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Capital: Kinshasa

Population 69.6 million

Area 2.34 million sq km (905,354 sq miles)

Major languages French, Lingala, Kiswahili, Kikongo, Tshiluba

Major religions Christianity, Islam

Life expectancy 47 years (men), 51 years (women)

Currency Congolese franc

The recent history of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has been one of civil war and corruption.

DR Congo is a vast country with immense economic resources and, until recently, has been at the centre of what some observers call “Africa’s world war”, with widespread civilian suffering the result.

The war claimed an up to six million lives, either as a direct result of fighting or because of disease and malnutrition.

The war had an economic as well as a political side. Fighting was fuelled by the country’s vast mineral wealth, with all sides taking advantage of the anarchy to plunder natural resources. Some militia fight on in the east, where a big United Nations force is trying to keep the peace.

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