Democratic Republic Of Congo Facts: Must Read Before You Visit! | Kidadl


Democratic Republic Of Congo Facts: Must Read Before You Visit!

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Are you planning a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo?

When you think of DR Congo, you probably envision a tribal life dripped in poverty. Don't limit yourself to this cliched vision. Here's an article that showcases how much more the Republic of the Congo has to offer and all the things that you must note before planning your trip.

In terms of the size of African countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo is second only to Algeria. This makes it the second-largest country in Africa and the largest in central Africa. This Central African Republic was once known as Zaire, and though it had a troubled past, it is much underrated as a tourist place.

The country is in the heart of central Africa and shares its borders with nine countries. The Congo River separates DR Congo and the Republic of Congo on the northwest. In the north, the country shares a border with the Central African Republic. The country shares its eastern borders with South Sudan, Rwanda, and Burundi. Lake Albert separates Uganda from the Republic of the Congo. In the south, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola are Congo's neighbors. The country also has a small coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.

The people here speak over 250 languages and dialects, of which French is the official language. The inhabitants of Congo represent over 200 African ethnic groups. People here are polite, warm, and friendly and they maintain a strong focus on family. Despite Congo being one of the most resource-rich countries in Africa, many citizens throughout the entire country continue to live in extreme poverty.

Taking into account Congo's history as a European colony, it isn't too surprising to note that the Congolese people often douse their food with mayonnaise.

DR Congo is home to Africa's oldest national park; the Virunga National Park. If you're lucky, you'll be able to spot rare mountain gorillas along with lions and elephants in this park. The Okapi, or forest giraffe, with the structure of a deer and a zebra's stripes, is another rare animal found only in Congo. Other places that find a spot on tourist itineraries include Garamba National Park and the Congo River. This is the world's deepest river.

For a country with vast natural resources, phenomenal wildlife, and a welcoming culture, the day isn't too far when the Democratic Republic of Congo will be on every traveler's bucket list.

Once you have finished reading this article about DR Congo, why not discover more about the population of the Republic of Ireland, and understand why do we celebrate republic day.

Early History Of Democratic Republic Of Congo

While the land was populated more than 80,000 years ago, the early history of the Congo can be said to date back to the 14th century when it was known as the Kingdom of Kongo. Between the 16th and 17th centuries, British, Portuguese, Dutch, and French merchants used Congo as a base for the slave trade. In the 1870s, a private venture was set up by the Belgian king, Leopold II, to colonize the Kingdom of Kongo.

And then, it became the property of Leopold II. From 1869-1908, the Congo Free State was a privately controlled state with Leopold as the sole chairman and shareholder of the controlling non-governmental organization, the Association Internationale Africaine.

The Congo Free State

It was 1885 when Leopold II announced the establishment of the Congo Free State. With money loaned by the Belgian government, Leopold financed several projects for the 'so-called' development of the region. However, his reign became infamous for its brutality and tyranny over indigenous people.

The Congo was rich in several natural resources, including ivory and rubber. In a bid to make himself richer, Leopold II subjected the people of the Congo to forced labor. More than half the population of Congo died as a result of malnutrition and punishment. Several others died from torture and disease. Many of those who survived years of forced labor and torture were punished by amputating a hand or foot, or in some cases, both.

The people revolted and fought back. Several rebellions were put down mercilessly. However, news of the oppression did get out, and many European people began speaking out about the abuse. There were many protests and demonstrations. As a result, Leopold II was forced to hand over the reins of his 'private' colony.

In 1908, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was handed over to Belgium and renamed the Belgian Congo. It remained a colony until the Democratic Republic of the Congo achieved independence in 1960.

The DRC was also shaken by the impact of World War II. With the German invasion of Belgium in 1940, Congo was dragged into the world war and remained in conflict even after Belgium's surrender. This too tainted the pages of Congo's history with blood!

Democratic Republic of Congo is second only to Algeria

Political Crisis In Democratic Republic Of Congo

Since its emergence, the Republic of the Congo has been mired in political crisis. Civil wars continued from 1998-2003, and they were called the Second Congo War or Africa's World War. The war began in August 1998 and ended with an agreement of power-sharing between opposition leaders. The transitional constitution adopted in 2003 brought together people from the previous government, rebel groups, the opposition, and civil organizations. This was revised in 2005 and promulgated in 2006. According to this, the president and the prime minister must share power, and the president can serve for no longer than two five-year terms.

Congo has had two presidents since it became the Democratic Republic of Congo. Joseph Kabila was the president of the Congo from 2006-2018. Following elections in 2018, Félix Tshisekedi was named the President of DR Congo in 2019. Many allies of Joseph Kabila continued to hold key positions until April 2021, when the last remaining supporters of Joseph Kabila were ousted from the government. The current prime minister of Congo is Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde.

Civil Wars In Democratic Republic Of Congo

Congolese citizens have never found peace. The civil war in the region started back in 1996 and has continued ever since.

The first civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was fought between 1996 and 1997.

Tensions from the war in neighboring Rwanda spilled over into the region. The Rwandan Hutu militia forces began using Hutu refugee camps in eastern Congo as their base. In retaliation, the Rwandan forces attacked a number of refugee camps around the intersection of the Rwandan, Congolese, and Burundi borders.

The Hutu militia forces joined hands with the Zairian armed forces in eastern Zaire to fight against the Congolese ethnic Tutsis. In turn, the Congolese ethnic Tutsis formed their own militia. In November 1996, when the massacres escalated, the Tutsi militia rose in rebellion. They were joined by several other militia factions and won support from several countries. The coalition came to be known as the Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre (AFDL).

The AFDL made significant gains in early 1997 and peace talks were planned for May of the same year. However, the talks failed and Laurent Kabila named himself president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Second Congo War started barely a year later in 1998 and continued till 2003.

President Kabila was unable to manage the country and soon lost his allies. A rebel movement named the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) emerged under the leadership of Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba. Attacks started in 1998, and soon, other countries like Angola, Namibia, and Zimbabwe joined in. A ceasefire was signed in July 1999 between six African countries involved in the war, but it broke down within a few months.

President Kabila was assassinated by his bodyguard in 2001. He was succeeded by his son. Joseph Kabila called for peace talks to end the war and was partly successful when he was able to break a deal between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Ethnic clashes in the northern and eastern parts of the country reignited the conflict in January 2002. Talks were held between Kabila and the rebel leaders for six weeks between April and May, and in June a peace accord was signed. By June 2003, all foreign armies except the Rwandan army had left Congo.

A transitional government governed DR Congo between July 2003 and July 2006. In July 2006, the country adopted a new constitution and held its first multi-party election. This too was a controversial one. A second election was held in October 2006, following which, Joseph, the son of Laurent Kabila, was named as the President.

Joseph Kabila was re-elected as the president of DR Congo in December 2011. The announcement of the results was followed by violence in Kinshasa and Mbuji-Mayi as the opposing party raised claims of irregularities in the voter results. The opposition's candidate, Etienne Tshisekedi, announced an intention to name himself the President.

By January 2015, protests led by the opposition leader had broken out once again at the University of Kinshasa. This was triggered by an announcement that proposed Kabila stay as a president of Congo until a national census was conducted. In September 2016, violent protests once again claimed a number of innocent lives.

As of 2018, there were over 120 armed groups in DR Congo. Regional governments have often been accused of supporting these groups and inciting violence against the national army. The United Nations has deployed the largest UN peacekeeping troops in the DRC. More than 30 nations have contributed military and police personnel to Congo for peacekeeping. Interestingly, India is the single largest contributor on this front.

Despite the presence of the United Nations, wars between factions and attacks on civilians in the entire democratic republic country have continued to be an unfortunately frequent occurrence.

Congo has definitely seen some of the deadliest conflicts in the Congo Basin, but the country is still a beautiful country to visit. From a tropical rainforest in national parks like the Virunga National Park and an active volcano to the Congo River, the Atlantic Ocean coastline, there's plenty to see and do here. This country is also blessed with gem diamonds, which are quite an attraction for shoppers.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked these facts about Democratic Republic of Congo then why not take a look at Dominican republic facts, or Dominican republic culture facts.

Written By
Joan Agie

<p>With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.</p>

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