The Democratic Republic of Congo is the second largest country in Africa, and located in the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa. Although years of civil war ended in 2003, the country continues to struggle with political and economic insecurity. Expats contemplating a move to the Democratic Republic of Congo should consider their options carefully, particularly if relocating with a family.

Rich in natural resources, the country’s mining sector is the biggest attraction for expats seeking employment in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Most expats moving here will find themselves in the capital, Kinshasa, or Lubumbashi, the capital of the southern copper-rich Katanga province. Aid work is another big sector attracting foreigners to the Democratic Republic of Congo, mostly to the volatile eastern provinces. 

The Democratic Republic of Congo is very culturally and ethnically diverse with over 200 ethnic groups scattered across the country. This diversity has left the country at the epicentre of ethnic conflicts in the Great Lakes region for decades, with many different groups vying for control of the country’s resources.

The standard of infrastructure across the Democratic Republic of Congo is poor, with the provision of basic services in most towns, including electricity and water, often subject to disruptions, if present at all. 

Security is the most pressing concern for foreigners living in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country’s eastern provinces, in particular, remain insecure, with rebels active across the porous borders with Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. There are regular reports of clashes between rebels and government forces and the UN maintains a strong peacekeeping presence in the region. For this reason, many governments advise their nationals against travel to these regions, particularly North and South Kivu, and parts of the Orientale province. Overland travel in this region should be avoided.

The country’s healthcare system is in a dire state, and Western-standard medical facilities are virtually non-existent outside of Kinshasa. Any serious emergencies will require air evacuation to Europe or South Africa and expats should ensure that they have comprehensive medical insurance in place to cover such a possibility.

Expats will find the education system in the Democratic Republic of Congo well below what they would be used to in their own country, and sending their children to a local school isn't a viable option. There are a handful of international schools in Kinshasa, but schooling options are even more limited in other areas. Expats with children may want to consider homeschooling or sending their children abroad.

Fast facts

Population: About 86 million

Capital city: Kinshasa

Neighbouring countries: The Democratic Republic of Congo is bordered by the Central African Republic and South Sudan to the north, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to the east, Zambia and Angola to the south, and Republic of the Congo to the west.

Political system: Semi-presidential Republic

Major religions: Christianity

Main languages: French

Time: GMT +1 to GMT +2

Money: Congolese Franc (CDF) is the local currency and can be divided into 100 centimes. ATMs and card facilities are available in major urban centres, but rural areas seldom have these.

Electricity: 220- 240 volts. Plugs with two or three rounded pins are used throughout the country. 

International dialling code: +243

Internet TLD: .cd

Emergency numbers: Emergency services are extremely limited. Expats are advised to seek out private security services and hospitals for cases of emergency.

Drives on the: Vehicles drive on the right-hand side of the road. Public transport is limited and generally unsuitable for expat. Road infrastructure is underdeveloped, particularly in rural areas.

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