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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Ministry of Planning

National Investment Promotion Agency


Natural Resources and Geographic Profile

1. General Information

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a vast state territory located in the heart of Africa. With a surface area of 2,345,410 Km² extending from 5°30’ north latitude to 13°50’ south latitude and from 12°15’ to 31°15’ longitude, it is counted among the giants of Africa. In this respect, it is sometimes described, to truly reflect the vastness of its territory, as "a subcontinent" or "a continent within a continent".

After the recent break-up of Sudan into two countries, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is now the second largest African country in terms of territorial area, just after Algeria. A small comparison to get a better idea of the size of the Congolese territory: the surface area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is four times that of France, eighty times that of Belgium and a quarter of that of the entire European Union.

If it were in Latin America, it would be in third place after Brazil and Argentina. It would be in the same position if it were in Asia, behind China and India (Russia aside).

Because of the vastness of this national territory, it takes at least two hours by plane flight to cross from North to South or from East to West the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ranked 12th in the world in terms of surface area.

The country is crossed by two time zones, with a difference of one hour between the eastern and western parts.

The capital, Kinshasa, located on the banks of the majestic Congo River, is sometimes in the same time zone as Brussels and Paris.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo shares 9,165 km of common border with 9 neighboring countries, which constitutes a considerable asset on several levels, including investment. It is indeed bordered:

  • in the North, by the Central African Republic and Sudan
  • in the South, by Zambia and Angola
  • in the East, by Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania
  • to the West, by the Republic of Congo

The country has a narrow maritime opening: the Atlantic coastline, a coastal strip no more than 50 km from where the mouth of the Congo River stretches.

2. Geology

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is extremely rich in precious minerals, with an estimated US$24 trillion in untapped deposits of raw minerals in the country, including the world’s largest reserves of cobalt (51% of known reserves) and significant quantities of diamonds, gold and copper. In 2009, the country’s share of world cobalt ore production was 40%. The world share associated with other minerals in 2009 was as follows: industrial diamonds, 31%; tantalum, 9%; gem-quality diamonds, 6%; tin, 4%; and copper, 2%. More detailed information is provided by the industry sector.

3. Hydrography

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has an important hydrographic network covering about 77,810 Km² and consisting of the river (the Congo River) as well as lakes and other rivers, and has about 52% of the total surface area of water reserves on the African continent.

First of all, there is the impressive Congo River, which is about 4,320 km long, and its tributaries, the most important of which are the Ubangi and Kasai.

The Congo River represents a very important hydrographic potential, with a basin of nearly 3.75 million Km², which places it in 2nd position in the world, just after the Amazon. It is also the second longest river in Africa after the Nile and the fifth longest in the world (after the Nile, the Amazon, the Mississippi and the Gyang-Tse). It undoubtedly owes its regular and powerful flow (40,000 m3/d) to its proximity to the Equator.

Because of this impressive flow, the Congo River is the first in Africa and the second in the world, after the Amazon River in Brazil.

The availability of renewable water resources is estimated at more than 300 billion m3 per year. In terms of groundwater resources, static reserves are estimated at 3,000.

It has its source in the South of Katanga, more precisely in the Musofi village under the name of Lualaba, crosses Kisangani (in the North-East) from where it forms a curve to the mouth, bathing the Equateur and Kwilu provinces, the city of Kinshasa and the Province of Kongo-Central.

The economic and commercial role played by the Congo River is important: this river produces electricity with unprecedented potential, provides fish with immense potential and is used for navigation within the country (a navigable network of more than 14,166 km).

Then there are the great lakes, including:

  • Lake Tanganyika, (3.900 Km², between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Zambia and Burundi).
  • Lake Edouard (located at 916 m altitude on a surface area of 2,150 Km², between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. It flows into Lake Albert through the Semiliki).
  • Lake Albert (5.000 Km², crossed by the Nile between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda).
  • Lake Kivu (2.700 Km², between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. It contains a large reserve of methane gas).
  • Lake Maï-Ndombe (2,325 Km²) in surface area and 400 m in altitude.
  • Lake Tumba.
  • Lake Moero.

4. Ecology

The Congo River is the second largest river in the world in terms of water volume and the surrounding basin is home to the second largest tropical rainforest in the world. The Congo Basin itself contains 70% of the plant cover on the African continent and is home to much of Africa’s biodiversity, with more than 600 species of trees and 10,000 species of animals. Many rare and endemic species live in Congo’s tropical forests, including the western lowland gorilla, the common chimpanzee and the bonobo.

Five of the country’s national parks are inscribed on the World Heritage List. The ecoregion includes permanently flooded swamp forests, temporarily flooded swamp forests, and flooded grasslands. The swamp forest in western Congo is an ecoregion of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is one of the largest areas of freshwater swamp forest in the world. The country is home to about 6,000 plant species. Major forest species include bromeliads (bromeliaceae), Venus flycatcher, ferns, orchids, twisted roots, and kapok trees. There are also old mahogany trees, some of which are hundreds of years old.

5. Climate

Located on the equator, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is characterized by a particular climatic diversity conditioned by water precipitation, temperature, humidity, winds and attitude.

One third of the country occupies the northern part of the Equator and 2/3 the southern part. The consequence of this situation is that the dry season in the north of the country corresponds to the rainy season in the south and vice versa. It rains all year round in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with this intermittent rainfall reported.

Two seasons are therefore observed in the country:

  • The dry or winter season in the tropics. It is characterized by the absence of rain. North of the Equator, this season lasts from December to May, and in the southern hemisphere, from May to September. During this season, the lowest temperatures are recorded.
  • The rainy season or the summer season in the tropics. Heavy rainfall is between 1,000 and 1,500 mm and can reach 2,000 mm per year. They extend from May to November and from September to May on both sides of the Equator.

In Kinshasa, the capital (a cosmopolitan city of about 15 million inhabitants according to the latest INS statistics), the climate is hot and rainy from October to May, and cool from June to September.

  • Average annual temperature
    • 25 °C on the coast
    • 24 to 25 °C in the north
    • 10 °C in the eastern mountainous provinces
    • 20 °C on the high plateau of Katanga
  • Daily seasonal average:
    • 9° and 11°C in lower latitude provinces
    • 16 °C at the northeast end
    • 18 to 19 °C in the south of Katanga

6. Relief and vegetation

Arable land : 2.96% (1998 estimates), 3% (1993 estimates)

Permanent crops : 0.52% (1998 estimates), 0% (1993 estimates)

Permanent grasslands : 7% (1993 estimates)

Forests and wooded areas : 77% (1993 estimates)

Other : 96.52 (1998 estimates), 13% (1993 estimates)

Irrigated land : 110 km2 (1998 estimates), 100 km2 (1993 estimates)

The Congolese relief is dominated by the central basin in the center of the country, at an altitude of 300 to 700 meters from where the Congo River forms its sharpest curve.

Mountain ranges and high plateaus in the east, reaching a maximum altitude of 5,119 m in the Ruwenzori massif, while the minimum altitude is 400 m in the western zones of Lakes Tumba and Maï-Ndombe, surround the central basin. To the west, the Mayumbe (Ex-Crystal) Mountains, parallel to the Atlantic Ocean, separate the inland plain from the coastal plain, with a peak at 1,050m.

Also in the southeastern part of the country, there are massifs such as Mount Mitumba and the Collapse Ditch such as Lake Upemba.

In the East, the Virunga mountain range with seven volcanoes: Nyiragongo, Nyamuligira, Yamuragira, Karisimbi, Muhabura, Sabinyo, Visoke and Mikano.

7. Fishing potential

DR Congo has a rich fishing potential which is estimated at 700,000 tons of fish per year. The opportunities are considerable given that current annual production is around 100,000 tons, which are mainly harvested using traditional fishing methods.

This fishing potential is divided into three main categories of water surfaces, for an estimated total of 86,000 Km²: the Atlantic Ocean, the Congo River and its main tributaries, and the lakes and their tributaries.




Lake Tanganyika

450 000

12 000

Lake Kivu

12 000

Not available

Lake Albert

13 300

Not available

Lake Moero

28 000

13 000

Lake Tshangalele

4 500

1 600

Lake Nzilo

2 500

Not available

Kamalondo Depression

2 500 000

15 000

Congo River

137 000

60 000

Atlantic Coast

6 000

1 600

Source: ANAPI