DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Geography and Landscape
The Democratic Republic of the Congo or Congo-Kinshasa, sometimes better known by its old name of Zaire, is located in Central Africa northeast of Angola. The republic borders Tanzania and Uganda to the west. It is bordered on the south by Zambia, on the east by Congo Brazzaville and on the north by the Central African Republic and Sudan.
Democratic Republic of the Congo Satellite PhotoPhoto: Public domain
The surface area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is 2,345,410 square kilometres. This makes the Democratic Republic of Congo the second largest country in Africa after Algeria.
Margherita Peak of Mount Stanley, Democratic Republic of the CongoPhoto: Albert Backer CC 3.0 Unported no changes made
A very large part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is part of the Congo basin. This basin is closed off in the east by the mountains along the African Rift. The main river of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the Zaire (or Congo) River, which is 4700 metres long. It rises in the southeast. The largest part of this river is navigable and therefore plays a major role in transportation. The river is, after the Nile, the longest river in Africa.
Along the eastern border there are mountains with an average height of 2000 metres. At the border with Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's highest mountain, Margherita Peak or Mount Stanley, is 5109 metres high. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has the largest area of tropical rainforest.
Climate and Weather
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a tropical climate. It is always humid and warm. There are no exclusively dry periods. Because of its location on the equator, the sun is perpendicular to the Democratic Republic of the Congo twice a year. This high position of the sun is accompanied by high temperatures, low air pressure and heavy rainfall. Directly around the equator the climate is tropical rainforest. On average, this means 2000 millimetres of precipitation in ten to twelve months. The average temperature is around 25 °C.
Plants and Animals
There are an incredible number of plant and animal species in the tropical rainforest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The tropical rainforest provides several species of precious hardwood, including mahogany and ebony. The trees grow to a height of forty metres. However, the soil under the tropical rainforest is infertile. Acacia, iroko, olive, palm, screw palm and wenge are also common.
The tropical rainforests are home to (endangered) species such as mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobo monkeys. Antelope, lion, rhino, okapi, elephant, panther and zebra are also present.
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