CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE



Joseph Kabila
President

Congo, Democratic Republic of the

(pronounced "JOE-seff ka-BEE-la")

"We need to have peace in the Congo. The priority is that the forces that invaded the Congo leave the Congo."

The Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly known as the Republic of Zaire, is the third-largest country in Africa. The country covers 2,345,410 sq km (905,563 sq mi), most of it contained within the Congo River basin. The population, estimated at 55.2 million in 2002, is comprised of more than 200 ethnic groups. Peoples of Bantu ethnicity make up the largest sector (three of the four largest tribes—Mongo, Luba, and Kongo—are Bantu). The Bantu tribes, combined with the Hamitic Mangbetu-Azande tribe, comprise about 45% of the population. The official language is French, but over 400 Sudanese and Bantu dialects are also spoken. Congo's economy is based primarily on mineral extraction. Cobalt and copper are the principal exports; other minerals commercially exploited include diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, and tin. Agricultural products include coffee, rubber, cocoa, and tea. Congo also has offshore oil reserves. Despite these assets, it is the fourth-poorest nation in the world, due largely to mismanagement, corruption, and war. Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at US $590 in 2001. Following the floating of the exchange rate for the Congolese franc in May 2001, hyperinflation dropped from a high of 500% in 2000 to 15% in 2002.

ADDRESS

Presidence de la Republique
Kinshasa
Democratic Republic of Congo

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