Congo-Kinshasa’s population is usually divided into at least 200 ethnic groups. The residents are unevenly distributed over the vast land surface, large areas of the country’s interior are uninhabited. The population is growing rapidly and almost half of the population is under 14 years of age.
Almost two-fifths of the residents are estimated to live in the country, but the migration of people during the many war years and a lack of public administration makes all population data uncertain.
Most ethnic groups are Bantu people, that is, they speak languages that belong to the large family of Bantu languages. In the north and east also live people who speak Nilo-Saharan languages. The Pygmies in the east constitute a special group, called batwa or twee, and are considered indigenous people. They have no language of their own but speak the same language as their neighbors. Congo-Kinshasa’s four largest groups are the Bantu people of Mongo, Luba and Congo (or Bakongo), as well as mangbetu-azande who speak Nilo-Saharan languages. Together, these groups make up 45 percent of the population.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Democratic Republic of the Congo, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
Ethnic contradictions have often flared up in different parts of the country, sometimes staged by politicians. Persecution of the small Tuscan minority, banyamulenge, during the 1990s helped trigger both the revolt that led to the dictatorship of Mobutu in 1997 and the great civil war of 1998–2003 (see Political system and Modern history). Banyamulenge lives mainly in the South Kivu province bordering Rwanda and Burundi, countries where conflict between Tutsis and Hutus led to civil war, ethnic cleansing and genocide. In Congo, new fighting has continued to flourish, despite the fact that there is formal peace.
The unrest has driven many hundreds of thousands of people into flight, both domestically and abroad. UNHCR estimated in November 2018 that there were almost 4.5 million internally displaced people, most of them in the two Kivu provinces in the east, as well as in the Kasai region. More than 800,000 Congolese had also moved abroad, of which almost 300,000 went to Uganda. At the same time, there were over half a million refugees from neighboring Congo. Most came from Rwanda but from 2013 more and more arrived from Central African Republic, South Sudan and Burundi.
The civil war and the ongoing unrest have caused tremendous human suffering. Estimates of the number of deaths required vary, but are usually between 3 million and 5.5 million. More people have died from illnesses and hardships caused by the war than in direct fighting.
French is the official language and since the colonial period it is mainly used in management, business and education. Over 200 languages are spoken in the country and four of them have national status: Swahili, tshiluba, lingala and kikongo (kituba). Lingala has grown out of bobangi, which during the colonial period was mixed with other languages. After independence from Belgium, lingala gained a dominant position by being the common language of the military, administration and education system. It is widely spoken in Kinshasa.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
mongo, luba, kongo, mangbetu-azande and others
Number of residents
81 339 988 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
43.9 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
42.3 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
9.9 per 1000 residents (2016)
3.3 percent (2017)
6.1 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
50.1 percent (2017)
60 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
61 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
58 years (2016)
French is the official language 1
- In the country, over 200 local languages are also spoken, four national ones: Swahili, Tshiluba, Lingala and KikongoSources
The coup attempt?
At the end of the month, hundreds of armed men attack the TV house, the airport and a military base in Kinshasa. About 50 of the attackers are shot dead in the army as government soldiers set fire to the fire. In a message that the insurgents are compelling journalists to read on the radio, it states that the country should be liberated from being “enslaved” by Rwanda. The revolt is quickly knocked down by government forces. According to the government, 96 “terrorists” and eight soldiers have been killed. Other sources speak of nearly 170 deaths.
The government and the M23 make peace
The Government and the M23 sign an agreement at a ceremony in Nairobi, in connection with Kenya celebrating 50 years as an independent nation. However, there are three different documents that differ from one another. The M23 political leader signs a text saying that the guerrillas have now dissolved and are to be transformed into a political party, while the government’s text is about the disarmament of the M23 and how the former rebels can be reintegrated into society. There is another document signed by the AU and regional leaders.
Offensive against FDLR begins
The UN is starting to use driverless aircraft, so-called drones, to monitor how rebel groups move in the area near the borders to Rwanda and Uganda. FIB launches an offensive against the FDLR hutumilis.
The M23 puts down the weapons
The Congolese military states that the M23 rebels have either surrendered or moved across the border to Uganda. Shortly thereafter, the M23 announces that the rebels will lay down their weapons.
Success for the government in Nordkivu
The government side recovers Rutshuru in North Kivu from the rebels. The city has since autumn 2012 served as M23’s regional base. Soon, more rebel-controlled areas of the army, including Bungana, the last of the major cities that the M23 has held, are resumed.
Kabila promises unity government
President Kabila is promising a unity government to resolve the ongoing crisis and prepare for elections in 2016. The play comes after a three-week dialogue with the opposition. However, several of the opposition parties have chosen not to participate in the talks.
ADF-Nalu’s violence forces tens of thousands to flee
More than 70,000 people flee across the border to Uganda when the Ugandan rebel group ADF-Nalu attacks the border town of Kamango in North Kivu. After fighting, the Congolese army can regain control of the city. At the same time, new fighting breaks out between the M23 and the government army outside Goma.
MEPs are excluded
Five MEPs, including Félix Tshisekedi, the son of veteran politician Étienne Tshisekedi, are losing their seats in the National Assembly. The official explanation is that they were absent for no reason. According to the opposition, this is an attempt by the regime to silence uncomfortable votes.
New battles near Goma
At the end of the month, new fighting breaks out between the government and M23 rebels near Goma in North Kivu.
Export bans are introduced for certain minerals
The government introduces an export ban on unprocessed copper and cobalt.
New offensive UN force, FIB, is formed
For the first time, the UN Security Council mandates a military force to aggressively fight rebel movements, in accordance with the new regional peace treaty (see February 2013). The force, FIB, will have its base in Goma in Nordkivu.
M23 rebels flee to Rwanda
Reports indicate that hundreds of M23 rebels loyal to Bosco Ntaganda (see April 2012) have moved to Rwanda. Among them is Jean-Marie Runiga. Other rebels from the same faction have surrendered to the UN. It seems that Ntaganda no longer has Rwanda’s support. He surrenders to the US embassy in Kigali and is shortly thereafter transferred to The Hague.
New battles in North Kivu
The unrest in Nordkivu is growing further. Fighting breaks out in Kitchanga in North Kivu between a Mai-Mai militia, the Patriotic Alliance for a Free and Sovereign Congo (APCLS), and the government army. At least 30 people are killed. APCLS has previously been armed by the army to fight M23.
Struggles break out between rival M23 factions
At the end of the month, battles erupt between rival factions of the M23 rebel movement at the city of Rutshuru, north of Goma. According to some sources, Jean-Marie Runiga is dismissed as the political leader of the rebel group, while others claim that Sultani Makenga, leader of the M23 military branch, has been allowed to go. The conflicts within the M23 are considered to play the government side in the hands, while complicating the peace talks in Kampala. The contradictions within the rebel movement, at least to some extent, date back to 2009 when the then leader of the Tutsiger guerilla CNDP Laurent Nkunda was arrested and the role Ntaganda played in this. Some of Nkunda’s men have found it difficult to forgive him for this. Sultani Makenga is also said to have been more anxious than Ntaganda to reach a peace deal with the government.
Peace treaty is signed
African leaders from eleven countries, following UN mediation, sign a peace treaty in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. The countries undertake not to interfere in each other’s internal affairs and not to support or tolerate armed groups.
Unrest erupts in Katanga
Violence is escalating in the Katanga province, with clashes between the government army and Mai-Mai Gedeon, and fierce separatists (Corak and CPK). According to the UN, a quarter of a million people have been forced to flee since 2011 in Katanga.
Rebels announce ceasefire
The rebel movement M23 announces unilateral ceasefire.