Congo, Democratic Republic of the

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Introduction

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Established as a Belgian colony in 1908, the then-Republic of the Congo gained its independence in 1960, but its early years were marred by political and social instability. Col. Joseph MOBUTU seized power and declared himself president in a November 1965 coup. He subsequently changed his name - to MOBUTU Sese Seko - as well as that of the country - to Zaire. MOBUTU retained his position for 32 years through several sham elections, as well as through brutal force. Ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow of refugees in 1994 from fighting in Rwanda and Burundi, led in May 1997 to the toppling of the MOBUTU regime by a rebellion backed by Rwanda and Uganda and fronted by Laurent KABILA. He renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but in August 1998 his regime was itself challenged by a second insurrection again backed by Rwanda and Uganda. Troops from Angola, Chad, Namibia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe intervened to support KABILA's regime. A cease-fire was signed in July 1999 by the DRC, Congolese armed rebel groups, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zimbabwe but sporadic fighting continued. Laurent KABILA was assassinated in January 2001 and his son, Joseph KABILA, was named head of state. In October 2002, the new president was successful in negotiating the withdrawal of Rwandan forces occupying eastern Congo; two months later, the Pretoria Accord was signed by all remaining warring parties to end the fighting and establish a government of national unity. A transitional government was set up in July 2003. Joseph KABILA as president and four vice presidents represented the former government, former rebel groups, the political opposition, and civil society. The transitional government held a successful constitutional referendum in December 2005 and elections for the presidency, National Assembly, and provincial legislatures in 2006. The National Assembly was installed in September 2006 and KABILA was inaugurated president in December 2006. Provincial assemblies were constituted in early 2007, and elected governors and national senators in January 2007. The next national elections are scheduled for November 2011.
 
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Geography

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Central Africa, northeast of Angola
 
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0 00 N, 25 00 E
 
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total: 2,344,858 sq km
country comparison to the world: 11
land: 2,267,048 sq km
water: 77,810 sq km
 
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slightly less than one-fourth the size of the US
 
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total: 10,730 km
border countries: Angola 2,511 km (of which 225 km is the boundary of Angola's discontiguous Cabinda Province), Burundi 233 km, Central African Republic 1,577 km, Republic of the Congo 2,410 km, Rwanda 217 km, South Sudan 628 km, Tanzania 459 km, Uganda 765 km, Zambia 1,930 km
 
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37 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: boundaries with neighbors
 
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tropical; hot and humid in equatorial river basin; cooler and drier in southern highlands; cooler and wetter in eastern highlands; north of Equator - wet season (April to October), dry season (December to February); south of Equator - wet season (November to March), dry season (April to October)
 
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vast central basin is a low-lying plateau; mountains in east
 
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lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pic Marguerite on Mont Ngaliema (Mount Stanley) 5,110 m
 
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cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal, hydropower, timber
 
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arable land: 2.86%
permanent crops: 0.47%
other: 96.67% (2005)
 
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110 sq km (2008)
 
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1,283 cu km (2001)
 
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total: 0.36 cu km/yr (53%/17%/31%)
per capita: 6 cu m/yr (2000)
 
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periodic droughts in south; Congo River floods (seasonal); in the east, in the Great Rift Valley, there are active volcanoes
volcanism: Nyiragongo (elev. 3,470 m), which erupted in 2002 and is experiencing ongoing activity, poses a major threat to the city of Goma, home to a quarter of a million people; the volcano produces unusually fast-moving lava, known to travel up to 100 km /hr; Nyiragongo has been deemed a "Decade Volcano" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; its neighbor, Nyamuragira, which erupted in 2010, is Africa's most active volcano; Visoke is the only other historically active volcano
 
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poaching threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; deforestation; refugees responsible for significant deforestation, soil erosion, and wildlife poaching; mining of minerals (coltan - a mineral used in creating capacitors, diamonds, and gold) causing environmental damage
 
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
 
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straddles equator; has narrow strip of land that controls the lower Congo River and is only outlet to South Atlantic Ocean; dense tropical rain forest in central river basin and eastern highlands; second largest country in Africa (after Algeria)
 
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People and Society

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noun: Congolese (singular and plural)
adjective: Congolese or Congo
 
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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
 
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French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba
 
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Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other (includes syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs) 10%
 
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71,712,867 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected
 
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0-14 years: 44.4% (male 16,031,347/female 15,811,818)
15-64 years: 53% (male 18,919,942/female 19,116,204)
65 years and over: 2.6% (male 767,119/female 1,066,437) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 17.4 years
male: 17.2 years
female: 17.6 years (2011 est.)
 
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2.614% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
 
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37.74 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
 
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11.06 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 36
 
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-0.54 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
 
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urban population: 35% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 4.5% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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KINSHASA (capital) 8.401 million; Lubumbashi 1.543 million; Mbuji-Mayi 1.488 million; Kananga 878,000; Kisangani 812,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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670 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 16
 
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total: 78.43 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 14
male: 82.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 74.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 55.33 years
country comparison to the world: 199
male: 53.9 years
female: 56.8 years (2011 est.)
 
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5.24 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
 
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11.2% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 19
 
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0.11 physicians/1,000 population (2004)
country comparison to the world: 163
 
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0.8 beds/1,000 population (2006)
country comparison to the world: 158
 
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improved:
urban: 80% of population
rural: 28% of population
total: 46% of population
unimproved:
urban: 20% of population
rural: 72% of population
total: 54% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 23% of population
rural: 23% of population
total: 23% of population
unimproved:
urban: 67% of population
rural: 67% of population
total: 67% of population (2008)
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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degree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria, plague, and African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
animal contact disease: rabies (2009)
 
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28.2% (2007)
country comparison to the world: 21
 
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NA
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write French, Lingala, Kingwana, or Tshiluba
total population: 67.2%
male: 80.9%
female: 54.1% (2001 est.)
 
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total: 8 years
male: 9 years
female: 7 years (2009)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Democratic Republic of the Congo
conventional short form: DRC
local long form: Republique Democratique du Congo
local short form: RDC
former: Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Congo/Leopoldville, Congo/Kinshasa, Zaire
abbreviation: DRC
 
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republic
 
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name: Kinshasa
geographic coordinates: 4 19 S, 15 18 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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10 provinces (provinces, singular - province) and 1 city* (ville); Bandundu, Bas-Congo (Lower Congo), Equateur, Kasai-Occidental (West Kasai), Kasai-Oriental (East Kasai), Katanga, Kinshasa*, Maniema, Nord-Kivu (North Kivu), Orientale, Sud-Kivu (South Kivu)
note: according to the Constitution adopted in December 2005, the current administrative divisions were to be subdivided into 26 new provinces by 2009 but this has yet to be implemented
 
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30 June 1960 (from Belgium)
 
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Independence Day, 30 June (1960)
 
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18 February 2006
 
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civil legal system based on Belgian version of French civil law
 
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accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
 
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18 years of age; universal and compulsory
 
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chief of state: President Joseph KABILA (since 17 January 2001)
head of government: Prime Minister Adolphe MUZITO (since 10 October 2008)
cabinet: Ministers of State appointed by the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: under the new constitution the president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); elections last held on 30 July 2006 and on 29 October 2006 (next to be held on 27 November 2011); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Joseph KABILA elected president; percent of vote (second round) - Joseph KABILA 58%, Jean-Pierre BEMBA Gombo 42%
note: Joseph KABILA succeeded his father, Laurent Desire KABILA, following the latter's assassination in January 2001; negotiations with rebel leaders led to the establishment of a transitional government in July 2003 with free elections held on 30 July 2006 and a run-off on 29 October 2006 confirming Joseph KABILA as president
 
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bicameral legislature consists of a Senate (108 seats; members elected by provincial assemblies to serve five-year terms) and a National Assembly (500 seats; 61 members elected by majority vote in single-member constituencies, 439 members elected by open list proportional-representation in multi-member constituencies to serve five-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held on 19 January 2007 (next to be held on 13 June 2012); National Assembly - last held on 30 July 2006 (next to be held on 27 November 2011)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PPRD 22, MLC 14, FR 7, RCD 7, PDC 6, CDC 3, MSR 3, PALU 2, independents 26, others 18 (political parties that won a single seat); National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PPRD 111, MLC 64, PALU 34, MSR 27, FR 26, RCD 15, independents 63, others 160 (includes 63 political parties that won 10 or fewer seats)
 
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Constitutional Court; Appeals Court or Cour de Cassation; Council of State; High Military Court; plus civil and military courts and tribunals
 
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Christian Democrat Party or PDC [Jose ENDUNDO]; Congolese Rally for Democracy or RCD [Azarias RUBERWA]; Convention of Christian Democrats or CDC; Forces of Renewal or FR [Mbusa NYAMWISI]; Movement for the Liberation of the Congo or MLC [Jean-Pierre BEMBA]; People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy or PPRD [Joseph KABILA]; Social Movement for Renewal or MSR [Pierre LUMBI]; Unified Lumumbist Party or PALU [Antoine GIZENGA]; Union for the Congolese Nation or UNC [Vital KAMERHE]; Union for Democracy and Social Progress or UDPS [Etienne TSHISEKEDI]; Union of Mobutuist Democrats or UDEMO [MOBUTU Nzanga]
 
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MONUSCO - UN peacekeeping force; FARDC (Forces Arm�es de la R�publique D�mocratique du Congo) - Army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo which commits atrocities on citizens; FDLR (Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda) - Rwandan militia group made up of some of the perpetrators of Rwanda's Genocide in 1994; CNDP (National Congress for the Defense of the People) - mainly Congolese Tutsis who want refugees returned and more representation in government
 
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ACP, AfDB, AU, CEPGL, COMESA, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NAM, OIF, OPCW, PCA, SADC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Faida MITIFU
chancery: Suite 601, 1726 M Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 234-7690 through 7691
FAX: [1] (202) 234-2609
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador James F. ENTWISTLE
embassy: 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, Kinshasa
mailing address: Unit 31550, APO AE 09828
telephone: [243] (81) 225-5872
FAX: [243] (81) 301-0561
 
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sky blue field divided diagonally from the lower hoist corner to upper fly corner by a red stripe bordered by two narrow yellow stripes; a yellow, five-pointed star appears in the upper hoist corner; blue represents peace and hope, red the blood of the country's martyrs, and yellow the country's wealth and prosperity; the star symbolizes unity and the brilliant future for the country
 
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leopard
 
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name: "Debout Congolaise" (Arise Congolese)
lyrics/music: Joseph LUTUMBA/Simon-Pierre BOKA di Mpasi Londi
note: adopted 1960; the anthem was replaced during the period in which the country was known as Zaire, but was readopted in 1997
 
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Economy

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The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - a nation endowed with vast potential wealth - is slowly recovering from decades of decline. Systemic corruption since independence in 1960 and conflict that began in May 1997 has dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, increased external debt, and resulted in the deaths of more than 5 million people from violence, famine, and disease. Foreign businesses curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict, lack of infrastructure, and the difficult operating environment. Conditions began to improve in late 2002 with the withdrawal of a large portion of the invading foreign troops. The transitional government reopened relations with international financial institutions and international donors, and President KABILA began implementing reforms. Progress has been slow and the International Monetary Fund curtailed their program for the DRC at the end of March 2006 because of fiscal overruns. 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, boosted Kinshasa's fiscal position and GDP growth from 2006-2008, however, the government's review of mining contracts that began in 2006, combined with a fall in world market prices for the DRC's key mineral exports temporarily weakened output in 2009, leading to a balance of payments crisis. The recovery in mineral prices beginning in mid 2009 boosted mineral exports, and emergency funds from the IMF boosted foreign reserves. 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. The global recession cut economic growth in 2009 to less than half its 2008 level, but growth returned to 6% in 2010. 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.
 
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$23.12 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 119
$21.56 billion (2009 est.)
$20.96 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$13.13 billion (2010 est.)
 
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7.2% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
2.8% (2009 est.)
6.2% (2008 est.)
 
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$300 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 227
$300 (2009 est.)
$300 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 38.7%
industry: 26.7%
services: 34.6% (2010 est.)
 
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33.68 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
 
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agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
 
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NA%
 
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71% (2006 est.)
 
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lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 34.7% (2006)
 
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22.3% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
 
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revenues: $4.308 billion
expenditures: $3.999 billion (2010 est.)
 
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32.8% of GDP (2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 79
 
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2.4% of GDP (2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 22
 
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23.1% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 222
46.1% (2009 est.)
 
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22% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
70% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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56.8% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2
65.392% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$771.8 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 151
$531.4 million (31 December 2007)
 
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$2.147 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 143
$1.663 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
 
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$NA (31 December 2010)
$730.5 million (31 December 2008)
 
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$NA
 
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coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, cotton, cocoa, quinine, cassava (tapioca), manioc, bananas, plantains, peanuts, root crops, corn, fruits; wood products
 
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mining (diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, coltan, zinc, tin, diamonds), mineral processing, consumer products (including textiles, plastics, footwear, cigarettes, metal products, processed foods and beverages), timber, cement, commercial ship repair
 
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NA%
 
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7.452 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
 
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6.036 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
 
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674 million kWh (2008 est.)
 
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591 million kWh (2008 est.)
 
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21,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
 
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13,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
 
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11,090 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 92
 
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13,100 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 138
 
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180 million bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 112
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 75
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
 
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991.1 million cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
 
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-$1.47 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
-$1.167 billion (2007 est.)
 
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$8.35 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 95
$4.371 billion (2008 est.)
 
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diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, wood products, crude oil, coffee
 
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China 46.9%, Zambia 23.3%, US 10.4%, Belgium 4.2% (2010)
 
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$7.829 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102
$4.949 billion (2008 est.)
 
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foodstuffs, mining and other machinery, transport equipment, fuels
 
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South Africa 19.2%, China 12.5%, Belgium 9.2%, Zambia 8.8%, Zimbabwe 6.9%, France 5.8%, Kenya 5.8% (2010)
 
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$1.297 billion (March 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 128
$1.003 billion (December 2009 est.)
 
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$13.5 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 85
$12.18 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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Congolese francs (CDF) per US dollar -
495.28 (2010)
472.19 (2009)
559 (2008)
516 (2007)
464.69 (2006)
 
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Communications

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42,000 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 169
 
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11.355 million (2010)
country comparison to the world: 62
 
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general assessment: barely adequate wire and microwave radio relay service in and between urban areas; domestic satellite system with 14 earth stations; inadequate fixed line infrastructure
domestic: state-owned operator providing less than 1 fixed-line connection per 1000 persons; given the backdrop of a wholly inadequate fixed-line infrastructure, the use of mobile-cellular services has surged and subscribership in 2009 exceeded 10 million - roughly 15 per 100 persons
international: country code - 243; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2009)
 
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state-owned TV broadcast station with near national coverage; more than a dozen privately-owned TV stations with 2 having near national coverage; 2 state-owned radio stations are supplemented by more than 100 private radio stations; transmissions of at least 2 international broadcasters are available (2007)
 
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.cd
 
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3,006 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 146
 
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290,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 131
 
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Transportation

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198 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 31
 
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total: 26
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 172
1,524 to 2,437 m: 20
914 to 1,523 m: 91
under 914 m: 61 (2010)
 
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gas 37 km; oil 39 km; refined products 756 km (2010)
 
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total: 4,007 km
country comparison to the world: 43
narrow gauge: 3,882 km 1.067-m gauge (858 km electrified); 125 km 1.000-m gauge (2010)
 
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total: 153,497 km
country comparison to the world: 33
paved: 2,794 km
unpaved: 150,703 km (2004)
 
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15,000 km (including the Congo, its tributaries, and unconnected lakes) (2009)
country comparison to the world: 8
 
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total: 1
country comparison to the world: 163
by type: petroleum tanker 1
foreign-owned: 1 (Republic of the Congo 1) (2010)
 
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Banana, Boma, Bukavu, Bumba, Goma, Kalemie, Kindu, Kinshasa, Kisangani, Matadi, Mbandaka
 
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Military

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Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Forces d'Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo, FARDC): Army, National Navy (La Marine Nationale), Congolese Air Force (Force Aerienne Congolaise, FAC) (2011)
 
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18-45 years of age for voluntary military service (2009)
 
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males age 16-49: 15,980,106 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 10,168,258
females age 16-49: 10,331,693 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 877,684
female: 871,880 (2010 est.)
 
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2.5% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 59
 
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Transnational Issues

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heads of the Great Lakes states and UN pledged in 2004 to abate tribal, rebel, and militia fighting in the region, including northeast Congo, where the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), organized in 1999, maintains over 16,500 uniformed peacekeepers; members of Uganda's Lords Resistance Army forces continue to seek refuge in Congo's Garamba National Park as peace talks with the Uganda government evolve; the location of the boundary in the broad Congo River with the Republic of the Congo is indefinite except in the Pool Malebo/Stanley Pool area; Uganda and DRC dispute Rukwanzi island in Lake Albert and other areas on the Semliki River with hydrocarbon potential; boundary commission continues discussions over Congolese-administered triangle of land on the right bank of the Lunkinda river claimed by Zambia near the DRC village of Pweto; DRC accuses Angola of shifting monuments
 
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refugees (country of origin): 132,295 (Angola); 37,313 (Rwanda); 17,777 (Burundi); 13,904 (Uganda); 6,181 (Sudan); 5,243 (Republic of Congo)
IDPs: 1.4 million (fighting between government forces and rebels since mid-1990s; most IDPs are in eastern provinces) (2007)
 
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current situation: Democratic Republic of the Congo is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking for the purposes of forced labor and forced prostitution; the majority of this trafficking is internal, and much of it is perpetrated by armed groups and government forces outside government control within the country's unstable eastern provinces; Congolese women and children are exploited in forced prostitution, domestic servitude, and forced agricultural labor in Angola, South Africa, Republic of the Congo, as well as East African, Middle Eastern, and European nations
tier rating: Tier 3 - the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government did not show evidence of progress in prosecuting and punishing labor or sex trafficking offenders, including members of its own armed forces, in providing protective services for the vast majority of trafficking victims, or in raising public awareness of human trafficking (2011)
 
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one of Africa's biggest producers of cannabis, but mostly for domestic consumption; traffickers exploit lax shipping controls to transit pseudoephedrine through the capital; while rampant corruption and inadequate supervision leaves the banking system vulnerable to money laundering, the lack of a well-developed financial system limits the country's utility as a money-laundering center (2008)
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