The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is easily one of the biggest countries in Africa. Yet, many of us don’t know half of the things that make this country so special! It’s also one of several areas in Africa to have held the name of “Congo,” too – so we’re here to resolve some of the confusion. Here are some fun facts about the Democratic Republic of Congo!
1. It is Africa’s second-largest country.
As mentioned, the Democratic Republic of Congo (or DRC) is indeed one of the biggest countries in Africa. In fact, it is the second-largest country in Africa by land area! It covers about 2.3 million square kilometers – that’s about 888,034 square miles.
2. It can be found in Central Africa.
The DRC is located in Central Africa and is bordered by nine other countries. The Central African Republic, Angola, Burundi, South Sudan, Rwanda, the Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia border it.
3. Kinshasa is the capital of the country.
The capital city of the DRC is Kinshasa. It is also the largest city in the country.
4. There are hundreds of languages spoken here.
The DRC is known for being a very linguistically diverse country! Over 200 languages are spoken there! French is the official language used in government and education.
5. The DRC has a very rich biodiversity.
Some of the incredible biodiversity across the DRC includes the Congo Basin rainforest, which is the second-largest rainforest in the world after the Amazon! This forest is home to multiple species, including endangered mountain gorillas.
6. It wasn’t always known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Believe it or not, the Democratic Republic of Congo is actually a modern name for the country! It was known as Zaire from 1971 to 1997 under the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko.
7. It was a colonized country for a long time.
Before gaining independence, the DRC was a Belgian colony. Back then, it was known as the Belgian Congo. The colonial period saw the exploitation of its resources, particularly rubber and minerals. The DRC eventually gained independence from Belgium in 1960.
8. The country is filled with natural resources.
The DRC is known for its abundance of natural resources, including minerals like cobalt, copper, and diamonds. However, the exploitation of these resources has been filled with conflict and corruption.
9. The DRC’s history is filled with conflicts.
The DRC is no stranger to periods of conflict and even civil war. The conflicts have often been linked to political instability, resource disputes, and more.
The United Nations, or UN, has had one of its largest peacekeeping missions with the DRC. MONUSCO, or the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been in place since the early 2000s, aiming to stabilize the region and promote peace.
10. Patrice Lumumba played an important role in the country’s independence.
Patrice Lumumba was an essential figure in the DRC’s struggle for independence. He later became the country’s first democratically elected Prime Minister in 1960. Tragically, he was assassinated later that year.
11. The DRC has had struggles with the Ebola virus.
The DRC has experienced several outbreaks of the Ebola virus. It has been a real challenge for public health and medical infrastructures within the country. It’s thought hundreds of people have died unnecessarily as a result of outbreaks as recently as 2020.
FAQs about the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Are Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo the same thing?
Officially, the country is known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but many simply call it Congo. However, they are not the same nation as their neighboring country, the Republic of Congo. Confused yet?
Which Congo speaks French?
French is one of the official languages of the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, it plays host to many other languages spoken by citizens, as mentioned above.
Was the DRC a French Colony?
France was certainly in control of the DRC for some time during its establishment, leading up to the country's eventual declaration of independence in 1960.
Do you know any interesting facts about the Democratic Republic of the Congo? Share them in the comments below!