The Democratic Republic of Congo

Driving Directions Congo

THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC), formerly Zaire, is situated in west-central Africa. It is a vast country with a short coastline of only 40 kilometers or 25 miles on the Atlantic Ocean. There is a constant arable variety in the geography of the country, from the rainforests on the western border to the huge central plain and mountains in the northeast east and south. However, the Congo (Zaire) river basin dominates the land and reaches from the center of the country to mountains or plateaux on all sides. In the east, the Ruwenzori Mountains overlook the lakes in the Great Rift Valley.

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The country has an enormously rich fauna and flora with many varieties of trees (oil palms, rubber, teak, ebony, cedar, mahogany, and red­wood) and diverse wildlife (lions, elephants, gorillas, giraffes, leopards and birds, reptiles and insects). In the central region, the climate is hot and wet all year, but elsewhere there are well-marked wet and dry seasons.

The capital, Kinshasa, on the southern bank of the Congo river, was founded as a trading depot in the late 19th century. In addition to being the country’s cultural and administrative center, it has a strong manufacturing base, producing food, paper, chemicals and plastics, textiles, wood and construction products. Much of the population still occupied in subsistence farming. Cassava is the main subsistence crop and coffee, tea, cocoa beans, rubber, and palms grown for export. The country has huge mineral resources, particularly cobalt (around 65 percent of the world’s deposits), with copper, uranium, gold, and diamonds exported.

Other natural resources include silver, iron ore and coal while offshore oil is an important asset. There is great potential for hydroelectricity but, as yet, this has not exploited.

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