Facts to assist you when travelling to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- 102 million.
Capital and Largest City
- French, Lingala, Kikongo, Swahili, and Tshiluba.
- Congolese franc.
- 08:00 – 17:00.
- Saturday – Sunday.
- UTC +1 to +2.
- If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable.
- Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city.
- Felix Tshisekedi is the 5th president of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo lies on the Equator, with one-third of the country to the north and two-thirds to the south. The climate is hot and humid in the river basin and cool and dry in the southern highlands, with a cold, alpine climate in the Rwenzori Mountains. South of the Equator, the rainy season lasts from October to May and north of the Equator, from April to November. Along the Equator, rainfall is fairly regular throughout the year. During the wet season, thunderstorms often are violent but seldom last more than a few hours.
- The main airport in the DRC is the N’djili Airport, located in Kinshasa. Ground transport in the Democratic Republic of Congo has always been difficult. The terrain and climate of the Congo Basin present serious barriers to road and rail construction, and the distances are enormous across this vast country. Rail transportation is provided by the Congo Railroad Company and the Office of the Uele Railways. The Democratic Republic of Congo has thousands of kilometres of navigable waterways. Traditionally, water transport has been the dominant means of moving around in approximately two-thirds of the country.
- The DRC’s main industries that contribute to its economy include mining, mineral processing, consumer products, metal products, lumber, cement, and ship repair.
- It is very important to know the gestures and mannerisms when interacting with locals, so as to not be considered rude. When in DRC, do not use your left hand as it is used for personal hygiene. It is common practice in the local culture to touch one another when greeting each other, but it is ultimately expressive of their culture and values. Other things that might be important to know is that in the DRC, pointing at someone is considered to be impolite. Objects are to be passed either with both hands or only the right hand, never with the left hand. Also note to never shake someone’s left hand.
- One of the best, most common, and most appropriate greetings for formal settings and to show politeness is ‘’Bonjour’’. This French greeting is widely acceptable as French is the official language of the country is widely spoken.
- The Congolese franc is the official currency of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It used to be subdivided into 100 centimes, however, centimes no longer have any value and are therefore no longer used.
- The Democratic Republic of Congo, unfortunately, does not have an extensive transport network. Many of the roads are not paved or are in a bad condition. Taxis are often the best way to travel between the sights, especially in Kinasha and other towns and cities. In the case that you may want to cover large distances in a short span of time, then road transport is not really an option. Instead, one of the 200+ airports spread around the country may better suit your travel needs.
- The DRC is a deeply troubled country with a tumultuous past. The arrival of Europeans in the late fifteenth century, and the colonisation by Belgium shortly thereafter, stripped the country of its abundance of rich natural resources. Post independence violence in the form of war persisted in the country, further disadvantaging the nation. The DRC still struggles to break free from its reputation as a country of ”darkness”. The country faces huge challenges, but its people are welcoming and warm. However, the fact remains that it is not the safest country to travel to.
- The culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is varied and reflects the diversity and different customs that coexist in the country. Congolese people have a strong sense of tribal identity. There are 242 languages spoken in the country, with perhaps a similar number of ethnic groups. They combine culture and tradition with religion, as well as taking influences from western culture- owing to the effects of colonisation- and abroad. The vast majority of the population are followers of Christianity, while the rest of them follow traditional religious beliefs. However, even those who follow Christianity often conflate the religion with their traditional beliefs that they hold on to.
- There are a few shopping centres in the DRC that resemble that of western countries. There are also some online stores, which are very convenient for expats who have not yet settled in. However, ecommerce is still in the beginning stages in the DRC.
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