Interested in learning some interesting facts about the Democratic Republic of Congo?
Whether you are traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the near future or simply would like to understand this awesome African nation a bit better, you’ve come to the right place!
Here’s our roundup of the most interesting Democratic Republic of Congo facts:
1. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a massive country in central Africa. It shouldn’t be confused with the Republic of Congo (also known simply as Congo), which is one of its bordering neighbors to the west (and rightly makes for common confusion!). Located in sub-Saharan Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo also borders the Central African Republic, Angola, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia. On top of these land borders, it has just a tiny sliver of real estate in the very west on the Atlantic Ocean.
2. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is known by many names. It is often abbreviated as DR Congo or officially as the DRC. Until 1997, DR Congo was known as Zaire. Sometimes, to the dismay of all involved, DR Congo may be referred to as simply Congo, which is also how people shorten its neighbor, the Republic of Congo, as well.
3. We mentioned that the DRC is large, and that’s true both in terms of size and population. At 905,567 mi2 (2,345,409 km2), it is the second largest country in Africa and the 11th largest country in the world. With a population of 102 million (2020 estimate), it is also the 14th most populous country in the world and one of the most populous in Africa. However, it’s worth noting that the UN estimated in 2019 that DR Congo’s population was only around 85 million, so there’s a discrepancy there. Still, though, it’s a large country, and because French is the official language, it also means that the Democratic Republic of Congo is the largest French-speaking (Francophone) country in the world, as well!
4. DR Congo is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. As identified by Conservation International, a megadiverse country is one which holds a majority of the world’s plant and animal species. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most biologically diverse country in Africa, and it is home to many endemic species, such as the bonobo, okapi, and the chimpanzee. On top of that, there is estimated to be almost 1,200 bird species, 415 mammal species, and more than 2,000 butterfly species which call DR Congo home, as well as thousands of rare and unique plant species.
5. The world’s second largest rainforest is located in DRC. The Congolian Rainforest spreads out through six countries, including DR Congo, and it is second in size only to the Amazon rainforest. In fact, it is so large that it contains about 25% of the entire planet’s remaining tropical forest! The Congolian Rainforest is so massive that it is divided into several ecoregions:
- Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests
- Northwestern Congolian lowland forests
- Western Congolian swamp forests
- Eastern Congolian swamp forests
- Central Congolian lowland forests
- Northeastern Congolian lowland forests
6. The capital and largest city of the Dem. Rep. of Congo is Kinshasa. Located in the western portion of the country, it actually sits on one side of the Congo River directly opposite Brazzaville, which is the capital of the Republic of Congo! Kinshasa is one of Africa’s, and the world’s largest cities, as it is estimated to be home to over 12 million people.
7. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is home to 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. All of them are natural designations (they’re parks):
- Garamba National Park
- Kahuzi-Biega National Park
- Okapi Wildlife Reserve
- Salonga National Park
- Virunga National Park
8. DR Congo is named for the Congo River, which flows through the country. The Congo River is the deepest river in the world, as well as the river with the second greatest water flow rate (discharge). The entire area of Central Africa surrounding the Congo River is known as the Congo Basin, and sometimes, to confuse things even more, this (the Congo Basin) might be what’s referred to if someone mentions “the Congo.”
9. Because the equator passes right through DR Congo, it gets a lot of rain and thunderstorms. Actually, one of the most interesting Democratic Republic of Congo facts is that it has the highest frequency of thunderstorms in the world! On top of that, its equatorial location means that some parts of the country can receive over 6.5 ft (2 m) of rainfall each year, which is helpful for sustaining the rainforests and the biodiversity within.
10. As such a large country, it’s no wonder that DRC is quite diverse. Over 200 ethnic groups live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including groups such as the Mongo, Kongo, and Mangbetu-Azande peoples. As for linguistic diversity, it is estimated that there are more than 240 languages spoken in DR Congo. However, the official language is French, and there are four national languages: Kituba, Lingala, Tshiluba, and Swahili.
11. Lake Tanganyika is a large freshwater lake and one of the African Great Lakes in the Rift Valley. It is so large that it borders 4 countries: DR Congo, Tanzania, Burundi, and Zambia. Lake Tanganyika is the second-largest freshwater lake in the world (by volume), the second deepest freshwater lake, and the second-oldest freshwater lake. The first in each case is Lake Baikal in Russia.
Well, that’s all our Democratic Republic of Congo facts for now, and we hope you’ve found this post interesting and informative! Do you have any questions, feedback, or other facts about DR Congo we should include on our list? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!