Congo Journal 4

Ten Fast Facts About Congo

Note: The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is not to be confused with the neighboring country called Republic of Congo. In my Congo Journals, “Congo” and “DRC” are used interchangeably, both referencing the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  1. The population of the DRC is over 71 million.
  2. The DRC is approximately 905,567 square miles, equal to the size of the US east of the Mississippi. It is the eleventh-largest country in the world.
  3. The official language of the DRC is French, with Swahili, Kikongo, Lingala, and Tshiluba also being very prevalent.
  4. In a land rich in mineral resources, 80 percent of the people nevertheless live in extreme poverty.
  5. The DRC is a failed state struggling to recover from over a decade of civil war that has officially ended, but continues in ongoing violence between numerous armed rebel militias.
  6. More than 5.4 million people have died as a result of this ongoing violence, making it the deadliest conflict since World War 2.
  7. The DRC’s vast natural resources, which are used in western electronics, are illegally mined by rebels who earn millions of dollars to buy weapons used to terrorize and control the civilian population.
  8. Nearly 2 million Congolese have become internally displaced, forced to flee from their homes to escape armed rebels.
  9. More than 400,000 DRC refugees still remain in various asylum countries.
  10. Sexual violence in eastern Congo is the worst in the world and considered by many to be the biggest humanitarian crisis of our time. “It is now more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in modern conflict.”—Major General Patrick Cammaert, former UN Deputy Force Commander, describing the situation in eastern Congo, May 2008.

This very short video sums up the Congo that I’ve seen and will see again in little over a week. Please watch this video and share it!

Future blogs will look more closely at the issue of conflict minerals and sexual violence in war—and also at what World Relief is doing in partnership with Congolese heroes bringing healing, help and hope to their country.

If you want to understand how the DRC ended up where it is today, read Adam Hochschild’s excellent book, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa.

Thanks for being part of this journey!