[Country map of Zaire]



Location: Central Africa, northeast of Angola

Map references: Africa

total area: 2,345,410 sq km
land area: 2,267,600 sq km
comparative area: slightly more than one-quarter the size of US

Land boundaries: total 10,271 km, Angola 2,511 km, Burundi 233 km, Central African Republic 1,577 km, Congo 2,410 km, Rwanda 217 km, Sudan 628 km, Uganda 765 km, Zambia 1,930 km

Coastline: 37 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: boundaries with neighbors
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: Tanzania-Zaire-Zambia tripoint in Lake Tanganyika may no longer be indefinite since it is reported that the indefinite section of the Zaire-Zambia boundary has been settled; long section with Congo along the Congo River is indefinite (no division of the river or its islands has been made)

Climate: tropical; hot and humid in equatorial river basin; cooler and drier in southern highlands; cooler and wetter in eastern highlands; north of Equator - wet season April to October, dry season December to February; south of Equator - wet season November to March, dry season April to October

Terrain: vast central basin is a low-lying plateau; mountains in east

Natural resources: cobalt, copper, cadmium, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, germanium, uranium, radium, bauxite, iron ore, coal, hydropower potential

Land use:
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 4%
forest and woodland: 78%
other: 15%

Irrigated land: 100 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: poaching threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; deforestation; 1.2 million Rwandan refugees are responsible for significant deforestation, soil erosion, and wildlife poaching in eastern Zaire
natural hazards: periodic droughts in south; volcanic activity
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Tropical Timber 83; signed, but not ratified - Desertification, Environmental Modification

Note: straddles Equator; very narrow strip of land that controls the lower Congo River and is only outlet to South Atlantic Ocean; dense tropical rain forest in central river basin and eastern highlands


Population: 44,060,636 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 48% (female 10,522,368; male 10,527,451)
15-64 years: 50% (female 11,211,353; male 10,630,118)
65 years and over: 2% (female 647,307; male 522,039) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.18% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 48.33 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 16.57 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: NA migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)
note: in 1994, more than one million refugees fled into Zaire to escape the fighting between the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi; a small number of these are returning to their homes in 1995 despite fear of the ongoing violence; additionally, Zaire is host to 105,000 Angolan, more than 250,000 Burundian and 100,000 Sudanese refugees; repatriation of Angolan refugees was suspended in May 1994 because of the recurrence of fighting in Angola; if present peace accords hold, repatriation of Angolans may recommence

Infant mortality rate: 108.7 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 47.54 years
male: 45.68 years
female: 49.46 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.7 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Zairian(s)
adjective: Zairian

Ethnic divisions: over 200 African ethnic groups, the majority are Bantu; four largest tribes - Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic) make up about 45% of the population

Religions: Roman Catholic 50%, Protestant 20%, Kimbanguist 10%, Muslim 10%, other syncretic sects and traditional beliefs 10%

Languages: French, Lingala, Swahili, Kingwana, Kikongo, Tshiluba

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990 est.)
total population: 72%
male: 84%
female: 61%

Labor force: 15 million (25% of the labor force comprises wage earners)
by occupation: agriculture 75%, industry 13%, services 12% (1985)


conventional long form: Republic of Zaire
conventional short form: Zaire
local long form: Republique du Zaire
local short form: Zaire
former: Belgian Congo Congo/Leopoldville Congo/Kinshasa

Digraph: CG

Type: republic with a strong presidential system

Capital: Kinshasa

Administrative divisions: 10 regions (regions, singular - region) and 1 town* (ville); Bandundu, Bas-Zaire, Equateur, Haut-Zaire, Kasai-Occidental, Kasai-Oriental, Kinshasa*, Maniema, Nord-Kivu, Shaba, Sud-Kivu

Independence: 30 June 1960 (from Belgium)

National holiday: Anniversary of the Regime (Second Republic), 24 November (1965)

Constitution: 24 June 1967, amended August 1974, revised 15 February 1978; amended April 1990; new transitional constitution promulgated in April 1994

Legal system: based on Belgian civil law system and tribal law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Marshal MOBUTU Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga (since 24 November 1965) election last held 29 July 1984 (next to be held by 9 July 1995); results - President MOBUTU was reelected without opposition
head of government: Prime Minister Leon KENGO wa Dondo (since 14 June 1994)
cabinet: National Executive Council; appointed by mutual agreement of the president and the prime minister

Legislative branch: unicameral
parliament: a single body consisting of the High Council of the Republic and the Parliament of the Transition with membership equally divided between presidential supporters and opponents

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Supreme)

Political parties and leaders: sole legal party until January 1991 - Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR); other parties include Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), Etienne TSHISEKEDI wa Mulumba; Democratic Social Christian Party (PDSC); Union of Federalists and Independent Republicans (UFERI); Unified Lumumbast Party (PALU), Antoine GIZENGA; Union of Independent Democrats (UDI), Leon KENGO wa Dondo


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador TATANENE Manata
chancery: 1800 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009
telephone: [1] (202) 234-7690, 7691

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: (vacant); Charge d'Affaires John M. YATES
embassy: 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, Kinshasa
mailing address: Unit 31550, Kinshasha; APO AE 09828
telephone: [243] (12) 21532, 21628
FAX: [243] (12) 21534 ext. 2308, 21535 ext. 2308; (88) 43805, 43467

Flag: light green with a yellow disk in the center bearing a black arm holding a red flaming torch; the flames of the torch are blowing away from the hoist side; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia


Overview: Zaire's economy has continued to disintegrate although Prime Minister KENGO has had some success in slowing the rate of economic decline. While meaningful economic figures are difficult to come by, Zaire's hyperinflation, chronic large government deficits, and plunging mineral production have made the country one of the world's poorest. Most formal transactions are conducted in hard currency as indigenous bank notes have lost almost all value, and a barter economy now flourishes in all but the largest cities. Most individuals and families hang on grimly through subsistence farming and petty trade. The government has not been able to meet its financial obligations to the International Monetary Fund or put in place the financial measures advocated by the IMF. Although short-term prospects for improvement are dim, improved political stability would boost Zaire's long-term potential to effectively exploit its vast wealth of mineral and agricultural resources.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $18.8 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 4% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $440 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 40% per month (1993 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

Exports: $362 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: copper, coffee, diamonds, cobalt, crude oil
partners: US, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, UK, Japan, South Africa

Imports: $356 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: consumer goods, foodstuffs, mining and other machinery, transport equipment, fuels
partners: South Africa, US, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK

External debt: $9.2 billion (May 1992 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate -20% (1993); accounts for 16% of GDP

capacity: 2,830,000 kW
production: 6.2 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 133 kWh (1993)

Industries: mining, mineral processing, consumer products (including textiles, footwear, cigarettes, processed foods and beverages), cement, diamonds

Agriculture: cash crops - coffee, palm oil, rubber, quinine; food crops - cassava, bananas, root crops, corn

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis, mostly for domestic consumption

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-89), $1.1 billion; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $6.9 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $35 million; Communist countries (1970-89), $263 million
note: except for humanitarian aid to private organizations, no US assistance has been given to Zaire since 1992

Currency: 1 zaire (Z) = 100 makuta

Exchange rates: new zaires (Z) per US$1 - 3,275.71 (December 1994), 1,194.12 (1994), 2.51 (1993); zaire (Z) per US$1 - 645,549 (1992), 15,587 (1991), 719 (1990)
note: on 22 October 1993 the new zaire, equal to 3,000,000 old zaires, was introduced

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 5,138 km; note - severely reduced trackage in use because of civil strife
narrow gauge: 3,987 km 1.067-m gauge (858 km electrified); 125 km 1.000-m gauge; 1,026 km 0.600-m gauge

total: 146,500 km
paved: 2,800 km
unpaved: gravel, improved earth 46,200 km; unimproved earth 97,500 km

Inland waterways: 15,000 km including the Congo, its tributaries, and unconnected lakes

Pipelines: petroleum products 390 km

Ports: Banana, Boma, Bukavu, Bumba, Goma, Kalemie, Kindu, Kinshasa, Kisangani, Matadi, Mbandaka

Merchant marine: none

total: 270
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 4
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 2
with paved runways under 914 m: 97
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 22
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 127


Telephone system: NA telephones
local: NA
intercity: NA barely adequate wire and microwave service in and between urban areas; 14 domestic earth stations
international: 1 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 10, FM 4, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 18
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie, paramilitary Civil Guard, Special Presidential Division

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 9,479,245; males fit for military service 4,828,367 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $46 million, 1.5% of GDP (1990)