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Congo, Democratic Republic of the


Introduction: 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...

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People: The population of the DRC was estimated at 71 million in 2011. As many as 250 ethnic groups have been distinguished and named. Some of the larger groups are the Kongo, Luba, and Anamongo. Although 700 local languages and dialects are spoken, the linguistic variety is bridged both by the use of French and the national languages Kikongo, Tshiluba, Kiswahili, and Lingala.

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International Relations: The DRC's relations with its neighbours were very poor between 1994 and 2005, particularly with Rwanda and Uganda. This was due to allegations of Congolese support for Rwandan and Ugandan rebel groups based on Congolese territory and to Rwandan and Ugandan military interventions into the DRC in 1996 and 1998.

There have however been improvements in regional tensions in recent years. In mid-to-late 2002 the DRC signed peace agreements with both Rwanda and Uganda, after which both countries withdrew their troops from the Congo. This has led to some normalisation in relations between the DRC and both Uganda and Rwanda, ...

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Zaire has long been considered significant because of its location, its resources, its potential, and (perhaps paradoxically) because of its weakness. The country has been at the center of a number of crises over the years, most notably following independence, during the Congo crisis of the 1960s, when there was a threat of the Cold War spilling over and heating up in Central Africa. Again in the ...

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