Democratic Republic of Congo

RFI/Anthony Terrade

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a central African country of more than 2.3 million square kilometres, in comparison, just less than a quarter of the size of the United States. It shares borders with Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. It has forests, water, fertile soils, high rainfall and a tropical climate. Considerable mineral reserves, including: copper, cobalt, coltan, diamonds, gold, zinc and other base metals and oil.

Major cities: Kinshasa, the capital - 9.4 million inhabitants. Lubumbashi, Mbuji-Mayi, Kananga, Kisangani.

Political regime: Presidential republic

Total population: 67.8 million (est)
Population growth: 2.6 per cent
Life expectancy: Women 51 years, Men 47 years
UNFPA report 2011

Main ethnic groups: Luba, Kongo, Mongo, Azande, Rundi
Languages: French, Lingala, Swahili
Religion: Catholic (50 per cent), Protestant (20 per cent), Kimbanguism (10 per cent), Muslim (10 per cent)
Literacy: 67 per cent
Human Development Index: 187 out of 187 countries
UNDP 2011

Money: Congolese franc
Growth: 7.2 per cent (2010 estimated)
Inflation: 23.1 per cent (2010 estimated)
Growth Domestic Product per person: 178 dollars (132 euros), World Bank, 2008


  • 30 June 1960: Independence of the Republic of Congo, former Belgian Congo, under the presidency of Joseph Kasavubu. Nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba becomes prime minister.
  • September 1960: Patrice Lumumba is ousted by Joseph Mobutu. Lumumba is assassinated in January 1961.
  • 1964: President Kasavubu appoints Moise Tshombe as prime minister.
  • 1965: Mobutu Sese Seko takes power after overthrowing Tshombe’s government. Mobutu remains as head of state until 1997.
  • 1971: Under Mobutu the country is renamed Zaire.
  • 1997: An insurgent movement led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila seizes power in Kinshasa. Zaire becomes the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Mobutu is killed in exile in Rabat.
  • 1998: The DRC, allied with Angola and Zimbabwe, fights rebels from Kivu supported by Rwanda and Uganda. The conflict kills more than three million people.
  • 2001: Laurent-Désiré Kabila is killed by a bodyguard. His son Joseph Kabila succeeds him as the head of government.
  • 2002: Peace agreement in Pretoria outlines power-sharing between different groups.
  • 2003: Creation of national unity government.
  • 2005: Constitutional referendum adopted by parliament paving the way for elections.
  • 2006: Joseph Kabila wins presidential elections in the second round with 58 per cent of the vote against Jean-Pierre Bemba.
  • 2008: Jean-Pierre Bemba is arrested in Belgium under a warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for crimes committed in the Central African Republic.
  • 2009: Arrest of Laurent Nkunda, head of the National Congress of the People (CNDP), the Kivu rebel movement.
  • 2010: Government reshuffle.
  • November 2011: Presidential elections.