The World Factbook (1990)/Zaire

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World Factbook (1990) Zaire.jpg

See regional map VII


Total area: 2,345,410 km²; land area: 2,267,600 km²

Comparative area: slightly more than one-quarter the size of US

Land boundaries: 10,271 km total; Angola 2,511 km, Burundi 233 km, Central African Republic 1,577 km, Congo 2,410 km, Rwanda 217 km, Sudan 628 km, Uganda 765 km, Zambia 1,930 km

Coastline: 37 km

Maritime claims:

Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: Tanzania-Zaire-Zambia tripoint in Lake Tanganyika may no longer be indefinite since it is reported that the indefinite section of the Zaire-Zambia boundary has been settled; long section with Congo along the Congo River is indefinite (no division of the river or its islands has been made)

Climate: tropical; hot and humid in equatorial river basin; cooler and drier in southern highlands; cooler and wetter in eastern highlands; north of Equator—wet season April to October, dry season December to February; south of Equator—wet season November to March, dry season April to October

Terrain: vast central basin is a low-lying plateau; mountains in east

Natural resources: cobalt, copper, cadmium, crude oil, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, germanium, uranium, radium, bauxite, iron ore, coal, hydropower potential

Land use: 3% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; 4% meadows and pastures; 78% forest and woodland; 15% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: dense tropical rainforest in central river basin and eastern highlands; periodic droughts in south

Note: straddles Equator; very narrow strip of land is only outlet to South Atlantic Ocean


Population: 36,589,468 (July 1990), growth rate 3.3% (1990)

Birth rate: 46 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 13 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: NEGL migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 103 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 51 years male, 55 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 6.2 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Zairian(s); adjective—Zairian

Ethnic divisions: over 200 African ethnic groups, the majority are Bantu; four largest tribes—Mongo, Luba, Kongo (all Bantu), and the Mangbetu-Azande (Hamitic) make up about 45% of the population

Religion: 50% Roman Catholic, 20% Protestant, 10% Kimbanguist, 10% Muslim, 10% other syncretic sects and traditional beliefs

Language: French (official), Lingala, Swahili, Kingwana, Kikongo, Tshiluba

Literacy: 55% males, 37% females

Labor force: 15,000,000; 75% agriculture, 13% industry, 12% services; 13% wage earners (1981); 51% of population of working age (1985)

Organized labor: National Union of Workers of Zaire (UNTZA) is the only trade union


Long-form name: Republic of Zaire

Type: republic with a strong presidential system

Capital: Kinshasa

Administrative divisions: 8 regions (régions, singular—région) and 1 town* (ville); Bandundu, Bas-Zaïre, Équateur, Haut-Zaïre, Kasai-Occidental, Kasai-Oriental, Kinshasa*, Kivu, Shaba; note—there may now be 10 regions with the elimination of Kivu and addition of Maniema, Nord-Kivu, and Sud-Kivu

Independence: 30 June 1960 (from Belgium; formerly Belgian Congo, then Congo/Leopoldville, then Congo/Kinshasa)

Constitution: 24 June 1967, amended August 1974, revised 15 February 1978

Legal system: based on Belgian civil law system and tribal law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: Anniversary of the Regime (Second Republic), 24 November (1965)

Executive branch: president, prime minister, Executive Council (cabinet)

Legislative branch: unicameral National Legislative Council (Conseil Législatif National)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court (Cour Suprême)

Leaders: Chief of State—President Marshal MOBUTU Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu wa Za Banga (since 24 November 1965);

Head of Government—Prime Minister LUNDA Bululu (since 25 April 1990)

Political parties and leaders: only party—Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR)

Suffrage: universal and compulsory at age 18

Elections: President—last held 29 July 1984 (next to be held July 1991); results—President Mobutu was reelected without opposition;

National Legislative Council—last held 6 September 1987 (next to be held September 1992); results—MPR is the only party; seats—(210 total) MPR 210

Communists: no Communist party


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador (vacant). Chargé d'Affaires MUKENDI Tambo a Kabila; Chancery at 1800 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington DC 20009; telephone (202) 234-7690 or 7691; US—Ambassador William C. HARROP; Embassy at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, Kinshasa (mailing address is APO New York 09662); telephone [243](12) 25881 through 25886; there is a US Consulate General in Lubumbashi

Flag: light green with a yellow disk in the center bearing a black arm holding a red flaming torch; the flames of the torch are blowing away from the hoist side; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia


Overview: In 1988, in spite of large mineral resources and one of the most developed and diversified economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, Zaire had a GDP per capita of $195, one of the lowest on the continent. Agriculture, a key sector of the economy, employs 75% of the population but generates under 30% of GDP. The main impetus for economic development has been the extractive industries. Mining and mineral processing account for about one-third of GDP and two-thirds of total export earnings. During the period 1983-88 the economy experienced slow growth, high inflation, a rising foreign debt, and a drop in foreign exchange earnings. Recent increases in foreign prices for copper—a key export earner—and other minerals offer some hope of reversing the economic decline. Zaire is the world's largest producer of diamonds.

GDP: $6.5 billion, per capita $195; real growth rate 2.8% (1988)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 82% (1988)

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget: revenues $856 million; expenditures $2.3 billion, including capital expenditures of $655 million (1988)

Exports: $2.2 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—copper 37%, coffee 24%, diamonds 12%, cobalt, crude oil; partners—US, Belgium, France, FRG, Italy, UK, Japan

Imports: $1.9 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—consumer goods, foodstuffs, mining and other machinery, transport equipment, fuels; partners—US, Belgium, France, FRG, Italy, Japan, UK

External debt: $8.6 billion (December 1989 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

Electricity: 2,574,000 kW capacity; 5,550 million kWh produced, 160 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: mining, mineral processing, consumer products (including textiles, footwear, and cigarettes), processed foods and beverages, cement, diamonds

Agriculture: cash crops—coffee, palm oil, rubber, quinine; food crops—cassava, bananas, root crops, corn

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis, mostly for domestic consumption

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $998 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $6.0 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $35 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $263 million

Currency: zaïre (plural—zaïre); 1 zaïre (Z) = 100 makuta

Exchange rates: zaïre (Z) per US$1—465.000 (January 1989), 381.445 (1989), 187.070 (1988), 112.403 (1987), 59.625 (1986), 49.873 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 5,254 km total; 3,968 km 1.067-meter gauge (851 km electrified); 125 km 1.000-meter gauge; 136 km 0.615-meter gauge; 1,025 km 0.600-meter gauge

Highways: 146,500 km total; 2,550 km bituminous, 46,450 km gravel and improved earth; remainder unimproved earth

Inland waterways: 15,000 km including the Congo, its tributaries, and unconnected lakes

Pipelines: refined products 390 km

Ports: Matadi, Boma, Banana

Merchant marine: 4 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 41,802 GRT/60,496 DWT; includes 1 passenger cargo, 3 cargo

Civil air: 38 major transport aircraft

Airports: 312 total, 258 usable; 25 with permanent-surface runways; 1 with runways over 3,659 m; 6 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 71 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: barely adequate wire and radio relay service; 31,200 telephones; stations—10 AM, 4 FM, 18 TV; satellite earth stations—1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT, 14 domestic

Defense Forces

Branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, National Gendarmerie, Logistics Corps, Special Presidential Division

Military manpower: males 15-49, 7,970,619; 4,057,561 fit for military service

Defense expenditures: $67 million (1988)