Geography of the Democratic republic of Congo
The Democratic republic of Congo includes most of the basin of the river Congo, which covers a surface of more than more than one million square kilometres. The only maritime outlet of the country is a narrow band of territory on northern bank of the river (area of Moanda in the Low-Congo).
The vast basic zone altitude of the center of the country is a plate worked by the basin of the river running out towards the west, and covered with an important tropical forest. This zone is surrounded by mountainous terraces such as the Monts Mitumba in the west and the Montagnes of Virunga in north, of covered plates of savannas in the south and south-west, north being bordered beyond the river by the dense forest. High mountains are at the Eastern end of the country (area of the Large-Rift).
The DRC is crossed by the equator, with a third of the country being in the north of this line. The climate is hot and wet in the area of the river basin, and more dryness and more expenses towards the south. In the south of the equator, the Rain season lasts from October at May, and the north from April at November. On the level of the equator, precipitations have relatively constant throughout the year. During the rain season, the storms are violent one but last only a few hours. The average level of precipitation for the worldwide is of 107 centimetres water.
Physical geography: general informationAlmost wedged, the Democratic republic of Congo - with her: 2345000 km ² are the third larger country of Africa, only the Sudan and the Algérie is wider than it. It is approximately 33 times larger than the Bénélux and four times more than the France, and of surface slightly lower than the quarter of that of the the United States of America.
It is mainly occupied by the basin of Congo and its affluents.
Physical delimitationDividing its border with 9 countries of Africa, it is limited to north by the Central African Republic and the Sudan, to the east by the Uganda, the Rwanda, the Burundi and the Tanzania, and in the south by the Zambia and the Angola. In the west, the Angolan enclave of Cabinda, the Popular republic of Congo, and forty kilometers of Atlantic coast limit.
To the east, the border follows the tectonic axis of its big lakes over a length of: 1400 km in an about North-South direction. With Uganda, the limit is marked by the Lac Albert, the Semliki, the Ruwenzori and the Lac Edouard; with the Rwanda by the Lake Kivu, with Burundi by Ruzizi and the north of the Lake Tanganyika; with the Tanzania by the 600 km of the lake Tanganyika; finally with Zambia by the Lake Moero and Luapula. And in the West, the Fleuve Congo decides between it of the Popular republic of Congo.
Astronomical delimitationIts territory spreads between 5°30' Northern latitude and 13°50' of southern latitude, a third while being located at the north of the equator. In longitude is of Greenwich, it goes from 12°15' to 31°15'
Relief and geomorphology
The relief of the Democratic republic of Congo is clearly characterized. The central basin is an immense depression, drained by the Fleuve Congo and its affluents. It has an average altitude of 400 meters; its point low (340 m) is located in the area of the lakes Tumba and May-Ndombe. Staged plains and plates connect it to the peripheral pad. This one does not exceed 600 meters on its northern edge; it reaches: 1000 meters in the Crystal mounts parallel at the Atlantic coast downstream from Kinshasa. Although not very high, these mounts constitutes a major hurdle with the flow of the river which dug a narrow passage there by forming thirty-two falls and rapids there.
Rather narrow, the coastal Plaine is formed by the estuary of Congo and the alluvial grounds deposited by this river, the second of Africa by the length. The enormous Congolese territory communicates with the Atlantic Ocean only by this narrow corridor of about 40 kilometers broad. This zone rises gradually towards the east. On the geological level, one notes a prevalence of sandy rocks and limestones. They were given up by the sea.
In the East, important mountainous chains or powerful mountainous solid masses along big lakes of Africa - in particular: lakes Tanganyika, Kivu, Edouard and Albert - constitute the Western edge. Because of Seism and war, this corner of the Republic is populated less than of others. This continuous mountainous part towards South-east of the country with mountains, like the Ougoma, the Virunga along the Rwandan border whose certain tops reach: 3100 with: 4500 meters. In the same South-eastern part, one counts peripheral pad rising above: 1000 meters, on the one hand between the rivers Kwango and Kwilu, on the other hand in the south of the Katanga where the mounts Kundelungu, in the west of the lake Moéro, reach: 1600 meters.
The Congo river
See also: Congo (river)
With its: 4320 km length, with a flow of: 40000 m ³ /seconde, with its vast basin of 3,75 million km ², the Congo river are - after the the Nile - the second longest river of Africa, the first most important river of Africa by its flow and the second river of the world - after the the Amazon - having the largest basin.
Its position near the equator is worth to him this most important flow of the African continent (the the Amazon is the only river which exceeds it from this point of view on a world level). Indeed, its flow varies from 1 to 3 while that of the Amazon varies from 1 to 200. It is with horse on the equator and the almost homogeneous distribution of its affluents in the two hemispheres regularizes its flow and make of it the most regular river of the world.
The Congo river has a considerable economic importance, in this direction it provides fish and electricity, but it constitutes an essential transportation route. With its affluents, it forms: 14166 km of inland waterways.
It takes its source in the south of the Katanga, in the village of Musofi at an altitude of: 1435 meters and bears the name of Lualaba until Kisangani. It flows in the Océan by a broad estuary and its power is such as one recognizes his water up to 45 km on the open ocean.
See also: List of the lakes of the Democratic republic of Congo
In Democratic republic of Congo, nature arises so that one finds a great number of the lakes there. Unfortunately, the data on the physical Géographie of the Congolese lakes are very few. The available data make financial statement of the bond Tectonique of the lakes. For the majority of the lakes, their origins are not prone any more of discussion. The lakes Tanganyika, Edouard, Upemba and Moero, Pool of Malemb, which occupies the funds of the Graben S, are of tectonic origin. The Lac Albert escapes the rule insofar as there would have already existed with the lower Miocène; these lakes constitute recent elements of physical geography and especially developed during the quaternary one. One very little has information on the Lac Moero, whose origin Tectonique is probable.
Although one finds lakes which are not reproduced on the list of the tectonic lakes, the majority of these lakes offer the typical characteristics of the tectonic lakes: form lengthened in a depression bordered of stiff escarpments, little indented banks, absence of islands, great depth. The Lac Tanganyika is the most obvious example. It appears besides among the deepest lakes of the sphere. The marshy depression of the Upemba makes exception: one finds there several lakes of which that of the Upemba which probably is the vestiges of only one lake surface, but the depth varies between 0,50 m and 3,25 m only. Except the characteristics inherited because of their tectonic origin, all these lakes are exoreic. Except for the lakes Edouard and Albert which belongs to the basin of the Nile, these lakes belong to the basin of Congo.
Beyond the tectonic lakes, the DRC presents also other lakes called lakes of the basin. The central Cuvette has several lake extents, whose principal ones are the Lac May-Ndombe and the Lac Tumba. One regards them as the vestiges of a more important lake, which would have occupied part of the basin for one short period in the history of the hydrographic network of Congo. They are not very deep (the maximum depth of the Lac May-Ndombe would exceed hardly 7 m and the average depth of the Lac Tumba would be of 4 m). The banks are generally marshy.
Just like the tectonic lakes, those of the basin are also full of fish.
Let us note that certain lakes play a regulating part of the mode of the rivers downstream from the lake (for example: the Lake May-Ndombe for the mode of Fimi downstream from Lukenie; lakes of the depression of Upemba for the mode of the Lualaba downstream). But that implies that the level of the lakes is depend on the contribution out of water by the rivers of upstream. As these last often have a mode characterized by periods of low water level and high waters, it is normal to note that the level of the lakes varies one period of the year to the other, and even from one year to another.
In a general way, the lakes of the DRC gather in the following way:
- Lakes of mountains, particularly very full of fish, is: the Lake Albert, the Lake Tanganyika, the Lake Kivu, the Lake Edouard
- Lakes of plates: the Lake Moero and the Lake Bangwelo
- residual Lakes: the lakes Tumba and May-Ndombe, witness of the old inland sea which occupied the depressed zone of the central basin.
In DRC, There exist many other lakes, but of less importance which are not on this list.
See also: List of the lakes of the Democratic republic of Congo
The Democratic republic of Congo profits, generally, of two seasons, i.e. dry and rain. The distribution of the seasons is not distributed in the same way in all the territory and is not nor equal in term of duration. In the northern part of the country, the seasons of rains last of the month of April at the end of the month of June and month of September at the end of October. The dry seasons last of beginning November with end March (great dry season) and of at the beginning of July at the end of August (small season dries). In the south of Ecuador, the rate/rhythm of the seasons is reversed exactly. In the mountainous regions of the east, the two dry seasons last only one month, in January and in July. In the south and the south-east of the Katanga, the rain season starts mid-October and is prolonged until mid-May. In North Katanga and the South Kasaï, the rains start at the beginning of October to cease at the end of April, but a small dry season is intercalated in January.
This large country in the middle of Africa includes/understands three climates: equatorial climate, tropical climate and climate of mountain.
Fauna and flora
The ecosystem S of the Democratic republic of Congo rich and are varied. The Congolese fauna natural rich various in cash, is adapted each one to the climatic conditions and floristic. Certain species meet in all the mediums. Almost all the large African animals exist in its reserves, this fauna remarkable includes/understands many species large and even very big size, such as the African elephant (largest of the current terrestrial mammals), the Girafe (highest of the animals) and the Gorille (largest of all the Primate S). The Mammifère S are represented in Democratic republic of Congo by a so great number of forms which it is not very probable to find in the whole world an area which, under this report/ratio, could equalize this country. On more or less three hundred kinds, one estimates that approximately two thirds of these kinds constitute fauna mammalienne of Congo.
Moreover, this fauna proves to be exceptional owing to the fact that it proves to be a refuge for certain species disappeared apart from its borders, mainly following the destruction of the primitive forest which, fortunately, still recovers most of its territory; the okapi must be quoted the first with the number of the species thus preserved. Okapi and Paon of Congo constitutes endemic, known species only in Congo.
The Forêt is populated by the Gorille S, the Singe S of any kind (the Chimpanzé S, the Bonobo S…), the wild boars phacochère S, Potamochère S or Hylochère S, the wildcats, the Ruminant S such as red buffaloes, the Antelope S of forest, the okapi, the elephant of forest and marshes, the Hippopotamus S, the Rhinoceros like by snake of wood, Birds of which some are characterized by the beauty from their plumage or that of their song. And like all the hot countries, the Democratic republic of Congo counts innumerable varieties of insects. Some are, unfortunately, vermin insofar as they are vectors or conveyers of dangerous tropical diseases.
In the Savanna and the clear Forest Congolese, one meets animals of big size there, i.e. the Herbivore S and the carnivores. This field covers large herbivores (black buffaloes, antelopes, Girafe S, elephant S, Zèbre S) which live there in bands or herds and of the carnivores such as the Lion, the leopard, Guêpard, the Chacal, the Civette, the Hyène alive isolated or in small groups having each one its hunting ground. The fauna and the flora of the Democratic republic of Congo gather 95% of the varieties of the crocodiles met on all the African continent.
The flora and fauna are there of an unimaginable variety. Thus, one counted as a Democratic republic of Congo between 8.000 and 10.000 kinds of plants. Among the few 600 indexed trees, it is several which provide a sawlog to high commercial value (mahogany tree, ebony, wengé, iroko…) In this type of forest, the vegetation is structured vertically. 4 stages are distinguished. Highest (approximately 40 m) is consisted the crown of the largest trees. Then the trees from more modest size, the thickets and the grasses come.
The flora survives thanks to an extremely fast natural cycle resting on the decomposition of the plants and the dead animals. This one is supported by heat and moisture, two factors favourable with the bacterial life. The nutritive substances resulting from the putrefaction are directly used by the plants. The layer of humus thus formed is however extremely thin. Normally, it is protected from surface waters by the vegetable cover. But where the latter, for one or the other reason, ceased playing its part, there remains now only one strongly eroded landscape.
In spite of the special attention of the public authority for protection of nature, the forest is threatened more and more by the forestry activities. In the zones where the trees were cut down, it yielded besides the place to the secondary forest, a formation much less rich vegetable in cash.
- Class 1: exportable gasolines in barks
- Class 2: gasolines used locally, exportable also in barks
- Class 3: not exploited gasolines
Still practically inviolate, the Equatorial forest is relatively a virgin forest and occupies about half of its territory. It is located mainly in the central basin, area with strong heats and the abundant rains. Its surface is estimated at more than one million km ². It has a very dense vegetation of giant trees, (4 with 5m of circumference at the base and 50 m in height), lianas and herbaceous plants push there with pleasure.
In the east, above: 1200 meters, it pushes tropical forests of mountains where the trunks are covered with foam. Regularly devastated by the floods, the Western areas of the central basin have a paludous flora. Among the trees which thrive there, it of it is much which is equipped with air roots.
If the equatorial one is virgin, that is not the case for the forest of Mayombé (Low-Congo). Already with the beginning of the year thirty, the latter was one of the first zones exploited as well as a negligible part of equatorial in Bandundu. But that of the central Basin will make only the experiment of the development that as from the Seventies by forest companies which were established in the Bandundu and Ecuador. This zone is today the center of exploitation of wood. The evacuation is carried out mainly by inland waterway (Congo and Kasaï).
Wooded savannaThe Democratic republic of Congo occupies the 3rd world rank and the 1st place in Africa with regard to wooded surface. She occupies the wettest part of the tropical zone and almost entirely encircles it.
Grassy savannaLocates itself as one moves away from the forest and the equator towards the North-East and South-east, savanna is transformed into bush and the vegetation is cleared up. Tall grasses (3 to 4 m) extend as far as the eye can see. Monotony is cut by some shrubs of small sizes. That is due to the climate, but also to the relief. In flat ground, one meets raised savannas (grassy extents strewn with clumps of trees) where time is continuously misty.
Each year of the hundreds of km ² are the prey of bush fires which put in escape game that hunters watch for.
Let us note that Congolese savanna and the bush are the field of the herbivores: elephants, antelopes, buffaloes and others; and the large carnivores, mainly the lion reign there as a Master.
Vegetation of mountainThe vegetation of mountain varies as one goes up towards the top. By stage successive, we meet: the forest, savanna, bamboos, arbustres, grasses, then vegetation of: 4000 Mr. the mountains in DRC are bipolar, i.e. one finds them in South-west (in Low-Congo and in a way isolated with Kinshasa (Mont Mangengenge) and in the East from the country.
mountains of the east:
- the Mounts Virunga in the north of the Lake Kivu, formed by a series of volcanos, some in activity as Karisimbi which culminates with: 4507 m, the Nyamulagira (: 3068 m) and the Nyiragongo (: 3470 m) and others extinct like the Mikeno (: 4437 m), the Visoke (: 3711 m) and the Sabinio (: 3647 m).
- volcanic solid mass of the Rwenzori between the lakes (Edouard and Albert), with like culminating points the Peak Albert (: 5100 m) and the Peak Marguerite (: 5120 m) which is the maximum altitude of the DRC. The Ruwenzori is perpetually covered with an icecap. The Blue Mounts, around the Lake Albert, culminate with approximately: 2000 m and form, in this area, the dividing line between water of the basin of Congo and those of the basin of the the Nile.
- the Mounts Kundelungu (: 1600 m: 1700 m), in the east of the Lufira and the west of the luapula and the Lake Moero, constitute a typical example of old mountain. They are very poor and not very favourable with the breeding and agriculture.
- the Marungu Mounts (: 2200 m) border south-west of the Lac Tanganyika. The action of erosion levelled most of the old mountain which covered the whole of the Katanga. A high plateau was thus built with an altitude which exceeds: 1500 Mr.
The ditch of the central Africa, connects median large notch of the East Africa, has approximately: 1400 km of length and 40 km broad. The Ngoma Mounts in the north of the Lukugai with an average altitude of: 2000 Mr. His culminating point is the Peak Sambirini with: 2250 Mr.
the mountain of the Mayumbe in South-west : is an old folded mountain, strongly attacked by erosion; it tends to take the characteristics of a plate. Its altitude is approximately 600 m and culminates with: 1050 m with the Mount Uia. The Fleuve Congo crosses the mounts of Mayumbe by a valley, boxed and intersected by many falls until Matadi. Most of the territory of the Low-Congo presents a relief of hills; the old mountain occupies of it only one weak surface
In spite of this strong growth of the population, the urbanization of the Republic does not follow. The Democratic republic of Congo does not have almost any city answering all the criteria of cities known as modern. Kinshasa, the only city taken for “modern”, is a true contrast, with residential and commercial sectors smart, formless universities, and slums coexisting side by side, and thus also of vast “rural” zones sometimes invading the city at the point to find market-gardening and breedings downtown.
The Democratic republic of Congo is hearth economic of great scale but not exploited. It is one of the rare countries in the world to be profited from a considerable and enormous richness letting say to more one that this country is a geological real scandal.
Congolese assetsThis reality is an obviousness. It is justified by the fact that the Democratic republic of Congo has natural and human assets very considerable: an important potential of natural resources and mineral (Copper, Coltan, Cobalt, Money, Uranium, Lead, Zinc, the Cadmium, the Diamond, the Gold, the tin, the Tungsten, the Manganese… and noble metals…) with a panoply of the agricultural resources (coffee, wood (afromosia, ebony, wengé, iroko, sapelli, sipro, tiama, tola, kambala, lifaki…) and rubber).
It is the first country of Africa from the point of view of extended from its forests (forest equatorial with it only, it occupies half of the Congolese national territory) and most important in the safeguarding of the world environment. With its surface, it is classified with the third position in all the Africa. The DRC is classified among the 10 countries of the méga Biodiversité of the world with 480 species of mammals, 565 species of birds, 1.000 fish species, 350 species of reptiles, 220 species of batrachians and more than 10.000 angiospermes of which 3.000 would be endemic.
It has an abundance out of water and lakes rich in fish and other rich person like the Pétrole, the Gaz… in particular the Lac Tanganyika the (larger than Burundi) full of fish of the world, which are still in their rough state. The DRC is also an oil producer (24 000 barrels per day in 2003), mainly on the coast (terminal of the Port of Banana). The area of the Lac Albert also shelters an important layer.
Lastly, the DRC, blessed by nature, constitutes also a great tourist center: few places in the world are of a beauty of the North-East of this country, its lakes with the borders of the the Nile.
Principal economic poles
The Democratic republic of Congo account three headlights cities. Headlights because these cities gather a great number of important activities of all the Republic: Kinshasa, entity administrative with particular status, plays the part of administrative, economic and cultural center of the Democratic republic of Congo. This city knows a very strong concentration of the economic activity and services. Lubumbashi is the greatest center industrial and commercial of the Democratic republic of Congo (capital of copper) and Matadi, port city of the Democratic republic of Congo is a true open door towards outside for entirety of the country.
At the provincial level, all the provinces of the Republic prove to be important insofar as the richnesses of the Republic is equitably distributed. Each province has the important assets for the countries, although the province of the Low-Congo and Katanga contributes in a ponderal way to the Congolese economy.
- Total: : 2345.410 km ²
- Ground: : 2267.600 km ²
- Water: : 77810 km ²
; Borders of state:
- Total: : 10744 km
- Neighboring states: Angola 2511 km, Burundi 233 km, Central African Republic 1577 km, Republic of Congo 2410 km, Rwanda 217 km, Sudan 628 km, Tanzania 473 km, Uganda 765 km, Zambia 1930 km
; Length of coast: 37 kilometers.
; Revendicatiosn maritime:
- exclusive economic Zone: Borders with neighboring states
- territorial Sea: 12 miles nautical
Ground: vast central basin has low-lying plate; mountains in east --> ; Extreme points of altitude:
- lower altitude: Atlantic Ocean 0 meters
- More high-altitude: Peak Marguerite on the Mount Stanley: 5110 m
; Natural resources: Cobalt, Copper, Cadmium, Oil, Diamond S industrial and of joalery, Gold, money, Zinc, Manganese, tin, Germanium, Uranium, Radium, Bauxite, ores of Iron, coal, Hydroelectricity, wood.
; Land use: 0.52% (1998 are.), 0% (1993 are.)
- permanent Pâtures: 7% (1993 are.)
- Forêts: 77% (1993 are.)
- Others: 96.52 (1998 are.), 13% (1993 are.)
; Irrigated grounds: 110 km ² (1998 are.), 100 km ² (1993 are.)
Environment - current resulting: poaching threatens wildlife populations; toilets pollution; deforestation; refugees responsible for significant deforestation, soil erosion, and wildlife poaching; mining off minerals (coltan - has mineral used in creating capacitors, diamonds, and gold) causing environmental ramming --> ; Environment - international agreements:
- relating to: Biodiversity, change of climate, Turning into a desert, species in danger, Hazardous Wastes, laws maritime, banishment of the nuclear power, protection of the layer of ozone, tropical wood 83, tropical wood 94, wetlands
- signed, but not ratified: -
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