The Democratic Republic of the Congo (French: République démocratique du Congo), sometimes referred to as DR Congo, Congo-Kinshasa or the DRC, is a country located in central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world. With a population of over 75 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the nineteenth most populous nation in the world, the fourth most populous nation in Africa, as well as the most populous officially Francophone country.
It borders the Central African Republic and South Sudan to the north; Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi in the east; Zambia and Angola to the south; the Republic of the Congo, the Angolan exclave of Cabinda, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west; and is separated from Tanzania by Lake Tanganyika in the east. The country has access to the ocean through a 40-kilometre (25 mi) stretch of Atlantic coastline at Muanda and the roughly 9 km wide mouth of the Congo River which opens into the Gulf of Guinea. It has the second-highest total Christian population in Africa.
The Second Congo War, beginning in 1998, devastated the country and is sometimes referred to as the “African world war” because it involved nine African nations and twenty armed groups. Despite the signing of peace accords in 2003, fighting continued in the east of the country in 2007. There, the prevalence of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world.  The war is the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II, killing 5.4 million people since 1998.   More than 90% were not killed in combat. They died from diseases that were both preventable and treatable (malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition) aggravated by displaced populations living in unsanitary and over-crowded conditions that lacked access to shelter, water, food and medicine. Forty seven percent of those deaths were children under five. Until today the ongoing conflicts excerbates the exhaustion of the country’s great agricultural potential. This is one reason for a high mortality rate and prevalence of malnutrition.
Conflict for control of the mineral wealth is behind some of the most violent atrocities.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo was formerly, in chronological order, the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Republic of the Congo, and Zaire (Zaïre in French). Though it is located in the Central African UN subregion, the nation is also economically and regionally affiliated with Southern Africa as a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Although citizens of the DRC are among the poorest in the world, having the second lowest nominal GDP per capita, the Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered to be the richest country in the world regarding natural resources; its untapped deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of US$ 24 trillion. The DRC has more than 30% of the world’s diamond reserves and 70% of the world’s coltan.
The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a nation endowed with resources of vast potential wealth, declined drastically since the mid-1980s. Since Congo’s revenue gained up to 70% of export revenue from minerals in the 1970s and 1980s, the Congo was particularly hit when resource prices deteriorated at that time. By 2005 the Congo gained up to 90% of its revenue from minerals (Exenberger and Hartmann 2007:10).
At the time of its independence in 1960, DRC was the second most industrialized country in Africa after South Africa, it boasted a thriving mining sector and its agriculture sector was relatively productive. The two recent conflicts (the First and Second Congo Wars), which began in 1996, have dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, have increased external debt, and have resulted in deaths of more than five million people from war, and associated famine and disease. Malnutrition affects approximately two thirds of the country’s population.
Foreign businesses have curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict, lack of infrastructure, and the difficult operating environment. The war has intensified the impact of such basic problems as an uncertain legal framework, corruption, inflation, and lack of openness in government economic policy and financial operations.
Conditions improved in late 2002 with the withdrawal of a large portion of the invading foreign troops. A number of International Monetary Fund and World Bank missions have met with the government to help it develop a coherent economic plan, and President Joseph Kabila has begun implementing reforms. Much economic activity lies outside the GDP data. A United Nations Human Development Index report shows human development to be one of the worst in decades. Through 2011 the Democratic Republic of the Congo had the lowest Human Development Index of the 187 ranked countries, classified lower than Niger despite a higher margin of improvement than the latter country from 2010’s numbers.
The economy of the second largest country in Africa relies heavily on mining. However, the smaller-scale economic activity occurs in the informal sector and is not reflected in GDP data. By far the largest mines in the Congo are located in the Shaba province, in the South. They are highly mechanized, and have a maximum capacity of several millions of tons per year of copper and cobalt ore, with the capability of refining it into metal. The Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt ore, and a major producer of copper and diamonds, the latter coming from the Kasai province in the West. The Congo has 70% of the world’s coltan, and more than 30% of the world’s diamond reserves. mostly in the form of small, industrial diamonds.Coltan is a major source of tantalum which is used in the fabrication of electronic components in computers and mobile phones. The mines are small, and non-mechanized. In 2002, tin was discovered in the east of the country, but, to date, mining has been on a small scale. Smuggling of the conflict minerals, coltan and cassiterite (ores of tantalum and tin, respectively), has helped fuel the war in the Eastern Congo.
In September 2004 the state-owned Gécamines, signed an agreement with Global Enterprises Corporate (GEC), a company formed by the merging of Dan Gertler International in partnership with Beny Steinmetz Global, to rehabilitate and operate the Kananga and Tilwezembe copper mines. The deal was ratified by presidential decree. In 2007 a World Bank report reviewed The Democratic Republic of Congo’s three biggest mining contracts finding that the 2005 deals including one with Global Enterprises Company, a company co-owned by Dan Getler, were approved with “a complete lack of transparency (Mahtani January 3, 2007)”.  Gertler and Steinmetz placed Global Enterprises Corporate (GEC)’S 75% share in KOV into Nikanor Plc registered in the Isle of Man, which reached a market capitalization of $1.5 billion by 2007. In February 2007, 22% of the Nikanor Mining company was owned by the Gertner Family Trust and 14% by Dan Gertler. In January 2008 Katanga Mining acquired Nikanor PLC for $452m.
In April 2006 Gertler’s DGI took a major stake in DEM Mining. a cobalt-copper mining and services company based in Katanga. In June 2006 Gertler bought Tremalt, which had a half share in the Mukondo Mine for about $60m from the Zimbabwean businessman John Bredenkamp. In 2007 Tremalt was owned by Prairie International Ltd, of which Dan Gertler’s family trust was a major shareholder. Tremalt owned 80% of Savannah Mining, which held concessions C17 and C18 in Katanga Province and 50% of the Mukondo project. The other 50% of Mukonda was held by Boss Mining, which in turn was 80% owned by Central African Mining & Exploration Company (CAMEC). Boss Mining had rented and operated Bredenkamp’s half of Mukondo. Gertler terminated this arrangement.
Katanga Mining Limited, a Swiss-owned company, owns the Luilu Metallurgical Plant, which has a capacity of 175,000 tonnes of copper and 8,000 tonnes of cobalt per year, making it the largest cobalt refinery in the world. After a major rehabilitation program, the company restarted copper production in December 2007 and cobalt production in May 2008.
In April 2013, anti-corruption NGOs revealed that tax authorities in the country had failed to account for $88 million from the mining sector, despite booming production figures and positive industrial performance. The missing funds date from 2010 and tax bodies should have reportedly paid them into the central bank.