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Congo, Democratic Republic of the

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) located in central Africa, is the third largest country on the continent. The capital is Kinshasa. French is the official language. Years of civil war and corruption have badly damaged the country's infrastructure. Read the Department of State Background Notes on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for additional information.

Congo, Democratic Republic of the

   
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 COUNTRY OVERVIEW
Country Name: Congo, Democratic Republic of
Continent: Africa
Capital City: Kinshasa
Boundary Countries:

Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia

Recommended Hospitals in Capital:

Pointe-Noir:  Hospital de Loandjili

Main Cities:

Kinshasa, Banana, Kikwit, Likasi

Country Size: 2,345,410 sq km
Population: 62,660,551

 

COUNTRY GENERAL INFORMATION
Language:

French (official), Lingala (a lingua franca trade language), Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili), Kikongo, Tshiluba

Currency: Congolese Franc (CDF)
Predominant Religions:

Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other syncretic sects and indigenous beliefs 10%

National Holidays: Independence Day, 30 June (1960)
Economic Status:

The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo - a nation endowed with vast potential wealth - is slowly recovering from two decades of decline. Conflict, which began in August 1998, dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, increased external debt, and resulted in the deaths of more than 3.5 million people from violence, famine, and disease. Foreign businesses curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict, lack of infrastructure, and the difficult operating environment. Conditions began to improve in late 2002 with the withdrawal of a large portion of the invading foreign troops.

Security:

Army, Navy, Air Force

US Presence:

The US Embassy is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, tel 243-081-225-5872. Entrance to the Consular Section of the Embassy is on Avenue Dumi, opposite the Ste. Anne residence. The Consular Section of the Embassy may be reached at tel 243-081-884-6859 or 243-081-884-4609; fax 243-081-301-0560.

Document Requirements:

A passport, visa, and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required for entry.  It is the responsibility of all travelers to obtain visas from an embassy of the DRC and arrange onward travel before arriving in the Congo.  Americans entering the country without visas have been detained and deported.  Likewise, travelers arriving in the DRC without proper proof of yellow fever vaccination have been temporarily detained, had their passports confiscated, or been required to pay a fine. 

It is the responsibility of all journalists working in the Congo to obtain permission from the Congolese Ministry of Information in Kinshasa.  The U.S. Embassy recommends that journalists enter the Congo via Kinshasa.  Visitors who wish to travel in any mining areas must first obtain government approval from various government agencies or ministries, an often cumbersome and time consuming process.

Travelers to the DRC frequently experience difficulties at the airport and other ports of entry, such as temporary detention, passport confiscation, and demands by immigration and security personnel for unofficial “special fees.”  All resident foreigners, including Americans, are required to register at the office of the Direction General de Migration (DGM) in the commune of their place of residence. 

For departure from the DRC, airlines will require a valid visa for all destination countries before they will issue a ticket or allow a passenger to board.  Airlines also require that the passenger have the correct entry stamp in the passport they wish to use to exit the country.  Dual nationals arriving in the DRC should carefully consider which passport they use to enter the DRC.  Passengers who are unable to leave the country on the passport they used to enter the DRC may not be able to continue on their travel itinerary. 

Additional information about visas may be obtained from the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1726 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20036, tel. (202) 234-7690, or the DRC's Permanent Mission to the UN, 866 United Nations Plaza, Room 511, New York, NY 10017, tel. 212-319-8061, fax: 212-319-8232.  Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site.  For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information Sheet.

Major Airports:

Airports:  234, Airports w/paved runways:  25

Kinshasa-N’Djili Airport (FIH/FZAA)
Kinshasa Airport, Congo (Democratic Rep.), BP 10124, Kinshasa 24, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Kinshasa Airport, Congo (Democratic Rep.), N’djili, Kinshasa, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Tel:  +242 12 6131

Servicing Airlines:
Risks and Precautions:

US Dept of State Travel Warning, updated on November 25, 2010. Please visit the  website for complete details at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_2198.html

The Department of State warns of the risks of traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and recommends against non-essential travel to eastern and northeastern Congo. This notice replaces the Travel Warning dated April 21, 2010 to reflect continued instability in North and South Kivu provinces and the surrounding area, the ongoing risk of possible unexpected flare-ups of violence in other parts of the country, the critical crime threat in Kinshasa, and transportation and health concerns.

Government soldiers, as well as rebel fighters, remain a security concern in eastern and northeastern DRC. These armed groups- located especially in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Orientale provinces, as well as the northern part of Katanga province, parts of Equateur province, and the eastern part of Maniema province- are known to pillage, steal vehicles, kidnap, rape, kill, and carry out military or paramilitary operations in which civilians are indiscriminately targeted.

Armed conflicts continue despite the signing of peace accords in 2008 and 2009 and the presence of UN forces (MONUSCO). In January 2009, Rwandan government troops and the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) launched large-scale joint military operations against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels in North Kivu. The DRC-Rwandan operations have been followed by joint operations by the FARDC and MONUSCO, which remain on-going.

In two separate incidents in early April 2010, one in Equateur province in the western DRC and one in South Kivu province in the east, foreigners were kidnapped by armed militia groups. In South Kivu province, eight International Red Cross workers were kidnapped by a group called the Mai Mai Yakutumba, a group that controls its own territory in the region and was formed to resist Rwandan Hutu forces that fled into the DRC after the 1994 genocide. The region has been the scene of violent clashes that have resulted in the displacement of more than 1.9 million civilians since the start of the conflict.

Travelers are frequently detained and questioned by poorly disciplined security forces at numerous official and unofficial roadblocks and border crossings throughout the country.  Requests for bribes in such instances are extremely common, and security forces have occasionally injured or killed people who refuse to pay. In the last six months, the Embassy has recorded several instances in which US citizens were detained illegally by government forces. The isolation of North and South Kivu from Kinshasa makes the provision of consular services difficult.

Kinshasa remains a critical crime threat area, and US citizens continue to be the victims of serious crime, including armed robbery by groups posing as law enforcement in both urban and rural areas, especially after nightfall. Avoid walking alone and displaying cash and other personal property of value. Avoid taking photos in public, especially of the river, government buildings and the airport, which are viewed as places of national security, since doing such may lead to arrest.

Lock vehicle doors and keep windows closed when driving. You are advised to not stop at the scene of an accident or at intersections where people have gathered, as mobs can develop quickly. In areas where the roads are in poor condition and the speed limit is minimal, be wary of gangs of street kids who may approach your car, open your door, and steal your belongings. Roadblocks are often found throughout the country and especially near government buildings and installations in Kinshasa and should be avoided if possible. If stopped at a roadblock, keep doors locked and crack the window in order to communicate.

Official Congolese motorcades pose hazards to motorist and pedestrians. Drivers should pull to the far side of the road when sirens or security forces announce their presence.  You should not take photographs of motorcades. Proceed only when security forces permit you to do so.

There is no reliable public transportation system in the DRC. Overcrowded vans, which often do not meet western safety standards serve as public transportation in Kinshasa. Few independent taxis are available, operating largely out of the big hotels, and most do not meet safety standards. You should avoid all travel by public transportation.

Public health concerns pose a hazard to US citizen travelers due to outbreaks of deadly viruses and other diseases, which can occur without warning and often are not rapidly reported by local health authorities. Travelers are required to carry evidence of a yellow fever vaccination in order to enter the DRC. Due to the recent outbreak of Wild Polio Virus in neighboring countries, you should up-date your Polio vaccinations, if necessary, and refer to the Centers for Disease Control for additional guidance.

Domestic air travel on Congolese or local airlines in the DRC is not recommended. The US Federal Aviation Administration has assessed the government of the DRC as not being in compliance with international standards for aviation safety oversight. International flights on foreign-owned and operated carriers are not affected by this prohibition.

You should avoid all public demonstrations and areas where crowds have gathered because even those that are peaceful can turn confrontational and become violent.

Mortality Statistics:

Infant MR total:  88.62 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:  TOTAL 51.46 years  (male 50.01 /female 52.94)

Immunization Indicators:

Required:  Yellow Fever & certificate, if over 1 year of age
Recommended:  Hep A & B, Meningitis, Rabies, Typhoid, Polio
Boosters:  MMR, DPT

Infectious Disease Concerns:

Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis (river blindness) are diseases carried by insects that occur in this region. The risk for contracting African sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis), which is caused by the bite of an infected tsetse fly, is high in Democratic Republic of the Congo. A number of rickettsial infections also occur in this region. Wearing protective clothing and avoiding rural areas or areas of dense vegetation along streams, is the best protection. Schistosomiasis can be contracted in fresh water in this region. Do not swim in fresh water in these countries. Other infections that tend to occur more often in longer-term travelers include tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis B

Overall Quality of Medical Services:

In the DRC, medical facilities are limited, and medical materials are in short supply. Travelers should carry properly labeled prescription drugs and other medications with them and should not expect to find an adequate supply of prescription or over-the-counter drugs in local stores or pharmacies.

Providers in Network:
Direct Payment: 2
Referrals: 3
View Network Providers
Recent Medical Threats/ Concerns/Warnings:

Other risks to travelers to Central, East, and West African countries include Typhoid (a large outbreak occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2004-2005) and paratyphoid fever, amebiasis, and brucellosis.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) has been found in poultry populations in several countries in Africa. Avoid all direct contact with birds, including domestic poultry (such as chickens and ducks) and wild birds, and avoid places such as poultry farms and bird markets where live birds are raised or kept. For a current list of countries reporting outbreaks of H5N1 among poultry and/or wild birds, visit the CDC Website.

Communications Info:

Country Calling Code:  +242
Internet Country Code:  .cd

 



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