n the center of Africa, lies the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), a huge country the size of Western Europe. This country has more natural resources than almost any other country, including rich farmland, acres of forests and millions of tons of minerals. Yet, it is one of the world’s poorest countries.
Like most countries in Africa, DR Congo was colonized over the last 500 years, first by Portugal and later Belgium. Before Portugal conquered the DR Congo, the country was peaceful, with a well-developed government and education system. When the Portuguese invaded the country, they killed educated and strong leaders – anyone who could give them trouble – and took millions as slaves. They kept the country’s natural resources for themselves. Families were split apart and people lacked even basic education. Belgium continued this tradition.
It’s not surprising that when the DR Congo gained its independence from Belgium in 1960, there were no leaders left to rule the country well. Since 1960, the DR Congo has endured years of war. More than 5 million people have died in a great war that involves nine countries.
- 69.6 million people live in DR Congo.
- The country has 905,354 square miles of land.
- Major languages include French, Lingala, Kiswahili, Kikongo, and Tshiluba.
- The major religions are Christianity and Islam.
- The life expectancy in DR Congo is 49 years.
- Invade: enter by force
- Endure: live through, survive
Visit National Geographic to learn more about the DR Congo.
Question: What do people do to earn money?
Answer: Most people are poor farmers, growing what they need for their families.