Formerly known as Zaire, the Democratic Republic of Congo is the third largest country in Africa. Located in the centre and southern area of the continent, Kinshasha is the capital of Congo, located in the west of the country, close to its Atlantic coastline.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is placed at the heart of sub-Saharan Africa. Its Equatorial location makes it a very rainy country, as well as the place with the highest frequency of thunderstorms in the world.
The annual rainfall can total more than 2,000 millimeters in some places. This means that the River Congo is surrounded by some of the densest rain-forests in the world, and the second largest area of rain-forests in the world after the Amazon.
This jungle covers the central river basin area of the country. There are savannas in the south and south-west of the Congo, dense grasslands in the north, mountainous terraces in the west and even glacial mountains in the far east. There are several World Wildlife Fund eco-regions situated in the Congo.
The Central Congolian Lowland Forests are home to the rare Bonobo primate, whilst other eco-regions are a large section of the Central Zambezian Miombo woodlands and the Albertine Rift forests, amongst others. There are several World Heritage Sites located in a number of DR Congo's national parks.
War in Africa is a recurring theme of the continent's past and the recent history of Congo has seen its share of conflict.
The First Congo War, which began in 1996, was soon followed by the Second War. Conflict continues in the east of the country, despite foreign intervention. Economy
The country relies heavily on mining to fuel its economy.
Blessed with natural resources, primarily copper and industrial diamonds.
The Congo is also the world's largest producer of cobalt ore. Population
The population of the Congo was estimated in 2007 to be 62.6 million people by the United Nations, and there was a marked increase of 46.7 million in 1997, despite the war.
This number has been boosted by vast quantities of migrants forced to go to Congo by conflict in other parts of Africa.