Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Travel the World - DR Congo

I started a 50-week series in 2019 that I called Travel the World. Each week of the series I visited a randomly-selected country, sharing bits of information about that country. I then chose one tidbit of information about that week's country as inspiration for a card. As I explored those 50 countries in 2019, I knew I would continue on until I've visited every one of the 195 countries in the world. By the end of 2021, I'd virtually traveled to 145 countries and plan to complete my journey to all 195 countries by visiting the last 50 this year.

This week's country is...

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the second largest country in Africa. It borders nine countries: Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

DR Congo would be landlocked if it weren’t for a 25-mile coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.

DR Congo has the world’s sixth-shortest coastline for a sovereign nation.

The Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa is often referred to as DRC, DR Congo and sometimes Congo (Kinshasa) to distinguish it from the Republic of the Congo which is often referred to as Congo (Brazzaville).

In 1971, the country was renamed Zaire and the River Congo became the River Zaire following a military takeover. The country reverted to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1997.

At 2,900 miles, the Congo River, which runs through DR Congo, is Africa’s second-longest river after the Nile. It is also the world’s deepest river.

DR Congo gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

The people of the DRC represent over 200 ethnic groups, with nearly 250 languages and dialects spoken throughout the country. 

Kinshasa, the capital, is the second largest French-speaking city in the world.

DR Congo’s capital city, Kinshasa, is located on the Congo River opposite Brazzaville, the capital of Congo (Republic of Congo). The two cities are less than a mile apart, making them the closest capital cities in the world.

There are two time zones in DR Congo and the country does not observe daylight savings time.

Like in most African countries, football is indisputably the most popular sport in DR Congo. The DR Congo men’s national football team is one of the most successful national teams in Africa. They are nicknamed “The Leopards”.

Football is the most popular in Congo, but their national game is Nzango, which literally means “foot game.”

Despite having competed in the Summer Olympic Games since 1968, no athlete from DR Congo has ever won a medal. This makes DR Congo the world’s second-most populous country (after Bangladesh) to never have won an Olympic medal. DR Congo has never competed in the Winter Olympics.

The oldest national park in Africa is the Congo’s Virunga National Park. It is home to rare mountain gorillas, lions, and elephants.

The world’s second-largest rainforest, the Congolese Rainforest, is part-located in DR Congo. The Congolese Rainforest spans six countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

The Congo Basin spans six countries including DR Congo. The Congo Basin makes up one of the most important wilderness areas on Earth and is home to approximately 10,000 plant species, 400 mammal species, 1,000 bird species and 700 fish species.

The Congo Basin is one of the most important wilderness areas on the planet. It is the world’s second-largest tropical forest, covering 500 million acres, and is larger than the state of Alaska. The Congo Basin is teeming with life, a mosaic of rivers, forests, savannas, swamps, and flooded forests.

The DR Congo is home to the endangered okapi. Known as the “forest giraffe,” the okapi looks more like a cross between a deer and a zebra. The okapi is native to the Ituri Rainforest in DR Congo, the only place where it can be found in the wild.

Over half of the Congo is covered by jungles, which is not suitable to live for human beings.

DR Congo and the Congo Basin countries are home to the ethnic group of Pygmy people, known for their short stature – typically under five feet tall.

Nyiragongo is probably DRC’s most magnificent single sight. This active volcano magnificently soars above the city of Goma and the surrounding Virunga National Park. Occasionally, it sends plumes of smoke into the sky before becoming a flaming beacon visible for miles around after sundown. The crater of Mount Nyiragongo contains the largest and most voluminous lava lake in the world. It measures ten million cubic meters. The volcano is active and a threat to the lives of the one million inhabitants of Goma. Lava is a part of the daily life of the Goma people. As a result, Nyiragongo is presently referred to as the most dangerous volcano in the world.

Poulet à la Moambé, or chicken in red palm oil, is considered the national dish of DR Congo. This yummy dish is made by combining chicken, spices, and palm butter to create an oily stew-like consistency.

DR Congo’s recent history has been plagued by civil war, conflict and politic upheaval. It has been at the centre of what has been called “Africa’s world war”.

Due mainly to the ongoing instability in the eastern part of the country, about 450,000 refugees from the DRC remain in neighboring countries, particularly Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

It’s common for a family to have at least 4 children, with each of them having their own responsibilities around the house. Considering the number of tasks an average child has to do in a day (babysitting, fetching water, etc.), the life of the children in Democratic Republic of Congo can hardly be called easy.

DR Congo women buy their groceries at home, but not via non-existent internet. If a woman needs to buy foods, she takes a seat, puts it not far from her house and sits down. Upon seeing vendors, selling vegetables, fruits and pretty much everything that is needed for cooking meals, a woman asks the vendor she wants to buy foods from to come inside her house. This method of shopping is very convenient and beneficial since the prices are not fixed and can be negotiated.

Only 1.8% of Congo roads are tarred, while the percentage is around 85% in the USA.

The DRC is among the most resource-rich countries on the planet, with an abundance of gold, tantalum, tungsten, and tin – all minerals used in electronics such as cell phones and laptops – yet it continues to have an extremely poor population.

Three out of five people in the DRC have no electricity while the percentage is pretty higher in rural areas.

More than half of the population are impoverished, and their daily income is less than $1 per day.

Despite not being one of the richest countries in the world, DRC actually has a space program.

Cassava is a massively produced crop in Congo, followed by sugar cane and maize.

DRC also exports rubber and timber, though refined copper and unwrought alloys are the highest-earning exports.

There are several spectacular waterfalls in DR Congo.

There are around 20-25 holidays in Congo, where people celebrate these days with different traditions and cultures.

Both men and women wear a traditional dress named Liputa, which has vibrant colors and prints.

Many Congolese still believe that sharing beers or other beverages with ancestors is a gesture of respect.

According to a DR Congo wedding tradition a bride’s relative (her father or grandfather in most cases) needs to share a drink with the family’s ancestors by pouring it on the ground. The ritual is believed to have a positive effect on the life of the family. Why? Because when sharing a drink with their ancestors, the family invites them to join the celebration and asks them to protect the couple.

It is the custom in Congo to throw the baby’s teeth on top of the house. They believe it helps their children to grow the teeth appropriately again.

As a part of the tradition, many ethical groups in Congo shave off widows’ head if their husband is deceased.

My inspiration for this week's card is based on this fact about DR Congo... Taking pictures of a human being or any animal may make the Congolese angry as they believe it removes the spirit of the human or animal.

This is the end. I've completed all 195 countries. It has recently come to my attention that there is some discrepancy in the number of countries in the world, but the list I followed claimed only 195, so that is what I did. 

FYI - I had another 50-week series planned for 2023, but I have two new ventures coming up for the year, so I've decided to pause my own 50-week series, saving it for another year.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

Stamp Set: Red Rubber Designs It's Your Day stamped with Memento Tuxedo Black Ink and colored with Copic Markers

Paper: Hammermill 110# White and SU Coastal Cabana CS and DP from my scrap file

Dies: MFT Stitched Rectangles and MFT Stitched Tag-Corner Squares

Embellishments: Paper Studio Camera Brad


kiwimeskreations said...

Looking forward to seeing what your new series are Jeanette. Loving all the information I have gleaned from this series. Your card is fabulous - as ever
Christmas blessings to you and yours

Lynn McAuley said...

I LOVE this adorable card, Jeanette!! How cute!!