Kinshasa. Population: 6.5 million (UN estimate 2005).
Republic. Gained independence from Belgium in 1960.
Head of state:
President Joseph Kabila since 2001.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga since 2006.
220 volts AC, 50Hz.
Congo has many beautiful landscapes, with lakes and forests, waterfalls and wildlife. However, this is a vast country, with an almost non-existent transport infrastructure. It is mired in conflict and a long and intricate history.
A five-year civil war from 1998 to 2003 resulted in the deaths of around 3 million people, not only through the fighting itself, but also through hunger and disease.
Joseph Kabila, son of assassinated former president Laurent Kabila, was installed as president in 2001 and elected by the people in a historic presidential election in 2006. He now faces the formidable job of bringing back some level of normality to this scarred country, where the threat of civil war has not disappeared.
Visitors are advised to check the latest travel advice before visiting