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Africa

Democratic Republic of the Congo

A map of the Democratic Republic of the CongoA map of the Democratic Republic of the CongoThe Democratic Republic of the Congo (often called DR Congo) is Africa’s second largest country. Along with its neighbour, the Republic of the Congo, it is situated in the Congo Basin, a lowland area where rivers from all over Central Africa flow into the River Congo. Along the country’s eastern border stretches the Mitumba Mountains (Monts Mitumba), which slope down to the savanna grasslands of the south. Rainforest covers more than half the country. Lying on the equator, the country has a hot, tropical climate with a rainy season from October to April. Since 1996, when the First Congo War broke out, the DR Congo has suffered almost continual civil war. Today, it is one of the poorest countries in the world.


A map of the DR CongoA map of the DR Congo

People

The main street in central KinshasaThe main street in central KinshasaOver 215 different languages are spoken in the DR Congo, but most people speak or understand French as well as their native language. Around two-thirds of the population live in villages in the countryside. Most work as subsistence farmers, growing food such as cassava and maize for their families; some also grow cash crops such as coffee beans for export.

An Efé girl, with her teeth filed to a pointAn Efé girl, with her teeth filed to a pointTraditional peoples, such as the Efé, have lived in the rainforests of the DR Congo for thousands of years, hunting, fishing and gathering plants. The Efé are among the shortest peoples in the world, with men growing to an average height of 142 centimetres (4 feet 8 inches) and women being about 5 centimetres (2 inches) shorter. The Efé are one of three groups of “pygmies” living in the Ituri Rainforest in eastern DR Congo. Together they are known as Mbuti people.

The Congo rainforest is the second largest region of tropical rainforest in the world after the Amazon rainforest. Two-thirds of it is situated in the DR Congo.

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