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Africa

 Jewel of

The African continent is comprised of 54 nations, each with their own independent governments and sovereignty, GNP, culture, natural resources, language(s), military, and religion. The treasure trove of mineral and raw material wealth has scarcely been touched, and the continent's largely untapped fertile lands could feed the world. Herewith is Jewel of Africa, an interactive adventure in the cradle of mankind, an exploration of nations from A-Z in alphabetical order.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: $24 trillion untapped mineral wealth

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, is a country in Central Africa, and the second-largest on the Africa continent after Algeria, and the 11th largest in the world. With a population of around 93.2 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populous Francophone country in the world and the fourth-most populous country in Africa, after Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is located in central sub-Saharan Africa, bordered to the northwest by the Republic of the Congo, to the north by the Central African Republic, to the northeast by South Sudan, to the east by UgandaRwanda and Burundi, and by Tanzania across Lake Tanganyika, to the south and southeast by Zambia, to the southwest by Angola, and to the west by the South Atlantic Ocean and the Cabinda Province exclave of Angola.

The DRC is a member of the United Nations, the Non-Aligned MovementAfrican Union, and COMESA. Since 2015, the nation Congo has been the site of an ongoing military conflict in Kivu. The capital and largest city is Kinshasa.

Turbulent past

In 1908, Leopold, despite his initial reluctance, ceded to Belgium the so-called Free State, which thus became known as the Belgian CongoCongo achieved independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960 under the name Republic of the CongoCongolese nationalist Patrice Lumum- ba was elected the first prime minister, and Joseph Kasa-Vubu became the first president. During the Congo Crisis, Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who later renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko, officially came into power through a coup d'état and renamed the country Zaire in 1971. The

country was run as a dictatorial one-party state, with his Popular Movement of the Revolution as the sole legal party.

History and independence 

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is named after the Congo River, which flows throughout the country. The Congo River is the world's deepest river and the world's second-largest river by discharge. The Comité d'études du haut Congo ("Committee for the Study of the Upper Congo"), established by King Leopold II of Belgium in 1876, and the International Association of the Congo, established by him in 1879, were also named after the river.

The Congo River itself was named by early European sailors after the Kingdom of Kongo and its Bantu inhabitants, the Kongo people, when they encountered them in the 16th century. The word Kongo comes from the Kongo language, also called Kikongo.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been known in the past as the Congo Free State. Belgian Congo, the Republic of the Congo-Léopoldville, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zaire, before returning to its current name the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the

time of independence, the country was named the Republic of the Congo-Léopoldville to distinguish it from its neighbor the Republic of the Congo-Brazzaville.

 

With the promulgation of the Luluabourg Constitution on Aug. 1 1964, the country became the DRC, but was renamed Zaire on Oct. 27, 1971 by President Mobutu Sese Seko as part of his Authenticité initiative.

 

The Belgian Congo achieved independence on June 30, 1960 under the name Republic of Congo. As the neighboring French colony of Middle Congo (Moyen Congo) also chose the name "Republic of Congo" upon achieving its independence, the two countries are more commonly known as "Congo-Léopoldville" and "Congo-Brazzaville," after their capital cities.

Election and new president

On Dec. 30, 2018, the Democratic Republic of the Congo general election, 2018 was held. Eleven days later on Jan. 10, 2019, the electoral commission announced that Félix Tshisekedi had won the office, and he was officially sworn in as president on Jan. 24, 2018. 

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​Algeria

Angola

Benin

Botswana

Burkina Faso

Burundi

Cape Verde

Cameroon

 

Central African
   Republic
 

 

Chad

Comoros

 

Congo 

Democratic
Republic of

 

Congo
Republic of the

 

Cote d'Ivoire

Djibouti

Egypt

 

Equatorial

Guinea

 

Eritrea

Eswatini

Ethiopia

Gabon

Gambia

Ghana

Guinea

Guinea-Bissau

​Kenya

​Lesotho

Liberia

Libya

Madagascar

Malawi

Mali

Mauritania

Mauritius

Morocco

Mozambique

​Namibia

Niger

Nigeria

Rwanda

 

​Sao Tome

and Principe

 

Senegal

Seychelles

Sierra Leone

Somalia

South Africa

South Sudan

Sudan

​Tanzania

Togo

Tunisia

Uganda

​Zambia

Zimbabwe

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The Western lowland gorilla is as enduring a symbol of the mystery and majesty of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as any, For eons, the gorilla has lived alongside the Bantu people. After poachers targeted the beast, it became  an endangered species.

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The lush jungle of the DRC is one of the nation's tourist attractions, home to ecological wonders like wild rivers and waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. The environment also harbors an estimated $24 trillion in untapped raw minerals such as gold, silver, diamonds, cobalt, copper, and bauxite.

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Animals as large as the African forest elephant, and rare okapi antelope, hide among the dense verdant growth in the DRC. Vast stores of precious diamonds and gold are also concealed among the jungle growth. Minus roads, mining is a difficult undertaking.

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The DRC is a populace nation with 93.2 million people. Its largest populated city  is Kinshasa with 17 million citizens. The next largest urban center and industrial hub for mining companies, is the city of  Lubumbashi (right) bearing a population of  1.7 million.

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On April 22, 2021, President Tshisekedi and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, met and formulated new agreements between the DRC and Kenya increasing international trade and security, counterterrorism, immigration, cyber security, and customs between the two nations.

Economy , mineral wealth, and mining

The Rift valley has exposed an enormous amount of mineral wealth throughout the south and east of the Congo, making it accessible to mining. Cobalt, copper, cadmium, industrial and gem-quality diamonds, gold, silver, zincmanganesetingermaniumuraniumradiumbauxite, iron ore, and coal are all found in plentiful supply, especially in the DRC’s southeastern Katanga region. Though the Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely rich in natural resources, it has suffered from political instability, a lack of infrastructure, corruption, and centuries of commercial colonial extraction and exploitation with little widespread development. The DRC's largest export of raw minerals is to China, with more than 50 percent exports in 2019.

 

The Central Bank of the Congo is responsible for developing and maintaining the Congolese franc, which serves as the primary form of currency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2007, The World Bank decided to grant the DRC up to $1.3 billion in assistance funds over the following three years. The Congolese government started negotiating membership in the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), in 2009.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered one of the world's richest countries in natural resources. Its untapped deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of $24 trillion US. The DRC has 70 percent of the world's coltan, a third of its cobalt, more than 30 percent of its diamond reserves, and a 10th of its copper.

Despite such vast mineral wealth, the economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has declined drastically since the mid-1980s.

 

The African country generated up to 70 percent of its export revenue from minerals in the 1970s and 1980s and was particularly hit when resource prices deteriorated at that time. By 2005, 90 percent percent of the DRC's revenues derived from its minerals. Congolese citizens are among the poorest people on Earth. The nation consistently has one of the lowest nominal GDP per capita in the world. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the world's largest producer of cobalt ore, and a major producer of copper and diamonds, the latter of which comes from the Kasai province in the west. The DRC is the second-largest diamond-producing nation in the world, and artisanal and small-scale miners account for most of its production.

By far the largest mines in the DRC are located in southern Katanga province, and are highly mechanized with a production capacity of several million tons per year of copper and cobalt ore. At its independence day in 1960, the

DRC was the second-most industrialized country in Africa after South Africa. It boasted a thriving mining sector and a relatively productive agriculture sector at the time. The First and Second Congo Wars began in 1996. These conflicts dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, increased external debt, and resulted in deaths of more than five million people from war and associated famine and disease. Malnutrition affects approximately two-thirds of the country's population.

Foreign businesses have curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflicts, lack of infrastructure, and the difficult operating environment. The wars intensified the impact of such basic problems as an uncertain legal framework, corruption, inflation, and lack of openness in government economic policy and financial operations. Conditions improved in late 2002, when a large portion of the invading foreign forces withdrew. A number of International Monetary Fund and World Bank missions met with the government to help it develop a coherent economic plan, and then President Joseph Kabila began implementing reforms. Much economic activity still lies outside the GDP data.

Through 2011, a United Nations Human Development Index report showed that the human development index of DRC was one of the worst the country had in decades with the lowest Human Development Index of the 187 ranked countries. It ranked lower than Niger, despite a higher margin of improvement than the country over 2010's numbers.

The economy of DRC relies heavily on mining. However, the smaller-scale economic activity from artisanal mining occurs in the informal sector and is not reflected in GDP data. A third of the DRC's diamonds are believed to be smuggled out of the country, making it difficult to quantify diamond production levels. In 2002, tin was discovered in the east of the country, but to date has only been mined on a small scale. 

In September 2004, state-owned Gécamines signed an agreement with Global Enterprises Corporate (GEC), a company formed by the merger of Dan Gertler International (DGI) with Beny Steinmetz Global, to rehabilitate and operate the Kananga and Tilwezembe copper mines. The deal was ratified by presidential decree. In 2007, a World Bank report reviewed the Democratic Republic of the Congo's three biggest mining contracts, finding that the 2005 deals, including one with Global Enterprises Company, were approved with a complete lack of transparency.

Geography and geology

The DRC straddles the Equator with one-third to the North and two-thirds to the South. As a result of its equatorial location, the DRC experiences high precipitation and has the highest frequency of thunderstorms in the world. The annual rainfall can total upwards of 80 inches in some places, and the area sustains the Congo Rainforest, the second-largest rain forest in the world after the Amazon.

This massive expanse of lush jungle covers most of the vast, low-lying central basin of the Congo River, which slopes toward the Atlantic Ocean in the west. This area is surrounded by plateaus merging into savannas in the south and southwest, by mountainous terraces in the west, and dense grasslands extending beyond the Congo River in the north. High. The Rwenzori Mountains are located in the extreme eastern region.

The tropical climate also produced the Congo River system which dominates the region topographically along with the rainforest it flows through, though they are not mutually exclusive. The name for the Congo state is derived in part from the river. The river basin, meaning the Congo River and all of its myriad tributaries occupies nearly the entire country and an area of nearly 390,000 square miles. The river and its tributaries form the backbone of Congolese economics and transportation. The major tributaries include the KasaiSanghaUbangiRuziziAruwimi, and Lulonga.

The sources of the Congo are in the Albertine Rift Mountains that flank the western branch of the East African Rift, as well as Lake Tanganyika and Lake Mweru. The river flows generally west from Kisangani just below Boyoma Falls, then gradually bends southwest, passing by Mbandaka, joining with the Ubangi River, and running into the Pool Malebo. Kinshasa and Brazzaville are on opposite sides of the river at the Pool Malebo. Then the river narrows and falls through a number of cataracts in deep canyons, collectively known as the Livingstone Falls, and runs past Boma into the Atlantic Ocean.

The river also has the second-largest flow and the second-largest watershed of any river in the world (trailing the Amazon in both respects). The river and a 23-mile-wide strip of coastline on its north bank provide the country's only outlet to the Atlantic.

The Albertine Rift plays a key role in shaping the DRC’s geography. Not only is the northeastern section of the country much more mountainous, but due to the rift's tectonic activity, this area also experiences volcanic activity, occasionally with loss of life. The geologic activity in this area also created the African Great Lakes, four of which lie on the DRC’s eastern frontier: Lake Albert, Lake KivuLake Edward, and Lake Tanganyika. Lake Edward and Lake Albert are connected by the Semliki River.

On Jan. 17, 2002 Mount Nyiragongo erupted in the DRC with the lava cascading at 40 mph at a width of 50 yards. One of three streams of extremely fluid lava flowed through the nearby city of Goma, killing 45 and leaving 120,000 homeless. Four hundred thousand people were evacuated from the city during the eruption. The lava also poisoned Lake Kivu scalding thousands fish. Only two planes left the local airport because of the possibility of the explosion of stored petrol. The lava flowed past the airport but ruined the runway, trapping several airplanes. Six months after the 2002 eruption, nearby Mount Nyamuragira also erupted. Mount Nyamuragira erupted twice again in 2006 and January 2010.

Environment, flora, and wildlife

World Wide Fund for Nature eco-regions located in the Congo include: Central Congolian lowland forests, home to the rare bonobo primate; Eastern Congolian swamp forests along the Congo River, Northeastern Congolian lowland forests, with one of the richest concentrations of primates in the world; and large section of the Central Zambezian miombo woodlands.

The rainforests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo contain widespread biodiversity, including many rare and endemic species, such as the  chimpanzee and bonobo, the African forest elephant, the mountain gorillaokapi and the white rhino. Five of the country's national parks are listed as World Heritage Sites: the GarumbaKahuzi-Biega, Salonga and Virunga National Parks, and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of 17 mega-diverse countries, and is the most bio-diverse African country.

The civil war and resulting in poor economic conditions have endangered much of this biodiversity. Many park wardens were either killed or could not afford to continue their work. All five sites are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage in Danger.

Conservationists have particularly worried about primates. The Congo is inhabited by several great ape species: the  chimpanzeebonobo, and the eastern lowland gorilla. It is the only country in the world in which bonobos are found in the wild. Much concern has been raised about great ape extinction due to hunting and habitat destruction of chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas. Each specie is classified as endangered by the World Conservation Union.

Each of the great ape populations once numbered in the millions. The numbers have now dwindled to roughly 200,000 gorillas, 100,000 chimpanzees, and 10,000 bonobos.

 

Poaching an egregious problem

Poaching for exotic animals or the ivory trade has been a persistent problem in the DRC. The forest elephant is particularly at risk due to the high cost of its ivory, especially in the Far East, which led to a 62 percent decrease in the population of the pachyderms between 2002 and 2011. The introduction of park guards and the implementation of eco-tourism in Virunga National park, a primary habitat for great apes, have allowed the endangered mountain gorilla population to jump to more than 1000 animals — a 25 percent rise over 2010. However, the study indicated that poaching is still an existing problem, with researchers discovering 380 snares and learning that park guards are consistently ambushed and killed by poachers.

Government and politics

After a four-year interlude between two constitutions, with new political institutions established at the various levels of government, as well as new administrative divisions for the provinces throughout the country, a new constitution came into effect in 2006 and politics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo finally settled into a stable democratic republic. The 2003 transitional constitution established a parliament with a bicameral legislature, comprised of a Senate and a National Assembly.

The Senate had, among other things, the charge of drafting the new constitution of the country. The executive branch was vested in a 60-member cabinet, headed by a president and four vice presidents. The president is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The transitional constitution also established a relatively independent judiciary, headed by a Supreme Court with constitutional interpretation powers.

The 2006 constitution, also known as the Constitution of the Third Republic, came into effect in February 2006. It had concurrent authority, however, with the transitional constitution until the inauguration of the elected officials who emerged from the July 2006 elections. Under the new constitution, the legislature remained bicameral.

 

The government — not the president — is responsible to the Parliament. The new constitution also granted new powers to the provincial governments, creating provincial parliaments which have oversight of the governor and the head of the provincial government, whom they elect. The new constitution also saw the disappearance of the Supreme Court, which was divided into three new institutions. The constitutional interpretation prerogative of the Supreme Court is now held by the Constitutional CourtAlthough located in the Central African UN sub-region, the nation is also economically and regionally affiliated with Southern Africa as a member of the Southern African Development Community.

Foreign relations

The global growth in demand for scarce raw materials and the industrial surges in China, India, Russia, Brazil and other developing countries require that First World nations employ new, integrated and responsive strategies for identifying and ensuring, on a continual basis, an adequate supply of strategic and critical materials required for their security needs. Highlighting the DRC's importance to US national security, is the effort to establish a strategic elite Congolese military to professionalize the armed forces in region.

There are economic and strategic incentives to bring more security to the Congo, which is rich in natural resources such as cobalt, a strategic and critical metal used in many industrial and military applications. The largest use of cobalt is in super alloys used to make jet engine parts. Cobalt is also used in magnetic alloys and in wear-resistant materials such as cemented carbidesThe chemical industry consumes significant quantities of cobalt in a variety of applications including catalysts for petroleum and chemical processing, drying agents for paints and inks, ground coats for porcelain enamels, de-colorant for ceramics and glass, and pigments for ceramics, paints, and plastics. The DRC possesses 80 percent of the world's cobalt reserves.

It is thought that due to the importance of cobalt for batteries for electric vehicles and stabilization of electric grids with large proportions of intermittent renewables in the electricity mix, the DRC could become an object of increased geopolitical competition.

Military

The Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) consist of about 144,000 personnel, the majority of whom are part of the land forces, also with a small air force and navy. The FARDC was established in 2003 after the end of the second war and integrated many former rebel groups into its ranks.

Transportation and roads

Ground transport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has always been difficult. The terrain and climate of the Congo Basin present serious barriers to road and rail construction, and the distances are enormous across the vast country. The DRC has more navigable rivers and moves more passengers and goods by boat and ferry than any other country in Africa, but air transport remains the only effective means of moving goods and people between many places within the country, especially in rural areas. Chronic economic mismanagement and internal conflicts have led to long-term under-investment of infrastructure.

Rail transportation is provided by the Congo Railroad Company and the Office National des Transports (ONATRA) and the Office of the Uele Railways (Office des Chemins de fer des Ueles, CFU). Like much of the infrastructure in the Congo, the railways are poorly maintained, dirty, crowded, and dangerous.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has fewer all-weather paved highways and roads than any country of its population and size in Africa — a total of 1,400 miles, of which only 762 miles is in fair to good condition. To put this in perspective, the road distance across the country in any direction is more than 1,600 miles. Three routes in the Trans-African Highway network pass through the Democratic Republic of the Congo: (1) Tripoli-Cape Town Highway is the route that crosses the western extremity of the country on National Road No. 1 between Kinshasa and Matadi, a distance of 177 miles on one of the only paved sections in navigable condition. (2) Lagos-Mombasa Highway: the DRCis the main missing link in this east-west highway and requires a new road to be constructed before it can function. (3) Beira-Lobito Highway: this east-west highway crosses Katanga and requires reconstruction over most of its length being an earth track between the Angolan border and Kolwezi, a paved road in very poor condition between Kolwezi and Lubumbashi. The highway is in better paved condition over the short distance to the Zambian border.

Air transport

As of June 2016, the DRC had one major national airline — Congo Airways, based at Kinshasa's international airport. The carrier offered flights inside domestically, but all air carriers certified by the DRC have been banned from European Union airports by the European Commission due to inadequate safety standards. Several international airlines service Kinshasa's international airport and a few also offer intermittent international flights to Lubumbashi International Airport.

Energy and resources

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are both coal and crude oil resources that were mainly used domestically in 2008. The Democratic Republic of Congo has the infrastructure for hydro-electricity from the Congo River at the Inga dams. The Democratic Republic of Congo also possesses 50 percent of Africa's forests and a river system capable of providing hydro-electric power to the entire continent, according to a UN report on the country's strategic significance and its potential role as an economic power.

Due to abundant sunlight, the potential for solar development is very high in the DRC. There are already about 836 solar power systems in the nation with a total power of 83 kW, located in Équateur, Katanga, Nord-Kivu, the two Kasaï provinces, and Bas-Congo. Additionally, the 148 Caritas network system has a total power of 6.31 kW.

Education

.In 2014, the literacy rate for the population between the ages of 15 and 49 was estimated to be 75.9 percent — 88.1 percent male and 63.8 percent female, respectively, according to a DHS nationwide survey. The education system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not free or compulsory. As a result of the six-year civil war in the late 1990s to early 2000s, more than 5.2 million children in the country did not receive any education. Since the end of the civil war, however, the situation has improved with the number of children enrolled in primary schools rising from 5.5 million in 2002 to 16.8 million in 2018. The number of children enrolled in secondary schools in 2007 -2015 rose from 2.8 to 4.6 million according to UNESCO.

Health

DRC has the world's second-highest rate of infant mortality after Chad. In April 2011, through aid from Global Alliance for Vaccines, a new vaccine to prevent pneumococcal disease was introduced around Kinshasa.

In 2012, it was estimated that about 1.1 percent of adults aged 15-49 were living with HIV/AIDSMalaria is also a problem as is the resultant yellow fever.

Maternal health is poor in DRC. According to 2010 estimates. DRC has the 17th highest maternal mortality rate in the world. According to UNICEF, 43.5 percent of children under five are stunted.  United Nations emergency food relief agency warned that amid the escalating conflict and worsening situation following COVID-19 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, millions of lives were at risk as they could die of hunger. According to the UN, four in 10 people in the DRC lack food security and about 15.6 million face a hunger crisis.

Ethnic groups, population and religion

More than 200 ethnic groups populate the Democratic Republic of the Congo, of which the majority are Bantu peoples. Together, MongoLubaKongo peoples, Mangbetu and the Azande peoples constitute approximately 45 percent of the population.  In 2018, the United Nations estimated the country's population to be 84 million, a significant increase from 39.1 million in 1992. As many as 250 ethnic groups have been identified and named. The most prominent are the Bantu, Kongo, Luba, and Mongo.

Pygmies are the aboriginal people of the DRC and about 600,000 are numbered among the total population.  Although several hundred local languages and dialects are spoken, the linguistic variety is bridged both by widespread use of French and the national intermediary languages of KikongoTshilubaSwahili, and Lingala.

In the area of religion, Christianity is the predominant faith of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A 2013-14 survey conducted by Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), indicated that Christians constituted 95.8 percent of the population according to a 2010 Pew Research Center study, while the CIA World Fact Book reports this figure to be 95.9 percent.

"Other"; DHS Catholics comprising 29.7 percent; Protestants 26.8 percent, and other Christian denominations, 37.2 percent. Of “other,” an indigenous group, Kimbanguism, accounted for 2.8 percent of Christians, while Muslims totaled 1.2 percent. 

Kimbanguism was seen as a threat to the colonial regime and was banned by the Belgians. Kimbanguism, officially the Church of Christ on Earth by the prophet Simon Kimbangu, now has about three million adherents. There are

about 35 million Catholics in the country with six archdioceses and 41 dioceses. The impact of the Catholic Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo is difficult to overestimate. It has been called it the country's "only truly national institution apart from the state." Its schools have educated over 60 percent of the nation's primary school students and more than 40 percent of its secondary students. The church owns and manages an extensive network of hospitals, schools, and clinics, as well as many diocesan economic enterprises, including farms, ranches, stores, and artisan shops.

Sixty-two Protestant denominations are federated under the umbrella of the Church of Christ in Congo. It is often referred to as simply the Protestant Church, since it covers most of DRC Protestants. With more than 25 million members, it constitutes one of the largest Protestant bodies in the world.

Islam has been present in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since the 18th century, when Arab traders from East Africa pushed into the interior for ivory and slave trading. Today, Muslims constitute roughly 1 percent of DRC’s population according to Pew research center. The majority are Sunni Muslims.

The first members of the Baháʼí Faith to live in the country came from Uganda in 1953. Four years later the first local administrative council was elected. In 1970 the National Spiritual Assembly was first elected. Though the religion was banned in the 1970s and 1980s, due to misrepresentations of foreign governments, the ban was lifted by the end of the 1980s. New variants of ancient indigenous beliefs—monotheismanimismvitalismspirit and ancestor worshipwitchcraft, and sorcery embody such concepts and vary widely among ethnic groups and have become widespread. The syncretic sects often merge elements of Christianity with traditional beliefs and rituals, and they have been assailed by US-inspired Pentecostal churches which have been at the forefront of the condemnation of witchcraft. 

Major Bantu languages of the DRC

French is the official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is culturally accepted as the lingua franca, facilitating communication among the many different ethnic groups of the Congo. According to a 2014 OIF report, 33 million Congolese people could read and write in French. In the capital city Kinshasa, 67 percent of the population could read and write French, and 68.5 percent could speak and understand the language.

Approximately 242 languages are spoken in the country, of which four have the status of national languages: Kikongo, LingalaTshiluba, and Swahili. Although some people speak these as first languages, most of the population speak them as a second language, after that of their own ethnic group. Lingala was the official language of the colonial army, the "Force Publique", under Belgian colonial rule, and remains to this day the predominant language of the armed forces. Since the recent rebellions, a good part of the army in the east also uses Swahili where it is prevalent.

Under Belgian rule, the colonizers instituted teaching and use of the four national languages in primary schools, making it one of the few African nations to have had literacy in local languages during the European colonial period. This trend was reversed after independence, when French became the sole language of education at all levels. Since 1975, the four national languages have been reintroduced in the first two years of primary education, with French becoming the sole language of education from the third year onward, but in practice many primary schools in urban areas only use French from the first year of school onward. 

Portuguese is taught in DRC schools as a foreign language. The lexical similarity and phonology with French makes Portuguese a relatively easy language for the people to learn. Most of the roughly 175,000 Portuguese speakers in the DRC are Angolan and Mozambican expatriates.

Culture

The culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo reflects the diversity of its hundreds of ethnic groups and their differing ways of life throughout the country  — from the mouth of the Congo River on the coast, upriver through the rainforest and savanna in its center, to the more densely populated mountains in the far east. Since the late 19th century, traditional ways of life have undergone changes brought about by colonialism, the struggle for independ- dence, the stagnation of the Mobutu era, and most recently, the First and Second Congo Wars. Despite these pressures, the customs and cultures of the Congo have retained much of its individuality. The country's 81 million inhabitants) are mainly rural. The 30 percent living in urban areas have been the most open to Western influences.

Music and literature

The DRC has its influences on Cuban rumba, originally kumba from Congo and merengue. And those two later give birth to soukous. Other African nations produce music genres derived from Congolese soukous. Some of the African bands sing in Lingala, one of the main languages in the DRC. The same Congolese soukous have set the tone for a generation of young men traditionally dressed up in expensive designer clothes. They came to be known as the fourth generation of Congolese music and mostly come from the former well-known band Wenge Musica.

Congolese authors use literature as a way to develop a sense of national consciousness amongst the Congo people. The tragic history of colonialism and war lead the Congolese people to settle in a place of complacency, accepting the culture that was forced upon them by Belgium.

Modern Congolese literature began to emerge in the late 1950s. There are a few rare pieces of literature dated back to before WWI, but it was not until about 1954 that literature written in French made its appearance in the Congo. After gaining their independence from Belgium in the 1960s, new authors, such as Guy Menga and Jean Pierre Makouta-Mboukou, were inspired by older authors such as Jean Malonga from Congo-Brazzaville, and used writing to bring attention to new issues affecting the Congo.

The rise of female authors began in the 1970s introducing diversity to Congolese literature and support for gender empowerment. Many authors who have contributed to the success of Congolese literature are now living abroad due to economic and political issues.

Frederick Kambemba Yamusangie writes literature for the between generations of those who grew up in the Congo, during the time when they were colonized, fighting for independence and after. Yamusangie in an interview said he felt the distance in literature and wanted to remedy that he wrote the novel, Full Circle, which is a story of a boy named Emanuel who in the beginning of the book feels a difference in culture among the different groups in the Congo and elsewhere.

Rais Neza Boneza, an author from the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, wrote novels and poems to promote artistic expressions as a way to address and deal with conflicts. These authors, along with others, used their platforms to bring awareness to the crises and conflicts that took place in the Congo.

Congolese cuisine

The cuisine of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo varies widely, representing the food of indigenous people. Cassavafufu, rice, plantain and potatoes are generally the staple foods eaten with other side dishes. DRC staple foods includes corncassavasweet potatoyamtarotomatoespumpkin, and 

varieties of peas, beans, and nuts. These foods are eaten throughout the country, but there are also regional dishes. People often sell their crops at markets or by the roadside.

 

Congolese meals often consist of a starchy ingredient, along with vegetables and meat in the form of a stew. The starch can come in the form of a paste or mash made of cassava or corn flour, called fufu or ugali. When eaten, the fufu is rolled into golf ball-sized balls and dipped into the spicy stew—often an indentation is made with the thumb in order to bring up a thimbleful of sauce.

Less than two percent of the land is cultivated, and most of this is used for subsistence farming. Congo's farmland is the source of a wide variety. Wild plants, fruitsmushrooms, honey and many varieties of fish are also gathered, hunted, and used in dishes. The development of large-scale agricultural businesses, and cattle breeding has been hindered by the nation’s conflicts and the poor quality of the road infrastructure. The most important crops for export are coffee and palm oil.

Sports

Many sports are played in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including football, basketball, and rugby. The sports are played in numerous stadiums throughout the country, including the Stade Frederic Kibassa Maliba. When the nation was known as Zaire, it competed in the finals of the World Cup in 1974.

Internationally, the country is especially famous for its NBA stars in the US, and and international soccer stars. Dikembe Mutombo is one of the best African basketball players to ever play the game. Mutombo is well known for humanitarian projects in his home country. Bismack BiyomboChristian Eyenga, and Emmanuel Mudiay are others who gained significant international attention in basketball. Several DRC soccer athletes—including strikers Romelu Lukaku, Yannick Bolasie, and Dieumerci Mbokani, have gained prominence in world world’s most popular sport. The DRC has twice won the African Cup of Nations football tournament.

The DRC’s women's national volleyball team recently qualified for the 2021 Women's African Nations Volleyball Championship. The country featured a national team in beach volleyball that competed at the 2018–2020 CAVB Beach Volleyball Continental Cup in both the women's and the men's section.