Flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Gorilla in Congo

Gorilla in Congo

Country Congo – Democratic Republic of Congo – known as Zaire between 1971 – 1997           
Continent Africa
Capital Kinshasa
Population 69.6 million
Language French, Lingala, Kiswahili, Kikongo, Tshiluba

250 ethnic groups – most numerous are Luba, Mongo, and Bakongo

Religion Catholic, Lutheran, other Protestant, Islam, indigenous beliefs
Terrain Dense tropical rainforest – several lakes and 5 national parks and all 5 are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage in Danger

Navigable waterways – the main way to move around in 2/3 of the country that could provide hydro-electric power to the entire continent

DRC has fewer all-weather paved highways than any other country of its size and population in Africa

Sports Football (soccer) and rugby
Animals Great biodiversity, but gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and okapi are all endangered because of war, economic conditions and coltan
Facts of Interest Recent civil war (1997 – 2003) which had both a political and economic side – claimed 6 million lives either as a direct result of fighting or because of disease and malnutrition.  Fighting was fueled by their vast mineral wealth, with both sides taking advantage of the anarchy to plunder natural resources.  The conflict persists in the east.

DRC is known for its music and art

Elementary education is not free or compulsory even though their constitution says it should be.  Attendance is improving

Largest producer of cobalt (a super-alloy used in making jet engine parts), a major producer of copper and diamonds

Has 70% of world’s coltan – an ore when refined becomes a heat-resistant powder that can hold a high electrical charge, so it is used in all capacitors of the circuit boards in cell phones, laptops, pagers, etc.  So the price of coltan as skyrocketed and the exploitation, graft, theft, smuggling, and corruption is the result

Concerns Infant and maternal mortality rate is very high.  According to UNICEF 43.5% of children under 5 years are stunted.  Malnutrition affects 2/3 of the population

HIV, malaria, yellow fever are prevalent

Corruption, sexual violence against women, child forced labor, deforestation, poaching, water pollution and displaced refugees are all huge problems in DRC

The mining of coltan is primitive (“artisan”), uncontrolled and often corrupt. The environmental consequences are huge – the land is being eroded which is polluting lakes and rivers, affecting the ecology of the region.

Mission PCUSA is affiliated with Congo Mission Network whose mission is to help the Congolese people improve their lives