I am Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo at a glance

Time zone: Western side – GMT + 1, Eastern side – GMT + 2

Climate: The climate is hot and humid in the equatorial river basin, drier in the southern highlands and wetter in the eastern Highlands. North of the equator, the wet season runs from April to October, while south of the equator, it runs from November to March.

Clothing: Lightweight clothing is worn throughout the year, although a jacket or jersey is advisable for the evening.

Languages: French is the official language. Of the 450 tribal languages of the country, Swahili, Kikongo, Tshiluba and Langala are the most widespread.

Population: The population of the DRC was around 60 million people (as at 31st July 1998), of which 48 % were under the age of 14. Due to the war that started on 2 August 1998, the population has since been reduced to 56 millions. There are over 200 African ethnic groups in the country, the majority of which are of Bantu origin. The Mongo, Luba, Kongo and Mangbetu-Azande people make up approximately 45 % of the population.

Health: The country is a high-risk malaria area, and tropical diseases such as yellow fever, cholera, bilharzias and meningitis occur in rural areas. Medical facilities are limited and visitors are advised to carry their own full medical kits.

Transport: A national airline, Ligne Aérienne Congolaises, and many private airlines operate internationally, and there are several regional airlines. Hewa Bora Airways, a private airline, operates small aircraft both nationally and regionally. International airports are situated in Kinshasa, Kisangani, Gbadolite, Lubumbashi and Goma. There are 210 local airports, of which 104 have paved runways.

The railway system of the country is operational, but the roads are in poor condition, becoming almost impassable in the wet season. There are 11 ports and harbours in Kinshasa, Boma, Matadi, Kisangani, Kindu, Kalemie and Goma.

Communications: There are limited mobile cellular and normal telephone facilities, and some use of the Internet is possible. There are 10 television stations and AM and FM radio stations.

Electricity: The electricity supply is 220/240V AC, 50Hz.

Water: Tap water is not safe to drink and should be boiled or purified.

Currency: The currency is the Congolese franc (CDF), which can be broken down into 100 centimes. Credit cards have limited use and US dollars, pound sterling and Euros are also accepted.

Banking hours: 08h00 to 11h30, Mondays to Fridays.

Public Holidays: 

  • 1 January: New Year’s Day, 
  • 4 January: Commemoration of Martyrs of Independance,
  • Good Friday (varied),
  • Easter Monday (varied), 
  • 16 & 17 January: National Hero’s Day, 
  • 1 May: Worker’s Day, 
  • 17 May: Changes of the System, 
  • 24 June: Pisces Day, 
  • 30 June: Independance Day, 
  • 1 August: Parent’s Day, 
  • 25 December: Christmas Day.

Entry regulations: All visitors entering the DRC require a valid passport and a visa, as well as a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Special travel permits are needed for entry into the central mining regions; and other permits may be required, depending on the level of unrest in the area.

Don’t miss:

  • Travelling on the Congo River by boat,
  • visiting Lake Tanganyika and Lake Kivu,
  • the Pende dancers and masked Yaka,
  • the Gungu Festival.
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