DR Congo (Zaire) -- Geography --
Official Name: Democratic Republic of Congo
Capital City: Kinshasa
Area: 2 345 410 sq km
Country Population: 65 890 000 (2001)
Languages: French (official)
Official Currency: Congolese franc
Religions: Catholic,Protestant others
Land forms: The country is covered with dense equatorial forests, which make up 1 / 2 of forests in Africa. Mountain plateaus (up to 1300 meters above sea level) are surrounded by the Congolese plane from the south. To the east stretches of the Great East African rift valley. There tectonic lakes - Edward, Kivu .In eastern Congo are the Congo River springs,giving the name of the country
Land division: 26 provinces: Kinshasa, Congo, Central, Kvango, Kwilu Province, Mai-Ndombe Province, Kasai, Lulua Province, Kasai Oriental, Lomami River, Sankuru Province, Maniema, SOD Kivu Nord Kivu, Ituri, O Wele, Chopo, Ba Wele, Nord Ubangi, Mongala Province, Sud Ubangi, Ekvatorial, Chuapa, Tanganyika, O Lomami River, Lualaba Province, Oh Katanga
DR Congo (Zaire) -- History --
It is believed that Bantu peoples have reached the zone of humid equatorial forests in the Congo basin before V century. Around XIV century there is formed the Kingdom of Congo, whose territory extends much farther than the territory of today's Republic. In 1482 Portuguese ships reach the coast, which, thanks to the slave trade helped to accelerate the decline of the kingdom.
In XIX century. the expeditions of David Livingstone awoke the interest of European forces of colonizing Central Africa. Belgian King Leopold II signed a contract for protection with local rulers, which aimed to gain a territory along the Congo River. After the Berlin Conference on the Congo from 1884-1885, these areas are recognized as the private possession of the Belgian King. In subsequent years the nations and territories included in the Democratic Republic of Congo today are brutally exploited. Whole districts were depopulated as a result of the appalling treatment by the governors appointed by Leopold II.
In 1908 the Belgian King was forced to abandon his private domain, in favor of the Belgian state. In 1960, explode disturbances, which result in June 30, 1960 Belgium granting independence to the Kongo.The quick withdrawal of capital and colonial administration, however, reflects very negatively on the new republic. After the independence Joseph Kasavubu became president (1910-1969 ), Patrice Lumumba (1925-1964 ) became the Prime Minister. Shortly thereafter heavy disorder burst and Katanga province declared independence. UN and the Belgian army intervened, leading to full restoration of the state in 1963
After several military coups in 1965 Joseph Joseph Desire (on 1930-1997) becomes head of the state . He was mistakenly thought to be the guarantor of stability and therefore received the support and the European countries. Joseph renamed the country and also the river Zaire, partially implemented nationalization of foreign companies and exploited the country for personal enrichment. In the eighties his dictatorial regime received response internationally too. His removal from power, however, takes place as late as in 1997 when the presidency was taken over by Laurent Desire Kabila (1941-2001). During 1998 in eastern parts of the country erupted civl war. The basis of it were rebel Tutsi tribes. It became an international conflict, as it involved the neighbors to the east of Congo - Rwanda and Uganda.As a result of all these bloody clashes,unimaginable misery ensued and many refugees fled in Central Africa.
In 2001, Kabila (1971) took the presidential post. He concluded a peace with the belligerents, and with the neighbors Uganda and Rwanda. In 2003, the President proclaimed a transitional constitution and government consisted of by members of the old cabinet and the opposition. In the same year, however, peace initiatives are darkened - bloody clashes between Hema and Lendu in Ituri erupted
DR Congo (Zaire) -- Economy --
the Gross domestic product of Congo (Zaire) amounts to 42.74 billion dolars, rendering a growth of 7.5 percent over the previous year ( 81st place among countries in the world). GDP per capita is 700 dollars per capita. By sectors - agriculture - 55%, industry - 11%, services - 34%. Inflation is 14% based on data from 2004. Much of the economic activity in DR Congo, however, falls within the informal economy and can not be accurately reflected in GDP. Over 75 percent of the population of Zaire is employed in agriculture. In Zaire there are mainly grown cassava, rice, maize, peanuts, fruits. Zaire is the world's second largest exporter of palm oil. The population also grows and exports coffee, bananas and cotton. Fish is the most important source of animal protein in DR Kongo. The overall yield of all fish farms in Zaire in 2003 was 223 000 tons. PERMAZA state agency has exclusive rights to fishing activity. The fact that 60% of the country is covered with forest determines timber industry developments. In 2003, earnings from exports of wood amounted to 25.7 million dollars. Pygmies, wandering around the equatorial forests make their living by hunting, fishing and gathering. Zaire has rich reserves of copper, gold, silver, diamonds, oil, cobalt, manganese, zinc, cadmium, diamonds. Particularly rich in diamond ores is the southern province of Katanga.
The industrial sector of the country is focused on the processing of natural resources. Important sectors are oil refineries and the production of cement and rubber. The industry also produces footwear, foodstuffs, textiles, tobacco goods and others . The metalurgical Luilu Works owned by Katanga Mining Limited is the largest processing plant in the world with cobalt capacity at 175 000 tones copper and 8000 tonnes of cobalt a year. Years of war with the neighboring countries of the DRC led to the destruction of the infrastructure which is vital for such a huge country, and malnutrition, from which suffers a significant proportion of the population. Government of DR Congo receives nearly $ 2 billion in annual aid from more developed states. The majority of the exports of metals have been directed to China. Factories are concentrated in larger cities. Most important trading partners are China, Belgium, South Africa, Chile, USA, Germany and India.
DR Congo (Zaire) -- Culture --
The culture of the Democratic Republic of Congo reflects the diversity of its hundreds of ethnic groups and their differing ways of life throughout the country — from the mouth of the River Congo on the coast, upriver through the rainforest and savanna in its centre, to the more densely populated mountains in the far east. Since the late 19th century, traditional ways of life have undergone changes brought about by colonialism, the struggle for independence, the stagnation of the Mobutu era, and most recently, the First and Second Congo Wars. Despite these pressures, the customs and cultures of the Congo have retained much of their individuality. The country's 60 million inhabitants are mainly rural. The 30 percent who live in urban areas have been the most open to Western influences.
Another notable feature in Congo culture is its sui generis music. The DROC has blended its ethnic musical sources with Cuban rumba, and merengue to give birth to soukous. Influential figures of soukous and its offshoots: N'dombolo and Rumba rock, are Franco Luambo, Tabu Ley, Lutumba Simaro, Papa Wemba, Koffi Olomide, Kanda Bongo, Ray Lema, Mpongo Love, Abeti Masikini, Reddy Amisi, [Pasnas] Pepe Kalle and Nyoka Longo.
Other African nations produce music genres that are derived from Congolese soukous. Some of the African bands sing in Lingala, one of the main languages in the DRC. The same Congolese soukous, under the guidance of "le sapeur", Papa Wemba, has set the tone for a generation of young men always dressed up in expensive designers' clothes.
The Congo is also known for its art. Traditional art includes masks and wooden statues. Notable contemporary artists and fashion designers are Odette Maniema Krempin and Cheri Samba.
DR Congo (Zaire) -- Political system, law and government --
Zaire is a republic. Head of State is the President who is elected for a term of 5 years, but could not rule more than two terms. He appoints the Prime Minister at the proposal of the party that has won the most votes. Parliament is bicameral - composed of Senate and National Assembly. The biggest political party is the Movement for the Liberation of Congo. Since 1997 - two years in a transition period in which the legislative and executive power belongs to the president. A constitutional commission was created for making a new constitution of the III Republic. The country is in the process of establishing a Constitutional Assembly