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Thursday 13th June
DRC Information - Page 2
The Portuguese, the first Europeans to explore the region, arrived in 1482.

Henry Morton Stanley, the explorer, was commissioned by King Leopold II of Belgium to procure what became known as the Congo Free State (and eventually the Democratic Republic of the Congo). For over twenty years the territory was the king's personal possession.

In 1908 Leopold's Congo Free State was made a Belgian colony: the Belgium Congo.

Independence, as the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa), was gained in June 1960.

Following a coup in 1965 Joseph Mobutu became president and remained in power for over thirty years.

In 1997 Mobutu's period of office came to an end and Laurent Kabila took the presidency, renaming the country Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A five-year war between DRC government forces and rebels began in August 1998. A number of African countries took sides.

Laurent Kabila was assassinated in January 2001 and was succeeded by his son.

A transitional government was set up in July 2003 and a new Constitution agreed in 2005.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a wealth of natural resources. However, the five-year war led to the destruction of the country's infrastructure and decreased production.

DRC has very large deposits of uranium. Other resources are cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, zinc, manganese, tin, gold, silver, industrial and gem diamonds, petroleum, coal, hydropower and timber.

Industries, other than mining and mineral processing, are cement, commercial ship repair, textiles, footwear, cigarettes, processed foods and beverages.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing employ most of the work force. Agricultural products include coffee, tea, quinine, sugar, palm oil, cassava, bananas and rubber. (2011)

In July 2022 the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo launched an international call for tenders for the exploitation of the 27 oil blocks and 3 gas blocks in the country. The President said "After having relied entirely on mining, it is time for us to exploit the hydrocarbon sector"; he went on to reassure about the environment and the interests of indigenous populations.

There are over two hundred ethnic groups in DRC, each with its own traditions and culture.

Histories and culture are transmitted by storytelling, song and drama. Traditional African dancing is performed at festivals and special events.

Examples of paintings, sculptures, and woodwork can be seen at the Academie des Beaux Arts in Kinshasa. Crafts include basketry, pottery, masks, carvings, wooden furniture, textiles and jewellery.

In the world of literature, well known writers include Antoine-Roger Bolamba and Paul Lomami-Tshibamba.

Football is the most popular sport in DRC. The national team, known as the Simbas, has been successful in the African Cup (1968 and 1974). Other sports played include basketball and track and field.

All reglious holidays are celebrated. Independence Day is on 30 June (1960 - from Belgium).

News from DRC is available in Newslink.

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