Welcome to the DR Congo

A land looking for stability

Following a long period of brutal colonial rule and decades of fighting since independence in 1960, the DR Congo has established some stability in recent years under the eye of United Nations peacekeepers. But there’s still much work to do in bringing peace to all regions of this vast country and reconstructing everything from roads to medical centres.

SOS Children performing a traditional dance

Discover DR Congo

The two countries of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo are often described together as ‘the Congo basin’. The Congo River runs through a low-lying area in the centre and north of the region.

The DRC has more than 1,130 species of birds, more varieties than any other country in Africa. Its many water birds, ground birds, birds of prey, fruit-eaters, hole-nesters and passerines/perching birds include endemic species which can only be found in this part of the world.

With the fourth largest population in Africa, spread across a huge area, the people of DRC are made up of many hundreds of different groups, speaking over 215 languages.

The United Nations estimates five million people (mostly civilians) have died in the DRC from war or disease since 1998, despite the fact that fighting officially ended in 1999 with the signing of the Lusaka Peace Accord. With so many deaths and the involvement of troops from many nations, the conflict in the DR Congo is sometimes called the ‘World War of Africa’.

Nearly two-thirds of people live in rural areas, in villages scattered across the country. Many rely on subsistence farming, growing food for their families and selling some crops for cash. Cassava is the most widely-grown crop, with plantains and maize also common. In some regions, groundnuts/peanuts and rice are grown.

Around 55% of people live below the poverty line, living on less than a dollar each day. Areas with the greatest number of poor are particularly in the east of the country, where conflict continues.

DR Congo earns most of its revenues from the mining sector. Recent high prices for commodities such as copper and cobalt have allowed the country’s economy to grow around 7% annually.

Less than a third of children in the DRC attend secondary school. With a shortage of formal jobs, many families do not see any benefit to secondary and further education for their children.