The Democratic Republic of Congo is the third largest country in Africa, well located in the centre of Africa, with a small lengh of Atlantic coastline.
It covers an area of 2 345 410 km². Kinshasa is the capital city, formaly known as Léopoldville a former Belgium colony. There are an estimation population of about 66 million, comprising of 242 ethnic groups speaking some 450 local dialects, out of these, only four have the status of national languages:- Kiswahili, Lingala, Tshiluba and Kikongo.
French is the official language.The D.R. Congo is borders clock wise from southwest by Angola, Republic of Congo-Brazzaville, Central African Republic, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia across lake Tanganyika.
The country straddles the Equator, with one-third to the north and two-third to the south.
The D.R. Congo sustains the second largest rain forest in the world, after the Amazon, which covers more than half of the country.
This massive expanse of lush jungle covers most of the vast, low-lying central basin of the river, which slopes toward the Atlantic ocean in the west. Its area is surrounded by plateaus, merging into savannas in the south and southwest, and by mountainous terraces in the west, and dense grasslands extending beyond the Congo river in the north. High, glaciated Rwenzori mountains and the Albertine Rift montane forests are found in the extreme eastern region. In the impressive Virunga mountain range, there are eight volcanoes, of which two the “Nyiracongo and Nyamulagira” are still active.
The D.R. Congo experiences the largest amounts of precipitation up to about 2 032 mm (80 inches) annually and has the highest frequency of thunderstorms in the world. The geologic activity of the Great Rift Valley created the famous African great lakes: Tanganyika, Edward and Albert which lie on the eastern frontier. The country has enormous amount of mineral wealth: cobalt, copper, gold, silver, diamonds, zinc, manganese, uranium, radium, bauxite, coal, iron ore, cadmium, tin. Agriculturally rich in: coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, wood products etc.
The rainforests of D.R. Congo contain great biodiversity including many rare and endemic species. It is the only country in the world inhabited by two distinct species of chimpanzee in the wild; the common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and the bonobo also known as pygmy chimpanzee (Pan paniscus), along with gorillas, as well the okapi are the native species classified as endangered by World Conservation Union.
Five of the D.R.Congo national parks are listed by UNESCO as the World Heritage sites: Garamba, Kahuzi-Biega, Salonga, Maiko and Virunga national parks and the Okapis wildlife sanctuary in Epulu.
Wildlife conservation has become a priority in The Democratic Republic of Congo. ICCN ”Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature” and conservation-oriented organisations are working with the local communities in order to preserve and protect wildlife.
Virunga National Park: is the oldest national park of Africa, with 7 900 km², home to mountain gorillas, mountain elephants, a variety of bird life etc.
Garamba National Park: with 4 920 km², is home to the rare nothern white rhinos, giraffes, elephants centre.
Kahuzi-Biega National Parks: a two in one Kahuzi and Biega covers 6 000 km², is home of the eastern lowland gorillas, common chimpanzees, forest elephants etc.
Kundelungu National Parc: with an area of 7 600 km, is home to the world fastest animal the cheetahs, chimpanzees, is the only place in D.R.Congo where zebras and plains antilopes can be seen. It has one of the most spectacular water falls in Africa of “Lofoi” 384 m.
Maiko National Park: with 10 830 km², home to the rare okapis, Congo peackocks, forest elephants, the eastern lowland gorillas etc.
Mangroves National Park: with 768 km², a designed wetland site, it consists of coastal and river waters, islands ponds and swamps. Home to nine endergered mammals which include manatee etc.
Salonga National Park: covers an area of 36 000 km², home to many species of primates include the rare bonobo (pygmy chimpanzee), hippopotamus etc.
Upemba National Park: with 17 730 km², is populated by lions, leopard, elephants, zebras etc.
The Okapi Wildlife Reserve of Epulu covers an area of 13 762 km², contain great biodiversity, including many rare and endemic species, and is listed by UNESCO as World Heritage.