Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Formerly established as a Belgium colony in 1908 and known as the Belgium Congo, independence was granted on 30 June 1960, and the country became the Republic of Congo. These early years of independence were marred by serious conflict, and in a 1965 coup Mobutu Sese Seko seized power and changed the name to Zaire. Mobutu retained this status through 32 years of brutal rule. He was finally ousted in 1997 by Laurent Kabila who renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Laurent Kabila was assassinated in 2001, and his son Joseph Kabila took over as head of state.
Early archeological history dates back about 10,000 years. In the 7th and 8th centuries the land became populated by migrating Bantus from Nigeria. The term Bantu covers a close linguistic grouping of over 400 African ethnic groups widely spread throughout Africa.
The capital city is Kinshasa, and the official language is French. There are over 200 ethnic groups, the majority being Bantu. The four largest tribes who comprise 45% of the population are the Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all linguistically Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande. The currency is the Congolese franc.
The DRC is a vast central African country that is traversed by the mighty Congo River. The country is situated north of Angola and Zambia, and Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda to the east. The equator runs through the upper third of the country. There is about 23 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean on the west where the border meets Angola.
The surface area is 905, 568 square miles which is about one quarter the size of the USA as a comparison. The climate is tropical, hot and humid in the north and cooler and drier towards the south. Much of the basin is comprised of tropical rain forest and the bio-diversity is amongst the largest in Africa. Like Rwanda and Burundi, the DRC is also home to the endangered mountain gorilla.
Arable land is only 2,86% and the main agricultural products are coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, quinine, cassava, bananas and corn. The country is endowed with vast potential wealth whose utilization has been hampered by many years of political turmoil, the main natural resources are cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, oil, natural diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal and timber.
The total population is just under 63,0 million people and the collective name for the many ethnic tribes that make up the citizenry is Congolese.
The adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is estimated at 4,2% and at least 1,1 million people are thought to be infected. The current estimated fertility rate is 6 children per woman.