Why are some countries more developed than others?

Look at the photographs below. What’s their link to the DRC?

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Collage 1.jpg

The Democratic Republic of Congo

“The Democratic Republic of Congo is potentially one of the richest countries on earth, but colonialism, slavery and corruption have turned it into one of the poorest.”
(Dan Snow, Historian)


Task 1: Getting to know the DRC

1) A rough guide to the DRC. You have 15 minutes to complete the sheet below.

A Rough Guide to the DRC.docx
True Size of the DRC.PNG

2. Use the information from the BBC’s website to create a map of the DRC. Be sure to include the names of neighbouring countries, main cities, the location of minerals, natural resources and the River Congo.

You can make your map on paper using this outline map.

DRC Map (1).pdf
DRC Resource Map.PNG

You can also create a digital map using google earth or http://www.scribblemaps.com/

Make sure your map has a key.

3. Write a short introduction to the geography of the DRC. Size, climate, major geographical features, minerals, resources, and population.

4. Create a table that displays the different minerals present in the DRC and examples of what each mineral is used for. Some information on Coltan can be found here.

5. Comparison Create a similar map for Switzerland and compare it to your map of the Congo. If the only information you had about Switzerland and DRC came from the two maps you have produced, which country would you expect to be the most developed?

Task 2: Life in the capital, Kinshasa: A Megacity Case Study

In this study of Kinshasa you will build up a case study of a megacity. You will be able to discuss the following points;

  • the reasons for the rapid rate of Urban growth that Kinshasa is experiencing.

  • what life is like in Kinshasa and the disparities in wealth and development within the city.

  • the impact that a rapidly growing population is having on the city’s infrastructure.

  • Some strategies that can help manage the rapid urban growth.

1) What is a megacity and where are they?

Click on the heading above and make detailed notes on the article. Consider where and why mega cities are growing as well as the advantages and disadvantages of these huge urban areas. I suggest that you insert the graphs into your notes along with a brief description of each.

“From 2010 to 2015, Kinshasa’s population grew by over 23 percent, and today over half of the 11.6 million residents are under 22 years old. A combination of factors has led to this growth including migration from rural areas, high fertility rates, and widening of the city’s boundaries. The population is outpacing almost all support structures in the city where the threat of food shortages, traffic congestion, and insufficient education facilities have become a stark reality.”


The annual growth rate of Kishasa is 4.17%

Imagine you are one of the people in the photo below. What do you think their life is like? What do you think they would want to change about the country they live in?

Kinshasa, Capital City of the DRC.

  • With a partner, discuss what this photo tells us about Kinshasa. Where have the people come from, what are the problems they have and their hopes for the future.

Kinshasa Growth.PNG

Nobody even really knows how many people live in Kinshasa. The last census was in 1984, so any figures are just a guess. Most estimates are that there are between 8-12 million people currently living in the city. It’s thought to be the second largest metropolitan area in sub-Saharan Africa after Lagos and projections are that it will overtake Paris as the largest francophone city by the end of the decade.

Perhaps it doesn’t really matter how many people live here. The local government long ago lost the ability to provide even the most basic level of services. With so little in the way of infrastructure and little hope of government help, the interesting thing isn’t that things don’t work in Kinshasa, but that anything works at all. And that so many people are able to live and work and play in spite of all the challenges they face.

“How can 10 million people be living in this city with very poor infrastructure –practically no water, no electricity, have to pay for their school fees, very, very little access to cash – and yet, when you go out on a Saturday night, people are drinking beer, they’re beautifully dressed, they’re having a good time?” asks Theodore Trefon, a researcher at the Royal Museum for Central Africa who has been studying Kinshasa since 1994. “This is the miracle – that they have some type of will to keep on moving on. That they can still be happy in these dire conditions.”

From an aticle in the Guardian Newspaper 15.10.2014

Resource: From Kinshasa to Goma – in pictures

Guardian reporter Mark Tran’s picture diary of his recent trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo reveals the stark contrast between the expensive new developments in Kinshasa and the reality of life for the average person. Use these photographs as inspiration for your conversation. Looking at the website for the 5 Star hotel might also give you some ideas, who do you think stays there?

Kinshasa Hotel.png

Kinshasa Future Cities.PNG

The Sapeur Of Kinshasa.PNG

Kinshasa is seen by many as the fashion centre of Africa in the same way Paris could be the centre of European Fashion.

Click on the image above to learn more about the Sapeur and the city of Kinshasa. http://www.futurecities.nl/en/people/the-dna/#7

Forced Migration in the DRC.

DRC Hunger Road.PNG

Task 3: How does the Congo Compare to Switzerland and the rest of the world?

1) a) Save a copy of the word document and then complete it.

How developed is the DRC.docx

b) Add HDI data to the document you completed in part (a).

Indicators of Development definitions.docx

2) Exam style questions; answer these questions using the table you have just completed.

Compare and Contrast the DRC with Switzerland using the information you have collected. [5marks]

Task 4: The reasons why.

“The Congo’s apocalyptic present is a direct product of decisions and actions taken over the past five centuries.” (Dan Snow, historian)

The Historical Reasons:

Portuguese meet the King of Kongo.jpg
The Portuguese meet the King of the Kongo (circa 1483)

Historical Reasons Sheet.docx

1) Slavery:

“In the late 15th Century an empire known as the Kingdom of Kongo dominated the western portion of the Congo, and bits of other modern states such as Angola. It was sophisticated, had its own aristocracy and an impressive civil service.
(Dan Snow, historian)

Congo map showing Kingdom of Kongo
Congo map showing Kingdom of Kongo

“When Portuguese traders arrived from Europe in the 1480s, they realised they had stumbled upon a land of vast natural wealth, rich in resources – particularly human flesh. The Congo was home to a seemingly inexhaustible supply of strong, disease-resistant slaves. The Portuguese quickly found this supply would be easier to tap if the interior of the continent was in a state of anarchy. They did their utmost to destroy any indigenous political force capable of curtailing their slaving or trading interests. Money and modern weapons were sent to rebels, Kongolese armies were defeated, kings were murdered, elites slaughtered and secession was encouraged.” (Dan Snow, historian)

  • Answer the comprehension questions on this word document.

Portugal and the Congo.doc

“By the 1600s, the once mighty kingdom had disintegrated into a leaderless, anarchy of mini-states locked in endemic civil war. Slaves, victims of this fighting, flowed to the coast and were carried to the Americas.
About four million people were forcibly embarked at the mouth of the Congo River. English ships were at the heart of the trade. British cities and merchants grew rich on the back of Congolese resources they would never see.” (Dan Snow, historian)

2) King Leopold and the Belgians

Leopold_ii_garter_knight.jpgLeopold Twain quote.png

KING LEOPOLD II, King of the Belgians

The world’s largest supply of rubber was found (in the Congo) at a time when bicycle and car tyres and electrical insulation, had made it a vital commodity in the West.
To tap it, Congolese men were rounded up by a brutal Belgian-led security force, their wives were held captive and the men were then forced to go into the jungle and harvest the rubber. Disobedience or resistance was met by immediate punishment – flogging, severing of hands, and death.

Rubber wheels on bikes in 1888.jpg

The late Victorian bicycle craze was enabled by Congolese rubber collected by slave labourers.

Millions perished. Tribal leaders capable of resisting were murdered, indigenous society decimated, proper education denied. A culture of rapacious, barbaric rule by a Belgian elite who had absolutely no interest in developing the country or population was created.

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leopold reign text box.png

Black Congolese were denied the right to vote and anything beyond the most basic of educations. They were kept at an infantile level of development that suited the rulers and mine owners but made sure that when independence came there was no home-grown elite who could run the country.

Of 5,000 government jobs in the Belgian run Congo, just three were held by Congolese and there was not a single Congolese lawyer, doctor, economist or engineer. Independence in 1960 was, therefore, predictably disastrous.(Dan Snow, historian)

Answer the following questions on a word document :

  • What is a commodity?

  • What was the rubber in the Congo collected from?

  • What new invention caused rubber to become so valuable in Late Victorian times?

  • How did the Belgians force the Congolese people to work harder?

  • Why did it suite the rulers and mine workers to provide only the most basic education to their workers?

  • Why did Belgian rule result in independence being,”predictably,” disastrous?

  • Why do you think civil war in the DRC broke out almost immediately after the Belgians left?

The Environmental Reasons: Cursed by its natural wealth

Ferrocolumbite-Manganotantalite (Coltan).jpg

The Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered to be the richest country in the world regarding natural resources; its untapped deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of US$ 24 trillion. The Congo has 70% of the world’s coltan, a third of its cobalt, more than 30% of its diamond reserves, and a tenth of its copper.

Congo minerals quote.png

The Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt ore, and a major producer of copper and diamonds, the latter coming from the Kasai province in the West. By far the largest mines in the Congo are located in the Katanga (formerly Shaba) province in the south, and are highly mechanized, with a maximum capacity of several millions of tons per year of copper and cobalt ore, and with the capability of refining it into metal. In terms of annual carats produced, the DRC is the second largest diamond-producing nation in the world, with artisanal and small-scale miners accounting for most production. (Wikipedia)

The Price of Precious

The minerals in our electronic devices have bankrolled unspeakable violence in the Congo (National Geographic)

Congo mine.jpg

Tantalum text box.png
Congo minerals map.png

The DRC’s rulers have all deliberately stifled the development of a strong state, army, judiciary and education system, because it interferes with their primary focus, making money from what lies under the Earth.


The billions of pounds those minerals have generated have brought nothing but misery and death to the very people who live on top of them, while enriching a microscopic elite in the Congo and their foreign backers, and underpinning our technological revolution in the developed world. (Dan Snow www.bbc.com)


1) Name four minerals found in the DRC and give an example of what each is used for?

2) What is the estimated value of the DRC’s mineral wealth?

3) How has the Congo’s civil war been affected by the money from mineral extraction?

4) How have the DRC’s rulers and mining company owners benefited from the countries lack of development?

Environmental Reasons Sheet.docx

Social and Political Factors:

Despite its mineral wealth, the DRC’s citizens are among the poorest people on earth, the Congolese being consistently assigned the lowest, or near lowest, nominal GDP per capita in the world. The DRC is also one of the twenty lowest ranked countries on the Corruption Perception Index.

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DR Congo: Where logic ends?

A mutiny by soldiers in the eastern DR Congo has turned into an international dispute, with allegations that Rwanda is supporting the rebels.

The BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse reports from a lawless region where politics, history and nature create a dangerous mix.

Waiting in vain for a train in DR Congo

Despite the country’s size, transport infrastructure is very poor. Of 153,497km of roads, only 2,794km are paved. There are around 4,000 km of railways but much is narrow-gauge track and in poor condition. Waterways are vital to transport goods but journeys can take months to complete. Overcrowded boats frequently capsize, while DR Congo has more plane crashes than any other country.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: the Last Stand

Land Tenure

DRC Land Tenure.jpg
Many women in the DRC continue to struggle to produce enough food for their families since customary laws deny them land ownership and governments refuse support.

Small steps to land reform in eastern DRC

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Impassable roads – another obstacle to viable livelihoods
Masisi Eastern DRC.jpg
While agriculturalists eke out a living in the hills, this plain in Masisi has been taken for pasture.

Social and Political Reasons Sheet.docx


DR Congo: Cursed by its natural wealth

The Assignment:

You are going to write and essay but don’t panic. We will plan the essay together in class and you will then be given one week to write your essay. It should be no more than 1200 words long.

How has the DRC become one of the least developed countries in the world?

Essay Writing Template


The Rubric

_Congo Essay Rubric.xls

Extension Task: Debt and Aid in the Congo

Watch this video from the Drop the Debt Campaign.

  1. What is debt?
  2. How do you think a country gets into debt?
  3. In 2012, the DRC had an estimated debt of $6.089 billion. It’s GDP in 2012 is $28.03 billion. What percentage of the GDP is the debt?
  4. In 2010 the DRC were paying $300 million a year in debt repayments, give examples of other things the government could use this money for that would help improve life for its people

  1. DRC projects map.PNG
    A map of World Bank funded projects in the DRC
  1. Who are the IMF and the World Bank?
  2. Use the map above to find out about how the world bank is helping the DRC? Describe one of the projects and explain how it will help the DRC.
  3. Why do you think people protest against the actions of the world bank? Do some internet research to find out.
  4. Find out about other charities operating in the Congo. What are these charities doing, how effective do you think there work is?

DR Congo to get billions in debt relief from IMF

A debt relief programme worth $12.3bn (£8.1bn) has been agreed for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
2 July 2010

What is Debt Relief and is it a good idea?

What could you do to help the people of the DRC?