Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Currency: 1 zaire (Z) = 100 makuta.
Dialing code: 243.
Time: GMT + 1, GMT + 2.
Local time now:
Main cities : Mbuji-Mayi, Lubumbashi.
Land and Resources: The Democratic Republic of Congo is bordered to the north by the Central African Republic and Sudan, to the east by Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, to the south by Zambia and Angola, and to the west by the Republic of Congo and the Angolan enclave, Cabinda. It has widely differing geographical features, including mountain ranges in the north and west, a vast central plain through which the Congo River flows, and the volcanoes and lakes of the Kivu region.
Climate: Tropical; hot and humid in equatorial river basin; cooler and drier in southern highlands; cooler and wetter in eastern highlands.
Government: Republic. Head of State: President.
Population: Mostly Luba, Kongo, Mangbetu Azande, other.
Languages: French (official); Lingala; Kingwana (a dialect of Kiswahili or Swahili); Kikongo; Tshiluba.
Religion: Predominantly Christian (Roman Catholic, Protestant). The rest are Muslim, Kimbanquist, other.
1 January - New Year’s Day
4 January - Commemoration of the Martyrs of Independence
17 January - National Hero’s Day
1 May - Labour Day
17 May - National Liberation Day
30 June - Independence Day
17 November - Army Day
24 November - Anniversary of the Regime
25 December - Christmas Day
Visa: Required by all except transit passengers continuing their journey by the same or first connecting aircraft within 48 hours, provided holding valid onward or return documentation and not leaving the airport. Valid three months from date of issue. Application requirements: (a) Passport valid for at least six months. (b) One application form. (c) One passport-size photo. (d) Yellow fever vaccination certificate. (e) Stamped, self-addressed envelope (or cost of return postage) for postal applications. (f) Fee (payable on submission of documents for application of visa; cash or postal orders only). (g) Return or onward travel documentation or itinerary from travel agent. (h) Letter from employer/university giving proof of status. (i) Letter from bank/building society giving proof of sufficient funds. Requires two working days minimum, in person or by post.
Customs regulations: The following items may be imported without incurring customs duty: 100 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 227g of tobacco; 1 bottle of alcoholic beverage; a reasonable amount of perfume for personal use; cameras if temporarily imported by tourists. Radios, tape recorders, record players and gifts are subject to duty. An import licence is required for arms and ammunition. The import and export of local currency is prohibited. The import of foreign currency is limited to US$10,000. The export of foreign currency is unlimited.
Transportation: Airlines serving the Democratic Republic of Congo include Air France, Air Gabon, Cameroon Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, KLM and South African Airways. The international port is Matadi on the Congo River. There are no passenger services to or from Matadi at present. Ferries usually operate across the Congo River from Brazzaville to Kinshasa, although services are sporadic at present. In peacetime, there are rail services to Tanzania and Angola; and connections to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. The roads are mostly in bad condition and impassable in the rainy season. There are connecting roads to surrounding countries, the major routes being through Sudan, Uganda and Zambia. Small planes may be available for charter. There are services from Kinshasa to the upriver ports of Kisangani and Ilébo. The main internal railway runs from Lubumbashi to Ilébo, with a branch to Kalemie and Kindu, and from Kinshasa to the port of Matadi. Rail services are generally subject to disruption. Traffic drives on the right. Buses run between the main towns but are crowded and unreliable. Taxi is available in Kinshasa but unreliable. Car hire is available on a limited basis at the airport.
Money:Free circulation of foreign currencies is now allowed within the country. Note that purchase of airline tickets within the country can be made only with money exchanged officially. The use of MasterCard and Visa is limited to Kinshasa’s major hotels. Credit cards cannot be used to obtain cash advances at banks. Travellers cheques are not recommended. Commission fees are very high, and travellers cheques are not accepted outside Kinshasa. Banking hours: Mon-Fri 08:00-11:30.
Communications: IDD is available. Internal telephone service is often unreliable and exists only in major towns. GSM 900 and 1800 network cover Kinshasa. Roaming agreements exist. A few hotels have fax facilities; business centres in the capital may be cheaper however. Internet ñan be accessed, though power shortages may cause difficulties. There are Internet cafes in Kinshasa. Telegrams can be sent from chief telegraph offices, but are unreliable and sometimes subject to delays – particularly internal. Airmail to Europe takes 4 to 18 days but can take much longer.
Shops and cafes: Local craftware includes bracelets, ebony carvings and paintings. The large towns all have markets and shopping centres, selling everything from fresh ginger to baskets and African carvings. Shopping hours: Mon-Sat 08:00-18:00.
Tipping: 10 per cent service charge is added to hotel and restaurant bills. Extra tipping is unnecessary.
Health and safety: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required by travellers over 1 year of age. Ñholera is a serious risk in this country and precautions are essential. Immunisation or boosters for typhoid are recommended and vaccination against poliomyelitis is sometimes advised. Malaria risk exists throughout the year in the whole country. All water should be regarded as being a potential health risk. Milk should be boiled. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Pork, salad and mayonnaise may carry increased risk. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. Avoid swimming and paddling in fresh water; swimming pools which are well chlorinated and maintained are safe. The quality of hospitals is poor. It is advisable to take specific personal medicines as well as supplies such as syringes and drip needles, as medical facilities are available only in larger centres. Doctors and hospitals expect cash payment in full for health services. Health insurance is essential and it is advisable to include cover for emergency air evacuation. Using a handset in public can attract unwanted attention and make the user a target for robbery.
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz.
18 Range Road
Ontario K1N 3J8
Tel: + 1 613 230-6391; + 1 613 230-1294
Fax: + 1 613 ) 230-1945
6 Sanlitun Dongwujie
Tel: +86 (10) 6532 1995; +86 (10) 6532 1360 (Ambassador)
32, cours Albert 1er
Tel: + 33 1 18.104.22.168
Fax: + 33 1 42.89.80.09
D.R Congo Embassy
38 Holne Chase
Tel: + 44 (0)20 8458 0254
Fax: + 44 (0)20 8458 0254
Congo (Mission: New York)
866 United Nations Plaza Suite 511
NY 10017 New York
Tel: + 1 212-319-8061
Fax: + 1 212-319-8232
Congo (Democratic Republic Of)
1800 New Hampshire Avenue NW
20009 Washington D.C.
Tel: +1 202 234-7690 or +1 202 234 7691
Encarta World Atlas