Country - Congo (Kinshasa)
Congo Country Information
People often get confused with the simplified name “Congo” which implies different countries, regions, rivers in different continents.
There are two adjacent countries in the central part of the African continent referred to with the same names:
- The country with bigger land mass is distinguished (from its neighbouring cousin) with the name the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which has the city of Kinshasa as its capital; and
- The smaller country with the name the Republic of Congo with Brazzaville as its capital lies to the north west of its bigger cousin (DRC).
The name Congo also is given to three municipalities in USA Alabama, West Virginia and Missouri; one municipality in Australia New South Wales; and another municipality in Brazil called Paraiba.
Even the name “Congo River” also can cause puzzlement since it denotes two rivers --- one in Ecuador of South America and another in Panama in the central America.
Let us consider both the countries with Congo as a part of their names, one by one.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo had also another name “Zaire” used officially for 26 years between 1971 and 1997. The country is also referred by its short title DRC. It is bordered in north by Central African Republic, in the northwestern side by delineated part Republic of Congo and its southwestern tip is in contiguity with North Atlantic Ocean. Its south western border is shared by Angola, southeastern border by Zambia, eastern borders are shared by Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and the northeastern border is common with Uruguay and South Sudan.
The official language of DRC is French derived from its colonial rule of Belgium and there are four national languages Kituba, Lingala, Swahili and Tshiluba. The country lies on the equator, with its one-third to the north of equator and the lower two-thirds to the south. The average temperature of the country hovers around 25ºC. About 80% of its population are Christians out of which 50% belong to Roman Catholicism, 20% are Protestants and 10% make for Kimbanguists.
DRC is known for active volcanoes and wild life. The rare okapi is one of 1500 animal species native to the country. Democratic Republic of Congo is a place for visitors who are interested in watching wild life, geographical rarities like simmering volcanoes and exotic cultures of African people. Five national parks have been given the status of World Heritage sites by UNESCO. The animals like white rhinoceros and bonobo chimpanzees which are some of rare species on the verge of extinction are a common sight in DRC.
Republic of Congo
Republic of Congo is a smaller cousin of DRC which alienated itself and achieved full independence on 15th August, 1960 from the earlier conflicts with colonial control from the French. Its capital is Brazzaville and the official language is French. The other recognized languages are Kituba and Lingala.
The Congo Republic or Congo, as it is simply known as, has unitary semi-presidential republic with the President and the Prime Ministers as its apex political heads. It has a bicameral legislature. The country has on its western border Gabon, and its northern border is shared by Cameroon and Central African Republic. Its southern border is common with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Fifty percent of the population is Christians, with 2% as Muslims and 48% following the principles of animism.
A large part of Congo is a land of bio-diversity, with 80% of the terrain covered under rainforests. Tourists who enjoy safari rides find Lefini Reserve as the most gratifying. The three national parks viz., Noubadale-Ndoki National Park, Odzala National Park and Douli National Park are abodes of varied species of wild and rare animals unique to their habitat. Very large sized tigerfishes can be caught sight of by visitors in the Tiger Fish Congo Camp.
Palm wine extracted naturally is consumed as a mild intoxicant along with other branded beverages in Brazzaville. Since Congo and DRC are much known for being the originating lands of deadly contagious as well as infective diseases for which neither vaccine nor curative medicinal drugs have been invented, visitors are advised a word of caution to keep to themselves as far as possible in their own interest.
The trip to the twin countries of Congo cannot be unpleasant, if adequate precautionary measures for health are taken by tourists. The picturesque natural locales, rainforests, the dormant volcanoes, safari-rides and the fauna unique to their habitat do not let down the enthusiastic tourists.