The DRC is the 2nd largest country in Africa with the 4th largest population on the continent. It has one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, the Virunga National Park.
Republic (Semi-Presidential system)
French and the intermediary languages Kikongo, Tshiluba, Kingwana (a dialect of Swahili), and Lingala
250 ethnic groups have been distinguished – the most numerous people are the Luba, Mongo, and Bakongo
Christian ±90%, Muslim 1% and Hinduism 0.18%
Over 826,000 DRC refugees being hosted in African countries (as of 29 February 2019). DRC has long had both economic and humanitarian migration exchanges. African countries host the vast majority of Congolese migrants and refugees, whose numbers have increased significantly over the last four decades, particularly since the wars of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, coltan, zinc, tin, tungsten, crude oil, wood products and coffee.
Social, Economic, and Governance indicators
Taken from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance
Ranked out of 54 African countries
The DRC improved by +2.6 in the Gender Indicator of the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance
Timeline of important events
Congo became decolonised and independent, Patrice Lumumba named prime minister, Joseph Kasavubu, president.
Joseph Mobutu led Congolese army in bloodless coup ousting Kasavubu and Tshombe, installed himself as president.
Joseph Mobutu renames the country Zaire and himself Mobutu Sese Seko; Katanga becomes Shaba and the river Congo becomes the river Zaire.
President Mobutu nationalises many foreign-owned firms and forces European investors out of the country.
President Mobutu invites foreign investors back, without much success; French, Belgian and Moroccan troops help repulse attack on Katanga by Angolan-based rebels. President Mobutu re-elected.
Legislative elections were allowed, but not the formation of opposition parties.
Zaire defaults on loans from Belgium, resulting in a cancellation of development programmes and increased deterioration of the economy.
President Mobutu declared Third Republic, ended ban on multiparty politics, appointed transitional government, retained substantial power.
Unpaid soldiers rioted in Kinshasa, Mobutu agreed to coalition government with opposition leaders, retained control of security and important ministries.
Over one million Rwandese refugees fleeing Rwanda Genocide flooded into Zaire's eastern provinces.
Tutsi rebels capture much of eastern Zaire while President Mobutu is abroad for medical treatment.
Tutsi and other anti-Mobutu rebels, aided principally by Rwanda, capture the capital, Kinshasa; Zaire is renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo; Laurent-Desire Kabila installed as president.
After President Kabila ordered Rwandan military personnel out of the country, the rebels reorganized into militias, backed by Rwanda and Uganda. The militias rose up against President Kabila and advance on Kinshasa. Zimbabwe, Namibia send troops to repel them. Angolan troops also side with President Kabila. The rebels took control of much of the east of DRC.
The six African countries involved in the war signed the Lusaka peace accords. fighting continued, UN sent over 5,000 peacekeepers to monitor the ceasefire.
The fighting continues between rebels and government forces, and between Rwandan and Ugandan forces.
President Laurent Kabila is shot dead by a bodyguard. Joseph Kabila succeeds his father. Joseph Kabila reached agreement for troops from Rwanda and Uganda to pull back, and for the UN troops withdrew.
Eruption of Mount Nyiragongo Volcano devastates much of the city of Goma. Presidents of DRC, Uganda and Rwanda signed a peace deal under which Rwanda and Uganda withdrew troops from the east of DRC.
Peace deal signed in South Africa between Kinshasa government and main rebel groups. A Transitional government was established with new constitution signed which provided for installation of provisional government. Violence in Bunia region caused UN to send in multinational peacekeeping force led by France.
Gunmen attacked military bases in Kinasha in coup attempt. Rebels attempted coup in Bukavu.
New constitution comes into force; new national flag is adopted. Warlord Thomas Lubanga becomes first war crimes suspect to face charges at the ICC, accused of forcing children into active combat. Over 50,000 people fled North Kivu Province during clashes between General Laurent Nkunda and UN-backed army. Presidential elections had no clear winner; Joseph Kabila and Jean-Pierre Bemba prepared for run-off. Joseph Kabila is declared the winner of the run-offs.
Government troops and Jean-Pierre Bemba's forces clash in Kinshasa. DRCongo, Rwanda and Burundi relaunch the regional Great Lakes Countries Economic Community (CEPGL). Major outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.
Conflicts between factions of Hutus, Tutsis, Rwandan militia, Ugandan forces, Congolese army deserters continued in eastern provinces along borders with Rwanda and Burundi. UN Security Council approves temporary increase of troops to bolster the strained UN peacekeeping effort in the east.
DRC-Rwandan military operation held against Tutsi rebels led by Laurent Nkunda. Thousands fled when Hutu militia re-emerged after DRC-Rwanda campaign ended.
$8 billion debt relief deal approved by World Bank and IMF. Paris Club of creditor countries scrap half of DRC's debt.
Amendments to some provisions of the 2006 DRC Constitution, adopted without consultation, compromise or popular referendum, entered into force. Running of the presidential and parliamentary elections. Mr Kabila gains another term. The vote is criticised abroad and the opposition disputes the result.
Warlord Thomas Lubanga became first person to be convicted by ICC, sentenced to 14 years in jail for use of child soldiers. UN accuses Rwanda and Uganda of supplying rebel movement M23 with weapons and support.
Representatives of 11 African countries sign an accord in Ethiopia pledging to help end the conflict in DRC. The M23 rebel group declared a ceasefire ahead of the talks, and its leader Bosco Ntaganda surrenders the following month.3,000-member UN Intervention Brigade deployed to fight and disarm rebels in the east.
Dozens killed in protests against proposed electoral law changes designed to allow President Kabila to remain in power.
A political deal signed between President Kabila's ruling coalition and the opposition to delay the presidential elections until 2018 sees Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo and his cabinet resign.
DR Congo is experiencing a "mega-crisis", with conflict having forced 1.7 million people to flee their homes during the year, aid agencies say.
Main opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress chooses Felix Tshisekedi as its candidate for the December presidential election. Government asks commissions to look at declassifying parts of Virunga and Salonga national parks, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, for oil exploration. Environmentalists claim drilling would endanger wildlife and contribute to global warming. Officials declare opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi the winner of the presidential elections, prompting protests from rival opposition candidate Martin Fayulu of a deal with the government, whose candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary came third.
The UN Security Council reiterates its grave concern regarding the Ebola outbreak in the DRC, noting that the World Health Organisation has declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
History of Peace Processes
Summary of Current Conflicts
Lord's Resistance Army insurgency
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), with origins from northern Uganda, is a violent, militant group, led by Joseph Kony. Between 1987 and 2004, it committed heinous and horrendous atrocities in northern Uganda, before extending operations into South Sudan in 1994. Faced with defeat in northern Uganda, and pressure of the Sudan Peace process which culminated into the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, the LRA was forced to seek negotiations as a pre-text to relocate its fighters from northern Uganda and South Sudan to new bases in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in September 2005.
Today, the LRA has become a regional problem, perpetrating grave human rights abuses against civilians in the region, with catastrophic humanitarian consequences. It thrives by intimidating vulnerable populations in remote areas through massacres, abductions, mutilations, sexual enslavement, and brutal indoctrination including forcing recruits, mainly women and children, commit crimes such as burning homes, killings, looting, and raping of victims. These atrocities have induced the internal displacement of about 416,000 civilians and refugees in the region. They have also impeded the delivery of essential services, and undermined governance as well as development in the affected areas. They are also exacerbating the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the region.
Dispute in Kasai
For the past three years, the Kasai-Central province has been the scene of deadly clashes between the Kamuina Nsapu and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC).
The conflict started in August 2016. After the government refused to recognise former Kamuina Nsapu traditional leader Jean-Pierre Mpandi’s traditional authority, Pandi increasingly criticised government and was killed by government security forces. His death triggered an insurrection of armed gangs against the state in a region that had been relatively peaceful for 60 years.
The conflict has caused the exodus of more than a million people who are displaced within DRC and more than 30,000 that fled to Angola. Almost four million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 2.3 million children.
Very quickly, the Kamuina Nsapu armed group started recruiting children from the villages in the region. According to a UNICEF report published in May 2018, 60 percent of the armed group’s members were children.
The army led bloody repression, accusing the civilians of supporting the uprising.
On the ground, there were reports of indiscriminate violence, mass destruction and the use of rape as a weapon of war by both sides.
Dispute in the East
Violence in eastern Congo has its roots in ethnic conflict dating back to the colonial era, which was then aggravated under the thirty-year dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko, which began in 1965. The horrific scale of the recent fighting grew out of events beginning in 1994. That year, the genocide of nearly one million Rwandan Tutsis sparked a regional conflagration that came to be known as the “African World War.” After many Hutu genocidaires fled to eastern Congo and threatened incursions back into Rwanda, the Tutsi government of Rwanda led a retaliatory invasion in 1996 that would eventually entangle nearly all of Congo’s neighbours. Sweeping from east to west, Rwandan forces, together with their regional partners and Congolese allies, overthrew Mobutu and installed a new government under Laurent Kabila.
The alliance broke down in 1998 when the new government in Kinshasa turned against Rwanda, ordering Rwandan and other foreign forces out of the country. Regional rebellions emerged, fracturing the country, and local militias sprouted up. Neighbouring countries, divided between those supporting and those opposed to the Kinshasa government, once again invaded.
After several partial agreements, a 2003 peace deal pacified the west, but fighting in eastern Congo continued. Pro-Rwanda rebels from the Congolese Tutsi, or Banyamulenge, populations concentrated in the Kivus clashed with the FDLR, the Rwandan Hutu militia tied to the 1994 genocide, as well as with government soldiers. Other rebel groups, such as the Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), have been a target of the UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, for years. The ADF, a small but potent force ensconced in the Rwenzori Mountains on the border with Uganda, has remained a threat and is suspected of carrying out deadly attacks in 2017 and 2018. Meanwhile, a multitude of ethnically based local militias, known as the Mai Mai, have added to the chaos with their opaque networks of shifting alliances.
This conflict has displaced millions, led to massive human rights abuse, involved child soldiers and child labour and the use of sexual violence as a tool of war.
The Lusaka Peace Agreement was signed between the DRC, Angola, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. It addressed several issues including the cessation of hostilities, establishment of a joint military commission comprising representatives of the belligerents, withdrawal of foreign groups, disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating of combatants, release of prisoners and hostages, re-establishment of government administration and the selection of a mediator to facilitate an all-inclusive inter-Congolese dialogue. The agreement also calls for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force to monitor the ceasefire, investigate violations with the JMC and disarm, demobilize and reintegrate armed groups.
Peace Agreement Between the Governments of the Republic of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the Withdrawal of the Rwandan Troops from the Territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Dismantling of the Ex-FAR and Interahamwe Forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Agreement Between the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Uganda on Withdrawal of Ugandan Troops from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cooperation and Normalisation of Relations Between the Two Countries.
All of the major domestic rebel groups come to a power-sharing agreement with the DRC government. The agreement provides for a multistep transition to democracy, beginning with the reunification of the country and the creation of a transitional government that includes representatives of the rebel groups and the political opposition.
After the rise of a new rebel group, the M23, the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework Agreement between the DRC and ten of its neighbours comes into being. The agreement commits countries in the region to non-interference in DRC affairs after a 2012 UN report found that Rwanda and Uganda continued to support the M23 rebels.