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Countries > Congo (Zaire) Congo (Zaire) Flag

Languages   13 languages are spoken in Congo (Zaire). We have 374 products available for 10 of those languages.

Capital: Kinshasa
Population: 43,901,000
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Congo (Zaire) Map


Location: Central Africa, northeast of Angola

Geographic coordinates: 0 00 N, 25 00 E

Map references: Africa

total: 2,345,410 sq km
land: 2,267,600 sq km
water : 77,810 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly less than one-fourth the size of US

Land boundaries:
total : 10,271 km
border countries: Angola 2,511 km, Burundi 233 km, Central African Republic 1,577 km, Republic of the Congo 2,410 km, Rwanda 217 km, Sudan 628 km, Uganda 765 km, Zambia 1,930 km

Coastline: 37 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone : boundaries with neighbors
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical; hot and humid in equatorial river basin; cooler and drier in southern highlands; cooler and wetter in eastern highlands; north of Equator - wet season April to October, dry season December to February; south of Equator - wet season November to March, dry season April to October

Terrain: vast central basin is a low-lying plateau; mountains in east

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Margherita Peak (Mount Stanley) 5,110 m

Natural resources: cobalt, copper, cadmium, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, germanium, uranium, radium, bauxite, iron ore, coal, hydropower potential

Land use:
arable land : 3%
permanent crops:1%
other:96% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land: 110 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards: periodic droughts in south; Congo River floods (seasonal); in the east, in the Great Rift Valley, there are active volcanoes

Environment - current issues: poaching threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; deforestation; refugees who arrived in mid-1994 were responsible for significant deforestation, soil erosion, and wildlife poaching in the eastern part of the country (most of those refugees were repatriated in November and December 1996)

Environment - international agreements:
party to : Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Desertification, Environmental Modification, Tropical Timber 94

Geography - note: straddles Equator; very narrow strip of land that controls the lower Congo river and is only outlet to South Atlantic Ocean; dense tropical rain forest in central river basin and eastern highlands


Population: 55,225,478
estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years : 48.2% (male 13,369,493; female 13,256,174)
15-64 years: 49.3% (male 13,343,303; female 13,860,996)
65 years and over: 2.5% (male 581,568; female 813,944) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:2.79% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:45.55 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate: 14.93 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate: -2.75 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: inone million refugees fled into Zaire (now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DROC) in 1994 as a result of the ethnic fighting in Rwanda; fighting in the DROC between rebels and government forces in October 1996 caused 875,000 refugees to return to Rwanda in late 1996 and early 1997 and additional refugees have returned in subsequent years; fighting between the Congolese government and Uganda- and Rwanda-backed Congolese rebels spawned a regional war in DROC in August 1998, which left 1.8 million Congolese displaced in DROC and caused 300,000 Congolese refugees to flee to surrounding countries (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population:0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 98.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 49.13 years
male: 47.19 years
female:51.13 years (2002 est.)

Total fertility rate:6.77 children born/woman (2002 est.)

noun : Congolese (singular and plural)
adjective: Congolese or Congo

Ethnic groups: over 200 African ethnic groups of which the majority are Bantu; the four largest tribes - Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic) make up about 45% of the population

Religions: Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other syncretic sects and traditional beliefs 10%

Languages: French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba

definition: age 15 and over can read and write in French, Lingala, Kingwana, or Tshiluba
total population: 77.3%
male: 86.6%
female: 67.7% (1995 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: Democratic Republic of the Congo
conventional short form: none
local long form: Republique Democratique du Congo
local short form: none
former : Belgian Congo, Congo/Leopoldville, Congo/Kinshasa, Zaire

Data code: CG

Government type: republic with a strong presidential system

National capital: Kinshasa

Administrative divisions: 10 provinces (provinces, singular - province) and one city* (ville); Bandundu, Bas-Congo, Equateur, Kasai-Occidental, Kasai-Oriental, Katanga, Kinshasa*, Maniema, Nord-Kivu, Orientale, Sud-Kivu

Independence: 30 June 1960 (from Belgium)

National holiday: Anniversary of the Regime (Second Republic), 24 November (1965)

Constitution: 24 June 1967, amended August 1974, revised 15 February 1978, amended April 1990; transitional constitution promulgated in April 1994; in November 1998, a draft constitution was approved by former President Laurent KABILA but it was not ratified by a national referendum; one outcome of the ongoing inter-Congolese dialogue is to be a new constitution

Legal system: based on Belgian civil law system and tribal law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Joseph KABILA (since 26 January 2001); note - following the assassination of his father, Laurent Desire KABILA, on 16 January 2001, Joseph KABILA succeeded to the presidency; the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Joseph KABILA (since 26 January 2001); note - following the assassination of his father, Laurent Desire KABILA, on 16 January 2001, Joseph KABILA succeeded to the presidency; the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet : National Executive Council, appointed by the president
elections: before Laurent Desire KABILA seized power on 16 May 1997, the president was elected by popular vote for a seven-year term; election last held 29 July 1984 (next was scheduled to be held in May 1997); formerly, there was also a prime minister who was elected by the High Council of the Republic; note - elections were not held in 1991 as called for by the constitution
note: Marshal MOBUTU Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga was president from 24 November 1965 until forced into exile on 16 May 1997 when his government was overthrown militarily by Laurent Desire KABILA; KABILA immediately assumed governing authority and pledged to hold elections by April 1999, but, in December 1998, announced that elections would be postponed until all foreign military forces attempting to topple the government had withdrawn from the country; KABILA was assassinated in January 2001 and was succeeded by his son Joseph KABILA
election results: results of the last election were: MOBUTU Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga reelected president in 1984 without opposition

Legislative branch: a 300-member Transitional Constituent Assembly established in August 2000
elections: NA; members of the Transitional Constituent Assembly were appointed by former President Laurent Desire KABILA

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Supreme)

Political parties and leaders: Democratic Social Christian Party or PDSC [Andre BO-BOLIKO]; Forces for Renovation for Union and Solidarity or FONUS [Joseph OLENGHANKOY]; National Congolese Lumumbist Movement or MNC [Francois LUMUMBA]; Popular Movement of the Revolution or MPR [three factions: MPR-Fait Prive (Catherine NZUZI wa Mbombo); MPR/Vunduawe (Felix VUNDUAWE); MPR/Mananga (MANANGA Dintoka Mpholo)]; Unified Lumumbast Party or PALU [Antoine GIZENGA]; Union for Democracy and Social Progress or UDPS [Etienne TSHISEKEDI wa Mulumba]; Union of Federalists and Independent Republicans or UFERI [two factions: UFERI (Lokambo OMOKOKO); UFERI/OR (Adolph Kishwe MAYA)]

International organization participation: ACCT, ACP, AfDB, CCC, CEEAC, CEPGL, ECA, FAO, G-19, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAU, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission : Ambassador Faida MITIFU
chancery: 1800 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 234-7690, 7691
FAX: [1] (202) 686-3631

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission : Ambassador Aubrey HOOKS
embassy: 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, Kinshasa
mailing address: Unit 31550, APO AE 09828
telephone: [243] (12) 21533 through 21535
FAX: [243] (88) 43805, ext. 2308 or 43467

Flag description: light blue with a large yellow five-pointed star in the center and a columnar arrangement of six small yellow five-pointed stars along the hoist side


Economy - overview: The economy of Democratic Republic of the Congo has continued to disintegrate, although former Prime Minister KENGO had had some success in slowing the rate of economic decline. While meaningful economic figures are difficult to come by, the high rate of inflation, chronic large government deficits, and plunging mineral production have made it one of the world's poorest countries. Most formal transactions are conducted in hard currency as indigenous bank notes have lost almost all value, and a barter economy now flourishes in all but the largest cities. During the bitter civil strive of 1996-97 most individuals and families have hung on grimly through subsistence farming and petty trade. The new KABILA government will be hard pressed to meet its financial obligations to the IMF or to put in place the financial measures advocated by it. Improved political stability would boost the country's long-term potential to effectively exploit its vast mineral and agricultural resources.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $32 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: -4% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $590 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 54%
industry: 9%
services: 37% (1999 est.)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 358% (2001 est.)

Labor force:
total: 14.51 million (1993 est.)
by occupation : agriculture 65%, industry 16%, services 19% (1991 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $269 million
expenditures : $244 million, including capital expenditures of $24 million (1996 est.)

Industries: mining, mineral processing, consumer products (including textiles, footwear, cigarettes, processed foods and beverages), cement, diamonds

Industrial production growth rate: NA

Electricity - capacity: 2.83 million kW (1994)

Electricity - production: 5.268 billion kWh (1999)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 4.55 billion kWh (1999)

Agriculture - products: coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, quinine, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, bananas, root crops, corn, fruits; wood products

total value : $750 million (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
commodities: diamonds, copper, coffee, cobalt, crude oil
partners: Benelux 62%, US 18%, South Africa, Finland, Italy (1999)

total value: $1.024 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
commodities : consumer goods, foodstuffs, mining and other machinery, transport equipment, fuels
partners: South Africa 28%, Benelux 14%, Nigeria 9%, Kenya 7%, China (1999)

Debt - external: $12.9 billion (2000 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: $195.3 million (1995)

Currency: Congolese franc (CDF)

Exchange rates: Congolese francs per US dollar - 305 (January 2002), 21.82 (2000), 4.02 (1999), 1.61 (1998), 1.31 (1997)
note: on 30 June 1998 the Congolese franc was introduced, replacing the new zaire

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones: 21,000 (1997)

Telephone system:
domestic : barely adequate wire and microwave radio relay service in and between urban areas; domestic satellite system with 14 earth stations
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 3, FM 11, shortwave 2 (2001)

Radios: 18.03 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 4 (2001)

Televisions: 6.478 million (1997)


total: 5,138 km (1995); note - severely reduced trackage in use because of civil strife
narrow gauge: 3,987 km 1.067-m gauge (858 km electrified); 125 km 1.000-m gauge; 1,026 km 0.600-m gauge

total : 157,000 km (including 30 km of expressways)(1996)
paved:NA km
unpaved:NA km

Waterways: 15,000 km including the Congo, its tributaries, and unconnected lakes

Pipelines: petroleum products 390 km

Ports and harbors: Banana, Boma, Bukavu, Bumba, Goma, Kalemie, Kindu, Kinshasa, Kisangani, Matadi, Mbandaka

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 232 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:
total : 24
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
1,524 to 2,437 m: 20
914 to 1,523 m: 96
under 914 m: 92 (2001)


Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie, paramilitary Civil Guard, Special Presidential Division

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49 : 11,996,175 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 6,110,595 (2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $250 million (FY97)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 4.6% (FY97)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: Democratic Republic of the Congo-Tanzania-Zambia tripoint in Lake Tanganyika may no longer be indefinite since it has been informally reported that the indefinite section of the Democratic Republic of the Congo-Zambia boundary has been settled; long section with Republic of the Congo along the Congo river is indefinite (no division of the river or its islands has been made)

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis, mostly for domestic consumption

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