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In the very center of Africa is the state of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From 1971 to 1997, it was called Zaire, by which many people know it. It is the second largest country in Africa and the fourth most populous. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is considered one of the poorest countries.

She has to face numerous problems, some of which are already being addressed at the international level. People hear about the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the news in a mostly negative way. The press constantly focuses on problems with security, poverty, the spread of AIDS.

Against this backdrop, several popular misconceptions about this country have emerged. Let's try to find out more about this amazing African country.

There is only one Congo. The country was named after the Congo River. In 1960, the state gained independence from Belgium under the name of the Republic of the Congo. But the neighboring, already French colony, also lay on the banks of the great African river. She chose the same name for herself. For some time, the countries were distinguished by their capitals, calling Congo-Brazzaville (French part) and Congo-Leopoldville (Belgian part). In 1971, the second country was given a new name, Zaire. And after the overthrow of the dictatorship in 1997, it acquired its modern name - the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A country with a similar name, the Republic of Congo, is located further north and is about 6 times smaller in size.

Congo is all unsafe to travel. Africa seems to many to be insecure by default. The country's reputation has not improved due to the war raging here in the late 1990s. Many parts of the Congo are unsafe for travelers today, but some areas are quite calm. True, traveling to any part of this country will require some caution. The situation here is still unstable and unpredictable. A place considered calm next week may turn out to be dangerous. Due to the constantly changing conditions, it is best not to travel alone, but as part of a tour group accompanied by local guides. The guides guarantee the safety of the group and choose the best route. Local tour operators are interested in that nothing happens to their guests and choose interesting and safe routes around the country.

Congo is affected by the Ebola virus. The deadly Ebola virus is transmitted from animals to humans through meat as food. But it is a myth that there is an epidemic of such a dangerous disease in the Congo. The largest outbreak of the virus took place back in 1995, recent outbreaks are local and are quickly brought under control by local authorities. The Ebola virus is clearly not the country's main problem today.

Congo is underdeveloped and uninteresting to anyone. While the country is indeed underdeveloped in many ways, several factors are in line with the growing economy of the entire region. The Congo itself is rich in natural resources. Mineral resources are of particular interest to outside investors. Here are the world's largest deposits of cobalt, germanium, tantalum, diamonds. Congo has the largest reserves of uranium, copper, zinc, tin on the continent; there is oil, gold and silver here. After the end of the civil wars, the country's economy began to grow. The potential of the mining industry is estimated at $ 24 trillion from untapped deposits. Today, Congo is indeed one of the poorest countries in the world, but it has every chance of making an impressive leap forward in development, provided that its natural treasures are used wisely. The country is also of interest in a cultural sense. The capital, Kinshasa, is the second largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris. This made it possible to hold here in October 2012 the congress of the heads of the French-speaking states, the Francophonie. The hotel sector is also expanding in the country, as more and more foreign businessmen come to the Congo for business interests. Currently, there are already six international hotels operating here with different levels of service.

In the Congo, the tourist will not be interested. This is a huge country in which tourists can find a lot of interesting things. Captures the spirit of natural African beauty. Congo contains many attractions that must be visited. Of undoubted interest is the Congo River, the second longest on the continent. Virunga National Park, the oldest in Africa, awaits guests. Livingstone's imposing waterfalls amaze with their size and power. On the border with Rwanda is Lake Kivu, one of the great African lakes. And the capital, Kinshasa, is a large metropolis with sharp contrasts.

Congo is an uneducated country. Africa is plagued not only by poverty, but also by ignorance. It is surprising that if the first problem is really relevant for the Congo, the second is not so bad at all. Primary education in the country is free but optional. True, parents are obliged to pay teachers' salaries. This is beyond the power of many. As a result, only half of the children receive primary education. Congo has built its educational system following the example of the Belgian one. Six years of primary education are followed by six years of secondary education. Several leading universities are located in different regions of the country. The university appeared in the capital itself back in 1954, and in 1958, the first nuclear reactor in Africa was built under it. In 1967, the Regional Center for Nuclear Research was established in the Congo. Today the country has two nuclear reactors used for scientific research. The education system has suffered from protracted civil wars, but it has clearly recovered in recent years.

The war in the Congo started over minerals. The military conflict that broke out in 1996 had three main causes. First, the former state of Zaire, with the 32-year dictatorship of Mobutu, began to suffer collapse. The genocide in Rwanda played a role, and millions of refugees flooded into Zaire. And local conflicts over land, power and money also added fuel to the fire. The plunders of tin and gold deposits in the Kivu province in 1996-1997 brought a lot of money to military groups. Some multinationals have made deals with rebels to enter the market. But there is little evidence that this was what triggered the war in the country. Increased attention to local unique resources came with the boom in columbite-tantalum in 1999-2001. Today, many armed groups in the Congo feed on the sale of valuable minerals, even charcoal generates income. But there are also areas where rebels are denied the ability to sell minerals. The most powerful militia in the region until 2009, Lorena Nkunda's CNDP controlled only one mine. Mining directly influences the conflict and motivates the participants. But the violence was provoked by several factors at once, it is not worth simplifying this issue.

Columbite tantalum, a key ingredient for mobile electronics, is the main export to Congo. The mineral coltan, which contains tantalum, is a valuable raw material. Tantalum is considered an excellent conductor. A kilogram of this element cost $ 530 in 2013. For microelectronics and cell phones, such a metal is very necessary. Coltan exports from Congo peaked in 2000, when a real bubble formed in the market. But then the demand fell sharply and in 2002-2007 the export of this substance decreased. But the sale of tin for the country remains the main source of income. In 2009, according to official figures, 520 tons of coltan and 20 times more tin were exported from the Kivu province! In addition, this metal is much easier to extract and export, the demand for it does not jump. It is worth noting that more than 80% of the world's tantalum supplies come from Australia, Brazil and Canada. They control this market.

The people of the Congo believe in local gods. Surprisingly, African countries are much more saturated with Christianity than you might imagine. In the case of the Congo, the colonial past is making itself felt. The main religion in the country is Christianity. This belief is held by about 80% of the population. Every second resident of Congo is a Catholic, every fifth is a Protestant. Muslims in the country are about 10%. The influence of the Roman Catholic Church on the country is enormous. At one time, Belgium sponsored spiritual missions in which schools and hospitals were opened.

The country traditionally has a respectful attitude towards women. This seems natural given the local religiosity. But one of the main problems in Congo is sexual violence. The civil war was accompanied by a wave of beatings and rape of women. The impunity and lack of response from the authorities only fueled the situation. Official statistics are shyly silent about the number of cases, but we can talk about hundreds of thousands of crimes of this kind. Even US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised this issue during her visit to Congo. Many women report anonymously that they are victims of violence by their husbands. This turns into unwanted pregnancies, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Rural culture does not allow women to raise this issue; they are forced to suffer in silence.

The local population still trusts sorcerers and sorcerers. Unfortunately it's true. Volunteers trying to stem the rise in AIDS are faced with an unexpected challenge. Local residents simply do not understand the seriousness of the situation and the need to prevent the disease. Local beliefs are still strong in the villages, and it is not customary to discuss sexual issues in public. Healers inspire people that no AIDS exists, that all this is witchcraft. That is why people do not go to the hospital, do not receive timely diagnosis and are not treated. Many die without even knowing why. People think they are sick because they are angry or because someone hates them. They go to sorcerers and healers, giving them money, pets, part of the harvest for the sake of healing. Sometimes it even comes to the point that the family decides to kill the "culprit" of their relative's ill health.

In the Congo, no one is involved in family planning at the state level. Given that, on average, every woman here gives birth to six children, this myth seems natural. In fact, public health has already launched an educational project aimed at health workers. They should educate people on family planning methods at the community level. Employees undergo rigorous testing based on international standards before starting to work with the public. True, the number of such "ambassadors" is in the tens. This is clearly not enough for a multi-million dollar country. But general poverty is making it difficult to scale up the program.

Living in Congo is very cheap. The difference in income between the third world countries and the advanced countries should logically make living in the Congo cheap. In practice, the capital of the country, Kinshasa, closes the twenty most expensive cities for expatriates. In this metropolis, life is not cheap. The fact is that due to its poverty, Congo produces little, most of the products are imported, including food. The main suppliers are Belgium and South Africa. And the inflation rate is high. Medical services will be expensive as infrastructure is absent or inaccessible. Transportation of a patient or delivery of medicine to him will cost a large sum. Not so long ago, the Internet was stirred up by a photo with a price tag for strawberries in Kinshasa. The store asks for $ 25 per kilogram of berries, which the locals cannot afford. Four out of five residents of the capital are also unemployed and deprived of opportunities to eat fresh fruit.

Watch the video: Geography Now! CONGO Democratic republic (July 2022).


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