(République Démocratique du Congo). Central African state (2,344,858 km²). Capital: Kinshasa. Administrative division: provinces (11). Population: 64,704,000 residents (2008 estimate). Language: French (official), kikongo, kiswahhili, kituba, lingala. Religion: Catholics 41%, Protestants 31.6%, other Christians 13.4%, animists / traditional beliefs 10.7%, Muslims 1.4%, others 1.9%. Monetary unit: Congolese franc (100 cents). Human Development Index: 0.361 (177th place). Borders: Central African Republic and Sudan (N), Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania (E), Zambia and Angola (S), Atlantic Ocean and Angola (W), Republic of Congo (NW). Member of: UN, SADC, AU and WTO, EU associate. Visit weddinginfashion for Economy of Central Africa.
The very rich hydrographic network naturally focuses on the Congo, whose massive basin (3,690,000 km²), essentially lying in the equatorial belt, is second only to that of the Amazon River. Its flow rate is also exceptional (at the mouth it ranges from 30,000 m 3 / s in lean periods to 75,000 m 3 / s in flood periods), as the water tributary of the left and right tributaries is complementary over the year since the wettest seasons alternate on the S and N of the Equator. Born with the name of Lualaba from the Mitumba chain, it is fed by multiple tributaries including the Luvua, which brings it the waters of Lake Mweru, and the Lukuga those of Lake Tanganyika. Described as a wide arc straddling the Equator and enriched by the contribution of other imposing tributaries, the Congo is a wide, majestic river, navigable for over 1600 km. Before exiting the depression, where in vast amphibious and lacustrine areas (for example the Mai-Ndombe lake, formerly Leopoldo II) discharges part of the water, it forms a sort of lake basin, the Pool Malebo (formerly Stanley Pool); then, having dug a narrow passage in the coastal reliefs, it descends to the Atlantic with the aforementioned Livingstone waterfalls.
ECONOMY: AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, LIVESTOCK AND FISHING
As many as 60% of the active population is employed in agriculture, which however has rather small areas, just over 3% of the territorial surface. The contrast between subsistence agriculture and commercial agriculture is still strong. Subsistence productions, which the absolute majority of peasants await, are generally forced into the most distant areas and worst served by communication routes; the yields are quite poor. To the environment tropical fit especially tubers such as cassavaand yam; among cereals, only corn and rice have a certain diffusion, while among fruit and vegetable crops, tomatoes, citrus fruits, pineapples and bananas prevail. Commercial crops, on the other hand, are located in the most fertile areas and are managed by foreign companies: the main product is coffee, widespread in the eastern highlands, followed by cotton, grown mainly in the savannah areas N of the Equator; in the coastal plains and in the middle Congo basin, on the other hand, the oil palm is well represented; other oil crops are sesame, soy and especially peanuts. They also grow tea, widespread in the Kivu region, cocoa, tobacco, sugar cane, textile plants such as kenaf and agave sisalana. The political and social situation of the last decade of the twentieth century and the early years of the 2000s had a negative impact on both production sectors. § The forest heritage is considerable; woods and forests cover approx. 59.6% of the territory and constitute the largest forest area of the continent, from which we get timber, rubber and significant precious essences such as kambala, the limbal and l ‘ cashew, as well as Hevea. Exploitation is usually limited by the lack of suitable means of communication. § Breeding is scarcely practiced, also due to unfavorable environmental conditions; in particular, cattle are severely hampered by the presence, throughout the Congolese area, of the moscow tsé-tsé: the best areas are the highlands of Ituri, Kivu, Shaba and Kasai. Goats, sheep and pigs and poultry are also bred. § Fishing also plays a rather modest role, practiced with backward methods and mainly in inland waters.
ECONOMY: TRADE AND COMMUNICATIONS
The balance of payments balance is largely in deficit (2007). Exports mainly concern copper, cobalt, diamonds, oil and coffee in Belgium, France, the United States and China. Imports are mainly represented by consumer goods and raw materials from South Africa, Belgium and France. § Even with regard to communication routes, the country immediately reveals its heavy colonial past. In fact, the Belgians created pure and simple arteries of penetration from the coast to the mining areas and to the areas occupied by plantations, generally following the natural passages already marked by the extraordinary Congolese hydrography, thanks to which rivers have always represented easy communication routes – indeed often the only ones – within the vast depression: 16,400 km are navigable. Given the still fundamental role of inland waterways, the railways (which developed in 2005 for about 3641 km, only minimally electrified) in practice connect or connect the river sections unsuitable for navigation: the railway between Matadi, on the estuary of the Congo, and Kinshasa, where the river navigation begins, purposely built to overcome the Livingstone falls, is the fundamental axis of the country’s communications. Another very important line is the Ilebo-Lubumbashi, which connects the Kasai with the Shaba, while another goes towards the West connecting to Dilolo to the Angola network and thus giving the country an Atlantic opening through the Angolan port of Lobito, in addition to the Congolese ports of Boma and Matadi. As for the road network, although its development is apparently quite conspicuous (approx. 154,000 km in 2004), it generally consists of little more than simple tracks. Air services can count on the five international airports of Ndjili (Kinshasa), Luana (Lubumbashi), Kisangani, Bukavu and Goma, as well as others used for internal lines.