The Democratic Republic of the Congo ("Congo-Kinshasa") is an African country to the east of the Congo River.
Not to be confused with the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (French: République démocratique du Congo), often referred to as DR Congo, DRC or RDC, and formerly known or referred to as Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Congo-Léopoldville, Congo-Kinshasa, and Zaire (or Zaïre in French), is the third largest country by area in Africa.
Though it is located in the Central African UN subregion, the nation is economically and regionally affiliated with Southern Africa as a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
It borders the Central African Republic and Sudan on the North; Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi on the East; Zambia and Angola on the South; the Republic of the Congo on the West; and is separated from Tanzania by Lake Tanganyika on the East.
The country enjoys access to the ocean through a 40-kilometre (25 mile) stretch of Atlantic coastline at Muanda and the roughly nine-kilometre wide mouth of the Congo river which opens into the Gulf of Guinea.
The name "Congo" (meaning "hunter") is coined after the Bakongo ethnic group who live in the Congo River basin.
Formerly the Belgian colony of the Belgian Congo, the country's post-independence name was the Republic of the Congo until August 1, 1964, when its name was changed to Democratic Republic of the Congo (to distinguish it from the neighboring Republic of the Congo).
On October 27, 1971, then-President Mobutu renamed the country Zaire, from a Portuguese mispronunciation of the Kikongo word nzere or nzadi, which translates to "the river that swallows all rivers."
Following the First Congo War which led to the overthrow of Mobutu in 1997, the country was renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo.
From 1998 to 2003, the country suffered greatly from the devastating Second Congo War (sometimes referred to as the "African World War"). This was the world's deadliest conflict since World War II. Related fighting continues in the east of the country. (Source: Wikipedia)
Photo: Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Wikipedia)
Photo: Coat of Arms of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Wikipedia)
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Not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville or the Congo, is an African country to the west of the Congo River.
It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.
The republic is a former French colony. Upon independence in 1960, the former French region of Middle Congo became the Republic of the Congo. Congo became a multi-party democracy in 1992. However, a brief civil war in 1997 ended in the restoration of former President Denis Sassou Nguesso to power.
Photo: Flag of the Republic of the Congo (Wikipedia)
Photo: Coat of Arms of the Republic of the Congo (Wikipedia)
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Do not confuse Republic of the Congo with the DR Congo
Some news reporters refer to the Democratic Republic of the Congo as Congo.
Here is a good example. The following map, taken from a recent New York Times report entitled:
Many Flee as Congo Rebels Approach Eastern City: GOMA, Congo - The exodus has begun.
Compare the above map from the NYT with this one from IRIN.
Note the error in the NYT map, and the error in the title of the NYT report: Many Flee as Congo Rebels Approach Eastern City: GOMA, Congo - The exodus has begun. What a shame. Here are some superb but distressingly sad photos from the report.
Photo: Congolese tanks pulled back toward Goma after a day of battle with the forces of Laurent Nkunda, a renegade general. Some soldiers have already fled the fighting. (Karel Prinsloo/Associated Press 30 Oct 2008 via NYT)
Photo: Congolese soldiers carried one of their wounded. The rebels have been kept at bay before, but they appear stronger now. (Waler Astrada/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 30 Oct 2008 via NYT)
Photo: Children waited for food to be cooked at a makeshift camp for displaced people near the village of Kibati. (Karel Prinsloo/Associated Press Agency 30 Oct 2008 via NYT)
Photo: Displaced Congolese line up to get water from a tanker in the town of Kibati. Sarah Elliott/European Pressphoto Agency 30 Oct 2008 via NYT)
Photo source: New York Times report By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN October 29, 2008 - Many Flee as Congo Rebels Approach Eastern City: GOMA, Congo - The exodus has begun - Neil MacFarquhar contributed reporting from the United Nations.