Neighbors: The Congo is bordered by nine countries

Population: Approximately 80 million inhabitants

Ethnic Groups: Over 200 ethnic groups

Major Languages: Lingala, Kikongo, Tshiluba, Swahili, French

Size/Area: 2,345,410 sq km or approximately the size of Western Europe or slightly less than one fourth the size of the United States

Income: An estimated 80% of Congolese earn less than $200 per year

Key Natural Resources: Diamonds, Gold, Coltan, Uranium, Copper, Tin, Silver, Cobalt, Niobium, Timber, Hydro Power, Manganese, Petroleum

Life Expectancy: 51 years

Religions: Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, Other 10%

Capital: Kinshasa

Provinces: Eleven (the new constitution provides for 26 provinces)

Colonized: The Congo was Colonized by Belgium (80 times smaller than the Congo) in 1908 after 23 years of personal rule by King Leopold II. King Leopold ruled the Congo as his own private property from 1885 – 1908, a brutal period during which anywhere from 10 million to 15 million slaughtered Congolese were casualties of his quest to enrich himself.

Independence: The Congo gained its independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960. Independence hero, Patrice Emery Lumumba was elected as Congo’s first Prime Minister.

Leadership: Joseph Kabila first assumed power in 2001 after the assassination of his father Laurent Desire Kabila. Joseph Kabila was subsequently elected as President in 2006 after Congo’s first democratic elections in over 40 years. Kabila appointed long-time Lumumbist Antonie Gizenga of PALU to be prime minister. Gizenga served as deputy prime minister in Patrice Lumumba’s government of 1960. Gizenga resigned on September 25, 2008 and was subsequently replaced by former Finance Minister, Adolphe Muzito, on October 10, 2008. Muzito served as Prime Minister until 2012. He was replaced by Matata Poyno.

The parliament is made up of a National Assembly and a Senate. The National Assembly has 500 members and is led by Aubin Minaku. The Senate has 108 members and is led by Kengo Wa Dondo. Presidential and legislative elections take place every five years. However, since 2007 there has not been any elections to replace the senators. As of 2016, the members of both the Senate and the Assembly have exceeded their constitutional term limits.

The last elections took place on November 28, 2011. Joseph Kabila won the 2011 elections due to massive fraud. As a result of the widespread cheating that took place during the elections, he lacks the legitimacy among the Congolese masses. Kabila appointed the former Finance Minister, Augustin Matata Ponyo as Prime Minister in April 2012.The next presidential elections were supposed to take place in 2016. However, President Joseph Kabila refused to organize elections in an attempt to hold on to power. He negotiated with the opposition with the assistance of the Catholic Church in a December 31, 2016 Agreement (Commonly referred to as the Saint Sylvestre Agreement) to hold elections by the end of 2017. He broke the agreement by not organizing elections. Finally, after tremendous pressure from the Congolese masses, regional powers like Angola and South Africa and the international community, Kabila agreed to organize elections on December 23, 2018. He also named a successor to run in the December elections and said he would step down. According to Congo’s Constitution, Joseph Kabila as a former President can serve in the Congolese Senate for life.

Resource Facts: Coltan