Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a large, beautiful country in west-central Africa and is the size of the US east of the Mississippi River. There are mountains in the east and forested highlands in the south. The Congo River basin in the north and west drains 1 million square miles and is made up of hot and humid tropical rainforest. The country is rich in natural resources like minerals, forests, and hydroelectric potential.
Few roads exist and river transportation dominates the Congo River basin. However, airplanes account for a major amount of the transportation of people and goods around the country.
DRC was explored by Henry Stanley in 1877 and eventually become a Belgian colony after being under the private direction of King Leopold of Belgium for many years. During that time, massive amount of resources like rubber, ivory, and minerals were brutally taken from the country using slave labor.
In the early 60’s, the country was given independence and President Mobutu took control of power. After a promising start, the country went into an economic depression. After that, many nations joined in an international war for control of the wealth of DRC. In 1994, eight hundred thousand people fled from the genocide in Rwanda to DRC, many of them being the perpetrators of the genocide.
The year 2006 brought the first peaceful elections since 1960. However, over 5 million people died in the war over the past 10 years-most from disease and starvation. That is the largest death count since WWII. Rape, murder and the use of child soldiers has given DRC the worst human rights violation record in the world over this period.
CURRENT CONDITIONS OF THE PEOPLE
The after effects of war are still evident, but people are open to the truth.
The vast majority of the 60 million Congolese people still exist in utter poverty. Although French is the official language, Lingala is prevalent in the west and Swahili in the east. Over forty percent of the population is illiterate. DRC is a country of children, with half of the population under the age of 16. It has the third highest birth rate in the world.
Health conditions are pitiful. In the jungles of the Congo River basin in the north, malaria, sleeping sickness, typhoid, and cholera are prevalent. AIDS is spreading rapidly due to poor education. Drinking un-boiled water is standard, and this brings worms and amebic dysentery. Basic health education is needed. The people eat mostly cassava and are often malnourished. The average life expectancy is 46 years and one of five children will die before the age of five.
Although the country is predominantly Roman Catholic, pagan rituals still dominate the lives of many people. Bibles are expensive and few can afford them. Although the Seventh day Adventist Church has had success in some parts of the country, the fourteen million people living in the vast Congo River basin of the north and west are virtually un-reached with the truth.