COUNTRIES BRIEFS Newsletter ISSN 1563-4108

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo/Kinshasa) is a Central Africa' state, straddling the Equator, northeast of Angola

One of the largest territory in Africa: 2,345,410 sq. km (land: 2,267,600 sq. km water: 77,810 sq. km) Its boundaries totaling: 10,744 km

Bordering countries: Angola over 2,511 km, Burundi over 233 km, Central African Republic (CAR) over 1,577 km, Republic of the Congo over 2,410 km, Rwanda over 217 km, Sudan over 628 km, Tanzania over 473 km, Uganda over 765 km, Zambia over 1,930 km.

Coastline: 37 km on the Atlantic Ocean.

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

Agriculture productions: coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, quinine, cassava, palm oil, bananas, root crops, corn, fruits; wood products

Industrial productions: mining, mineral processing, consumer products (including textiles, footwear, cigarettes, processed foods and beverages), cement, diamonds Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Population: 56,625,039 (July 2003 est.) Population growth rate: 3.15% (2000): 2.9% (2003 est.)

Capital: Kinshasa

Independence from Belgium: June 30, 1960
National holiday: anniversary of independence June 30
Constitution: June 24,1967, amended August 1974, revised February 15, 1978 amended April 1990; transitional constitution promulgated in April 1994; in November 1998, a draft constitution was approved by President KABILA and awaits ratification by national referendum

The Democratic Republic of the Congo could be characterized in one sentence: The wealthy and sleeping giant of Africa.

This is a country endowed with formidable natural resources, which is struggling, since the independence day, to survive; because of the mismanagement and greed exercised by its political rulers over four decades.

A short history's recount is necessary to understand the present political and economical situation of the country.

The political national life of independent Congo was biased from the inception of the nation. In 1960, Belgium, the colonial power, in order to avoid a long and painful disengagement from its "milking cow" colony, hastily handed the independence to the very few (in number) highly educated Congolese; to immediately start meddling with the new state's internal affairs.

The Belgian authorities (Click here for King Leopold's Ghost), backed by the CIA - the world was in the so called "cold war" period - succeeded in eliminating Patrice Lumumba (click here for more on the movie on the Assassination of Lumumba) - the then prime minister of Congo; a preeminent and radical member of the Congolese negotiators during the independence talks held on April-May 1960 at Brussels. They supported the rise to power of Joseph Desire Mobutu who finally seized the state power by a coup on November 24, 1965. Click here for Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu's Congo.

Mobutu embarked on a nationalistic policy (in 1970) carved into the "Zairinization" concept. The three "Z" were established: 1- Congo becomes Zaire; 2- River Congo name was changed to river Zaire; 3- The currency - Franc Congolais - to Zaire. Joseph Desire Mobutu himself dropped his Christian surnames and became Marshal MOBUTU Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga.

Many small businesses, owned by foreigners, were nationalized; given overnight to new Zairian "proprietors". Within one year, most of them were already bankrupted.

In 1991, the economy was in such a bad state that Mobutu was forced to accept a multiparty democracy. From 1991 to 1997 hundred of political parties were bickering and fighting in a never ending forum: the "Conference Nationale". Beginning of 1997, Mobutu was dying from cancer. The political system he cunningly imposed to Zairians was also moribund. A 30-year's opponent - Laurent Desire KABILA - backed by Uganda's Museveni and Rwanda's Kagame - launched a sweeping four months' campaign (February - May 1997) which forced Mobutu into exile on May 16, 1997.

From that date Laurent Desire Kabila took over the government of the country and Zaire was renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo. Around mid 1998, Kabila's relationship with Museveni and Kagame severely deteriorated. These countries become then the sponsors of rebels groups that challenged Congo's central government in the East, and Northeast of the country.

Laurent Desire Kabila was assassinated on January 17, 2001

On January 26, 2001 his son, Joseph Kabila - in his early 30 - was sworn in as state president by the Supreme Court.

Click here for updated news about the Democratic Republic of the Congo


1- D&B Export Guide to Congo (Brazzaville)
by D&B Digital Delivery in PDF
2- D&B Export Guide to Congo (Kinshasa)
by D&B Didital Delivery in PDF
3- A Living Dinosaur
In Search of Mokele-Mbembe
by Roy P. MacKal
4- Rumba On the River
A history of the Popular Music of the Two Congos / by Gary Stewart
5- Congo-Paris
Transnational Traders On the Margin of The Law / by Janet MacGaffey
6- Christian Missionizing and Social Transformation
A History of Conflict and Change in Eastern Zaire / by Jack E. Nelson
7- Executive Report On Strategies in Congo (Zaire)
by Congo Research Group 2000 Edition
8- African Reflections
Art From Northeastern Zaire - American Museum of Natural History
by Enid Shildkrout
9- Art of Africa
Treasures From The Congo
by Joseph Cornet
10- The Story of the Congo
Social, Political and Economic Aspects of the Belgian - System of Government In Central Africa / by Henry Wellington Wack
11- More News On the Congos
by Yahoo! Update

Click to contact Dr. Bienvenu-Magloire Quenum



US$ 7 billion (1999) US$ 5.997billion (2003)
GNP-growth rate: 0% (1999); - 15% (2000; -2% (2003)); -2% (2003));
GNP-per capita: US$ 140 (1999) US $ 109 (2003); US $ 120 (2003)

Click here for the difference between GNP and Parity Purchasing.

GNP-composition by sector

  1. agriculture: 58%

  2. industry: 17%
  3. services: 25%

Exports: US$ 1,200 million (f.o.b., 2003 est.)
Commodities: diamonds, copper, coffee, cobalt, crude oil

Imports: US$ 790 million (f.o.b., 2003 est.)
Commodities: foodstuffs, mining and other machinery, transport equipment, fuels




Visas should be obtained from an Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo prior to arrival.

Travelers entering the DRC with visas and / or entry / exit stamps from Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe or Burundi may experience difficulties at the airport or other ports of entry.

Additional information about visas may be obtained from of the the Embassies below listed

Visitors who wish to travel anywhere outside of Kinshasa must obtain advance, written permission from the Ministry of Interior, regardless of the purpose of the trip. Failure to comply may result in arrest.
Embassy of the Democratic
Republic of Congo

18 Range Road, Ottawa
Ontario, K1N 8J3
Tel: +(1) 613 2306391
Fax: +(1) 613 2301945
Embassy of the Democratic
Republic of Congo

1800 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20009
Tel: +(1) 202 2347690 / 1
Fax: +(1) 202 2342609
Embassy of the Democratic
Republic of Congo

26 Chesham Place
London, SW1X 8HG
Tel: +(44) 171 2356137
Fax: +(44) 171 2359048
National Tourism Office
Office National du Tourisme
BP 9502, 2a/2b avenue des Orangers Kinshasa-Gombe
Tel: +(243) 12 30070


There are several international and African Air carriers servicing Kinshasa airport. Some national airlines have flights from Kinshasa to Lubumbashi in the Katanga's province.

In theory RDC has a railways track totaling 5,138 km (1995); the system is however severely damaged and only some portions are in usage near the big cities. Roads are in poor condition

The country has a lengthy waterways: 15,000 km including the Congo, its tributaries, and unconnected lakes at the eastern region of the country.

The main ports and harbors: Banana, Boma, Bukavu, Bumba, Goma, Kalemie, Kindu, Kinshasa, Kisangani, Matadi, Mbandaka

There is a 390 km pipeline system linking the port of Banana (on the Atlantic Ocean's coastline) to Kinshasa for the transfer of petroleum products


B.P. 450
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Tel: +(32) 2 676 81 05
Fax: +(32) 2 676 80 41
1 Av. Major Vangu
B.P. 7617
Kinshasa 1
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Fax: +(1) 212 3723 171
Av. Lt-Colonel Lukusa, N° 4854
B.P. 1598
Kinshasa 1
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Tel: +(243) 21 899 / 27 087
Fax: +(243) 88 01 569 / 12 21 877
E-Mail: Click here
Click here to review funding available to rebuild power generation system

There are very few hotels living up to international standards in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi in the katanga's province. It is advisable to make bookings in advance and have a local partner' support for confirmation.

The import and export of local currency is not allowed but there are no restrictions on the import and export of foreign currency.

Most currency exchanges are done at licensed exchange bureaus (Bureau de Change Agree). Transactions by unlicensed dealers are illegal and pose risks to the customer.

Hotel Inter-Continental Kinshasa
Avenue Batetela Kinshasa-Gombe
PO Box 9535
Tel: +(243) 88 01111
Fax: +(243) 88 41500
Fax: +(1) 212 376 95 64
E-mail: Click here
National Tourism Office
Office National du Tourisme
BP 9502, 2a/2b avenue des Orangers Kinshasa-Gombe
Tel: +(243) 12 30070
Hotel Memling
51 Avenue du Tchad
Commune de Gombe
Telecel (mobile): +(243) 88 01 111
Fax: +(243) 88 41 500
Click here to review funding available to rebuild power generation system

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