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Established as a Belgian colony in 1908, the Republic of the Congo gained its independence in 1960, but its early years were marred by political and social instability. Col. Joseph MOBUTU seized power and declared himself president in a November 1965 coup. He subsequently changed his name – to MOBUTU Sese Seko – as well as that of the country – to Zaire. MOBUTU retained his position for 32 years through several sham elections, as well as through the use of brutal force.
Ethnic strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow of refugees in 1994 from fighting in Rwanda and Burundi, led in May 1997 to the toppling of the MOBUTU regime by a rebellion backed by Rwanda and Uganda and fronted by Laurent KABILA. He renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), but in August 1998 his regime was itself challenged by a second insurrection again backed by Rwanda and Uganda.
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2008 est.)
15-64 years: 53% (male 18,919,942/female 19,116,204)
65 years and over: 2 2.6% (male 767,119/female 1,066,437) (2011 est.)
conventional short form: none
local long form: Republique Democratique du Congo
local short form: none
former: Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Congo/Leopoldville, Congo/Kinshasa, Zaire
geographic coordinates: 4 19 S, 15 18 E
time difference: UTC+1 (six hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 1 (2012)
Economy:The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – a nation endowed with vast potential wealth – is slowly recovering from two decades of decline. Conflict, which began in August 1998, dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, increased external debt, and resulted in the deaths of more than 3.5 million people from violence, famine, and disease. Foreign businesses curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict, lack of infrastructure, and the difficult operating environment. Conditions began to improve in late 2002 with the withdrawal of a large portion of the invading foreign troops.
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