KABILA seized power, the president was elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 29 July 1984 (next was to be held in May 1997); formerly, the prime minister was elected by the High Council of the Republic; note—the term of the former government expired in 1991, elections were not held, and former president MOBUTU continued in office until his government was militarily defeated by KABILA on 17 May 1997
election results: MOBUTU Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga reelected president in 1984 without opposition
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 overturned militarily by Laurent Desire KABILA, who immediately assumed governing authority; in his 29 May 1997 inaugural address, President KABILA announced a two-year time table for political reform leading to elections by April 1999

Legislative branch: legislative activity has been suspended pending the establishment of KABILA's promised constitutional reforms and the elections to be held by April 1999
elections: the country's first multi-party presidential and legislative elections had been scheduled for May 1997 but were not held; instead KABILA overthrew the MOBUTO government and seized control of the country

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Supreme)

Political parties and leaders: sole legal party until January 1991—Popular Movement of the Revolution or MPR; other parties include Union for Democracy and Social Progress or UDPS [Etienne TSHISEKEDI wa Mulumba]; Democratic Social Christian Party or PDSC [Andre BO-BOLIKO]; Union of Federalists and Independent Republicans or UFERI [Gabriel KYUNGU wa Kumwunzu]; Unified Lumumbast Party or PALU [Antoine GIZENGA]
note: President KABILA, who has banned political party activity indefinitely, currently leads the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire or AFDL

International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, CCC, CEEAC, CEPGL, ECA, FAO, G-19, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Charge d'Affaires ad interim Tambo A. Kabila MUKENDI
chancery: 1800 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 234-7690, 7691
FAX: [1] (202) 686-3631

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Daniel H. SIMPSON
embassy: 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, Kinshasa
mailing address: Unit 31550, APO AE 09828
telephone: [243] (12) 21533 through 21535, 21104; [243] (88) 43604 through 43608
FAX: [243] (88) 43805, 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


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Economy—overview: The economy of Democratic Republic of the Congo—a nation endowed with vast potential wealth—has declined significantly since the mid-1980s. The new government has instituted a tight fiscal policy that has curbed inflation and currency depreciation. Plans are underway to introduce a new national currency. Most formal transactions are conducted in hard currency but a barter economy flourishes in all but the largest cities. Most individuals and families survive through subsistence farming or petty trade. International investors show renewed interest, especially in the mining and telecommunications sectors. However, poor infrastructure, an uncertain legal framework, corruption and lack of transparency in government economic policy remain a brake on investment and growth. A number of IMF and World Bank missions have met with the new government to help it develop a coherent economic plan.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$18 billion (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 1.5% (1996 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$400 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 59%
industry: 15%
services: 26% (1995 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: NA%

Labor force:
total: 14.51 million (1993 est.)
by occupation: agriculture 65%, industry 16%, services 19% (1991 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $269 million
expenditures: $244 million, including capital expenditures of $24 million (1996 est.)

Industries: mining, mineral processing, consumer products (including textiles, footwear, cigarettes, processed foods and beverages), cement, diamonds

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 2.831 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 5.22 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 95 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, quinine, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, bananas, root crops, corn, fruits; wood products

total value: $1.9 billion (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
commodities: diamonds, copper, coffee, cobalt, crude oil
partners: Belgium, US, France, Germany, Italy, UK, Japan, South Africa

total value: $1.1 billion (c.i.f., 1996 est.)
commodities: consumer goods, foodstuffs, mining and other machinery, transport equipment, fuels
partners: Belgium, South Africa, US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK

Debt—external: $13.8 billion (1995 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA

Currency: 1 zaire (Z) = 100 makuta

Exchange rates: new zaires (Z) per US$1—115,000 (January 1998), 83,764 (October 1996), 7,024 (1995), 1,194 (1994), 3 (1993)
note: on 22 October 1993 the new zaire, equal to 3,000,000 old zaires, was introduced

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 34,000 (1991 est.)

Telephone system:
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 10, FM 4, shortwave 0

Radios: 3.87 million (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 18

Televisions: 55,000 (1992 est.)


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total: 5,138 km (1995); note—severely reduced route-distance in use because of damage to facilities by civil strife
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

total: 145,000 km
paved: 2,500 km
unpaved: 142,500 km (1993 est.)

Waterways: 15,000 km including the Congo, its tributaries, and unconnected lakes

Pipelines: petroleum products 390 km

Ports and harbors: Banana, Boma, Bukavu, Bumba, Goma, Kalemie, Kindu, Kinshasa, Kisangani, Matadi, Mbandaka

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 234 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 24
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 210
1,524 to 2,437 m: 20
914 to 1,523 m: 96
under 914 m: 94 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 10,543,138 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 5,366,937 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: NA

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: Democratic Republic of the Congo-Tanzania-Zambia tripoint in Lake Tanganyika may no longer be indefinite since it has been informally reported that the indefinite segment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo-Zambia boundary has been settled; long segment of the boundary with Republic of the Congo along the Congo river is indefinite (no division of the river or its islands has been made)

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis, mostly for domestic consumption