congo river winds through the rainforest

7 Interesting Facts About The Democratic Republic Of The Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo is often referred to as DRC or DR Congo to distinguish it from the Republic of Congo. It’s a beautiful and endlessly diverse country in Central Africa. Let’s get to know this remarkable country a bit better, here are 7 interesting facts about the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Facts About the Democratic Republic of the Congo

1. The Congo River is the deepest river in the world

The Congo River is one of the world’s great rivers. It’s the second-longest in Africa – the Nile River being the first – and the sixth-longest in the world. While it doesn’t hold the number one spot for the longest, it’s certainly the deepest. It’s about 220 metres deep, but really it’s so deep that we don’t exactly know how deep it is. It’s also home to about 400 species of mammals, 1,000 species of birds and 700 species of fish. Some of the mammals include elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, leopards, hippos, manatees and lions. Other rainforest species include tsetse flies, African Goliath beetles and Congo African grey parrots. Quite impressive!

the congo river winding through the rainforest

2. Kinshasa is the largest French-speaking city in the world

Kinshasa is the capital city of DR Congo. The official language of the country is French, with 74% of the country speaking the language. And while you might think that the largest cities to speak French would be in France, Kinshasa takes the cake. As of 2021, Kinshasa has a population of just over 15.5 million people. Around 68% of Kinsasha speak French, so that’s circa 10.5 million people. Paris is France’s largest city with just over 2 million people, so Kinsasha quite easily nabs the title of largest French-speaking city in the world.

view of kinshasa skyline through palm trees

3. It’s one of 17 megadiverse countries

According to Conservation International, just 17 countries are considered megadiverse. Megadiverse countries have very high biodiversity, meaning many different species of animals and plants exist in the country. And DR Congo is certainly diverse – it’s home to more than 10,000 types of plants, 600 timber species, as well as 1,000 bird species, 280 reptile species, and 400 mammal species. It’s also home to the endangered okapi. While it’s known as the “forest giraffe,” the okapi looks more like a cross between a deer and a zebra. The only place that the okapi can be found in the wild is the Ituri Rainforest in DR Congo and sadly, there are thought to be just a few thousand left in the wild today.

an okapi eating in the forest

4. It’s home to the second-largest rainforest in the world

The Congo Basin is one of the most important wilderness areas on earth, as it’s home to the Congo Rainforest. The Congo Rainforest is the largest in Africa and the second largest overall, with the Amazon Rainforest being number one. Rainforests are vital for regulating the world’s climate but are facing more threats every day. Just some of the animals that call the Congo Rainforest home are forest elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, okapi, leopards, hippos, and lions.

sunlight shining through trees in the congo rainforest

5. There are more than 200 African ethnic groups in DR Congo

DR Congo is incredibly diverse, with over 200 ethnic groups calling the country home. And while the official language of DR Congo is French, it’s one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world with over 200 languages spoken. The Bantu people make up a large portion of the population, and they’re kind of a cluster of ethnic groups within a group. DR Congo is also home to Pygmies – a tribal group that reside in the forests. They’re known for their distinct shorter stature of up to 5 foot for an adult, which is considered genetic. As hunter-gatherers, their smaller stature makes it easier to move freely through the dense forest.

three pygmy people smiling and talking

6. It’s the second-largest country in Africa

With a huge river, the second-largest rainforest in the world, such diverse wildlife, and over 200 African ethnic groups, it might come as no surprise that DR Congo is the second-largest country in Africa. While Algeria takes the top spot with an area spanning 2,381,741 km², DR Congo is extremely close behind with an area of 2,344,858 km². In terms of the biggest countries in the whole world, DR Congo takes the 11th spot while Algeria comes in at 10th.

hills of karuba in dr congo

7. It’s one of the most resource-rich countries on the planet

Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, DR Congo is actually extremely rich in resources. Thanks to its abundance of water from the river and the mild climate, the soil is rich and fertile. It’s thought to be sitting on an estimated $24 trillion worth of natural resources including 3.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, large deposits of iron ore, platinum, diamonds, gold, and uranium.

landscape of hills

Aleyna Thompson

Aleyna is an appreciator of learning about a culture through its food, whether that's closer to home or being out there in the world. She’s always happiest when experiencing somewhere new, but her base in Manchester is a close second. A blend of her love of writing, food, travel, and culture has naturally led her to travel writing full time.

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