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macrohistory & world report

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Map of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo (capital Kinshasa) and neighboring states. Kinshasa was a fishing village that by 2012 had more than nine million inhabitants. The city of Brazzaville (with more than a million inhabitants) is just across the river from Kinshasa and is the capittal of the Republic of the Congo.

World Factbook: as of November 2014: "The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - a nation endowed with vast natural resource wealth - is slowly recovering after decades of decline. Systemic corruption since independence in 1960, combined with country-wide instability and conflict that began in the mid-90s has dramatically reduced national output and government revenue and increased external debt. With the installation of a transitional government in 2003 after peace accords, economic conditions slowly began to improve as the transitional government reopened relations with international financial institutions and international donors, and President KABILA began implementing reforms. Progress has been slow to reach the interior of the country although clear changes are evident in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. An uncertain legal framework, corruption, and a lack of transparency in government policy are long-term problems for the mining sector and for the economy as a whole. Much economic activity still occurs in the informal sector and is not reflected in GDP data. Renewed activity in the mining sector, the source of most export income, has boosted Kinshasa's fiscal position and GDP growth in recent years. The global recession cut economic growth in 2009 to less than half its 2008 level, but growth returned to around 7% per year in 2010-12. The DRC signed a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility with the IMF in 2009 and received $12 billion in multilateral and bilateral debt relief in 2010, but the IMF at the end of 2012 suspended the last three payments under the loan facility - worth $240 million - because of concerns about the lack of transparency in mining contracts. In 2012, the DRC updated its business laws by adhering to OHADA, the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa. The country marked its tenth consecutive year of positive economic expansion in 2012."

Economic growth rate
2013: 6.2%
2012: 7.2%
2011: 6.5%
2010: 7.2%
2009: 2.8%

Agriculture products
Coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, cotton, cocoa, quinine, cassava (manioc), bananas, plantains, peanuts, root crops, corn, fruits; wood products

Export commodities
Diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, wood products, crude oil, coffee

Export partners
2012: China 54.3%, Zambia 23.6%, Belgium 5.7%

Export/import ratio
2013: exports $9.936 billion, imports $8.924 billion

Health expenditures
2009: 11.2% of GDP

People

Living in an urban area: 34% (2008)

Net migration rate
2012: A net loss of 0.47 persons per 1,000 population per year

Literacy, Age 15 and Older
2001: males 80.9%, females 54.1%

Ethnic groups
Over 200 African ethnic groups of which the majority are Bantu; the four largest tribes - Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic) make up about 45% of the population

Religions
Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other (includes syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs) 10%

Geography

Central Africa. Almost one-quarter the size of the United States, with a coastline of only 37 kilometers. Tropical.

Government

The president is elected by popular vote to a five-year term and eligible for a second term. The prime minister is appointed by the president. Members of a bicameral legislature (Senate and National Assembly) serve five year terms. Senators are elected by provincial assemblies. Assembly members are elected by majority vote from designated districts.

Capital: Kinshasa

Recent History

Independence from Belgium, June 30, 1960.

Formerly called Zaire and under the dictatorship of Joseph Mobutu. In 1997 Mobutu was overthrown by a rebellion led by Laurent Kabila, who was assassinated in 2001 and replaced as head of state by his son, Joseph Kabila.

Jan 22, 2009: A BBC correspondent reports that he asked a guide that he hired what he did when people like him were not around. The man speaks five languages, including two European languages fluently. He has a "university-level education and is "resourceful and hard-working," writes that correspondent. The man replied describing what the journalist called cronyism trumping merit and hard work." The correspondent, Mark Doyle, added that a driver he had hired in the country's capital, Kinshasa, "was – I later discovered to my intense embarrassment – a fully qualified chemical engineer. He could not get a job because he had not greased the right palms."

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.