Democratic Republic of the Congo Country Overview
Where is Democratic Republic of the Congo located? The Democratic Republic of the Congo (also called Zaïre in the meantime) is located in Central Africa. In 1960 the state declared its independence from Belgium and since then has seen many civil wars and civil unrest. On the time zone map, Congo is in the time zone called “West Africa Time” (WAT) which is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+1). Due to its proximity to the equator, the clock does not change to daylight saving time in the summer.
As of 2023, the latest population of Democratic Republic of the Congo is 101,780,263, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).
|Population growth rate||3.18%|
|Birth rate||33.50 births per 1,000 people|
|65 years and above||2.69%|
|Median age||18.10 years|
|Gender ratio (Male to Female)||0.99|
|Population density||43.41 residents per km²|
|in total approx. 300 ethnic groups: around 80% Bantu groups (18% Luba, 16% Congo, 13% Mongo, 10% Rwanda), 18% Sudan groups (Ubangi and others) and others, 20,000-50,000 so-called pygmies; approx. 20,000 Europeans (mostly Belgians)|
|Catholics (Roman Catholic) 50%, Protestants 20%, Kimbanguists 10%, Muslims 10%, other syncretic sects and indigenous religions 10%|
|Human Development Index (HDI)||0.459|
|HDI ranking||179th out of 194|
People in Democratic Republic of the Congo
More than 84 million people live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In German we also call the residents Congolese – just like their neighbors from the Republic of the Congo. The population has been growing rapidly for decades – by 3 percent every year. Each woman has an average of six children. This means that the population is very young overall. The average age is only 17 years. In Germany it is almost 48 years! However, in the DR Congo, many children die at birth, namely 28 out of 1,000 babies. 88 out of 1000 children do not experience their 5th birthday.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is the fourth largest country in Africa in terms of residents. Because it is so large in terms of its area, the overall population density is only low. In addition, the population is distributed very unevenly in the country. You can see that on the map. Most of the people live in the Kinshasa region and in the North Kivu and South Kivu regions in the east of the country.
There is a rural exodus. This means that people move to the cities in the hope of work and better living conditions. Others fled the east of the country, where several civil wars broke out until 2009. Only 45 percent of the population still live in the city, but this number has been increasing for years.
The first residents of the region were pygmy peoples. Today they make up less than one percent of the population. Around 80 percent, however, belong to the Bantu peoples. Here the Baluba, Bakongo, Mongo and Mangbetu-Azande make up the largest groups with 10 to 18 percent each. In total, however, more than 200 ethnic groups live in the country.
Languages in Democratic Republic of the Congo
The official language in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is French. Teaching is in French, documents are in French and newspapers and television are too.
Overall, due to the diversity of peoples, a great many languages are spoken in the country. 214 has been counted! But there are four national languages that are used for communication. They were set by Belgium in the colonial times to limit the diversity of languages. All laws must be published in French and these four national languages.
In the northwest, Lingála is this lingua franca. It is a Bantu language originally spoken by the Bangala people along the Congo River. It mingled with other Bantu languages to form Lingála. The Europeans also used Lingála for communication in the colonial times. Lingála is not the language of instruction, but it is widely used in media. It spreads south, into the Kikongo language area.
Kikongo is spoken in the west of the country, around the capital Kinshasa. It is the language of the Congo people. As a simplified version of the Bantu language Kikongo, many also speak Kituba. This creole language is based on the Kikongo.
The third national language is Tschiluba. It is spoken in the two Kasai provinces in the south of the country (Kasai-Occidental and Kasai-Oriental). Tschiluba is also a Bantu language, originally that of the Baluba (or Luba) people.
Swahili is spoken in the east of the country. In German this language is sometimes also called Swahili or Kiswahili. It is the most important lingua franca in East Africa. A Congolese dialect of Swahili is spoken in the DR Congo. The language is also used in school.
Religions in Democratic Republic of the Congo
80 percent of the Congolese are Christians. They are divided into 50 percent Catholics, 20 percent Protestants and 10 percent Kimbanguists. The latter is an independent Christian church. The Kimbaguist Church was built in the 1950s. Its followers follow a prophet of their own, namely Simon Kimbangu, who died in 1951. He fought against the Belgian oppression in 1921 and was considered by the Congolese to be their savior. 10 percent of the population are followers of Islam.
The Portuguese were already engaged in missionary work when they arrived in 1482. Many Congolese were converted to Christianity in this way. Even the King of the Kingdom of the Congo was baptized. In the 19th century there was another time of proselytizing, now also by Protestants. Often, however, traditional ideas still play a role with people, such as the belief in animated things and spirits. This is sometimes mixed up with elements of Christianity.