The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is located in Central Africa and is the second largest nation in Africa by area, and the fourth largest by population. The DRC has a wealth of natural resources, including over 1,000 minerals and precious metals. However, due to political instability, advisories still warn against traveling to the country; it has the world’s largest UN peacekeeping force.
In this blog, I will briefly cover the demographics, languages, culture, consumers and future of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- Population of 81 million (2017).
- Kinshasa is the capital, and largest city, with a population of approximately nine million people.
- There are over 200 ethnic groups, the majority group is Bantu.
- Religion: Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, Other 10%.
- Life expectancy is 57.3 years.
- French is the official language, stemming from the period of Belgium’s colonial rule.
- The DRC is currently the most populous French-speaking country outside of France. According to an OIF report, 41% of the population can read and write in French.
- Lingala, Kiswahili, Kikongo and Tshilub are the other national languages.
- The most notable other languages spoken in the DRC are: Mongo, Lunda, Kilega, Tetela, Chokwe, Budza, Ngbandi, Lendu, Mangbetu, Nande, Ngbaka, Zande, Lugbara and Komo.
- Portuguese has become an optional language at schools since 2010, due to Brazil’s increasing influence in the continent.
- The Congolese Civil Wars, beginning in 1996, devastated the country. Nine African nations and multiple groups of UN peacekeepers where involved and over five million people died.
- DRC was previously called Zaire (1971-1997) and Belgian Congo (1908-1960).
- The four largest tribes are: Mongo, Luba, Kongo and Mangbetu-Azande, these tribes make up 45% of the population.
- The Congolese soukous is a notable feature in the DRC culture. Soukous is a genre of music and is a combination of ethnic music, Cuban Rumba and Merengue.
- The official currency is the Congolese franc (per 1 US dollar: 971.6.) 2016
- Mining is the main industry, followed by mineral processing, consumer products and metal products.
- 63% of the population live below the poverty line.
- The primary imports are: foodstuffs, mining and other machinery, transport equipment and fuels.
- The top import partners are: China, South Africa, Zambia, Belgium, Zimbabwe and India.
- Only three million people (3.8% of the population) have access to the internet.
According to African Development Bank Group (ADBG) “To strengthen the economy’s stability and resilience to shocks, in January 2016, the government adopted 28 urgent measures, and as part of the strategic national plan for development (PNSD) currently being drawn up, it decided to diversify the country’s economy and to broaden the value creation chain.”
After suffering through decades of war and corruption, the DRC is trying to take steps towards reform and utilize their abundance of natural resources to become one of the richest countries in Africa, but they still have a long way to go.
During the first years of its independence after 1960, the Democratic Republic of the Congo made a big industrial jump and was ranked as the second industrial country in Africa, after South Africa. Then, a series of wars, corruption and political unrest put the DRC among the world’s lowest. Now, even with their immense natural resources in mining and agricultural, and the new reforms in the various income sectors, the economy still has not achieved meaningful structural transformation, but hopefully will in the near future.
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