The Democratic Republic of Congo (or "DR Congo" for short), is a Central African country bordering the Central African Republic and the Republic of South Sudan to the north, the Republics of Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and Rwanda to the east, the Republics of Zambia and Angola to the south, the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Please note: There are two Congos in Africa today. DR Congo (or Congo-Kinshasa) and the Republic of the Congo (or Congo-Brazzaville).
The Democratic Republic of Congo would be completely landlocked were it not for the outlet of the Congo River which flows into the Atlantic ocean. The DR Congo has just about 27km (17 miles) of coastline.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (or Congo-Kinshasa) is the 2nd largest country in Africa and the 11th largest in the world by total land area. DR Congo has a total land area of about 2,344,858 squared kilometers (about 77,810 sq km of which is covered by water). DR Congo is almost a quarter the size of the United States.
In terms of population size, the Democratic Republic of Congo is the fourth most populous country in Africa today with a population of about 93 million people. DR Congo's population growth rate hovers around 2.6%. About 40% of the population lives in urban areas in major cities and towns such as Kinshasa the capital. The metropolitan area of Kinshasa contains about 17.2 million people. Lumbumbashi, the second-largest city in DR Congo, has metro area population of about 3 million people.
Other major towns and cities such as Mbuji-Mayi, Kisangani, Masina, Kananga, Likasi, Kolwezi, Tshikapa, Beni, Bukavu, Mwene-Ditu, Kikwit, Mbandaka, Matadi, Uvira, Boma, Butembo, Gandajika, Kalemie, Goma, Kindu, Isiro, Bandundu, Gemena and Ilebo also contain significant portions of the population.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most diverse and culturally rich countries in Africa today with over 200 ethnic and tribal groups living peacefully together. The four largest ethnic groups - Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic) together make up about 45% of the population.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the most populated officially recognized francophone (french-speaking) country in the world today. In other words, there are more french-speaking people in DR Congo than in France. Although French is the official language, the DR Congo is also one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world today with over 700 different spoken languages and dialects. Although not yet official languages, Kituba (Kikongo), Lingala, Swahili, and Tshiluba are considered the 4 more national languages of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
DR Congo is predominantly Christian with Catholics and Protestants forming about 70% of the total population. Muslims make up about just about 10% of the total population.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the richest country in the world in terms of natural resources. The DR Congo is blessed with abundance of gold, petroleum, diamond, coal, timber, tin, manganese, uranium, copper, cobalt, tantalum, zinc, silver, and hydro-power. In fact, DR Congo's untapped deposits are estimated to be more than 24 trillion US dollars. However, despite the abundance of both natural and human resources, the Democratic Republic of Congo remains one of the poorest countries in the world today with at least 50% of its population living below the international poverty line.
Although the Democratice Republic of Congo has seen some great improvements these past couple of years, DR Congo continues to live in poverty with the fear of terrorism, war and violence. The DR Congo suffered greatly in the hands of some of Africa's most barbaric dictators. Dictators such as Mobutu Sese Seko and Laurent Kabila (the father of Joseph Kabila) who ruled Congo for decades, destroyed several lives and properties and demonically crippled the Congo politically, economically and socially.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has a literacy rate of about 67% for the entire population with the female literacy rate hovering around 57%. In other words, just about 57% of the total female population above the age 15 can read and write in DR Congo today. This literacy rate drops sharply in some rural and sub-urban communities across the country.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has an HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate of about 1.1%. In fact, about 500,000 people were living with the disease in 2012 with about 32,000 deaths recorded within the same year. Little has changed. Apart from HIV/AIDS, other killer diseases such as the deadly malaria, sleeping sickness, typhoid fever, cholera, etc. continue to destroy several lives in DR Congo today.
Excessive poaching (which is severely affecting wildlife population), deforestation (the rampant cutting down of trees mostly for timber), Lack of environmental protection laws and law enforcement agencies, bad farming practices, excessive mining (resulting in land degradation and water pollution), etc. are some of the major “man-caused" environmental issues facing DR Congo today. Natural hazards such periodic droughts, seasonal flooding, volcanic eruptions with the release of poisonous gases, etc. are some of the natural environmental issues facing DR Congo today.
Overpopulation is gradually becoming a major issue in the Democratic Republic of Congo mostly because of Congo's population distribution. The big cities and towns remain overpopulated while the rest of the country is sparsely populated.
Lack of good drinking water and water for domestic purpose remains another major problem facing the Democratic Republic of Congo today. A significant portion of DR Congo's population depends on untreated water sources such as slow flowing rivers and streams for drinking water and water for domestic purposes. This also explains why there are so many water-related diseases in DR Congo today.
Just like in most other African countries today, rampant corruption and poor governance continue to tear DR Congo apart. Most government officials receive pay increments every now and then while the poor continue to wallow in poverty and despair.