Democratic Republic of Congo

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GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Population


Total population (millions): 54.8
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 32%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 3.0%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km²) : 2,344,860


Population origin

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



Main Cities Population
Kinshasa 7 273 947
Lubumbashi 1 283 380
Mbuji-Mayi 1 213 726
Kananga 720 362
Kisangani 682 599
Bukavu 471 789



Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Kinshasa (GMT+1 ).
It is  %T:%M %A  in Lubumbashi (GMT+2 ).



Languages
Official language: French. Other spoken languages: Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba

Free translation tools

Babel Fish
Free French-English-French translation of texts and web pages





Religion
Religious practises : Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs 10%


Political context

D.R. of Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo) is a Republic state passing through a transition phase; from civil war to presidential parliamentary democracy.
President (currently drawing its powers from the transition constitution) is both chief of the state and head of the government, elected through popular vote for five-year term. President holds the executive powers and is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces. President appoints the Cabinet (consisting of 35 members) and 4 Vice-Presidents. However, as per the new constitution, in future the President and the Prime Minister will share executive powers (under a semi-Presidential form of government). Prime Minister will be the head of the government and will be appointed from the majority party in the National Assembly. In future, the provincial governments will gain new powers under a new decentralized model.
Under the new constitution of 2006, the legislature will remain bicameral consisting of National Assembly (the lower house) having approximately 500 seats with its members elected through direct voting to serve five terms and Senate (the upper house) having 120 seats with its members elected by the provincial parliaments to serve five-year terms. As per new constitution, President cannot dissolve the parliament without taking the Prime Minister and National Assembly into confidence; however the transition constitution allows the President to dissolve the parliament and veto its acts .The people of the country have very limited political powers.
Judiciary is not independent in D.R. of Congo. The main source of the law is the new constitution of 2006 which was adopted through a referendum. The country accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations. The judicial language used in the country is French.
D.R. of Congo is not ruled by law. The eastern part of the country is characterized by ongoing violence and armed conflict. A foreigner cannot expect a fair trial from the country's judicial system. A high degree of corruption exists in the country. Country's police force, judiciary and politics is plagued with corruption.


Major political parties

In the absence of an effective central government for so many years, most political groups exist solely to control territory. There are 278 political parties registered with the Internal Affairs Ministry. Some of the main parties are: 
- PPRD (People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy) – a liberal pro-democracy party lead by Joseph Kabila;
- MLC ( Movement for Liberation of Congo) – earlier a rebel group, now supports peace & democracy;
- PALU (Unified Lumumbist Party) – supports democracy and free-market economy.


Major political leaders

President: Joseph KABILA – PPRD. He succeeded his father, Laurent Desire KABILA, following the latter's assassination in January 2001. He has been reelected in october 2006.
Prime Minister: Not yet selected


Next political election dates

Presidential: Year 2011
Parliamentary election: dates not available.




Climate

 

 

The country experiences extreme year-round heat. The biggest weather event is the rainy period, lasting from May through October. This rain is not the type that brings relief from the heat.The country's regional variations are based on the area's distance from the equator. The northern section of the country experiences a dry season from late January to March, while the southern part of the country has its dry season from May to October. The weather Varies according to the distance from the Equator, which lies across the north of the country. The dry season in the north is from December to March, and in the south May to October. The annual temperatures are warm and humidity is high. Required clothing: Lightweight clothes are recommended all year, with rainwear during the rainy season.

 


Tourism


Number of visitors in Democratic Republic of Congo 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 30 61 ..
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005

 

Tourist sites
Kinshasa: The capital does not have many sights of historic interest, but the visitor interested in the past should not miss the prehistoric and ethnological museums at Kinshasa University, an ensemble of light, rectangular, well laid-out buildings standing on a hillside. A brightly-coloured chapel crowns the top of the hill. Nearby is a corner of the equatorial forest surrounding a beautiful lake called Ma Vallée with a tavern on its banks. Other attractions include the fishing port of Kinkole, the Gardens of the Presidential Farm of Nsele made of pagodas, and the extensive pools where angling and swimming may be enjoyed. In both the markets and the suburbs of Kinshasa there are craftsmen who produce wood and metal items. The National Museum includes some unique works of national art.
Southwest Congo and Bandundu: The Insiki Falls (60m/197ft high) in Zongo and the caves in the region of Mbanza-Ngungu may be visited in one day, but it is preferable to stay for two or three days, for Mbanza-Ngungu is a pleasant resort with a good climate. While in the Mbanza-Ngungu area the visitor should stop at Kisantu to visit the 'Frère Gillet Botanic Gardens' with their world-famous rare orchids. Further west are the wild slopes and gorges of the Kwilu River, 120km (75 miles) from Mataoi; on the right bank of the river is a spot of rugged beauty called Inga. The woods, caves and waterfalls of Boma and equatorial Mayumbe and the Tombs of Tshela can be visited on the way to the ocean beach of Moanda. Less easily accessible is the upper valley of the Kwango in the southwest. A long journey through a region of unspoiled natural beauty leads to the Tembo (formerly Guillaume) Falls.
Kasai and Shaba: In the south, the Upemba National Park straddles the River Lualaba, northeast of Bugama, and includes several lakes inhabited by hippos, crocodiles and numerous aquatic birds. Here too are fishermen, cattle farmers and peasants, as well as a number of mining communities. Kananga and Mbuji-Mayi are typical tropical towns; Kalemie and the banks of the Tanganyika Lake are reminiscent of the French Riviera. The whole south is dotted with freshwater lakes such as Munkamba, Fwa and Kasai; there are also numerous impressive waterfalls, such as Kiobo, on the River Lufira, and Lofol, 384m (1259ft) high, north of Lubumbashi.
Upper Congo and the Kivu: The high plateaux of Congo extend across the eastern part of the country, around the Tanganyika, Kivu, Edward, Albert and Bukavu lakes. Bunia is a small, pretty town featuring villas, restaurants and hotels. In the north is the Garamba National Park, covering 400,000 hectares and featuring lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and giraffes. Lake Albert, which contains more fishes than any other lake in Africa, lies at an altitude of over 618m (2,027ft). It can be reached from Bunia, which is also the point of departure for numerous excursions into the forests and mountains, native villages, the Caves of Mount Hoyo and the 'Escaliers de Venus' Falls. Lake Edward is the home for birds of all sizes and colours. The highest peak in the Ruwenzori range is the Marguerite Pic, at an altitude of 5,119m (15,795ft). The snowline is at 450m (1776ft). This region is also inhabited by gorillas and by the extremely rare okapi. The mountain scenery between Goma and Beni is considered as some of the most spectacular in Africa, although the road is bad.
Virunga National park: Covering an area of 12,000 km² (4633 sq miles), this comprises an immense plain bounded by two jagged mountain ranges that serve as a natural enclosure for the animals which roam in liberty in this huge natural reserve. Game includes numerous lions, elephants, buffaloes, warthogs, antelopes, hippos and colourful aquatic birds. In this park, near Goma, it is possible to climb the still active volcanoes of Nyamuragira, 3,055m (10,022ft), and Nyiragongo, 3,470m (11,385ft).

For more information about tourism in Democratic Republic of Congo , check out the following web site(s) :
Africaguide.com



Food


Traditional dishes
There are a number of good restaurants in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, but prices are high. Hotels and restaurants which cater for tourists are generally expensive and serve international and national dishes. A typical speciality is moambe chicken, cooked in fresh palm oil with rice and spinach. The capital Kinshasa offers French, Belgian and local cuisine, but again restaurants are expensive and cater essentially for business people. Small restaurants and snack bars offer Chinese, Tunisian and Greek food.


Last modified on December 2006

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