Democratic Republic of the Congo Population and History

By | June 6, 2022

Demography and economic geography. – State of equatorial Africa, whose territory coincides more or less with the basin of the Congo river, covered by the equatorial forest and the savannah, and bordered to the south by the lands of southern Africa, to the east by the plateau of the Great Lakes, to north from the countries of the Sudanese belt. According to Homosociety, the population (69,360,118 residents, According to an estimate by UNDESA, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, of 2014, of which 56% under 19 years), growing by 2.7% a year (2010-15) and with a very low life expectancy (50 years, 2013), 76% of them live in a state of poverty, in a general context of corruption, cyclical violence and violations of rights that more often than not go unpunished. 53% do not have access to drinking water and 480,000 people are infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus): it is the 15th country in the world for number of patients. The intricate situation of displaced persons and refugees, due to the armed conflict that persists especially in the East, further complicates the picture: more than 2.9 million are internally displaced and about 500,000 refugees displaced in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda (UNHCR, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates, of 2014). Between 2012 and 2014, approximately 136,000 people returned from the Republic of the Congo. At the same time, there are refugees in the country from Rwanda and the Central African Republic and there are still Angolans who have never returned to their homeland. Added to this is the sad reality of child soldiers estimated, by default, at around 16,560 in the period 2010-13 (source UNICEF). 42% of the residents are concentrated in the cities: in particular in the capital, Kinshasa, with 11,116,000 residents (2014 estimate), Mbuji-Mayi and Lubumbashi with almost 2 million; in Kisangani and Kananga with over 1 million.

Economic conditions. – Despite the great wealth of natural resources, GDP growth of 7-9% in recent years and a recovery in public investment, unemployment is at 51% and the country remains among the poorest in the world: penultimate place (186 °) for the Human Development Index and per capita GDP at purchasing power parity (PPA) of 703 dollars (2014). The mining sector is the main source of exports: diamonds, 3.9 million carats in 2012 (6th world producer), copper, 580,000 tons, but also oil, gold, cobalt, uranium, radium, coltan, to which are added agricultural products (roots and tubers, peanuts, palm oil, coffee), freshwater fish and timber. Agriculture remains the main sector: 44% of GDP and 56% of the workforce.

History. – The results of the legislative and presidential elections, held in 2006 (in July and October) and judged substantially regular by international observers, were instead severely contested by Jean-Pierre Bemba, vice-president with Joseph Kabila and leader of the Mouvement de libération du Congo (MLC), candidate for the presidency and defeated in the second round by Kabila himself, who had won 58% of the votes by also winning the legislative elections with his Parti du peuple pour la reconstruction et la démocratie (PPRD). When the results were announced, violent clashes took place in Kinshasa between the police and supporters of Bemba, who left the country in 2007 to be investigated in 2009 by the International Criminal Court. During the same 2009 efforts were multiplied to face the difficult situation in Kivu, where the rebel troops led by dissident general Laurent Nkunda remained active, who was arrested in Rwanda just that year. In May 2009 Kabila tried to reduce internal tensions with an amnesty, while the UN, in June 2010, transformed the peacekeeping force into a stabilization force, almost as if to signal a progressive normalization of the country. However, the pacification process remained fragile and precarious in a context characterized by an immense wealth of natural resources, with a growth rate that reached 7% in 2010, and, at the same time, by enormous social inequalities, extreme levels of poverty, high rates of illiteracy, endemic corruption and widespread violation of human rights. The new presidential elections, in one round thanks to a constitutional change, took place, together with the legislative ones in November 2011, in a climate of increasing violence. Kabila and his party confirmed themselves at the helm of the country, without objections from other African governments, even if the regularity of the consultations was contested by the opposition candidate Étienne Tshisekedi, leader of the Union pour la démocratie et le progrès social (UDPS), and was questioned by the European Union mission and other international bodies.

In April 2012, the never resolved situation in Kivu worsened again: in May, Colonel Sultani Makenga and General Bosco Ntaganda mutinied and gave life to the Mouvement du 23 mars (M23), a force made up of former militiamen, mostly Tutsis, reinserted into the regular army with the 2009 agreements, and, according to a UN report, supported by Rwanda and Uganda. The forces of the UN mission were authorized to intervene militarily and, together with the regular army, forced Ntaganda to flee and surrender to the American embassy in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, in March 2013, while peace negotiations were opened that continued in 2014. in a climate of persistent uncertainty. In the Congolese scenario, the activities of M23 did not constitute an anomaly: the ethnic complexity, the fragility of the institutions, inequalities in fact favored the proliferation of highly territorialized militias which, depending on the circumstances, supported or opposed the central government or used the Congolese territory as a logistical base for incursions into neighboring countries. In this confused fragmentation, conflicts could appear many times more oriented towards survival and the hoarding of resources than the pursuit of political objectives.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Population