Democratic Republic of Congo

The Salvation Army in the Democratic Republic of Congo planted its first corps in 1934. After a long time of turmoil, armed conflicts continue to be daily occurrences, especially in the eastern part of the country. IOS supports projects in the fields of education, healthcare and work and income.

General

Capital: Kinshasa
Surface area: 2.344.858 km²
Number of inhabitants: 79 million
Language: French, Lingala, Kikongo, Swahili, Tshiluba
Religion: Christianity, Islam
Currency: Congolese Franc (CDF)
Government Form: Presidential Republic 

Development

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has a score of 0.435 on the Human Development Index (HDI). This is a composite number that includes numbers pertaining to life expectancy, education and income per capita. This number is used to rank countries in four levels of human development. The higher these factors, the higher the index number. According to this index, the country is ranked in the 176thplace out of the 186 countries. That is a very low position on the index which means DRC is one of the least developed countries in the world. This is also apparent in the daily lives of the Congolese people. Only 4% of people in the DRC have access to the internet on a daily basis. (source: CIA Factbook)

History

The original inhabitants of the Republic of the Congo are the Pygmies. At the beginning of the 15th century, the first settlers shipped many Congolese to the United States to be sold as slaves. Between 1885 and 1908, the country was a private property owned by the Belgian king Leopold II. Exploitation, torture and the removal of hands and feet were happening on a daily basis. As a result of alarmed press releases about the way King Leopold II was treating his people and an international intervention, the country became a Belgian colony in 1908. Only in 1960, Congo became fully independent. (source: landenweb)  

Politics and Economy

After independence, Joseph Kasavubu was the first president to be elected by the parliament, but the population wasn’t too happy with that. Only a few days after independence a riot broke out among the army and the police. This led to a civil war, which eventually lasted until November 1965, after which Joseph Désiré Mobutu came to power. In 1971, Mobutu changed the name of the country in Zaire. In 1994, the civil war in Rwanda started a major refugee flow to Zaire, which was the beginning of a war between the Banyamulenge (Congolese Tutsi) and the Zaire army. Mobutu fled from Kinshasa to Morocco and died there from a severe illness in September 1997. In the meantime, an alliance of resistance movements was set up named AFDL (Alliance of Democratic Forces for Liberation). The chairman of the AFDL, Kabila, changed the name of the country in the Democratic Republic of Congo and proclaimed himself president. Ever since his reign started, Joseph Kabila has been struggling with confrontational wars in East Congo and Uganda and Rwanda. After various unsuccessful attempts, peace talks by President Chiluba of Zambia eventually led to the Lusaka agreement, signed by the six participating countries that were signed and by the three rebel movements. But only after the agreement was signed in 2003, a new transitional government was created. The ministers appointed were part of former rebel groups, the former government, the former political opposition and civil society. In 2005, a new constitution was formulated and in 2006, presidential and parliamentary elections were held in which Kabila won again. In 2008, fights started with Hutu militias from Rwanda, whom used to be an old ally. Nowadays, DRC is still struggling with unrest, shootings and internally displaced people. Despite UN interventions, rebel groups are still active. In recent years two leaders of rebel groups have been sentenced to the International Criminal Court in The Hague because of war crimes. Despite controversial presidential elections, Kabila is still in power. (source: landenweb)  

Culture

The tropical rainforest in Congo supplies various types of precious hardwoods, including mahogany and ebony. The country has Africa's oldest national park which is something the Congolese are very proud of. Also, music and traditional dance are part of the culture, especially for people who follow an indigenous religion.