Democratic Republic of the Congo


The Democratic Republic of the Congo Listen (in Kikongo ya leta Repubilika ya Kongo Demokratiki, in Swahili Jamhuri ya Kidemokrasia ya Kongo, in Lingala Republíki ya Kongó Demokratíki, in Tshiluba Ditunga dia Kongu wa Mungalaata) is a country in Central Africa. It is the fourth most populous country in Africa (behind Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt) as well as the most populous French-speaking country. The country is also called more simply Congo, or more often RDC, Congo-Kinshasa or RD Congo to differentiate it from the neighboring Republic of Congo, itself called “Congo-Brazzaville” for the same reason. From 1908 to 1960, this former colony was called the Belgian Congo but also “Congo-Léopoldville” until 1966, when the name of the capital was changed to Kinshasa. With Zairianization, the country was called Zaire from 1971 to 1997.

The DRC is the second largest country in Africa after Algeria. It stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the eastern plateau and corresponds to most of the Congo River basin. The north of the country is one of the largest areas of equatorial forest in the world, the east of the country borders the great East African rift, area of ​​mountains, hills, Great Lakes but also volcanoes. The south and the center, domain of wooded savannas, form a high plateau rich in minerals. In the far west, some 40 kilometers north of the mouth of the Congo River stretches a coastline over the Atlantic Ocean. The country shares its borders with the enclave of Cabinda (Angola) to the west-southwest, the Republic of Congo to the west, the Central African Republic to the north, South Sudan to the northeast, Uganda to the east-northeast, Rwanda and Burundi to the east, Tanzania to the east-southeast, Zambia to the south-southeast and Angola to the southwest5. The DRC has been a member of the International Organization of La Francophonie since 1977. Several hundred ethnicities make up the country's population; French is the official language and four Bantu languages ​​(Lingala, Kikongo ya leta (also called "Kikongo" outside of central Kongo), Swahili and Tshiluba) have the status of national languages. The economy is mainly based on the primary sector (agriculture and mining). The country is unstable and, after two civil wars, it has seen the resurgence of several militias since 2016.


The oldest traces of settlement in the Congo are associated with a preacheulean, discovered on the archaeological sites of Mulundwa in Katanga, Katanda  and Sanga in Kivu. Cut pebbles or choppers have an estimated age of over 200,000 years, without it being possible to be more precise today. The territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was formerly populated only by hunter-collectors, perhaps in part ancestors of the present-day Pygmy peoples. Between the traces of a preacheulean and the arrival of the first villagers, the Congo will always be occupied by nomadic groups, hunter-collectors, stonemasons, from different cultures.The Acheulean is attested by numerous isolated finds of bifaces and cleavers as well as by the site of La Kamoa in Katanga. During the second millennium BC. AD, the north of equatorial Africa saw a wave of migrations of food-producing populations, Neolithic, speaking for some of the Bantu languages. Between –3500 and –2000, a first village occupation whose epicenter was in southern Cameroon, led to the installation of a Neolithic mode of production in the north and west of central Africa. In Congo, the first traces of these populations materialize around –2600 by the so-called “Imbonga tradition” near Mbandaka and Lake Tumba, and by the “Ngovo tradition” in lower Congo from –2300. On the other side of the country, in Kivu, we see the emergence of villages of the “Urewe tradition”.

These villages are only the western extension of communities producing food, metallurgists, settled mainly in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, western Kenya and Tanzania; the oldest traces there are dated to –2600.

Iron metallurgy develops independently at these facilities, the oldest traces can be found in central Africa in the north-west (south-Cameroon and the Bouar area in the Central African Republic), and in the north-east (interlacustrine region). In Congo-Kinshasa, iron is not known in the region occupied by the Imbonga tradition; it was not until later, between the 7th and 5th centuries BC. AD that we will work this metal (sites of Pikunda and Munda) . Around the same time, the lower Congo experienced its first iron production activities within the framework of the Kay Ladio tradition, which over time followed the Ngovo tradition. In Kivu, from the installation of the first village communities, it is likely that iron is present, as evidenced by the many well-known iron reduction furnaces in Rwanda and Burundi. Later, as German research on the tributaries of the Congo River indicates, these first populations will slowly colonize the heart of the equatorial forest by following the axes of the rivers from downstream to upstream; Spanish studies in Ituri suggest that it is necessary to wait until –800 to meet the first villages in certain sectors of the forest.

It seems that the phases of Bantu expansion were separated by a general collapse of the population between 400 and 600 AD. Coinciding with wetter climatic conditions, the collapse may have been favored by a prolonged epidemic. This demographic collapse was followed by a major resettlement centuries later. Archaeological and paleogenetic research shows that the initial wave of communities supposedly speaking Bantu languages ​​in the Ancient Iron Age largely disappeared from throughout the Congo rainforest region by around 600 CE, with only a few remaining. dispersed populations. The population decline was rapid between ~ 400 and 600 CE, then continued at a slower pace, eventually culminating in about 400 years of very limited sedentary activity (~ 600 to 1000 CE) before that a second wave of immigration and new settlements developed during the late Iron Age.

Kingdoms and empires

Main article: History of the pre-colonial Congo (DRC).

Map of the Kingdom of Kongo in 1711.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages, different populations, then organized into chiefdoms, were built up into kingdoms (Luba, Kuba, Lunda, Kongo, etc.) which, for some, saw their heyday correspond to the first contacts with the Europeans of the fifteenth century. . This period is marked by different trading kingdoms, trading with the slavers on the coast and with each other within the continent. [Ref. Desired] Some kingdoms extend over several thousand kilometers and have trade networks beyond their borders. Trade is carried out by portage or river. These populations did not know of private property, the land cultivated in groups is not sold, the different kingdoms have no exact borders (the territory of a small ethnic group includes about 5,000 km2).





The economy is essentially agricultural (70% of the workforce) or export oriented. Minerals are great resources. The economy has been severely hit by corruption and mismanagement since 1977. This explains the high rate of smuggling, illegal exports and clandestine mining activity. Government revenues and exports have fallen sharply over the past 40 years. The economy was ravaged by war (1997-2005: 5 million dead). The biggest trading partner has been China since 2010 (import, export, credit). Since the Belgian colonization, the economy has been strongly oriented towards exports, in particular thanks to mining products. No high-tech industry was developed by the colonizers or the governments of independent Congo. For example, copper is extracted in large quantities, but it must be exported to be processed, before coming back imported in finished forms (cables, electric wires, etc.). Most of the population then remained active in agriculture, although cultivated land represented only 3% of the territory. Mobutu Sese Seko’s political elite has embezzled a lot of money from state coffers. Indeed, all senior Mobutist officials had assets in almost all industrialized countries and made Congo / Zaire one of the most indebted countries in Africa. In detail, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has an important potential of natural and mineral resources. However, its economy has slowed down drastically since the mid-1980s due to embezzlement. Agriculture remains the main sector of the economy. The main agricultural resources are coffee, wood (afromosia, ebony, wenge, iroko, sapelli, sipro, tiama, tola, kambala, lifaki, etc.) and rubber.

Boulevard du 30 Juin, Kinshasa

The DRC is embarking on the establishment of special economic zones to encourage the revival of its industry. The first SEZ should see the light of day in 2012 in the Kinshasa municipality of N'Sélé and will be devoted to agro-industries. The Congolese authorities are already planning to open another dedicated to mining industries (in Katanga) and a third dedicated to cement factories (in Bas-Congo).

The main copper and cobalt operations are dominated by Gécamines and its partners. Industrial diamond is mined by MIBA. But in a country ravaged by civil war, much of the exploitation and export of mining products is carried out clandestinely.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is believed to hold 10% of the world's known gold reserves. Mined in surface mines such as near Mongbwalu, the ore is the object of all trafficking. Randgold Resources, a South African company, has just started construction of one of Africa's largest gold mines in the same region.


Main article: Congolese cuisine.

Braised Malangwa accompanied by grilled plantain and chikwangue. The main ingredients of Congolese cuisine are: fish, meat, sweet potato, beans, tomato, rice, fufu, corn, sorghum, plantains and cassava almost always accompanied by sauces typical of each region. Apart from the peeled fruits, we do not eat raw, the climate being conducive to parasites. Cassava leaves (pondu) are eaten alone, as an accompaniment or used for cooking. The most common dish is muambe, chicken with crushed cassava leaves (sometimes with peanuts), and palm oil, accompanied by rice or plantains (makemba)


Mountain tourism: the DRC has on its territory the third highest peak in Africa, covered with eternal snow, named Pic Marguerite104, located in the Ruwenzori massif. It rises to 5,119 meters, which places it just behind Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya. Seaside tourism: the town of Muanda, located in the west of the DRC, has a large beach with several hotels by the sea.


Football is very popular in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The national football team has twice won the African Cup of Nations (1968 and 1974). She has twice won the African Nations Championship (2009 and 2016). She finished third in the 1998 African Cup of Nations and the 2015 African Cup of Nations. Two Congolese clubs won the African Champions League: TP Mazembe in 1967, 1968, 2009, 2010 and 2015 and AS Vita Club in 1973. Two clubs won the African Cup Winners' Cup: TP Mazembe in 1980 and DC Motema Pembe from Kinshasa in 1994. In 2010, TP Mazembe became the first club non-European or South American to reach the final of the Club World Cup. The very famous boxing fight of October 30, 1974 between Mohamed Ali and George Foreman, counting for the title of heavyweight world champion in English boxing took place in the city of Kinshasa at the Tata Raphaël stadium.


Main article: Culture of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Hemba ancestor figure.

Congolese culture is very diverse because Congo-Kinshasa is made up of a hundred ethnic groups, mostly Bantu, and extends from the mouth of the Congo River, then in the forest of the Congo Basin to the region. of the Great Lakes and the savannah.

Since the end of the 19th century, the traditional lifestyles of the region have changed due to colonialism, the struggle for independence, the long reign of Mobutu, and recently, the First and Second Congo Wars. Despite this, Congolese traditions and culture have kept their particularities.

The Retrospective Library of the Rd-Congo: 1960-2004, published by the Presses de la Médiathèque francophone de la Funa, lists more than 9,000 bibliographic records, placing the Democratic Republic of the Congo among the first countries of French-speaking Africa in the publication of works.


Main article: Languages ​​in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

French is constantly evolving everywhere in the Congo; the capital of Congo, Kinshasa, had 87% of French speakers in 2008, this number rose to 92% in 201098. The country is part of the International Organization of the Francophonie, as well as of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie.

The population of Congo speaks between 200 and more than 400 languages ​​according to the classification5. Linguistically, it is one of the most multilingual countries in all of Africa. Indeed, the Linguistic Atlas of Congo Kinshasa lists 221 languages ​​for a total population (estimated in 1996) of 42.2 million inhabitants, that is to say one language for every 190,000 speakers. However languages ​​belong to the Bantu family alone and they are spoken by over 80% of the Congolese population. The other languages ​​are represented by the Nilo-Saharan family. All Congolese speak one of some 200 “ethnic” languages ​​5, or even more than 400 dialects. In addition to French, the official language, the law recognizes four national languages: lingala, swahili, kikongo ya leta (also called "kikongo" outside central Kongo) and tshiluba. Most Congolese speak several languages.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is the second French-speaking country in the world, behind France. A growing minority is fluent in French (33 million Congolese can read and write it, according to an OIF estimate in 2014, or 47% of the country's population99). Indeed, the official language, French is the main language of education, and the language of administration, media and business. The French of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a former Belgian colony, borrowed a lot from French in Belgium and from Walloon. He also developed specific characters and numerous neologisms.

36 million Congolese use Lingala as their first or second language, it is also spoken in Congo-Brazzaville, Central African Republic and Angola, which can facilitate communications to these countries. Lingala is thus one of the great African languages, although it is largely unknown outside the continent. Lingala, spoken initially by the Ngala, spread because it was the language most spoken by the military and missionaries during Belgian colonization. It reached its peak under Mobutu, because it was the language of power and the very popular music of Kinshasa. Swahili, which has 10 million speakers in the Congo but is also spoken in many East African countries, was introduced to the Congo before colonization through trade, particularly that of slave traders. . The Kabila favored this language spoken in their region of origin and it is the only one with French to appear on banknotes. Kikongo ya leta (also called "Kikongo" outside of central Kongo) is a language of the two Congo which emerged during the Belgian and French colonizations. Towards the border areas of Cabinda and Angola, the country has a few thousand Portuguese speakers, but their exact number is unknown. A vestige of Belgian colonization, Dutch, which was the second administrative language of the Belgian Congo from 1908 to 1960, is only spoken by some 100,000 to 250,000 people (over 200,000 in 1980), most often over the age of 60−65 years, but also by younger people, scattered throughout the territory, who are most often half-breeds, or retirees from the former colonial administration, often mixed-race. Dutch, whose statistics are difficult to establish, becomes different from the Dutch spoken in Belgium, or the Netherlands, because it is not taught in the country. Isolated from the Dutch spoken in Belgium, or the Netherlands, the Dutch spoken in the DRC of Congo tends to have new words Lingala, French, or English, in its vocabulary, and especially since 198


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