Visiting Central Africa will never be complete if you would not stop by the largest and the most populous country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). If exploring the wilds is the goal of your planned trip, this could be the perfect spot. It could be compared to the Amazon forest, where you could expect a diverse species of flora and fauna. Make sure that you are not just the usual backpackers and hill climbers because Congo could offer the most exciting, strange, but fun wild encounters. Situated at the heart of the equatorial plate, make sure you put on your raincoats on because this country has been known to have a large amount of precipitation. Also, it is the only country in the world that has the highest frequency of thunderstorms!
Important and Interesting facts about Democratic Republic of Congo
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a country situated in Central Africa. It is bounded by the Republic of Congo and the Atlantic Ocean to the west; Zambia to the southeast; Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda to the east; Angola to the southwest; Sudan to the northeast; and the Central African Republic to the north.
- The country has many ports and harbors; Banana, Bumba, Goma, kindu, Mbandaka, Matadi, Bukavu, Kinshasa and Kisangani are some of the most important.
- The great apes, such as the bonobos and the eastern lowland gorillas, can be found only in Congo.
- DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (DRC), which occupies the greater part of the Congo River basin, is a giant nation. It is slightly smaller than one-fourth the size of the United States of America. It is a land of great contrasts—an Africa in miniature.
- Straddling the Equator, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the third largest country in Africa (after Sudan and Algeria). The mighty Congo River flows north and then south through a land rich in minerals, fertile farmlands, and rain forests.
- Kahuzi-Biega National Park is named after Mt. Kahuzi (3,308m) and Mt. Biega (2, 790m) located in the South Kivu Province, east of Democratic Republic of Congo. The National Park spreads from the Congo River basin to the northwest of Bukavu.
- Nyiragongo is a Stratovolcano which are characterised by high cones and explosive eruptions. It has an active lava lake inside the crater and can sometimes be visited by tourists.
- The park’s immense savannahs, grasslands and woodlands, interspersed with gallery forests along the river banks and the swampy depressions, are home to four large mammals: the elephant, giraffe, hippopotamus and above all the white rhinoceros. Though much larger than the black rhino, it is harmless; only some 30 individuals remain.
- Maiko National Park is a national park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Three of the country’s spectacular endemic animals occur here: the Grauer’s gorilla, the Okapi, and the Congo Peafowl. Maiko is also an important site for the conservation of the African forest elephant, eastern chimpanzee and the endemic aquatic genet.
- Boyoma Falls, formerly known as Stanley Falls, consists of seven cataracts, each no more than 5 m (16 ft) high. At the bottom of the rapids, the Lualaba becomes the Congo River. The seven cataracts have a total drop of 61 m (200 ft). The two major cataracts are the first below Ubundu, forming a narrow and crooked stream that is hardly accessible, and the last that can easily be seen and also be visited from Kisangani.
- DRC’s Kinshasa, and Brazzaville, the capital of the neighboring Republic of Congo, are the world’s closest capitals. They’re separated by the Congo River, the world’s second-largest river by volume, which widens to five kilometers (more than three miles) at this point.
- Surrounded by the Virunga Mountains, the area around Goma bears a beautiful resemblance to alpine lakes in Europe. Two national parks are nearby — the Virunga National Park to the north and the Kahuzi-Biega National Park outside Bukavu. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Cool, Funny and Fun Facts about Democratic Republic of Congo
- The DRC boasts a space program. Privately financed by the Développement Tous Azimuts (DTA), with significant government support, the Troposphere rockets are expected to send cargo to outer space in the near future.
- The recent award-winning film ‘Benda Bilili’ documents the rise of a Kinshasa street band – Staff Bend Bilili. Their tale of international success is made even more remarkable because the band members are disabled (the name of the band means ‘beyond appearances’).
- The country’s biggest stars, musicians such as Koffi Olomide, Papa Wemba and Werrason, can fill the biggest clubs from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Paris as fast as Justin Bieber.
- The rare okapi is one of 1,500 animal species endemic to the Congo. It makes its home in the remote Ituri Forest in the northeastern part of the country.
- Serge Ibaka is a famous basketball player from DRC. He was the NBA shot-blocking specialist who began his career with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2009 and helped lead the team to the NBA Finals in 2012 where they were defeated by the Miami Heat. He led the NBA in blocks in 2012, which helped him earn All-Defensive First Team honors.
- Ray Lema from DRC is a Musician and composer who worked for the National Ballet of Zaire. He was invited to come to the United States by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1979. He later settled in Paris, after finding success with Island Records.
- The Upemba lechwe, is a species of antelope found only in the Upemba wetlands in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- All horseshoe bats have leaf-like, horseshoe-shaped protuberances on their noses and they are unique to the DRC. They emit echolocation calls through these structures, which may serve to focus the sound. Their hind limbs are not well developed, so they cannot walk on all fours; conversely, their wings are broad, making their flight particularly agile.
- The Congo peacock, known as the mbulu by the Congolese, a species of peafowl found only in the DRC. Its feathers are deep blue with a metallic green and violet tinge. It has bare red neck skin, grey feet, and a black tail with fourteen feathers. Its head is adorned with vertical white elongated hair-like feathers on its crown.
- Upemba Bush Viper is a venomous viper species endemic to DR Congo, found only in a limited area in the east of the country. The head is flat, triangular, distinct from the neck, and covered with small keeled scales. The snout is rounded. The color pattern consists of a purple-brown or yellow-brown ground color, overlaid with paired dorsolateral lines of a contrasting shade. These lines may break into a zigzag pattern and run from head to tail. The belly is yellowish, as is the tip of the tail.
Historical and Cultural facts about Democratic Republic of Congo
- The DRC used to have a very strange form of currency. It’s called the Katanga cross. The metal is made of copper and is shaped in the form of an X. A single Katanga cross, which was used for trade in the 19th and early 20th centuries, could buy 10 kilograms of flour and six chickens. Double the cross and it could buy a gun.
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo was known as Zaire from 1971 until 1997, when its name was changed back to the one it had during 1960-70.
- Tilapia is the fish caught in the local Lake Kivu, near Bukavu. It was plentiful and if cooked well is extremely tasty. Fried with some spices we found to be best. Often it was served with Cassava, the staple root vegetable of the area which is quite stodgy and doesn’t have much taste but provides you with some carbs.
- Music and dance are of huge importance to Congolese people. The region’s music is sometimes referred to as ‘musique Zaïroise’ (from Zaire, the old name of the country).
- A unique style arose in the region from the jazz and rumba bands of the 1940s and 1950s. Today, this popular style of African music is known as soukous.
- Pygmy people were the first of DRC’s ethnic groups to inhabit the area.
- The second-largest French-speaking city in the world (after Paris), by a long shot, is Kinshasa, DRC. Its French-language credentials allowed Kinshasa to host the Summit of La Francophonie in October 2012, the largest gathering in the world of heads of state of French-speaking countries.
- Locals eat mayo with everything. A legacy of the Belgian colonial period is the overwhelming preference for huge blobs of mayonnaise on almost everything — meat, fish, fried plantains, manioc, peas and salad are just a few examples.
- In the 16th century, the powerful Luba state developed in what is now Katanga Province; soon afterward, a Lunda state was established in what is now south-central DROC.
- In 1789, a Portuguese explorer, José Lacerdu e Almeida, explored in a cuvette and penetrated as far as Katanga, where he learned of the rich copper mines.
- In 1974, Kinshasa hosted the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, in which Ali defeated Foreman to regain the World Heavyweight title.