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The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, Congo-Kinshasa, East Congo, or simply the Congo, is the southernmost country located in Central Africa. It is sometimes referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997.

. The network of protected areas in the DRC covers about 11% of the national territory (260,000 square kilometers / 100,000 square miles). It is made up of seven national parks, plus nature reserves, game reserves and other types of protected areas.

. The Virunga National Park is one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet and home to the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas. It covers an area of 7,800 square kilometres (3,000 sq mi). The park was established in 1925 as Africa’s first national park and is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site since 1979.

. Lola Ya Bonobo is a sanctuary for orphaned bonobos and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the DRC. Founded by Claudine Andre in 1994, Lola ya Bonobo is the world’s only sanctuary for orphaned bonobos. Since 2002, the sanctuary has been located at the Petites Chutes de la Lukaya, just outside of KinshasaThe bonobos are hunted for bush meat, and when a mother is killed, the babies are often taken and sold on the black market as pets. The sanctuary tries to recover as many as possible so that they can live out their lives in safety.

. Located in Bas-Congo (about 130 km / 80 mi from the city of Kinshasa), the Zongo Falls represent Mother Earth at her best. The gorgeous Zongo Falls gush out of a 65 meters (213 feet) tall cliff and crash down through the jungle canopy, creating fabulous clouds and spectacular rainbows.

. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is named for the Congo River, which flows through the entire country. The Congo River is the second longest river in Africa after Nile and the second largest river in the world by discharge volume of water (after the Amazon), and the world’s deepest river with measured depths in excess of 220 m (720 ft).

. The area now known as the DRC was populated as early as 90,000 years ago, as shown by the 1988 discovery of the Semliki harpoon at Katanda, one of the oldest barbed harpoons ever found, believed to have been used to catch giant river catfish.

. Bantu peoples began migrating into the region in the 5th century and again in the 10th century.

. The Kingdom of Kongo remained present in the region between the 14th and the early 19th centuries.

. Belgian colonization began when King Leopold II founded the Congo Free State, a corporate state run solely by King Leopold. Reports of widespread murder and torture in the rubber plantations led the Belgian government to seize the Congo from Leopold II and establish the Belgian Congo.

Source: Just Fun Facts