Culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Culture Of The Democratic Republic Of The Congo

Culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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The culture of the Democratic Republic of the Congo reflects much of the diversity of its hundreds of ethnic groups and their differing ways of life throughout the country—from the mouth of the River Congo on the coast, upriver through the rainforest and savanna in its centre, to the more densely populated mountains in the far east. Since the late 19th century, traditional ways of life have undergone changes brought about by colonialism, the struggle for independence, the stagnation of the Mobutu era, and most recently, the First and Second Congo Wars. Despite these pressures, the custom and cultures of the Congo have retained much of their individuality. The country's 70 million inhabitants are mainly rural. The 30 percent who live in urban areas have been the most open to Western influences.

People, language and background

Like many African countries, the borders were drawn up by colonial powers, and bore little relation to the actual spread of ethno-linguistic groups. There are around 250 languages spoken in the country, with perhaps a similar number of ethnic groups. Broadly speaking, there are four main population groups:
  • Pygmies, the earliest inhabitants of the Congo, are generally hunter-gatherers who live in the forests. Expert in the ways of the forest, where they have lived for thousands of years, they live by trading meat hunted in the forest with their taller, farming neighbors in exchange for agricultural products. Increasingly, they are becoming absorbed......
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