|The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire)
is the third largest country in Africa, after Sudan and Algeria. Located
in south-central Africa, it is roughly one-quarter the size of Canada.
Congo is bordered by the Central African Republic and Sudan to the north,
Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to the east, Zambia and Angola to
the south, the Angolan enclave of Cabinda to the southwest, and the Republic
of Congo to the west. The country has a narrow strip of coastline, only
37 kilometres long, where the Congo River flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
|Three-quarters of the country is covered by forest.
Only 3% of the land is under cultivation; another 7% is devoted to pasture.
The tropical rain forest that covers most of the northern part of Congo
is one of the world's largest and thickest. It is so dense that, in some
parts, sunlight cannot reach the forest floor.
Most of southern Congo, as well as an area
north of the rain forest, is covered by savannah, or grasslands. Small
groups of trees are scattered throughout the savannahs, and forests grow
in some valleys. The savannahs get little or no rainfall for several months
Did you know?
okapi, a forest-dwelling animal related to the giraffe, is unique to Congo.
|Lake Tanganyika, the deepest lake in Africa, lies
along Congo's eastern border. Three other countries also border this lake:
Burundi, Tanzania and Zambia. Nearby are the Virunga, a chain of volcanic
mountains, some of which are still active. Congo's eastern and southeastern
borders are highland areas. The highest point in Congo is Margherita Peak,
which rises to 5,109 metres.
Congo straddles the equator: one-third of
the country is to the north and two-thirds to the south. The climate is
tropical: hot and humid in the equatorial basin, cooler and drier in the
southern highlands, and cooler and wetter in the eastern highlands. North
of the equator, the rainy season runs from April to October, and the dry
season from December to February. South of the equator, the rainy season
is from November to March, and the dry season from April to October.
|The Congo River is the nation's most important
waterway. At the capital city of Kinshasa, the Congo River forms a lakelike
expanse, 33 km long by 23 km wide, called Pool Malebo. The pool separates
Kinshasa from Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo. Below
Kinshasa, the Congo River turns into violent rapids for most of the remaining
journey to the sea.
Did you know?
Park, west of Lake Kivu, near the eastern border of Congo, is one of the
last refuges of the endangered mountain gorilla.