The D.R.Congo has a surface area of 2,345,000 km² and is the largest country on the continent after Algeria (2,376,000 km²). The equator runs through the northern third of the country.
The D.R.Congo is surrounded by nine other countries: to the north lies the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Sudan; to the east Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania; to the south, Zambia and Angola. The border measures some 10,000 km. The D.R.Congo has a western gateway to the Atlantic along a 40 km coastal strip.
The climate is tropically hot and humid in the lower western and central regions, which frequent heavy rains from November through May south of the equator and from April to November in the north, whilst along the equator itself there is only one season. The higher regions of the east, though, have fairly temperate weather. Average annual temperatures are 25°C (77°F) in the low central basin and 17° to 20°C (63° to 68°F) at altitudes of 5,000 ft. Average annual rainfall in Kinshasa is 56 inches while in Lubumbashi it is 45 inches.
The D.R.Congo has about 51,700,000 people, with some 8,000,000 in Kinshasa, the capital, and 750,000 in Kisangani. The overall Average Population Growth is about 2.6%. The poulation growth in major cities is 4.3%. Forecasted Population in 2025 is 104,800,000 people. Life Expectancy is 46,7 years for men and 50,8 for women, and about 50% of the population is under 14 years old.
Four main ethnic groups are distinguished in the D.R.Congo:
The Bantus, members of the largest tribes in Black Africa, make up almost half of the entire population of the D.R.Congo. They live dispersed in an area approximately two thirds of the country: from the north, to the border with the Central African Republic, to the southeast in Katanga.
The Sudanese, immigrants from the north who came between the 14th and 16th century, have settled mainly on the northern border between the rivers Ubangi and Uele.
The Pygmies are Congo's oldest inhabitants. The word stems from the greek pygmaios and means as big as a fist. The dwarf-size tribe (average size ca. 1.40 m) number about 200,000 members. They are exceptional hunters who are especially skilled in using poisonous arrows. The pygmies are monogamous and live in non-hierarchial family communities.
The Bambutis live mostly in the forests of the Ituri region. In addition, the Nilotens and the Hamitens are settlred in the northeast and eastern Congo. Other tribes include the Baka, Babinga and the Batwa.
French is the official language in the D.R.Congo. Of the 200-odd local languages and dialects, the major one is Lingala, spoken primarily in Kinshasa and along the rivers. You'll hear more Kikongo west of Kinshasa, Tshiluba in the south and central area, Swahili in the east and north-east.