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Interesting facts about DR-Congo

The map of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). [Courtesy]

With a landmass of 2.34 million square kilometre, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the second-largest country in Africa after Algeria.

There are over 250 dialects spoken throughout the country.

French is the national language, though Lingala is widely spoken by a population of close to 90 million.

Over 200 ethnic groups of people reside side-by-side in DRC.

DRC shares its border with nine other African countries namely Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Angola, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

Kinshasa, the capital, is the second-largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris.

DRC is also home to the oldest national park in Africa – Virunga National Park. Founded in 1925, the park is home to rare mountain gorillas, lions and elephants.

DRC, which is a member of the seven nations that form the larger Central Africa Republic, is among the top mineral-rich countries in the world, even though only about just 1.8 per cent of its roads are tarmacked and just 10 per cent of the population is connected to the national grid, according to a United Nations report.

Due to moderate rainfall, DRC enjoys a vibrant agricultural sector that employs two-thirds of the population.

Cassava, yams, rice and maize are the principle crops, though coffee is DRC's third-most important export after copper and crude oil.

DRC also exports rubber and timber, though refined copper and unwrought alloys are the highest-earning exports.

According to worldexport.com, DRC exported US$14.1 billion (Sh1.6 trillion) worth of goods around the world in 2020. This was a 96.3 per cent increase since 2016 and a 5.5 per cent gain from 2019 to 2020, says the report.

In DRC, you’ll also find gold, tantalum, tungsten, and tin deposits – all the essential minerals used in electronics production, such as cell phones and laptops.

As of 2021, there were about 7.26 billion mobile phones in the world, according to BankMyCell.com.

But despite the immense resources, DRC has known little peace for the past four decades. The Congolese have endured over two decades of armed conflict.

It is estimated that over 5.4 million people have died in DRC due to war-related causes, while neighbouring countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda bear the brunt due to the surge of refugees fleeing the conflict in DRC.

UNHCR report indicates that 450,000 refugees from DRC reside in neighbouring countries.

There are over 21,000 soldiers from approximately 50 different countries stationed in DR-Congo, making it a haven for UN peace-keeping and a hub for expatriates.

According to a UN report, there were at least 1,000 cases of child-soldier recruitment reported between January 2012 and August 2013.

With the high number of expatriates, the US Dollar is the most preferred currency, even though you can also buy goods and services using the undervalued Congolese Franc.

One Kenyan shilling is equivalent to approximately 18 Congolese Francs.

Fashion, sport and music culture

DRC has a vibrant sporting, fashion and music culture. This is the home of five-time CAF Champions League winners – TP Mazembe.

Former NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Claude Makélélé, the World Cup winner with France, also has roots in DR-Congo.

DRC has also produced some of the best musicians like Papa Wemba, Koffi Olomide, François Luambo Luanzo Makiadi, the master of African Rhumba, Madilu System, Ferré Gola, Fally Ipupa among others.

Congolese musicians mostly perform in France due to the high number of French citizens of Congolese descent.

Music and Sports aside, DR-Congo is also known for its vibrant fashion industry.

Congolese are colourful people with a high sense of fashion.

Traditionally, men and women used to put on clothes made of raffia or bark fabric. The modern Congolese women, however, prefer wearing “Liputa” style (loosely translates to “wearing of colourful materials in style”). Moneyed men, on the other hand, walk around with designer clothes.

There is also the Sapeurism culture.

The “La Sape”, or Congolese Dandies, is a society of low-earning Congolese people who spend a majority of their income on fashion.