Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a beautiful and lush country that straddles the equator in the central region on the continent of Africa. It has a population of 70,916,439 and is slightly less than ¼ the size of the United States. It is rich in natural resources such as cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal, hydro-power and timber.
The country gained independence from Belgium in 1960. Colonel Joseph Mobutu seized power and declared himself president in a November 1965 coup. He ruled with an iron fist until the mid-1990’s when conflicts from Rwanda and Burundi spilled over into Congo. Eventually, Congo too descended into civil war not once but twice between 1997 and 2003. This war was known as Africa’s World War or the Great War of Africa. By 2008 the war and its aftermath had killed 5.4 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, making the Second Congo War the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II. Millions more were displaced from their homes or sought asylum in neighbouring countries.
Sadly, the war has had many unintended outcomes. Infrastructure such as healthcare, roads and education, that are so vital to the health and well being of its citizens have been devastated to the point that the HDI rates the country with the same score that it received back in the 1980 survey.