The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly known as the Republic of Zaire, is geographically the largest state in Southern and Central Africa. It is situated at the heart of Africa, and lies on the Equator, covering an area of 2,345,095 km². The DRC has 37 kilometres of coastline and a geography characterised by a vast central basin low-lying plateau rising to volcanoes and mountains in the east. More than half the country is covered by dense tropical rainforest. The country is traversed by numerous rivers with the Congo River being the largest.
The DRC’s economy is primarily based on the mining sector. It has abundant mineral resources including copper, cobalt, cadmium, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, germanium, uranium, radium, bauxite, iron ore and coal as well as timber, and vast hydropower potential. The DRC is potentially one of the richest mining countries in Africa. The country was the world’s fourth largest producer of industrial diamonds during the 1980s, and diamonds continue to dominate exports, accounting for nearly half of exports (US$828 million) in 2004. The oil industry, mainly from offshore fields, is another important contributor to the DRC’s economy. Agriculture is the mainstay of the DRC economy, accounting for 42.5 % of GDP in 2004, with the main cash crops consisting of coffee, palm oil, rubber, cotton, sugar, tea and cocoa.
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